We have come to understand in the previous lessons Jesus’ strict teaching on divorce and remarriage. But what about the really nasty, ugly situations? Does the binding nature of the marriage covenant mean that a true Christian is bound to resist at all costs if an unbelieving spouse seeks to separate? See 1Co 7:12-16, Rom 12:18. In this situation does it follow that the Christian is then free to remarry while their spouse remains alive? See 1Co 7:10-11,39. What about an abusive spouse, or one who is breaking the law, perhaps endangering their children or even a molester: is the Christian’s duty to continue exercising mercy and forgiveness and allow such wickedness to continue? Consider the following principles God has given to guide us:
First principle: With which does God seem more concerned: that we not suffer unjustly even if that means rebelling against the authorities in our lives, or that we submit to such authority even when we suffer unjustly under it? See Gen 16:4-9 and 1Pe 2:18-23, 3:1. With which do we tend to be more concerned?
Second principle: Will God allow one to be tempted beyond what he can bear and not provide some righteous way of escape that accords with His law? See 1Co 10:13. Does that way of escape necessarily mean that we will not suffer? Does it mean that we will not have to exercise great faith as we strive to enter as through a narrow door that many, though seeking, are unable to enter (Luk 13:24)?
Third principle: Are the sins of mankind that shock us as particularly wicked, like sexual perversion or the sexual abuse of children, necessarily more abominable in the sight of God than other sins that perhaps we ourselves tolerate? See Lev 18:22-30, Deut 13:12-14, 22:5, 25:15-16, Pro 6:16-19, 11:1,20, 12:22, 16:5, 17:15, 28:9, Isa 1:10-14, 44:12-20, Jer 6:13-15, 7:8-11, etc… Should not the same righteous and holy indignation that burns within us against “blue collar” abominations like sexual perversion also inflame us against “white collar” abominations like pride, lying, injustice, and spiritual adultery? Does God suffer long with us regarding those things which are an abomination to Him? See 2Pe 3:9 (KJV), Eze 18:23,32, 1Co 6:9-11. Should we expect to not also have to suffer long regarding the abominations of others, especially a spouse? See 1Pe 2:21, Jud 1:21-23.
Fourth principle: Does the patience of God toward us in our abominations mean that He ignores them and does nothing? See Gal 6:7-8. Do our covenant responsibilities to our spouse negate our greater covenant responsibilities to God? See Act 4:19, 5:27-29. Do our covenant responsibilities to God include protecting our children, even if necessary from a spouse? Will not those who are truly faithful always seek the ultimate good of their marriage partners, even if that means invoking a higher authority to restrain their evil and/or turning them over to Satan that their soul might be saved? Cf. 1Co 5:1-5.
Fifth Principle: Every covenant invokes God as the one who watches over those who have entered into it to reward covenant faithfulness and to punish covenant unfaithfulness (see Gen 31:44-53). As marriage is a covenant relationship, as in every covenant are there not blessings for covenant obedience, and curses for covenant disobedience? While God has remained faithful to his covenant with the nation of Israel and the Church as a whole, does that mean that He extends mercy and forgiveness indefinitely to individuals within those covenant communities who continue in their stiff-necked stubborn rebellion against Him? See Num 14:22-23, 2Ki 17:6-18, 2Ch 36:11-19, 1Co 10:1-11, Jude 1:5. Should we suppose that when true Christians remain faithful to God and do not violate their marriage vows but seek to be at peace with all men, especially their spouse, and respond righteously to evil inflicted upon them that God will allow them to suffer oppression indefinitely with a wicked and evil spouse? Cf. Luk 18:7, 1Pe 3:8-12 (note the context), Rom 12:19-21, 1Co 7:39, and especially 1Sa 25:2-42; see also Act 12:23.
In light of Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce, if a Christian couple is having serious marital difficulties, what are their Scriptural options? See 1Co 7:10-11.
Matthew 19:3-6 (Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 1)
Matthew 19:7-9 (Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce, Part 2)
Matthew 19:9 (The Exception Clause to Divorce and Remarriage)
Scripture Passages Related to Divorce and Remarriage
Matthew 19:1-9 (The Spiritual Significance of Marriage)
Matthew 19:10 (The Disciples’ Response To Jesus’ Teaching on Divorce)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Divorce)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Remarriage Part 1)
Matthew 19:1-10 (Answers to the Really Hard Questions Regarding Remarriage Part 2)
Matthew 19:11-12 (On Celibacy)