Second principle: Under the old covenant administered by the Jewish nation it was unlawful for the Jews to intermarry with the Gentiles (Deut 7:2-3); what did Ezra understand that the law required of those Jews who had married foreign wives? See Ezr 10:2-3,10-14,18-19; cf. also Mar 6:17-18. What might this indicate that the law would likewise require of those who were divorced and unlawfully remarried? Cf. 2Sa 20:3. Does it matter that under the law of the old covenant divorce was permitted because of the hardness of men’s hearts, whereas based on Jesus’ teaching here divorce is not to be as permitted under the new covenant? See again Mat 19:6. Consider too: Would a church requirement that requires people who have been divorced and remarried to divorce their present spouse be more reflective of the mercy and compassion demonstrated in the life of Christ, or of the Pharisaic legalism that Jesus condemned? Cf. Mat 9:13, Luk 6:36-37, Joh 8:3-7, and contrast Luk 11:46 with Luk 16:1-8. Consider too that in spite of David and Bathsheba’s sins for which both ought to have been put to death according to the law (Lev 20:10), it was through their son Solomon that the Messiah would come to reign as the Son of David and build a spiritual temple of which Solomon’s was a type; cf. Mat 1:6, 2Sa 12:24-25.
Third principle: In controversial matters where there is no clear Scriptural mandate, what was Paul’s practice in the early church? 1Co 7:17-24. Is it perhaps significant that this teaching is sandwiched between other teachings on marriage? What might this indicate may be the safest thing to do in the case of those who were divorced and remarried before coming to a knowledge of the truth?
Fourth principle: Shall we suppose that in such situations the Lord is not able to work out a complete deliverance, even if the fullness of that deliverance takes a lifetime and perhaps is only fully accomplished at our physical death? Is the Lord able in His own way and time to perfect what He has begun in a person? Cf. Phil 1:6. Is it possible that when one comes to the Lord and his life circumstances put him in a potentially sinful state that is perhaps even ongoing, that he is yet able to find pardon from the Lord because the Lord knows his heart and whether or not his contrition is real? Cf. 2Ki 5:17-19. Do we in fact not trust the Lord to do the same for us in regard to our own faults that are not easily overcome?
Fifth principle: What power and authority did Jesus give to the church to deal with the diversity of individual situations that perhaps like divorce and remarriage would require discernment on a case-by-case basis? See Mat 18:18-19.
We have seen that our attitude as true Christians toward those who were divorced and remarried prior to coming to Christ should be one of compassion and mercy. Does this mean that those who come to Christ after a divorce and remarriage somehow “got away” with something that is denied for those who are now in Christ? Regarding those who have been divorced and remarried while their former spouse is still living and find forgiveness in spite of their sins, should anyone ever suppose that they are ultimately better off in their new marriage than if they had obeyed God’s commands regarding covenant faithfulness? Does not every sin we commit diminish what we might otherwise have been in Christ? As one example, in what way in particular are those who have been divorced and remarried diminished in their service for Christ? See 1Ti 3:2,12, 5:9.
What about those Christians who in their hearts know the truth about divorce and remarriage but go ahead and do it anyway? See Jam 4:17, Heb 10:26-27. What should our attitude as true Christians be toward those who claim to follow Christ but will not endure sound doctrine, and instead seek counsel from those who will tickle their ears and tell them divorce and remarriage is OK so that they can proceed in a way that is more pleasing to their flesh? See 1Co 5:9-13, 2Th 3:6, 2Ti 3:5.
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)
1. Many conservative Anabaptist groups today hold to this view.↩