Thursday, January 04, 2007

Divorce and Remarriage, The Views of John MacArthur

In previous posts I commented on 1 Corinthians 7 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12) and the various instruction regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage within it. John MacArthur offers his own exegesis here on the web.

For verse 8:
  • Those who are unmarried and widows, verse 8: "1 say therefore," that is, therefore meaning on the basis of the principle laid down, "I say therefore to the unmarried," and that is a general term including bachelors, maidens, divorcees, "I say to the unmarried and especially to the widows," because, of course, they had a unique situation, having been married and knowing all of the joys of marriage and having been separated not because they wish to be, like a divorcee, but because of death and the trauma that that brings, "I say then to the unmarried and especially to widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I." It’s good to be single. If you’re a bachelor, that’s good. If you’re a maiden whose never been married, that’s good. If you’re a widow or a widower, that’s good. There’s nothing wrong with that.but
  • ...verse9...."If they can’t have self-control, let them marry for it’s better to marry than to burn." If you can’t handle being single, get married.
For verses 10-11 he has this:
  • If you’re married, look at it, "I command, yet it isn’t really me doing this, the Lord has given us the word on this, Let not the wife depart from her husband." And here he’s simply saying - Jesus already had something to say Matthew 19:9 and Mark 10:11 and 12 all three about it ... Matthew 5:32, of those passages, our Lord Jesus Christ says stay married. Do not divorce. Notice, it says at the end of verse 10, "Let not the wife depart," the word depart is a technical term for divorce ... don’t divorce your partner. You say - Well, why would two Christians want to divorce? Well, in Corinth., you see, they were saying - Well, celibacy is the only way to go ... once you become a Christian you’ve got to drop all the physical part and you’ve got to devote yourself to Christ, we will not divorce and separate and give ourselves to Christ. He says - Forget it ... don’t do that ... don’t divorce. There is no divorce tolerated among Christians. God hates divorce, Malachi 2, "I hate putting away," God says, "I hate divorce." He condemned the Israelites, He says: "You have done treacherously against the wife of your youth," You’re divorcing one another.
  • Only two choices if Christians divorce. They either stay single all the rest of their life or they come together again ... to reconcile.
In terms of remarriage in verses 15-16 he has this to say:
  • You’ve got an unbelieving partner and he can’t stand your Christianity and he wants out. Verse 15: "But if the unbelieving depart, fight him." Is that what it says? Don’t let him go, who will give him the gospel? Is that what it says? It says ... what?..."Let him go."
  • You say - John! Don’t talk to me, call up heaven, you know. It’s right there. If the unbelieving depart - let him go. If he divorces, middle voice, middle voice means reflexive ... In other words, this is where the unbeliever initiates the divorce, let him go. Don’t fight the divorce, don’t go to court and fight the ... just let it go ... let hi...if he wants out, let him go. The word depart refers again to divorce. It is a technical term for divorce. The unbeliever divorced the believer and the believer is told let him go, don’t fight it. You say Don’t fight it but what happens to me when he’s gone, I’m stuck for life., There’s no adultery and I’m, I’m...I’m going ... I can’t handle that.
  • No, you’re not stuck for life. Look at verse 15. "If the unbelieving depart, let him depart, a brother or a sister is not under ... what? ... bondage in such cases." Do you know what? You are ... what?... free. Free from what? From bondage. The bondage of what? The only bondage that marriage has reference to, the bond of marriage, you’re free. Free to what? Free to remarry. That’s what he’s saying. You are free to remarry; you are no longer under bondage. And the word bondage is the word that’s used in Romans 7:2 when it talks about marriage being bound by the law to a husband. Marriage is bondage, in Paul’s vocabulary and here he s saying you are free from that marriage.
  • You say - Yes, but my, my, you certainly couldn’t remarry’. Why? It doesn’t say that. When God wants to say you can’t remarry, He says it. Verse 11, "If she departs out of a Christian marriage, she must remain...what? ... unmarried." But here, if the unbeliever departs and he gets the divorce, a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. So, the marriage is ended. You see, desertion is like adultery in its effect, it disrupts the tie. Don’t fight it, let him go.
  • Well, you say - Why let him go? "Cause God has called us to peace." You know, one of the benefits of being a Christian is to have a peaceful life ... the peace of God... the gracious life. And, you know, there’s nothing that God needs less than constant fighting, tension, frustration and turmoil in a home. A fighting, angry, quarreling home is not God’s objective, nor, people, is marriage primarily a foundation for evangelism. Well, I’m going to hang on to that guy until he gets saved. You know, you’ll just drive him right out. If he wants to go, let him go, let him leave rejecting Christianity not hating you.
  • But there’s going to be one objection because some conscientious Christian is going to say - Now listen to me, if I do that, if I let him go, I lose the opportunity to see him saved. If I let him go, whose going to bring him to Christ? I lose the opportunity to bring him to Christ and salvation.
  • So Paul deals with that in verse 16. He says this: "For what o you know, 0 wife, whether you’re going to save him? Or, how do you know, 0 man, whether you’re going to save your wife?" Don’t go on that premise, because you don’t know that. He’s not saying here Keep them so you can save them, -he’s saying - Let them go because you have no guarantee you will. And in the meantime you will destroy the peace that God intends to give. Let him go.

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