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Building up believers and the New Testament church

Divorce and Remarriage - The Significance of Union

The subject of divorce and remarriage is one of the most critical questions that the church must face in our day. There is much disagreement on what the Bible teaches and what God's will is in these areas. Books abound on the subject, coming from various viewpoints. Some use a detailed examination of scripture with an emphasis on proper translation from the original. Some teaching points out the low moral condition and hardness of heart of the professing church today, resulting in the unwillingness of men and women to face what the scripture says. Another approach begins with human reasoning—what men perceive God would want—then seeks to justify this position in scripture.

I would like to address this subject from a somewhat different direction, seeking to examine it in light of the overall purpose of God. There is no doubt that God views purity in the man-woman relationship to be of great importance, but why? Is God just trying to make the way hard? Does He delight in breaking hearts and destroying relationships? Is God against us? I think in our minds we would answer "no" to these questions, but when we read all the straight and strong statements pertaining to marriage in the scriptures, we may somehow feel that God's way is too difficult, and begin to look for a way out. This is deadly. We must look for a way into the perfect will of God, not a way out in order to do what we want to do.

Consider the following scriptures that speak of God's ultimate purpose.

"I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me" (John 17:20-23).

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Peter 1:2-4).

"For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:30-33).

These scriptures all speak of relationships in a much higher way than we normally do. Jesus speaks about a "glory" He has given to us so that we may be "one even as God is one," Peter speaks about "exceedingly great and precious promises," and Paul speaks about a "mystery." These words are high and lofty. Have we carefully considered the riches that are open to us? What are our concepts of God's ultimate purpose in salvation, marriage, and the church? Do we see a connection among these three? God's plan for mankind down through the ages is not disjointed. Marriage is not an afterthought, and His design for the church is not optional. Everything in God's plan is perfectly designed and connected. It is all one plan. This means that seeing clearly in one area will help us to see clearly in another area.

Our purpose here is to take a "bird's eye view" of these three areas—our personal relationship with God, the marriage relationship, and the present working of both within the body of Christ—so that we may better see the relation among all three. They are all meant to work together. God's plan and purpose for mankind is perfect in every way, and He has made full provision for us to enter into all that He has in mind. Let us not let lesser concepts keep us from God's ultimate purpose.