Sluice Box Adventures

Believing Bible Study in the 21st century

All About The Sureness of Trouble In Life

God’s provision for the adopted sons of God (Galatians 4:6) in a sin-cursed world... sees for every possible eventuality and provides the divine contingency... a way of escape so that we may be able to bear it.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

The Doctine Of Divorce

Old Paths Baptist Mission © 2011 Richard St.James

The Preface:

A Help In Understanding Divorce

Doctrine Of Divorce1 Corinthians 10:13

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”.

This subject elicits so much trouble in the ranks of the brethren. When reading the following, keep 1 Corinthians 10:13 in view. God’s provision for the adopted sons of God (Galatians 4:6) in a sin-cursed world... sees for every possible eventuality and provides the divine contingency... a way of escape so that we may be able to bear it. 2 Timothy 3:1 "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come."

We have seen the untold number of broken homes...the families destroyed...the marriages that have ended in divorce. Even in the local Bible-believing churches, the destruction has come, and here, the religious fundamental leaders; whether pastors, deacons, or Bible college professors, have gone their own way--to combat the havoc and ruin.

There are three different positions held today amongst Fundamentalists.

1. Divorce is not Biblical, and, therefore, it is wrong for any reason unless for fornication during the espousal or betrothing relationship. (Theodore Epp's position) Remarriage is only possible after the death of the mate.

2. Divorce is allowed only for the cause of fornication. In that event, the parties may not remarry, or not until the death of the guilty party. (However, some would allow remarriage in this case)

3. Divorce is only allowed for two reasons: for the cause of fornication, and the special case of an unbeliever deserting a believer.Romans 7:1-3“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?"

The passage contains the pivotal verses, and is critical to understanding God’s revealed will concerning marriage and divorce. Note the phrase: "to them that know the law."

It's absolutely paramount to search the scripture, to know how to properly walk in regard to these matters. Many an unfortunate Bible believer will face the serious black skies at the forks of the road of life. Fellow Christians need the wisdom and discernment to know how to help and counsel fellow believers in the precepts and commands found in the word of God.

They need not compromise, however. Yea! Never compromise God's word in doing this. In fact, all is needed is a humble and a contrite heart. With all honesty and diligence, study the law of God to determine God's mind concerning divorce.

In God's mind He instituted it only for the purpose as a divine contingency, where a brother or sister has been left behind, by desertion of the unbeliever, or where fornication (adultery) has occurred. The contingency is provided, but does not need to be exercised. Restoration should be the hope of the innocent party.

In this passage, [Romans 7:1-3] you need to realize that no divorce is mentioned, nor is it implied in the context. Therefore, we must not force it into being there if we are to be honest. A woman is bound to her husband as long as he is if she marries another man (no intervening divorce), she is called an adulteress. Why can I say this, when the typical religious fundamentalist sees a divorce in the context?

The answer is in 1 Corinthians 6:15-20. Scripture explains Scripture!! “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."

Here the Lord compares the relationship of Christ and the Church by the relationship of a man and woman in the marriage bond. Verse 16: "for two, saith he, shall be one flesh". But curious is this. The harlot is joined to a man’s body! It is described in the exact same terminology as marriage was defined in Genesis 1-3, and for that matter, all through the Bible.

Please note another strange thing that boggles the average religious fundamentalist; and it's this! No divorce is mentioned here, nor is it implied or contained in the context. Nor should we force it into it. The members of Christ can make themselves, the members (marriage) of a harlot. The church is espoused to Christ, but it can link (marry) up to the world!

Does not this shed light on Romans 7:1-3? Within ten (10) verses of God giving the Ten Commandments, we have some things given to Israel, that are deliberately ignored by Theodore Epp (and others) when constructing their doctrine of marriage, divorce and remarriage.

Exodus 21: Judgments of God

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." II Timothy 2:15

In order to understand Gods Word we need to apply the historical--grammatical (or literal) interpretation, using the figurative or allegorical interpretation only where the context demands it. In rightly dividing His word, we need to understand dispensational truth.

That is, God has chosen to reveal Himself to man at various times, in a progressive manner, dealing with different groups of men (and nations) in different ways. Even though "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever" Hebrews 13:8, is a truth, it does not take away from the truth of God having different economies with men. "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son." (See Hebrews 1:1-2, John 1:17, Luke 16:16, 1 Peter 1:10-12).

Therefore, God’s dealing with Israel will not require that God deal the same way with the church-age saints, nor is he mitigated to have the same ordinances or rules in the tribulation, or even in the millennium, as He does now show to the church. His ways are not our ways. We must not ever say that God did it this way to these people, and therefore he is required to do the same to these other people. He is sovereign! Amen!

In Exodus chapter 21, some things will be seen, that will shock the Christian. How you respond to this, which is God’s revelation, is what matters, and determines your usefulness to Him.

Will you believe what this Book says, where it says it and to whom He says it?

Exodus 21:1-12

“Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.

If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.

And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.

And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant, she shall not go out as the menservants do. If she please not her master, who hath betrothed her to himself, then shall he let her be redeemed: to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power, seeing he hath dealt deceitfully with her.

And if he have betrothed her unto his son, he shall deal with her after the manner of daughters.

If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money."


In Exodus 21 verses 1-6, notice the master/servant relationship is seen in this instance, higher than the marriage relationship for Israel. In verses 7-11, a man... sells his daughter...master betroths her to his son…shall deal with her after the manner of daughters...if he take another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. God evidently allowed more than one wife. Notice no divorce is mentioned, nor is it anywhere in context. Therefore the hardness of heart knee-jerk is not allowed here. In Leviticus 21: 7,9,13-14, the Aaronic priest was forbidden to marry other than to a virgin. The divorced woman is forbidden as well as the widow (or harlot, or profane). See Leviticus 22: 13. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is what Theodore Epp uses with Matthew 5:31.

In I Samuel 1-2, Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Please note the following in vs. 3: He "went up out of his city yearly to worship and sacrifice unto the Lord of Hosts in Shiloh". In verses 19 see "worshipped" before the Lord. See also, verse 21, verse 23. Elkanah said "only the Lord establish His Word."

A God fearing Israelite was Elkanah with two wives. Even with the obvious problems (jealousies) of having more than one wife, Elkanah was not out of God’s revealed will, as shown by the judgments and the precepts of God.

More oddities!

Consider the wife of David (Michal) given to Phalti the son of Laish by Saul, (I Samuel 25:44), from Phalti by Ishbotheth and then given back to David. This is a peculiar thing, if not a violation of Deut. 24. Consider also the second wife, Abigail, (I Samuel 25:42), then Ahinoam, vs. 43.

Whatever can be said of David we let God say it. God sums it up for His servant David in I Kings 15:5. The commentary by God reads: "because David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite."

Interesting--the Lord had only one complaint--not one hint that David was in error over his wives, except in the matter of Uriah (and Bathsheba).

Matthew 19:3-9 “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”

In Matthew 5:31-32, Mark 10:2-12, there indicates deliberate action taken or initiated with a "writing" of divorcement. The "writing" was given because of some supposed loss of favor in his eyes of his wife "because he have found some uncleanness in her." Deuteronomy 24:1.

Even though Moses gave permission, we find in Matthew 19:8, "Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so."   But here Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh, disallows what was for Israel, and institutes a different precept (Genesis 1-3), to prepare Israel for the new dispensation where God turns away from national Israel and initiates the church age and His calling of individuals (Jews & Gentiles) by the Gospel of Jesus Christ found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The "putting away" that the Pharisees practiced was wide open, for all reasons of uncleanness.

Note, however, one glaring item is precluded from this meaning of "uncleanness." It is fornication, or specifically adultery. How do we know this? Again the answer comes from the phrase mentioned earlier, found in Romans 7:1-3. "I speak to them that know the law." Leviticus 21:10--"the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and adulteress shall surely be put to death."

The confusion simply goes away! The scripture is plain! The "uncleanness" simply did not include the sin of adultery, because God’s sentence was death to both the adulterer and the adulteress.

Therefore, until Jesus Christ came to the Earth, divorce never occurred for the reason of adultery.Think that over! It now becomes clear that what God is saying is this: from Moses to John the Baptist, the Lord allowed, because of the hardness of their hearts, Israel "to put away" their wives for "uncleanness." Death was prescribed for adultery. But with the advent of Jesus Christ, the Lord gives a different command. Divorce was to be prohibited for all reasons "saving for the cause of fornication" Matthew 5:32.   Matthew 19:9 use’s the word "except" for "saving."

Thus far, the New Testament order is: divorce is not right before God except for the reason of fornication. The innocent party, therefore, is not under any condemnation by the Lord if he pursues this "putting away" for that reason only. Now there is something else, which is as plain as the nose on your face. Notice the "and shall marry another, committeth adultery:" the innocent party who put away the one guilty of adultery now has the freedom to remarry but "only in the Lord" 1 Corinthians 7:39.

1 Corinthians 7  “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 

For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart.

A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?”

Verses 27-28

“Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you."

Verses 38-40:

“The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”

The New Testament order is given to the church at Corinth.Let us receive instruction from the Lord. Read 1 Corinthians 7:1-40. In vs. 10-11, we come to the great continental divide question. The question is moot, if one accepts that the A.V. 1611 Bible of the reformation is God’s word in the English language. Is there an error in these verses? Note the phrase, "let her remain unmarried" in verse seven. Did you see that! "unmarried"!

The moment she left or deserted, she became unmarried. If you have the believing heart of the Christian, this will be accepted as God’s own determination. For if tradition (Roman Catholic) were to prevail, then doubt would assail the heart with unbelief. "Yea, hath God said?" When unbelief comes, then we would read it as the Roman Catholic would read it, let her remain married. The Christian is not change God’s word, but is to read it, believe it, and act on it. The word is "unmarried" not "married".  The salient verse is verse 15. "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace."

Here is the special case that the Spirit of God reveals as His judgment. Pay particular attention to the phrase "in such cases" and "is not under bondage". The word is defined in verse (27). "Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife." The "bondage" verse 15 is from "bound" or "bind", (two become one flesh) and the word "bound" is the antonym for "loosed".

Crystal clear!

Remember that God deals with us as individuals, and that He provides for every eventuality in our life with a divine contingency. This will give meaning to the phrase, "in such cases," because every case is to be judged differently.

To summarize:

1. The ideal Biblical pattern for marriage is set in Genesis chapters 1 and 2 … one man - one woman for life.

2. God provided legislation (by the giving of the Law) to Israel, governing multiple wives; i.e., marriage privileges, responsibilities are delineated, including the regulation of divorce and re-marriage.

3. God gives the New Testament order: National Israel set aside, and the institution of the Church established with the Jew and the Gentile in one body, which re-sets Genesis 1-2 for marriage, one man, one woman for life as ideal.

He reveals only two Biblical reasons for Divorce for New Testament Christians, that is, for adultery, and for desertion by the unbeliever. Remarriage allowed only in these cases, plus for reason of the death of the spouse.

Next: The Ruin Of Divorce