John the Baptist was a great preacher. This voice in the wilderness carried his message of repentance from the banks of the Jordan river to the halls of king’s palaces. He feared God, not man. Thus when confronted by the adulterous relationship of Herod he spoke against it, without regard for the person of the King or his own life. Herod Antipas, while at Rome, had been the guest of his brother Herod Phillip. While there he became entangled with Phillip’s wife Herodias and carried her away. He had long been married to the daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia. But his new found love led him to leave his wife and form a relationship with the “woman of his dreams”. McGarvey says the marriage was unlawful for three reasons (1) The husband of Herodias was still living; (2) The lawful wife of Antipas was still living; (3) Antipas and Herodias, being nephew and niece, were related to each other and thus forbidden to marry.
We are well aware that this incident took place under the Law, and we are not trying to say that what happened then can be measured and judged by the Law of Christ in every particular. The point we wish to make, however, is that then, at that time, under the law, there were certain circumstances that made it unlawful for two people to live together as man and wife. IT WAS NOT LAWFUL FOR THIS MAN UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES TO HAVE THIS WOMAN AS HIS WIFE.
By the same token, even though we now live under the law of Christ, there are certain circumstances and conditions that render certain marriages unacceptable in the sight of God. There are some men and women who are not lawfully married in the sight of God, even though they have complied with the laws of the land and are approved by people generally and even some in the Church. I am increasingly alarmed and amazed at how some men try to circumvent the law of God on divorce and re-marriage. In some quarters an attempt is made to justify almost any situation regardless of the facts. In the opinion of this writer it is high time we began to rise up and cry, where the case demands it, “IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR THEE TO HAVE HER.” Let me be more specific. I still believe, as I have for years that the Lord permits divorce and remarriage for one cause i.e. fornication or adultery.
The teaching of Jesus in Mt 5:32 and 19:9 apply today, without doubt. But note carefully what Jesus said, “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.” To make the statement of our Lord plain, let us suppose the following: John divorces his wife Mary because they are not compatible. Then John marries Sally. When he does according to Jesus he commits adultery, and the man who marries Mary commits adultery also. Now you can “if” “and” or “but” all you want to and it won’t change a thing. Under such circumstances “it is not lawful for John to have Sally.”
Let’s notice another case: Jim is married to Edna and Raymond is married to Ellen. Jim falls in love (or so he thinks) with Ellen, and leaves Edna to enjoy the company of his lady fair. After a time he divorces Edna and Ellen divorces Raymond. They then marry. Does this fit Mt 19:9 ? Absolutely not. May they live together with God’s blessing? No way. Why? Because it is not lawful for him to have her. They have both violated the teaching of Jesus. But someone says “they both made a confession and came back to church.” Confession for what? Where is repentance? God pity the church that condones such behavior and brethren who try to justify it. If the foregoing illustration is acceptable to God, there is nothing to prevent me from seeing money belonging to a friend, then under the cover of darkness robbing his house of $10,000.00, putting it away, making a confession at church and then enjoy my ill gotten gain. Brethren, it’s time we awakened. The laws of the almighty are being broken, while we sit by and fish around for some excuse to justify the violators.
Another danger: In his first correspondence with Corinth Paul rebuked them for shielding and harboring an immoral person. He reasoned that their conduct was injurious to the entire congregation, thus charged them to cast out the leaven. (I Cor. 5) Do we realize what unscriptural divorces are doing to the church today? Are we aware of the impact on young people when they see people pull such stunts as mentioned above and then see the church try and justify their behavior by accepting them back in their sinful condition? The answer is obvious and the will be predictable. We are engaged in a losing battle with sin. It’s time we awakened. I know of churches today who are suffering inner turmoil and dying by degrees all because they don’t have the spiritual fortitude to stand up and proclaim as John did long ago IT IS NOT LAWFUL FOR THEE TO HAVE HER.
May God give us more preachers and brethren who, like John, are not afraid to defend those situations that are scriptural and condemn those that violate the teachings of the Bible.
OPA NOTE: This article certainly needs no post script, but a great big AMEN is in order. After all, if the things Ronny deals with are right why did Jesus bother to regulate marriage in the first place? Why did Paul write about it? If nothing had been said by inspiration, we might have felt free to do as we pleased. But Jesus, rather than allow such liberties, regulated marriage in Matthew 19:9 and 5:32. We submit He never would have bothered if just anything and everything is to be permitted. Think about it. D.L.K.
Published in the October 1, 1986 issue of the OPA.