Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
M.D.R. Bullet Points
Before I begin to enumerate what I consider to be some of the most foundational truths regarding Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage let me say right up front that absolutely nothing I am saying in this written work should be construed as condemning anyone to hell.
I don’t believe in a 'present day place of fiery eternal torment' called hell and the word hell in my opinion has no place in our Scriptures. Hell is a pagan concept that crept into the faith and our translations of the Scripture via pagan converts like Augustine, Tertullian and Jerome.
I believe the obvious conclusion of Scripture is that ALL MANKIND will be saved when it’s all said and done. For much more information on that subject you may be interested in reading an article written by J. Preston Eby titled 'The Lake of Fire', it was a paradigm changer for me. You can read that article at this link;
Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage becomes a very important issue because there will be no adulterers in the Kingdom of YHWH (Exo. 20:14, Deut. 5:18, 1 Cor. 6:9, Gal. 5:19-21, Rev 21:8).
In other words, adulterers will not be a part of the first resurrection and therefore adulterers will not become the Bride of Messiah.
Adulterers are not condemned to a hell that doesn’t exist; they are rather banned from the first resurrection.
Since I believe ALL MANKIND will eventually be brought into the Kingdom of YHWH then it should be obvious that those who continue to commit adultery throughout their present lives here and now will repent of such lawless behavior after being resurrected in the second resurrection. They will become righteous Torah observant sons and daughters of YHWH but they will never be the Bride of Messiah.
Millions of men and women are unwittingly squandering their opportunity to become the Bride of Messiah because they are in violation of the Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage laws written in the Scriptures. With these few simple observations outlined below people can begin to make sense out of YHWH’s laws regarding Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage.
I pray that YHWH will pour out upon you His Ruach haKodesh. Through His Spirit may you be blessed with the discernment required to recognize the truth and the courage required to follow the truth, whatever that truth may be. The Truth will set you free!
Sincerely and in His steps, Ken Alder
From the Scriptures I draw these conclusions.
…..The Institution of Marriage was instituted at the beginning of creation by YHWH. Throughout Scripture there is a body of law that makes up The Institution of Marriage. That body of law defines who can and cannot marry and what the roles, rights and responsibilities of the man and woman are. The Institution of Marriage enables the only legitimate relationship for the one flesh union of a man and a woman via The Marriage Covenant. YHWH will only bind a man and a woman via The Marriage Covenant according to His Institution of Marriage.
I have striven over the last many years to be able to discern what does and does not constitute a legitimate marriage covenant. At this time I cannot judge with absolute assurance anyone's marriage situation.
Although I believe I have a very good understanding of what the Scriptural method of entering into marriage looks like I cannot say that YHWH does not also bind the marriages of all men. Having said that I seriously question as to whether He binds the marriages being performed outside the Scriptural model. I simply do not know and have no desire to become the marriage covenant police.
Therefore I am left with two views, one of which must be wrong, I'll leave it to you as to which view is not correct.
The 1st view would be that;
Any man and woman regardless of their faith or lack thereof who have married or ever will marry automatically subject themselves, whether wittingly or unwittingly, it does not matter, to the jurisprudence of YHWH through The Institution of Marriage.
The 2nd view would be that;
YHWH will bind only those marriages performed within the faith and according to the Scriptural model which requires,
1) ...a 'ketubah', that is the terms by which the bridegroom would take the prospective bride as his wife
2) ...a cup of acceptance which the bride drinks from to accept the ketubah and thereby enters into the marriage covenant as the betrothed bride of her groom
3) ...a consummation, this is the judgment by the bridegroom upon the bride which brings to an end the betrothal phase of the marriage covenant. According to that judgment the marriage will go forward into the bound phase or end in divorcement
4) ...a cup for the bridegroom to drink from after the consummation to accept his bride and bind the marriage covenant, the drinking of this cup would take place at the marriage supper, a covenantal meal. From the moment the Bridegroom drinks from the cup, accepting his Bride as his wife, divorce is no longer an option.
After studying the above two positions I do know of couples who have considered renewing their marriages according to the Scriptural model.
…..All Scripture verses pertaining to Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage are gender specific. They must not be read as though the male and female roles, rights and responsibilities are interchangeable, reversible or applicable to either sex. The verses say exactly what they mean and mean exactly what they say. The Scriptures do not hold men and women as equals, what is good for men is not necessarily good for women. (Deut. 24:1-4, Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, 1 Corinthians 7:11)
…..YHWH binds, i.e. brings together, a man and woman in marriage via The Marriage Covenant. The Marriage Covenant has two phases, the betrothal phase and the bound phase. Let no man separate what YHWH has bound together. (Ezekiel 20:37, Matthew 19:6)
…..If the man discovers a matter of uncleanness in his bride any time during the betrothal phase he has the right to issue his bride a certificate of divorce. If the man discovers his bride is not a virgin via the attempt to consummate The Marriage Covenant he retains the right to divorce his bride and terminate the marriage covenant. The bound phase of The Marriage Covenant does not begin until after the betrothal has been ‘satisfactorily consummated’ and the man has drunk from the cup at the marriage supper. A woman can never legitimately divorce her husband; not during the betrothal phase or the bound phase of The Marriage Covenant. (Numbers 14:34, Deut. 24:1-4, Isaiah 50:1, Jeremiah 3:8, Matthew 1:18-19)
…..Marriage is a covenant which once bound by YHWH will exist for as long as both partners live, it cannot be terminated by anything but death. (Romans 7:1-4, 1 Corinthians 7:39)
…..A divorcement during the betrothal phase of The Marriage Covenant, (a provision made by YHWH), both ‘separates’ The Marriage Covenant partners and ‘terminates’ The Marriage Covenant, this frees both parties to consider marriage again. A divorcement during the bound phase of The Marriage Covenant, (a provision made by man), in reality, only ‘separates’ The Marriage Covenant partners, The Marriage Covenant still exists. Divorcement during the bound phase of marriage leads to adultery. (Deut. 24:1-4, Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, Romans 7:1-4, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11)
…..The traditional interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is wrong. The divorce decree was never intended to be given to wives of bound marriages. The words of Deut. 24:1-4 are much more clearly understood to refer to the betrothal phase of marriage. For example, note these two phrases from various translations of Deuteronomy 24:1 for the purpose of comparison which are normally translated "When a man 'takes a wife' and 'marries her'." Because this is an important point I will list several translations that may give us a better idea of what is actually being discussed in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
From Brenton’s English Septuagint 1851; “And if any one should take a wife, and should dwell with her,”
From The Complete Jewish Bible; "Suppose a man marries a woman and consummates the marriage,”
From Concordant Literal Version; “When a man takes a wife and possesses her,”
From Complete Apostle’s Bible; “And if anyone should take a wife, and should dwell with her,”
From 1899 Douey-Rheims Bible; “If a man take a wife, and have her,”
From Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Texts: Aramaic of the Peshitta; “IF a man takes a wife, and lies with her,”
From New American Bible; "When a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her,”
From New Jerusalem Bible; “Suppose a man has taken a wife and consummated the marriage,”
From New World Translation of The Holy Bible; "In case a man takes a woman and does make her his possession as a wife,”
It should be clear by now when your translation reads, “When a man takes a wife and marries her,” it is talking about a man taking his betrothed wife to his house to consummate the marriage exactly as is the custom of the Hebrew people. It is not talking about a man and his bound wife of days, weeks, months or years. No, the context is obvious, it demands in this text that ‘to take a wife’ is to betroth to himself a woman, ‘to marry her’ is to consummate the marriage. Can we find a Scriptural definition as to what it means to ‘take a wife’? Something that is irrefutable? I think we can.
Look at the Genesis account of Abraham sending Eleazer to ‘take a wife’ for his son Isaac in chapter 24:38,
“but you shall go to my father's house and to my family, and take a wife for my son.”
Did Eleazer marry Rebecca? No, he took a wife for Isaac, Abraham’s son. In other words he made a marriage proposal in Isaac’s stead which was accepted by Rebecca and she became ‘betrothed’ to Isaac. We can see this same situation when Hagar ‘took a wife’ for her son Ishmael in Genesis chapter 21:21,
“He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.”
Did Hagar marry the woman? No, of course not! She made a marriage proposal in the stead of her son Ishmael to a woman she chose. There is yet another example of what it is to ‘take a wife’ in Scripture. In Genesis chapter 38 verse 6 we read,
“Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.”
Did Judah marry the woman? No, he simply made a marriage proposal in his son Er’s stead and in doing so Tamar became betrothed to Er when she accepted that proposal.
I use these three instances in Scripture to show that the phrase ‘to take a wife’ cannot mean being ‘married’ to her as anyone should realize that the one who ‘took a wife’ is not the one who ‘married the wife’. It’s all very clear as to what it means when Deuteronomy 24:1 says, “When a man takes a wife…” it is clearly talking of ‘betrothal’. There is no excuse to continue to interpret Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as referring to a man and woman of a bound marriage. To do so is a reflection of our stiff necked demand to divorce our wives of bound marriages. That interpretation throws the whole of Scripture against itself in contradiction whereas interpreting Deuteronomy 24:1-4 as referring to a man who has betrothed to himself a woman and then attempts to consummate the marriage harmonizes the whole of Scripture on the subject of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage. A man is within his rights to issue a divorce decree to his betrothed wife if he discovers a matter of uncleanness, i.e. she is discovered not to be a virgin. After divorcing his betrothed wife both the man and the woman are free to consider marriage again. After many years of 'outside the box' study of Scripture I have come to this conclusion; Rejecting the traditional interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and adopting the interpretation just given is the only way I know of to harmonize all of the Scriptures on the subject of marriage.
…..A man and woman of a bound Marriage Covenant who have divorced, i.e. in reality only separated (The Marriage Covenant still exists), may come back together in their legitimate one flesh union without committing adultery or violating any verse of Scripture. They are the only two people on planet earth who can do so. A man and woman of a betrothed Marriage Covenant who have divorced (The Marriage Covenant has been terminated) can also come back together as long as the woman has not married another and the man proposes to her with a New Covenant of Marriage! Hint, hint; Jeremiah chapter 31 verse 31, “See, the days are coming,” declares YHWH, “when I shall make a new covenant with the house of Yisra’ĕl and with the house of Yehuḏah,”
…..Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 must be read as parenthetical statements. The exception clauses within those statements should be within parenthesis as is the case with William Tyndale's English translation of 1525. The parenthetical statements of ‘exception in the matter of porneia’ are a different subject referring to the betrothal phase of The Marriage Covenant whereas the main body of those verses is referring to the bound phase of The Marriage Covenant. The use of the word porneia should have automatically been associated with, or understood as synonymous with, a violation of the betrothal phase of The Marriage Covenant.
…..The Marriage Covenant is a possession of the man. If a woman is to be married she must join herself to The Marriage Covenant of a man, not vice versa. This, along with the next point is why a man who is divorced by his wife can marry another woman as long as she doesn’t violate the Torah provision of who a man can marry (Leviticus 18) whereas a woman who has been divorced by her husband or has chosen divorce herself cannot marry again as long as her first husband lives. (Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, 1 Corinthians 7:10-11)
…..Polygyny is a provision of YHWH. It is abundantly obvious throughout the Scriptures that YHWH has no problem with any of the Patriarchs who had multiple wives. YHWH Himself provides King David with multiple wives. YHWH does not change so why should we think His Torah has changed regarding Polygyny? A man can join as many women to his Marriage Covenant as he chooses as long as he can provide for them as he did for his first wife. An exception to that rule would be a king of Israel should not have an abundance of wives and leaders of the sect known as 'the Way' should be husbands of one wife. The reason is obvious; they have been put in positions of leadership requiring their full attention, multiple wives could become a distraction. The Scriptural provision of Polygyny along with the above point also explains why a man is able to marry again after he has been divorced by his wife whereas a woman is never able to marry again after having been divorced or having chosen divorce from a bound marriage covenant without the death of her first husband.
Genesis 4:19, Genesis 16:3, Genesis 22:20-24, Genesis 25:6, Genesis 28:9, Genesis 29:15-30:26, Exodus 2:21 & Numbers 12:1, 2 Samuel 12:8, Deuteronomy 21:15, Judges 8:30, 1 Samuel 1:2, 25:43, 27:3, 30:5, 30:18, 2 Samuel 2:2, 5:13, 12:8, 1 Kings 11:3-4, 1 Chronicles 4:5, 8:8, 2 Chronicles 11:21, 13:21, 21:17, 24:3, 31:18, Nehemiah 4:14, 10:28, Daniel 5:2-3, 6:24.
That is a short list of the many, many verses which contain and support polygyny.
….. ‘Fornication’ or the phrase ‘sexual immorality’ is the English word or phrase derived from the Greek word ‘porneia’ which is a translation of the Hebrew idiom ‘dāḇār erwāh’. It is best understood in my opinion to be a female having had sexual intercourse with any male prior to the bound phase of The Marriage Covenant. This sexual activity could take place before or after becoming betrothed. If this sexual intercourse takes place after having become betrothed in marriage it would also be considered adultery but still referred to by the inclusive Hebrew idiom ‘dāḇār erwāh’ or ‘porneia’ in the Greek or ‘fornication’ in the English. Using this terminology should be considered synonymously with the betrothal phase of marriage. In other words if and when ‘dāḇār erwāh’, ‘porneia’ or ‘fornication’ are used it should automatically be associated with the betrothal phase of marriage. When Messiah Yeshua used this Hebrew idiom ‘dāḇār erwāh’, ‘porneia’ in the Greek, recorded in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, which are the ‘exception clauses’, the Pharisees knew exactly what He was talking about! During the betrothal phase of The Marriage Covenant fornication is mercifully dealt with by the Torah via the divorce decree which terminates The Marriage Covenant and frees both parties to consider marriage once again (Deut. 24:1-4). I say mercifully because it could also be dealt with by the Torah via the death of the woman should the husband bring charges against her. If the charges were found to be true the woman would be stoned to death at the door of her father’s house (Deut. 22:13-21). Having said that let’s not forget another option... forgiveness. If the woman showed remorse for her bad behavior the husband always had the option to forgive her; washing her clean from the sin of her harlotry. However, because of the hardness of the people’s hearts the Torah provision of a decree of divorce for the men to give to their betrothed wives was given.
Sexual intercourse with anyone other than your marriage covenant partner after the bound phase of The Marriage Covenant is always referred to as ‘adultery’ in English, ‘moicháō' in Greek and ‘nā’ap̱' in Hebrew. During the bound phase of The Marriage Covenant adultery is dealt with by the Torah via the death of the guilty partner which terminates The Marriage Covenant and frees the innocent party to marry once again (Deut. 22:22 & Numbers 5:11-31). Forgiveness of the guilty party should never be forgotten as a means of dealing with adultery should the guilty party repent.
…..This last point may well be the most often ignored or completely missed point of the list but it’s huge! And yet most just don’t get it. We are living in exile! Living in exile we are denied the Torah given right to justice in matters of adultery. In a Torah observant Theocracy adultery is dealt with via a ‘death sentence’. That death will come via a ‘Rock Throwing Party’ (Deut. 22:22); the guilty is stoned to death, or if a jealous husband brings his wife before the priest she will be required to swear an oath and drink a special drink, if she’s guilty of adultery a curse will come upon her and her thigh will rot (that is a thoroughly cleaned up translation of the Hebrew from what I’ve been told) bringing her death (Numbers 5:11-31). In the case of an innocent wife bound to her husband the death of her guilty marriage partner would terminate The Marriage Covenant and free her to remarry. However, in exile, if our bound Marriage Covenant partners are unfaithful we are ‘stuck’ in our Marriage Covenants with no way out. You may divorce your spouse but you will only be ‘separating’ yourself from them and your Marriage Covenant will continue to exist as long as your Marriage Covenant partner lives. That of course is why a man commits adultery if he marries a woman who is divorced from a husband of a bound Marriage Covenant who still lives; her Marriage Covenant with her first husband is still in force. It is also why if a man divorces his wife he causes her to commit adultery, her Marriage Covenant with him is still in force. She has to find provision somewhere; she is still bound by his Marriage Covenant and yet will be forced to marry another man in an adulterous affair for provision. The women in these cases are still bound to the men they originally married even though they are divorced (in reality they are only separated) and it is regardless as to whether they are divorced by choice or against their will. We live in the lands of exile but we're trying to apply the laws of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy which YHWH required of those who were going to live in the Promised Land, it was not designed for living in exile. Brothers and sisters while I believe YHWH is again preparing a people to enter into the Promised Land and live according to these laws, we're not home yet! It is good to have a heart's desire to follow His ways here and now as best we can but honestly, can we apply these laws here and now?
Conclusions are difficult to reach and only the courageous will speak of them and fewer still will apply them. For me I have chosen Matthew 19:11-12 which reads, "And He said to them, "Not all receive this word, but only those to whom it has been given, for there are eunuchs who were so born from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the reign of the heavens. He who is able to receive it, let him receive it."
…..After having read the above listed key points of understanding in regard to Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage and after having taken that framework of understanding to the Scriptures themselves, if you are still not able to discern matters involving potential or present marriage partners, i.e. their marriage status and yours (are any of the past marriages legitimate and still in force) then it is necessary for us all to value the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua and set your hopes and dreams of marriage to this individual aside. If in doubt, leave it out! Don’t gamble away the opportunity to become the Bride of Messiah Yeshua, it’s not worth it!
I have intentionally positioned myself and this article to be afforded the luxury of being wrong without suffering condemnation from the Scripture. If I am wrong I will still dance one day on the clouds with Yeshua when He comes for His Bride, I will have erred on the side of conservation.
If others are wrong they will have squandered the opportunity to be the Bride of Messiah Yeshua. They will have gambled and lost. Anyone who demands their right to divorce and remarry absolutely must be correct; they cannot afford to be wrong!
Let me encourage all of you to avoid such a fatal mistake. Blessings and shalom to you all!
Note: This article lays a foundation that we can use to discern what the Scriptures teach in regard to the Messiah's relationship with Israel and is the framework I have used to write 'The Hebrew Love Story'. It is extraordinarily important to grasp these principles before reading 'The Hebrew Love Story'.
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