Legalistic False Teachers forbid Divorce and Remarriage

Let’s look what the Bible has to say on this topic.

First, consider just how flexible the Old Testament laws were regarding marriage, contradicting the notion that God is somehow incensed at divorce and remarriage:

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.” This shows that a civil divorce is perfectly legal and that afterwards both parties are free to marry anyone, except they cannot marry each other. This proves that marriage is actually not a permanent arrangement.

(Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”)

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 “¶ When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.” Forcing captured foreign women to become concubines is also an acceptable practice – and you can divorce them if it doesn’t work out.

(Matthew 5:17-18 “¶ Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”)

Deuteronomy 21:15-16 “¶ If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:” It is legal for men to marry multiple wives at the same time.
Exodus 21:7-11 “¶ 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.” A man can buy a woman and force her to marry him or his son. He can divorce her, but he can’t re-sell her. She remains his property while he is free to marry additional women.
Exodus 21:3-6 “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 aul; and he shall serve him for ever.” If a master provides his Israelite bondservant with a foreign concubine, she and the children born remain the property of the master when the bondservant’s 7 year term of service ends.
Exodus 22:16-17 “¶ And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins.”

Leviticus 19:20 “¶ And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.”

Deuteronomy 22:28-29 “¶ If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.”

Although adultery with a married woman is punished by the death of both parties, mere fornication with an unengaged free woman, or even with an engaged slave girl, was not.
Leviticus 21:1~14 “And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto the priests the sons of Aaron, and say unto them …They shall not take a wife that is a whore, or profane; neither shall they take a woman put away from her husband: for he is holy unto his God…. I am the LORD. And he shall take a wife in her virginity. A widow, or a divorced woman, or profane, or an harlot, these shall he not take: but he shall take a virgin of his own people to wife.” Israel’s priest-class had stricter marriage requirements – they could not marry divorced women.
Deuteronomy 22:13-21 “¶ If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.” Mere fornication was not a capital offence unless the maid was engaged, as presumed here. Yet since it would be relatively easy for her father to present any clean sheet as his daughter’s alleged “token of virginity” it puts a damper on any attempt by a husband to scandalize his wife’s premarital reputation.
Deuteronomy 25:5-10 “¶ If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand to it, and say, I like not to take her; Then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.” The brother was supposed to marry his brother’s widow even if he was already married. The son born to the woman would inherit his dead brother’s share. A younger son only gets 1/3 of his father’s estate because the elder brother gets 2/3, a double portion. By refusing to marry his elder brother’s widow the younger brother would hope to get 100% of the father’s estate for himself and he avoids paying the woman’s maintenance costs.
Jeremiah 3:1 “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.”

Hosea 1:2 “The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.”

God’s relationship with Israel compared to a man’s marriage with a whore.
Jeremiah 3:8 “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.”

Ezekiel 16:59-60 “For thus saith the Lord GOD; I will even deal with thee as thou hast done, which hast despised the oath in breaking the covenant. ¶ Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant.”

God divorces Israel, yet re-marries in type under a new covenant.
Malachi 2:14-16 “¶ Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” God hates putting away often read as if a blanket prohibition against divorce, but it doesn’t say that. It says a man should not to deal “treacherously” against a godly wife, it doesn’t say he is prohibited from divorcing a bad one.

So we see that even under Moses’ unmerciful and rigorous legalistic system God was very tolerant in recognizing various marriage arrangements that today we would consider highly unusual – such as polygamy, concubines, and slave-wives. All of the combinations are natural ones between a man and a woman, or between a man and several women, in order to be fruitful and produce offspring.

Matthew 5:31-32 “It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Jesus is explaining the difference between outward human righteousness under the law, and the perfectly divine righteousness that is unattainable by human effort.

Notice the exception, that legalists always omit, permitting divorce of a fornicating wife (divorce, not death).

Notice also that adultery is forced upon the wife that is put away – she remarries but she thinks about her first husband, and so does her second husband. Their 2nd marriage is not the adultery, the adultery is in their hearts. (She is thinking about sex with her first husband, he is thinking of the jealousy he is causing the first husband).

Matthew 19:3-12 “¶ 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. ¶ His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.” Jesus is not at all concerned with explaining to the Jews grounds for divorce and remarriage in the technical legal sense – as if he was just a new variety of Pharisee.

Rather, he is concerned with what is going on in the heart during/after divorce that departs from perfect righteousness.

The “adultery” Jesus is talking about here is the same as the “adultery” described here:

Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Mark 10:2-12 “¶ And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” All of Christ’s teachings are aimed at destroying the Jew’s equating of self-righteousness based upon outward keeping the law as if that equated to real righteousness before God who sees our heart and mind. His absolutist teaching on divorce is designed to show supreme perfection, equal with cutting off your arm or gauging out your eyes to avoid sin.
Luke 16:15-18 “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Notice the heart is what matters, its not a comment on the actual legality of divorce.

Romans 10:3-4 “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Matthew 14:3-4 “¶ For Herod had laid hold on John, and bound him, and put him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife. For John said unto him, It is not lawful for thee to have her.” It is, of course, not lawful for a woman to be simultaneously married to two brothers at the same time. However, it does not say when John the Baptist told Herod that it was unlawful, but he must have said this before his brother had legally divorced her.
(see next)
Mark 6:17-19 “For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife. Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:” No divorce from the first brother is mentioned. Herodias is still called Philip’s wife, present tense, even though Herod has now married her. This means the first brother had failed to give a “bill of divorcement” paper required by Deuteronomy 22:13.

Nothing legally prevented her from marrying Herod under Jewish Law except for her first husband’s refusal to cooperate by giving her the proper paperwork (a common situation even today).

Ephesians 5:28-33 “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” The joint-flesh picture is only a type representing some spiritual things; but human marriage is not an eternal spiritual bond.

Marriage is only carnal and hence all agree it does not survive the death of ether party.

1 Timothy 3:2-5 “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” The “husband of one wife” phrase can be taken to mean exactly that – one wife. It says nothing about the number of prior wives from prior divorces.

And we don’t know whether St Paul or St Timothy were ever married at all.

(Those who seek to disqualify preachers by adding “no remarriage” to the passage fail to mention that greed, brawling, impatience, lack of hospitality, and unruly children are equally disqualifying.)

1 Timothy 3:8-12 “Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” The “deacons” also husbands of one wife (each) – meaning monogamous. No mention is made one way or the other concerning divorces and prior wives.
1 Timothy 5:9 “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man,” Paul’s terminology here shows what he could have put in
Titus 1:5-7 “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee: If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;” Elders – the same comment.

If St Paul had wanted to say no prior wives from prior divorces he could have easily done so in any one of these passages – but he didn’t.

Matthew 19:29 “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” Jesus doesn’t condemn forsaking a wife for his sake!
Luke 14:26-27 “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Jesus’ disciples told to follow Christ even to the point of hating their own wives.

Those who accuse divorced ministers of being “disqualified” never mention these verses.

Luke 18:28-30 “Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Same comment:

Leave your wife for the kingdom of God’s sake?!

Matthew 22:28-30 “Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” Again, marriage is a fleshly activity that involves a carnal union, it is not something eternal and spiritual (except in type).
Mark 12:23-25 “In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” Same.

The Jews invented a story of a woman who was bedded by 7 brothers in order to ridicule the afterlife, ignorant that marriage is only an earthly institution.

Luke 20:33-36 “Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” Same comment.
Matthew 1:18-19 “¶ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily.” Getting pregnant during betrothal required the death penalty, however Joseph risked his own death too if after complaining the authorities judged him the father.

So Jesus Christ’s teaching on divorce and re-marriage has been misunderstood as endorsing a new civil code, establishing a new “adultery” that never existed under Moses’ law. In reality Christ was teaching “adultery” of the heart and mind to dispel notions of self-righteousness before God.

Jesus was giving moral teachings, not legislating. He was explaining God’s righteousness who sees our heart and mind, not human righteousness based on outward performance, upon which all human laws are based.

Divorce and remarriage is no more actual “adultery” (Mt 5:32) than looking at a woman with lust is actual “adultery” (Mt 5:28), or unjustified anger is actual “murder” (Matthew 5:21-22), or failing to give our money to everyone that asks is a crime (Mt 5:42), or not helping your enemies is a criminal deed (Mt 5:44), or the failure to be “perfect” should result in life imprisonment (Mt 5:48).

1 Corinthians 7:1-40 “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. A verse by verse examination of 1 Corinthians chapter 7.

The Corinthians’ asked, “Is it holier if men remain celibate and don’t touch women?”

Paul, in his style, reframes, agreeing that groping/ fondling is bad – but he disagrees with celibacy per the next verse.

2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Here is hearty approval – and almost a mandate – that all healthy persons get married in order to satisfy their normal human urges in a lawful way.
3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. St Paul does not condone the “celibacy is more holy” idea of the gnostics.
4 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. Spouses sin if they deprive their mate of biological affections
5 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. Roman Catholics ridiculously claim that Mary and Joseph defrauded each other this way so that their entire marriage was an unconsummated sham.
6 But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. A comment not to be misunderstood: St Paul’s “permission” is still our holy scripture. But Paul – always aware of the danger of legalism – backs off lest what he wrote above pervert marriage liberty into something mandatory and burdensome.
7 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. The rare gift of being without, or mastering, biological urges.
8 I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. It is good – but only if you have such a gift.
9 But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. Those that don’t had “better” get married.

(The word “burn” means with lust, but the implied meaning of burning in hell, which could have been avoided, wasn’t, not to damn, necessarily, but to warn.)

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: “… but the Lord” meaning he is citing Christ’s well-known statements to the Jews against divorce – a statement to prove that mere outward legal compliance does not equate with inner perfection and true divine righteousness.
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. St Paul starts here to expand greatly on what Christ said, because the context and purpose is entirely different:

The true practical application for living in this fallen world is a careful balance reconciling Moses’ “easy divorce” with the “impossible divorce” that Jesus seemed to describe.

12 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. Again, “…not the Lord” doesn’t detract from the scriptural authority of the passage for us Christians, as Christ indicated:

John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. Vs 12-13 show that, despite all you’ve heard, marriages to unbelievers are allowed. They are allowed because marriage is primarily a practical function of necessary human biology – like eating or sleeping.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul writes, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

… but that passage is about socializing with paganism, it’s not about marriage.

No prohibition on marrying unbelievers is found until you get to the re-marriages of widowed Christian women in verse 39.

14 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. A marriage with an unbeliever is sanctified because of the presence of the saved believer who is engaged in a lawful natural function that God condones for our health and the increase of the races.

A spouses salvation may be helpful in avoiding paganism, but otherwise on a human level it is immaterial.

It is more important to marry somebody of your same race and background than to marry a Christian.

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. Thus divorce is allowed – the call to peace trumps all other concerns.

This verse applies to allow nominally “saved” persons to divorce as well because when a “saved” spouse refuses to hear (obey) the Church (commanding what the Bible says) then that person is thenceforth to be considered equal with an unbeliever per Christ’s teaching:

Matthew 18:17 “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”

16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? Paul tells the saved to stay married to their unbelieving spouses.

The function of marriage isn’t to appear in church together on Sundays – it is to perform basic needs of human biology.

Nevertheless, in the midst of it – like working a secular job or in any other endeavour in this world – it is a venue and opportunity for practising our faith.

17 But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. See how “un-radical” Christianity was to upending existing social structures (contrary to all the social-gospel teachings of liberal churches).
18 Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Jews are to remain Jewish, and Gentiles are to remain members of their own nations and cultures. Christianity is about saving souls – it is neither about Judaizing nor Babylonianizing the world.
19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Every culture and race stay where you are – but get saved and follow holiness and the high moral principles of Christ in the place where you are.
20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Men remain men. Women remain women. Jew remain Jew. White remain White. Oriental remain Oriental. Black remain Black. Rich remain rich. Poor remain poor.

What is sanctified and changed is the inner-man, not the outer-man.

21 Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. So paranoia over “evils of chattel slavery” is highly over-rated.
22 For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. No revolt against slavery, focus on spiritual instead:

Romans 6:16 “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Same
24 Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God. Same
25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. Returning to topic of marriage, here it is whether fathers should give their daughters in marriage.

Again, St Paul clarifies that these commands are his, but that doesn’t mean they have any less authority over the Church.

26 I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be. “I suppose” means he is gently giving some concession to their letter with excessive worry about the current sate of marriage in Corinth and their misunderstandings from hearing Christ’s limited teachings on divorce and celibacy.
27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. Paul wraps the entire topic up so nicely and concisely here, but its a set-up right before dropping a gigantic bombshell in the very next verse, one that he will then just glide over so quickly that you will probably miss it if you aren’t paying attention . . .
28 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. HUH!!? Paul has just said that divorce and remarriage is okay. In case you weren’t paying attention, what he said was if you are “loosed from a wife” – meaning divorced – you can “marry” again and “thou hast NOT sinned” !!!

Notice how quickly Paul changes the subject. He knows what he’s doing. He just shocked the “one marriage one lifetime” fanatics with a jolt way way beyond anything they can handle – and he’s smart enough to know the less said the better, as in 1 Corinthians 14:38, “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”

But these verses 27-28 demolish forever the “no divorce and remarriage” heresy that has been the hobby horse of religious control freaks for over 20 centuries.

29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; Before the shock of his announcement that divorce and remarriage is okay can be realized, Paul moves immediately away from any further practical discussion by shifting all attention toward the spiritual and eternal aspect.
30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;  “
31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.  “
32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: He’s now on the side of supporting celibacy, quite contrary to everything else he’s written in this chapter to this point, but a tactful shift given the stun his readers may be feeling, and a good follow up to the more impractical yet spiritual view he’s introducing.
33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. This can’t be seen as undermining what he wrote above, but rather as on observation, and for balance in a discussion that has otherwise put most of the emphasis only on getting married and re-married.
34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband. Again, statements as observations, but not particularly useful or practical to people in most situations.
35 And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. “not that I may cast a snare” means this is a minor note to the practical and common sense position that he gave first – but undoubtedly something of a relief for those who are single by gift and able to receive it.
36 But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. A father is wrong if he fails to give his daughters to marriage in a timely fashion under the foolish notion that marriage is carnal and therefore sinful.
37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. Paul likes to take both sides and chart a reasonable course between them. Here he takes the pressure off, where no necessity (like time or money) exists, so that men won’t give their daughters in marriage unadvisedly, to bad suitors, or too early.
38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better. That is, he does better when the situation is such that no necessities exist, he is not wasting his daughter’s time, and the suitors are not appropriate. When the situation changes, then obviously so should his decision.
39 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. Notice this applies to women widows only. They must marry in the Lord – to a Christian man. Paul indicates that the civil law limited a woman’s ability to freely divorce her husband without his consent, but not so for a man who had power to make that choice regardless. Therefore the leadership of the man is recognized, and thus a woman getting remarried should only be doing so to a Christian man.
40 But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.” Paul recognizes that whatever biological need an old widow may have to get remarried is outweighed by her doing so for social factors and other concerns, energies that would be more much profitably directed toward charitable ends and Christian service.

The historically the fall of the Roman Empire allowed Roman Church authorities to step into the vacuum and assume a dual religious and legislative position, and when they did so they took the marriage laws of pagan Rome – and made them even stricter.  This resulted in the unfortunate misapplication of Christ’s “no re-marriage” moral teachings into the legal code with the alleged “indissolubility” of marriage. Unable to get re-married, the population was forced into adultery, fornication, and pathetic attempts at celibacy.

The impossible marriage standard that they introduced came from the seducing allure of achieving self-righteousness by enacting overly strict laws, and thereby the Roman Church, idolizing the “Virgin” ideal, destroyed not only marriage, but its own credibility.

This fulfilled a prophecy by St Paul:

1 Timothy 4:1-3 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

And by St John:

Revelation 2:20-22 “Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.”

Discerning the Body of Christ in Communion


Jan Huss (Prague) was treacherously burned by the pope for rejecting Roman Catholic idolatry.

Jan Huss (Prague) was treacherously burned by the pope in 1415 for daring to preach against Roman Catholic idolatry.

“For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” 1 Corinthians 11:29.

What does this verse mean?

(link to podcast)

There are (at least) 3 major superstitions regarding Communion that should be avoided:

(1) that a communion service is a re-sacrifice of Jesus Christ and effective to obtain forgiveness of sins;

(2) that the communion bread is the Son of God and should therefore be worshipped;

(3) that Christ is somehow within the bread and therefore eating the bread is receiving Christ.

All three superstitions are based upon scriptural misunderstandings.

Early Reformers, like Jan Hus and John Wycliff, were burned at the stake for their deviations from Rome’s blasphemous ‘transubstantiation’ doctrine, yet many Protestants moved slowly toward a complete and proper understanding of the Lord’s Supper – to one based on scripture alone and free from pagan superstitions. Rejecting Rome’s ‘host’ worshipping idolatry, and their false sacrifice of the mass, many Protestants nevertheless retained notions of Christ’s ‘real presence’ as spiritually present inside the communion elements.

Jesus Christ’s real human body was the ‘bread’ given at the cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. The bread in communion is just a commemorative act – it is only a symbolic remembrance of what Jesus did.

So the ‘bread’ that saves us is only Jesus Christ’s body that he gave for us on the cross. It is received only by faith in the preaching of the gospel (John 6:28-29). The gospel message is that Christ Jesus died for our sins and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

In contrast, the bread taken in a communion service is just an occasion when the people of God can outwardly demonstrate and commemorate their commonly held faith as members of Christ’s spiritual body (1 Corinthians 10:16-22; 11:17-34). The symbolism of the bread shows Jesus’ death, and by eating it together, that shows the communion of the people of God who have all together trusted in Christ. The ceremony is not called a ‘sacrament’ – it is called an ‘ordinance’ (1 Corinthians 11:2).

1 Corinthians 11:29 does not mandate that we recognize Christ’s body inside pieces of bread, but rather that our communion services should be conducted in an orderly fashion so that proper symbolism of the bread and wine can be clearly discerned.

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