By David J. Riggs

   A. God's law for marriage is as old as the human race.
      1. God established the home as the first divine institution and
         human relationship upon the earth.
      2. When Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees about divorce
         and remarriage, he went all the way back to God's original
         plan for marriage. Matt. 19:1-9
   B. In this study we will ask and answer some basic questions about
      marriage and divorce.

   A. In the Scriptures we see the following purposes for marriage.
      1. Marriage is for companionship. Gen. 2:18
      2. Marriage is to avoid fornication. 1 Cor. 7:1-2
         a. Those who bind the non-use of birth control evidently
            have overlooked this important principle taught in the
         b. They are binding where God has not bound.
         c. One of the purposes of marriage is to be able to engage
            in the sexual act without sinning.
      3. Marriage is for the furtherance of the human race. Gen.     

   A. Marriage, as designed by God, is a covenant by a male and      
      female to be husband and wife to one another.
      1. Notice how the word "covenant" was used for the marriage
         bond when Malachi rebuked the Israelites for divorcing their
         wives. Mal. 2:13-16
      2. Notice, too, that the Lord said He hated "putting away"
         (KJV) or "divorce" (NKJV).
   B. The terms of the original marriage covenant, or marriage law   
      was stated by God in the beginning. Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6
      1. "Shall leave father and mother."
         a. When Jesus quoted God's law of marriage to the
            Pharisees, for the word "leave," he used "kateleipo," an
            intensive form which means "to forsake completely," or
            "to abandon."
         b. A definite and final break is to be made between the new
            family and the two families from which the couple came.
         c. Young couples who determine to get married and live
            with his or her parents are only inviting problems from
            the start.
      2. "Shall cleave unto his wife."
         a. The word used by Jesus is "kollao" and means "to glue
            or weld together."
         b. "To stick together like glue" emphasizes that the
            covenant is for life.
      3. "The two shall become one flesh."
         a. In 1 Cor. 6:16, Paul used the expression, "one flesh" to
            refer to the sexual act.
         b. Thus, the sexual union consummates the covenant of
   C. Under the New Testament law, before a marriage is formed, the
      civil authorities must be obeyed. Rom. 13:1-2
      1. Modern marriages, or I guess they should be called, "modern
         fornications," wherein couples just decide to live together
         without conforming to any civil requirements, cannot
         possibly be pleasing to God.
   D. Another all-important element which constitutes marriage is,
      "divine sanction."
      1. This is an important part of marriage that many are
         overlooking today.
         a. The "joining together" is by God Himself and thus He
            alone can dissever it. Matt. 19:6
         b. A person is released from the marriage covenant only
            upon the conditions set forth by God Himself.
      2. When God joins together husband and wife, they are bound
         for life. 1 Cor. 7:39; Rom. 7:1-2
         a. The usual marriage vows taken as the wedding
            ceremony bind for life. They are usually similar to this:
            (1) "Do you desire, and promise to take this one to
                become your lawful wedded companion; to love,
                honor, and cherish, in sickness as in health, for
                richer or poorer, for better or worse, until death do
                you part?"
      3. There is one exception whereby the innocent party may be
         loosed--we will discuss this thoroughly later--however, the
         plan of God is that the marriage be for life.
         a. Marriage as recognized by man is not always so
            recognized by God.
         b. Husband and wife may resolve to not live together any
         c. They might conform to civil laws in getting divorced
            and also in marrying someone else.
         d. Their bodies might be joined in the sexual act to
         e. However, there is still that all-important element which
            cannot be overlooked--"divine sanction."

   A. We wish to consider here the laws governing separation, not
      1. Remember that God's purpose is that husband and wife be
         together for life. 1 Cor. 7:39; Matt. 19:6
         a. When individuals enter marriage knowing that it cannot
            be dissolved at their own will, it will encourage efforts
            to make the marriage successful.
   B. There are but two alternatives for a person who is separated --
      remain unmarried or be reconciled. 1 Cor. 7:10-11
      1. Someone might ask, "What if one falls in love and marries
         another during the period of separation?" The answer: Rom.
      2. Thus, instead of separating, efforts should be made to      
         repair the marriage.
   C. Some brethren teach error on 1 Cor. 7:15. They say it teaches
      they are not under bondage to keep their marital vows; that is,
      they are no longer married in God's sight.
      1. However, the word "bondage" in verse 15 is not the same
         word "bound" in verse 37 which is the common word for
         a. The word in verse 37 is "deo." Thayer describes this
            word as "to bind, tie, fasten...e.g. to fasten with
            chains...also, to put under obligation e.g. to be bound  
            to one in marriage as in Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:39." (Thayer,
            p. 131)
         b. The word in verse 15 is "douloo" and means "to be
            made subject to the rule of someone" (Thayer, p. 158).
            It is the Greek word for "slave" or "bondservant."
      2. Verse 15 is simply saying that if the unbeliever departs, 
         you are no longer obligated to him. You are not responsible 
         to serve him; you are not responsible to be in service to   
         a. A wife is commanded to be in subjection to her
            unbelieving husband, but if he leaves, she is not under
            bondage to him.
         b. That is, she is not obligated to follow after him and try
            to cook his meals and serve his needs.
      3. The teaching on verse 15 which says they can be remarried
         to someone else contradicts what Paul said in verses 10-11.
         a. Also, it contradicts the Lord who gave only one
            exception for divorce and remarriage. Matt. 19:9; 5:32

   A. We will continue to ask and answer questions regarding marriage
      and divorce in our next lesson.
   B. I realize that we are dealing with an emotional issue.
      1. There are many sinful marriages in our society today.
   C. It is very heart rending when it becomes necessary to explain  
      to people by the Scriptures that they are living in a marriage 
      that God does not sanction.
      1. Nevertheless, we can't excuse or condone sinful marriages.
      2. We can't make new exceptions whereby they might be
   D. We must remember that God ordained marriage for life.
      1. Our society may recognize easy divorce for any cause, but
         that doesn't make void or change God's law.
      2. God's law is absolute and always remains the same.
      3. Let us learn to honor and respect it.

What Constitutes Marriage?

1. A covenant made by a male and female to be husband and wife. Mal.

2. Requirements. Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6

3. Obey civil authorities. Rom. 13:1-2

4. Divine sanction. Matt. 19:6; Rom. 7:1-2; 1 Cor. 7:39