|Putting Away, Departing
When a person's spouse dies, they may marry again and be acceptable in the sight of God
(Romans 7:2,3). When a person puts away their spouse for fornication, they may marry again
and be acceptable in the sight of God (Matthew 19:9). However, when one is divorced for any
other reason (including those who have been put away for fornication) and marries again, it is
not acceptable in the sight of God (Matthew 19:9; etc.). An unacceptable marriage is an
unscriptural marriage. They have no right to be married. If they have no right to be married,
they cannot remain married and be acceptable in the sight of God. Even as a couple may not
remain in a relationship of "living together" because it is fornication; neither can they remain
in a relationship of an unscritpural marriage, because it is adultery. One cannot continue to
commit adultery and be acceptable to God (Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corintihans 6:9-11). They
must repent. They must break up the marriage.
During the period of the restoration of Jerusalem and the temple following the Babylonian
bondage, Ezra addressed the problem of unscriptural marriages among the Jews.
Shechaniah said to Ezra, "Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put awayt all
the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those that
tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be according to the law" (Ezra 10:3).
Ezra later said, "Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the
trespass of Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do
this pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange
wives. Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so
must we do" (Ezra 10:11,12).
The Jews had taken women to be their wives they had no right to take. In order to make things
right, they needed to put away those women. As long as they reamained with those women,
they could not be acceptable in the sight of God. Ezra, the prophet of God, told the people they
must separate; it was the directive of God.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we though
patience and comfort of the scritpures might have hope" (Romans 15:4).
Although we are no longer under the Old Covenant, the principle of repentance shown in the
days of Ezra when the people realized their sin and wished to atone for it, is still applicable
Repentance is a change of min that results in a change of action. It results in quitting what is
wrong, and doing what is right. Paul shows that repentance is more than mere sorrow in II
Corinthians 7:9,10: "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to
repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us
in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the
sorrow of the world worketh death."
He illustrates what repentance really is in Ephesians 4:17-15,28: "This I say therefore, and
testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their
mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the light of God through the
ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have
given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye
have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as
the truth is in Jesus: that ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is
corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that ye
put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore
putting away lying, speak every man truth with is neighbor: for we are members one of
another ... Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the
thing which is good, that he may have to give him that needeth."
Let him that committed adultery, commit adultery, no more.
Unfortunately, many have mistakenly felt that all this needed to rectify an unscriptural
marriage is to say, "I wouldn't do it again," while still retaining the unscriptural marriage. Yet,
what sense does that make? If a thing is wrong, is it right to continue in it? It is not enough to
say, in essence, I wouldn't start it again, especially if you continue to do it. It is like saying, "I
won't steal again, but I won't give back what I stole either." To be in an unscriptural marriage
is adultery. To stay in the unscriptural marriage is to continue committing adultery. To stop the
adultery, the marriage must stop. There is no other way.
To say that the marriage ceremony is the adultery, but the continuance of the sexual
relationship and marriage is not adultery, is ridiculous. It is not the ceremony, but the
relationship that is adultery. Therefore, as long as the relationship continues, the adultery
There can be no denial that emotions play upon the hearts of those involved. The question is
"Which emotions are and should be stronger? Those wich tie us to men (even our spouse) or
those which tie us to God?"
Jesus said, "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that
loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me" (Matthew 10:35). Surely everyone,
at least idealistically, will recognize that love for God must be stronger than ties to any other,
including the spouse. Therefore, as sympathetic as we can be to the difficulties and
emotional strains involved in an unscriptural marriage breaking up, it cannot change what
must be done.
Right is right no matter who is involved. We cannot allow our emotions to determine what is
right or wrong. We must rely upon God's word.
An unscriptural marriage must break up!