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Marriage and the Bible IX

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Question #1:

Hello again Dr. Luginbill,

I truly appreciate you writing me back. I have been reading your literary offerings on Ichthys. There are ideas so profound

I'm ashamed to admit I am still troubled by my remarriage situation. The Catholic Doctrine that I am living in mortal sin has me very concerned for our souls. I guess I am still looking for some sort of biblical hope that we are "ok".

My thought is that with your extensive knowledge in the matters of ancient Greece and the language as well as the Bible, you could give me your take on a few verses.

In 1 Corinthians 7: 8-9, Paul states that umarried and widows should marry rather than burn with lust and then later references that those loosed from a wife could marry and it would not be a sin. My wife's study bible has "unmarried" in the greek "agamos" to include divorced people. I think this might be true as he uses the same word "agamos" for the separated woman in vs. 11. Is it possible here Paul was saying it is ok for divorced people to remarry? Also, do you believe his repeated command to "stay as you are" could mean for the remarried to stay married?

Also I have read much debate on whether or not in Luke 16:18 and Matthew 19:9 Jesus uses the tense of "commits" to mean a one time act or an ongoing perpetual adultery.

I know you are probably busy getting ready for a new fall semester and I apologize for taking your time. I would be truly grateful for any input would really help me and/or any advice you could give that would give me peace. I still pray every day for guidance and relief of guilt but I don't receive it.

Yours in our Christ,

Response #1:

On "guidance and relief of guilt", this comes with spiritual growth. And spiritual growth comes with consistent Bible reading, Bible study, prayer and application. It sounds from the first paragraph that you are on that track (assuming you are reading more than just the marriage materials at Ichthys, that is), so have patience. No one gained spiritual maturity in a day or a week or probably even a month. And in terms of prayer, it is very common for the Lord to have us wait a bit rather than to answer us immediately. Why? Because He doesn't love us? God forbid! Because He DOES love us – and we can't grow unless we have a little resistance, a little testing to help in the process. Just as in exercise. Astronauts in zero gravity get out of shape pretty fast, e.g.

In terms of "Catholic Doctrine", I would take heart if what you are doing is the opposite of what they are recommending because they are wrong – often 180 degrees wrong – on just about everything.

The Bible is the place to look. When it comes to marriage and divorce and remarriage, I'm sure you've read what I've posted at Ichthys. But no matter what scriptures you read, you're not going to get all the information you want or the precise answers to the precise questions you have; and no matter what commentator you read, you will also likely not get the "proof" you're looking for – and will often find things that only confuse you further or fill you with dread and guilt.

Point: all believers are saved (Jn.3:18). That is the fundamental starting point for all such discussions and not only about marriage. Jesus died for all of your sins – and the sins of the entire world. No one is going to the lake of fire because of sins – because Jesus has already paid the entire price for them all. Damnation is for those who reject the gospel, who reject this fact that Jesus paid for them, and who refuse to claim the salvation He offers through simple faith in Him and His sacrifice. So those who rely on good works, who have confidence because they've "never divorced", this will avail them naught at the last judgment if they have also "never believed". But for those who have believed, marriage, divorce, remarriage – and anything else that conjures up guilt, be it a sin or not – have nothing to do with our judgment as believers. We are not going to be at that last judgment where all are thrown into the lake of fire. We are going to be evaluated before Christ's judgment seat for our spiritual growth, progress and production – or lack thereof.

The devil loves this "divorce-remarriage" trap because anyone caught in it is likely to be spending all their time and energy worrying about it rather than doing what the Lord wants them to do – or worse yet, taking unauthorized and foolish action in response to false teaching that will ruin their lives and the lives of others and make things so much worse for all.

On our Lord's statements. Isn't the Lord's main point of castigating the Pharisees that they were for selfish reasons ruining the lives of their innocent spouses by divorcing them in order to marry younger women? That is foul and evil – anyone could see that, I hope. And isn't our Lord's purpose in saying this to head off others doing the same wicked thing? There is nothing in His teaching on this subject that suggests that someone who actually IS married should now GET divorced. That is turning His teaching on its head because it will throw yet another woman out into the street. The tense of the verb is not an issue because there is only one present tense in Greek (unlike English); so what it means is that in marrying someone illicitly, that act of marriage is equivalent to adultery because really the man should never have divorced the innocent woman in the first place.

On 1st Corinthians 7:8-9, yes, that is the way I read it; there are also passages such as 1st Corinthians 7:39, however. If this chapter seems at the same time definitive and yet leaving questions, there are reasons for that: this is a complicated subject – once people complicate things. If we followed Paul's advice, we would stay single and this wouldn't come up. If we did as the Lord tells us and followed the Genesis model of marriage, this wouldn't come up. But we all suffer from "hardness of heart" to one degree or another; we are all sinners; and if we are not overly so, what about the person we marry? The point is that especially in our modern world where many of the restraints have been removed, things are often complicated . . . because we are allowed to complicate them (and if we don't, our spouses very well may).

Am I saying that some people were not wrong to get married in the first place, or were not wrong to get divorced in the second, or were not wrong to get remarried thereafter? Not at all. That depends on the situation. But that is the real point here. We are not really talking about hypotheticals. We are really concerned with actual situations. If a person has sinned by getting married or by getting divorced or by getting remarried, all sins have consequences, and, very importantly as well, all actions which are not what the Lord intends have consequences, natural consequences as well as spiritual ones. So it is well to consider the gravity of important decisions and their rightness or wrongness . . . BEFORE making them. If I break an egg, it cannot be unbroken thereafter. If I marry someone, I can't "unmarry" them. Maybe the law will allow me to get an annulment, maybe I can separate, maybe I can get a divorce. But I DID marry the person. The same thing goes for divorce: you cannot "un-divorce" someone. We do what we do – and we have to live with our decisions and take responsibility for them. Then we make the best of things, and, in terms of marriage, I have given you the principle a number of times now that we are to maintain the status quo: "Are you married, do not seek a divorce" (1Cor.7:27). Yes, there are always consequences for any and all actions we take in this life which are not 100% in the will of God.

"Is it in the will of God for me who am divorced to marry her who is divorced?" Whatever the correct answer to that question may be, it can only be profitably asked BEFORE getting married (and has NO business being asked later). We are believers in Jesus Christ and are saved "by grace through faith" in Him and what He has done for us – and our marital status has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance."
Deuteronomy 24:1-4

We are not under the Law of Moses. We are operating under grace. But for those who want to use the Law to browbeat Christians who have been remarried or divorced into taking inadvisable actions, I find it curious that they have no shame about counseling others to do exactly what the Law forbids above. Just an observation.

Bottom line: you can search Sodom high and low and not find ten righteous persons. Who are the righteous? Those who have God's righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom.3:23; 4:5; 8:1; 8:30; 1Cor.6:11; Phil.3:9; Rev.7:14).

Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”
Galatians 3:11 NIV

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV

You have been justified by faith. You have been saved by grace. You are not going to be saved or lost based on your marital status.

(25b) So then [you can plainly see why] I myself [i.e., the previous Saul] am a slave to the God's law in my mind, but to sin's law in my body [not yet having died to sin]. (1) Now then [on the blessed other hand], there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus [and we are free, having died to sin].
Romans 7:25b - 8:1

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #2:

Sir, you are truly a blessing to all Christians like me who are just getting started in our growth. I can't thank you enough. God is certainly using you as a light of truth to this darkening world. Your words mean so so much to me. If there's anything I can ever do for you please let me know. I know it sounds a little strange, but I am sincere, if there's anything at all I can ever do just say the word. St. Louis isn't that far away and I'd love the opportunity to help you, give to your favorite charity, host you if you ever need a place to stay in St. Louis, etc. You friend in Christ our Savior,

Response #2:

Thanks for your kind words, my friend! They are truly appreciated. In terms of giving, as you know this ministry does not take donations, but I do recommend Bible Academy as a worthy substitute (a good place to check out in any case).

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #3:

My anxiety is back about this subject. I was doing really well but I can't get it out of my head that the pastor actually told me that he tells people in there second marriages to get a divorce. That keeps going through my head that some people actually do what that man said and divorce their spouses. Ugh its really bothering me can you explain to me why people actually do what that pastor has said

Response #3:

Fighting the fight in the heart is the "high ground" of Christian warfare. This side of the resurrection, all who are genuinely pursuing spiritual growth as our Lord has told us to do "will be persecuted", and that means by unseen as well as seen pressures (2Tim.3:12).

As to this "pastor", here are a couple of passages to consider:

"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance."
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 NKJV

Are you married? Do not seek a divorce.
1st Corinthians 7:27

According to the first passage, remarrying a spouse once divorced who has gone on to another marriage is an abomination to the Lord. According to the second, we are directly told NOT to get divorced if married. That, by the way, is what the Lord says too. Of course people do get divorced and they do get remarried. But scripture NEVER tells anyone they SHOULD get divorced. The biblical position is that it's best to maintain the status quo, however one has gotten to that point.

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

These are our Lord's words too. As a believer in Jesus Christ, you are saved. And, being a believer, nothing can snatch you out of His hands (Jn.10:28-29) as long as you persevere in your faith (Col.1:23). Every human being sins. And Christ has died for every single sin. If we confess our sins we believers are forgiven and restored to fellowship with the Lord Jesus and the Father (1Jn.1:9). The Lord died for every sin of every unbeliever too. They are not saved on account of the fact that they refuse to believe in Christ – NOT because of sin. For Christ has already paid for every sin.

Anyone who tells a believer that he/she is "going to hell" for any reason is dead wrong. Why would anyone do that . . . unless they were working for Satan in fact. So when you say "pastor", I would not dignify this individual with that worthy title. A pastor cares for his sheep. Someone who is willing to ruin their lives out of a sense of twisted self-righteousness is acting on legalism – like the Catholic church. In works religions, salvation comes to those who "do what we tell you to do" and faith has nothing to do with it. But the Bible says that salvation is "by grace through faith" and "not of works" (Eph.2:8-9). So works-salvation people and churches are not even saved at all.

At the last judgment, every evil person, every defiler of the truth, everyone who has troubled believers with lies and false teaching – every unbeliever – will be cast into the lake of fire forever, where they will be "punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2Thes.1:9 NIV).

However much this person and people like him are aggravating you now with their lies, that aggravation is not nearly as painful as a single moment in the lake of fire.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4:

[disquisition on 1Cor.7:9 "For it is better to marry than to burn" omitted]

Response #4:

I think this is all very well-reasoned and very-well thought out. It's important to acknowledge that we can't use the passage in question to suggest "I have no choice but to get married NOW". That is a very dangerous mind-set to get into. Another important point, practically speaking, is that we cannot really KNOW we are meant to be single or meant to be married. We can have our suspicions, but God has a way of surprising us. Since we "are where we are" when we become Christians / get serious about serving the Lord, the best approach is to accept where we are and let the Lord lead us forward, being sensitive to His guidance. If we are prejudiced one way or the other, it's bound to cause trouble. And the Lord will, we know, give us what we need to get through in the end, whether special empowerment or a wife. I think that's the bottom line of all this (which is also what I got from your piece).

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #5:

Hi it's me again . I got triggered again by that pastor saying I was going to hell for my second marriage . He told me that he has asked people to divorce and I think to myself he must have so strongly believed in what he was saying to tell ppl to get a divorce. I'll be okay for a while and then it will come back and cause me so much pain and anxiety causing me to have migraines. What can I do to make myself believe I'm not going to hell? Why did he hurt people by telling them to divorce? It hurt my heart. Pls help me understand

Response #5:

First piece of advice: stop listening to this person (or any such person). There are plenty of Mormons and JWs and Muslims and Roman Catholics and all manner of cults who are happy to tell you that you are going to hell if you don't do ABC the way they say and refrain from XYZ the way they say. Does that mean what they say is true?

Only the Bible is true – correctly understood and interpreted.

Where in the Bible does it say "you are going to hell if you don't get a divorce"?


It would be ridiculous if it weren't so evil.

Why does this person say this? It has to do with the devil. The devil wants to trip up believers, and especially any believers who are making spiritual progress. He will use any lie that works. He uses misplaced guilt feelings as his weapon of choice. If he has had success in the past, he will continue to attack as long as he has such success.

So what is needed is 1) to not listen to lies; 2) to dismiss lies from your heart; 3) and very importantly to give attention to the truth. I strongly urge you to be reading into this ministry (or some other good Bible teaching ministry – Bible Academy is excellent; at the link). Because without a good store of truth – ammunition against lies – it's hard to put such things to rest.

Keeping you in my daily prayers, my friend.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #6:

Hi Bob,

I hope you've had a good day.

I'm grateful for what I've learnt just recently about people who aren't interested in the truth - including family and friends. Leaving alone those who want to be left "to their own devices" and to let them make what "choice they will". That's not to say I won't be there for them if they need me because of course I will. They know where I am and I'll never stop praying for them.


So I hand them over to the Lord in prayer along with all my weariness. Thankfully the frustration has gone now. The Lord knows my heart and that I only ever tried to help them in obedience to Him and for their sakes - never for myself. It's their choice at the end of the day.

And another one of our Odii's gems that I've taken on board:-

"I've satisfied my conscience now that if someone really wants the truth they will move heaven and earth to find it".

So I'll be quietly focusing on looking after my family as the Lord wants me to and getting my head down on my own to study His Word and continue to press forward in the truth. I'm sorry that this has taken me so long to grasp and that you've had to listen to it for so long. If I had been a bit further along and more spiritually mature it's not even something I would have written to you about in detail. I would have been quicker off the mark with it. But it's all experience and I will be next time.

It's a good place for me to finally get to. It's good to care and to love and to hope for the best for others - but not to be naïve or lose my common sense when it's obvious that they don't want or love the truth. I'm done with all that now and I feel much better for it.

Thank you, Bob for being so patient with me. I hope your meeting goes well tomorrow and I'm still praying for you.

Your friend in our dear Lord Jesus

Response #6:

I'm happy to hear that you are getting some peace on this. We also have to remember that "there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him" (Eccl.8:6 ESV). In other words, I'm not a patient person and whenever I am uncomfortable for any reason I'm even less so. But God's timing is perfect (and in this case God has a perfect plan for you and for your husband too).

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
1st Peter 3:1-2 NASB

Which is what you are doing. And on the obedience part, Peter says just a little later . . .

For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
1st Peter 3:5-6 NASB

Which is to say that "obedience" extends just as far as legitimate authority does – but not beyond. So don't stop reading your Bible!

Thanks for those prayers! I'll let you know how it goes. Keeping you and your family in mine day by day as well.

In Jesus Christ our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #7:

[family opposition to Bible reading omitted]

Response #7:

Being at peace is so important. It's the one revamped commandment for the Church Age. Our Sabbath rest is a daily all-time one. We only have today, and today we only have to make a pleasant, short Sabbath-day journey, hand-in-hand with our Lord. He leads along the path, and He is with us even if today's road leads through a deep, dark valley. Whatever happens, He protects us and provides for us – and we end up with Him in glory, with a "cup overflowing".

Good to hear you've gotten your NASB! I check it when there are issues and I wonder how a more literal take might look (not that I always agree with the way they go). It's good to have; it was the version our seminary preferred. [note; the new NASB20 version has only intensified the problems with NASB – I couldn't recommend that one]

Keeping you and your family in my daily prayers, my friend.

In Jesus our dear Lord,

Bob L.

Question #8:

Greetings Robert,

Thank you for sending your study notes on the topic of the church.

The Lord has opened our eyes over the past couple decades to the reality that indeed the church is not about a building nor denomination. Much of our work on Sunday now is directly ministering the gospel to the elderly in nursing homes.

Regarding the church as the bride of Christ, many professing christians today are not willing to forgive their God joined one flesh spouse and opt instead for hard hearted divorce and marrying another (which God calls adultery in Luke 16:18, Romans 7, Mark 10). A call to repentance on this issue is of utmost importance toward those who remain in such adulterous relationships. Our one flesh spouse is our closest neighbor, and failing to forgive means God will not forgive: "And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us." (Luke 11:4) "And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses." (Mark 11:25-26)

"And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matt. 18:34-35).

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,

Response #8:

Thanks: I do think this recent study, BB 6B (link) will shed a great deal of light on that subject.

On the issue of marriage, however, I would counsel you to take a deeper look. When you write, "Our one flesh spouse is our closest neighbor, and failing to forgive means God will not forgive", you seem to be assuming, just for example, that everyone who is divorced had some choice in the matter. It is possible in this country for a spouse to divorce another spouse entirely against their will. And what about when the other spouse is not willing to be forgiven, not willing to change conduct and abuse that is potentially life-threatening, no matter how often the other says "I forgive you"? These are just two examples of situations that occur every day.

There is a reason why the Bible does not in fact provide one-size-fits-all guidance on this thorny issue. And it is very dangerous to suggest that it does when in fact it does not (see below). I have counseled many individuals whose lives have been threatened with complete destruction on account of irrational guilt that false teaching on this issue provides. Should a happily married couple ruin their marriage, destroy their children, and cause undue pain to their families to satisfy the strictures of ministries which teach falsely on this issue, to try to go back to, e.g., an abusive and homicidal alcoholic who wants nothing more to do with his former spouse in any case?

Nowhere does the Bible counsel divorce, but that is precisely what many who misunderstand what the Bible says about this issue are telling others to do.

I don't mean any offense. But this really is a complicated issue in the Bible and those who have a happy Christian marriage without ever having been divorced are really not in a position to judge others who have not been so blessed. So I would strongly urge you to read some of the postings on Ichthys about all this (happy to answer specific questions). Here are a few links which will lead to others:

Marriage and the Bible VIII

Marriage and the Bible IV

A Conversation about Divorce and Remarriage

What about Christians who Remarry?

Divorce and Remarriage: What does the Bible say?

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #9:

You are correct that many do not want to receive forgiveness and do not want to reconcile their God joined marriage. This does NOT assume that either party in a marriage is free to marry another just because a divorce is obtained from a lawyer. One is allowed to "remain unmarried or be reconciled", so no, I am not counseling people to force reconciliation against the will of the hard-hearted spouse who does not want to receive it.

You are also correct that the New Testament does not ever instruct people to get a divorce. Think about it, why would a divorce need to be obtained when repenting from an adulterous marriage? As Jesus told the woman taken in adultery "go and sin no more" (he did not say to get a divorce). Regarding a God joined one flesh marriage, why would paying a lawyer fee to obtain divorce paperwork change God's mind as to who He has made one flesh until death? Furthermore, why would a new civil magistrate issued marriage license change God's mind regarding the Bible definition of adultery?

There are now many civil magistrate approved marriages of men with men who have adopted children and by the milk of human kindness standard have very "happy well adjusted family lives" with the children well clothed, fed, and educated. Though you may or may not have ever had homosexual temptations, I trust that you see from the Bible that man with man marriage relationships are not really God joined one flesh marriages in the eyes of God, and as such you would counsel men in such circumstances to "go and sin no more". Again, obtaining divorce paperwork from a lawyer is not necessary in the eyes of God to dissolve and repent of unbiblical marriages.

While the consequences of sin lead to many complex situations in this life, unrepentant adulterers and unrepentant homosexuals will both face the awful punishment of eternal hell fire. This Bible truth must be kept in mind as we seek to win lost souls for Christ in this sex crazed culture in which we live....

God helping us,

Response #9:

You wrote: "unrepentant adulterers and unrepentant homosexuals will both face the awful punishment of eternal hell fire".

1) How do you understand salvation? Are you saying that it is of works and not of faith?

2) Are you saying that married individuals can commit adultery by having relations with each other?

3) Are you actively counseling remarried Christians to either get divorced or to cease having relations with each other?

It sounds as if you are doing all three – and all three are dangerously wrong.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #10:

To answer your questions,

1) Salvation is by faith

2) Yes, it is the Bible that says remarried people are committing adultery (notice the present continuing verb forms in Luke 16:18, it is not only adultery in the initial act of "marrying another") it is adultery every time they have sex with the person who is not their God joined one flesh spouse.

3) Yes, I am actively counseling people living in adultery to repent, and "remain unmarried or be reconciled" to the God joined spouse until death fulfills the marriage relationship; upon death of the spouse they are free to marry someone else (and Christians to marry only in the Lord).

hope this helps,

Response #10:

1) You write here "Salvation is by faith"; but you wrote before "unrepentant adulterers and unrepentant homosexuals will both face the awful punishment of eternal hell fire". If a person is a believer, they are not going to hell. If a person is an unbeliever, he/she is going to hell – regardless in both cases of their relationship status, whether or not you are correct in your analysis of remarriages. So what does it say if you are telling believers they are going to hell? How is that not rank Pharisaical legalism, attempting to (wrongly) terrify others into getting them to do what YOU want them to do? Even if you were correct in your analysis, that would be like telling someone that they are going to hell for drinking alcohol, just because you personally don't agree with drinking alcohol. Of course, urging someone to destroy their present marriage is a whole lot worse than trying to get them to stop drinking by such unbiblical sophistry..

2) You write here "it is the Bible that says remarried people are committing adultery". However, the verse you adduce does not say what you think it says. Here is a good translation of the verse in question which brings out what it actually means:

"Whenever someone divorces his wife and marries another, he commits adultery; and whenever someone marries a woman divorced from another man, he commits adultery".
Luke 16:18

The act of wrongful divorce and remarriage was an offense against the first spouse and equivalent of an act of adultery; this does not say that having relations inside marriage, any marriage, is adulterous.

Divorce and remarriage for insufficient cause was not legitimate under the Mosaic Law – and all of the individuals in this context were subject to the Mosaic Law. However, as our Lord says elsewhere, there was an exception, even under the Law (Matt.19:9). But you are pretending that exceptions do not exist, and you are not even looking into the circumstances of the divorce when you tell people they are going to hell.

Even worse, please note that our Lord does NOT tell these terrible Pharisees who have indeed violated the whole principle of marriage and wrongly divorced their prior wives to NOW get divorced and go back to their previous spouses. No verse in the New Testament does that. Why not? Because a marriage is a marriage. Even in the verse above our Lord affirms that these people HAVE "married" ("and marries another"). That would not be correct if what they had done was somehow not a marriage. But that is what you are telling legally married people, namely, that they are not married.

3) You write here: "Yes, I am actively counseling people living in adultery to repent". Biblically speaking, it is impossible for two married people to be "living in adultery" with each other. Neither that flawed concept nor that terminology is found in the Bible. Adultery is what happens when people who are not married to each other but to others have relations outside of marriage. The people you are talking to are legally married. Perhaps they did not have reasonable grounds for divorce – but you don't have any idea because you are not even asking that question. God defines marriage as marriage; nowhere in His Word is this idea to be found that a legal marriage is not a marriage He expects the parties to honor – even if they got there in ways of which you do not approve. And what about the children?

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Matthew 18:6 NKJV

The above only scratches the surface of the problems of what you are teaching and doing. I urge you to reconsider and AT LEAST look into the matter at Ichthys at the links previously provided.

This is dangerous business.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Hi Robert,

I was a child of parents who divorced, and my dad then married a woman who was divorced (and her husband still living). The so called 2nd marriage was not a good influence as the family then begins to think divorce is ok. What is legal is defined by God ultimately in the Bible. Where man's laws go against God's laws, we follow God and not man.

Response #11:

I'm sorry to hear of your past trauma.

Divorce is terrible. That is why God "hates it" (Mal.2:16). And remarriage is problematic for all manner of reasons. But marriage in the first place is not without trouble, which is why Paul said "I wish that all men were even as I myself am" (i.e., single: 1Cor.7:7 NASB).

The scriptures are our guide to these matters. So I always keep it simple when people ask me about these issues: 1) If single, better not to marry; 2) if married, better not to divorce; 3) if divorced, better not to remarry; 4) if remarried, better not to divorce. This has the virtue of being consonant with what the Bible actually says and teaches (1Cor.7:26-28). When you say "the family then begins to think divorce is ok", that may be a problematic bad influence, but that can't be extrapolated into a biblical principle – as if because uncle Joe is an abusive alcoholic we are allowed to proclaim alcohol use anti-biblical because we don't like the potential negative effects of alcohol use. We have to let the Bible be our sole guide on all matters of faith and practice. On that we agree. Where we disagree is on what the Bible states.

I reiterate, the Bible nowhere counsels divorce – just the opposite.

I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.
1st Corinthians 7:26-28 NASB

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Robert,

The point being made in ..."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.

For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

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."

(1 Cor. 7:15-17 KJV).... is that you REMAIN in the calling of being separated from the unbelieving spouse who desires to leave. Such a one is not under bondage to chase after an unbelieving spouse who does not want to reconcile. NO PERMISSION is given to enter another marriage while the first spouse is living. (see 1Cor. 7:39 as the summary of what is being taught in context).

In reference to "concerning virgins... 1st Cor. 7:25 and the verses that follow, these are people who have NEVER YET consummated in the marriage bed, they would have been betrothed (espoused) and as such would already be called wife / husband. Betrothals can be broken off for the cause of fornication (note Mary and Joseph for example when Joseph thought she had committed fornication he was going to put her away as a just man). This is consistent with the exception clause given in Matthew chapters 5 and 19, as the narrow meaning of the word fornication is sex before the consummaiton of marriage as apposed to the narrow meaning of the word "adultery" which is a married person having sex with someone other than the God-joined spouse.

May the Lord give you understanding,

Response #12:

You wrote in summary of 1st Corinthians 7:15-17, ". . . NO PERMISSION is given to enter another marriage while the first spouse is living". Let's assume for a moment that you are correct in all circumstances without exception (ignoring, e.g., Matt.5:32; 19:9; and other interpretations of the passage here), the fact that no permission is given does NOT authorize or "give permission" to divorce if a person remarries anyway. The Bible NEVER counsels divorce. We are to stay in the situation we are in (1Cor.7:25-40).

What if we don't? What if we change our situation against what the Bible says and do so without excuse? Then we are to remain in the situation we are in thereafter. The Bible NEVER says we should try and unscramble any such omelet we've made. Not to mention that it is impossible to do so. That is no doubt why our Lord does NOT tell the self-righteous Pharisees to now get divorced from the new wife and go back to the old wife. That is adding evil to evil (cf. Deut.24:1-4). Omelets cannot be unscrambled. If I slander someone, I can't put that back in the bottle. No matter how much I may try to "do" so, I can't "make it right". But God DOES forgive when we sin if we confess to Him in true repentance, determining not to repeat the error. That repentance does not require us to go back and "fix it" because "it", whatever "it" is can never be fixed. Trying to "fix things" is the devil's work. God offers forgiveness, not Roman Catholic penance. Show me a verse where married people are told to divorce. It doesn't exist – and for good reason. So even if a brother or sister was in the wrong to divorce in the first place (as mentioned, there are exceptions, and it is also possible to BE divorced against one's will), and even if said brother or sister gets remarried "without permission", that is, against what the Bible says, while that would be a sin, all sin is forgiven when we confess – NOT on the basis of any works we do thereafter to try to "fix it".

You are mortal, you are human, you sin too. And when you do, God forgives you when you confess. Are some sins worse than others? Certainly there are sins that do great damage, and getting married wrongly will no doubt bring discipline from the Lord and many other naturally negative consequences as all such misdeeds do. But does that mean that God does not forgive? Jesus died for all sins, and all sin is forgiven when a believer confesses. Why do you assume that this sin of remarriage (if in a given case it really was a sin) is not capable of being forgiven? One thing I can tell you for certain is that no human being can wipe away sin by any human action, no matter how drastic or painful. Only God can forgive – and He always does in Jesus Christ for believers who confess. But that is not enough for you. You are demanding that people destroy their lives and the lives of others in order to be forgiven. But are you the one in whose hands this forgiveness lies? If you want to blame this questionable "advice" on God, show me a passage where divorce is commanded for remarried believers.

On the other passage, 1Cor.7:25ff., while part of it has to do with the never married and the particular problem of arranged marriages, part of it CLEARLY has a wider application: e.g., "Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed." (1Cor.7:27). You're not saying that those "bound to a wife" are virgins, are you? So clearly you'll have to deal with this context too, the essential point of which is "stay where you are at – wherever that is". People who violate that guidance are always sorry for it, and if they are sinful in doing so (not always the case: "If you marry, you have not sinned"), they will no doubt receive discipline for the act of wrongful change (divorce or marriage) – but all sin is forgiven – since Christ paid the penalty for it all – whenever a believer confesses their sin to the Lord.

Consider this. You have wrongly counseled married people to divorce. Some may have done so to the great confusion of their lives and the lives of others whom they thus harm. And even if they have not followed your bad, non-biblical "advice", you have no doubt caused a great deal of harm and suffering in misplaced guilt of damnation (!?) for brothers and sisters who do not do what you say. I can well understand that you don't want to admit what you have done. But hardening your heart against the truth is only doubling down to go from bad to worse.

Understand: you don't owe any apology to me – but you do owe confession to the Lord. There is no "fixing" what you have done. True repentance acknowledges that the sin has been against the Lord and the Lord only (Ps.51:4), and is not to be repeated in the future.

Offered in the love of Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13:

Are two men who claim to be married to each other REALLY married to each other in God's eyes? Should they remain together or separate?

It is confusing to even understand where you are coming from.

Response #13:

I'm confused that you profess to be confused.

In direct answer to your question, what unbelievers do and what godless, secular governments allow should mean nothing to us. Believers are responsible to follow the laws of God and the laws of the governments He establishes, just as long as the latter does not require us personally to do things that violate His commands.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
Romans 1:26-27 NKJV

Pretty clear. All such carnal relations are desperately sinful. No exceptions.

Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
1st Corinthians 7:3 NKJV

Pretty clear, married men and women on the other hand are required not to deprive each other. No exceptions. Believers who are married are married. It is not for you to tell them otherwise. Marriage is an institution God gave to all and whose administration God has given to the governments He has established. So believers who are married are married.

I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress—that it is good for a man to remain as he is: Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife. But even if you do marry, you have not sinned;
1st Corinthians 7:26-28a NKJV

Pretty clear. Stay as you are. There are exceptions here (some covered by our Lord, some mentioned in this chapter, and in the course of life people sometimes violate this good counsel).

For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, "For it covers one’s garment with violence," Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.”
Malachi 2:16 NKJV

Pretty clear. God hates divorce. Divorcing your partner without solid grounds (these do exist on occasion) is "dealing treacherously", breaking the promises one has made, promises upon which one's spouse and others (children in particular) depend. And that is true of ALL marriages in which believers are involved (we're not concerned with unbelievers' marital status: we give them the gospel if they show receptivity). Just because a person has done wrong in the past (and believers are forgiven when they confess: 1Jn.1:9), does not give them permission to do wrong in the present. A second divorce does not "cure" a first divorce; a second divorce is just as bad as a first divorce.

You are counseling married believers to get divorced – without even looking into individual circumstances (were they divorced against their will? Did their spouse commit adultery against them? Were there circumstances that made it dangerous to stay in the marriage?).

God hates divorce. But you have no scripture to support you in advocating for it.

You seem to be staking everything on your erroneous opinion that anyone who has been divorced and remarried is committing adultery. But I have demonstrated to you that the passage you use doesn't say that at all. Nor did our Lord tell the Pharisees who were guilty of wrongful divorce to now get divorced again. Nor did He tell them to go back to their first wife. Nor do you take into account that He gives an exception. One could go on.

Where am I coming from? I'm trying to help you avoid serious consequences (1Cor.4:6). If one person ruins their life – and the lives of others – by following your anti-biblical "advice", . . . . ?

Written in the love of Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14:

Dear Dr Luginbill,

May I ask, what are your thoughts on guy/girl platonic friendships? Do you think it is advisable or inadvisable (assuming both are true believers)? On the one hand, it seems to me in the NT, there were at least friendships (not sure on how close) between Paul and Phoebe and a few others. And the Lord's approaching the woman at the well makes me think the Pence Rule (where he refuses to meet with anyone other than his wife) is not Biblical. Or perhaps it is different for Him.

I was going to bring up a counterexample I have seen. There was this guys and girl I knew who had been friends for years and one day they just stopped meeting up. But that may be more of an individual thing, not a gender thing. (I mean same-gender friendships can be superficial, too). Obviously we shouldn't fake whether we enjoy someone's company. No offense to a lot of guys, but they are not the best conversationalists most of the time. (And of course it is true that us gals are very emotive). But it is common when one of the two gets married that the friendship falls apart because you don't want your spouse to feel threatened. But then, in an ideal church, will the singles and marrieds each just hang out with each other only? This of course would include the widowed and divorced, etc.

Anyway, what do you think?

Four years ago it was the case that nearly half of America was single (whether never married, divorced or widowed), and we are only getting married later and living longer; and the trajectory of marrying young and only being married once into you sixties before you die is almost nonexistent now. So I think this is important and only becoming more and more visible.

I really don't know what our society with such a lack of any stable relationships or support systems will look like. If it isn't your parents or your siblings, or extended family, or community, as all of that has fallen apart; and obviously not marriage, what is there? All that is left is God. We are on our own individually now.

PS: But of course, if someone left their believing friends when they married and later were widowed and divorced, their friends might not welcome them back if they feel abandoned. But I suppose the answer is to just make new friends? But how can friendship ever be more than superficial when you know that as soon as they find another significant other, they will drop you too? This seems to create an environment where no one can be relied upon and everyone will have to be out for themselves (I mean, if no one can be relied upon to help you in a bad situation, you have to take care of it yourself simply as self-preservation).

Response #14:

This is another case where theory is fine but the proof is in the pudding. What I mean by that is we are talking about the application of spiritual principles here, so that every friendship would have to be considered on a case by case basis focusing on the two believers involved.

Human beings are weak. For that reason, all non-Christian friendships are problematic (and largely pointless). When it comes to friendships between Christians, the more they are based upon a mutual love for the truth of the Word of God, the better they are because their foundation is more secure.

Even so, Christians need to be careful. The evil one is always looking to compromise us and in this area – because of our inherent weaknesses – there is usually an avenue for attack. So caution and realism are still important when two Christians of the opposite sex strike up a one-on-one friendship. It's foolish not to keep the dangers in mind at all times – so as to take precautionary measures (e.g., meeting up at some public place rather than in somebody's apartment).

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

I hope your week went well! I was dragging all week, but hope to get some rest this weekend.


Because the Holy Spirit is guiding me to teach women and girls, I know that this same trap [of false teaching about women having to submit to men in all circumstances] will be something that I will be often bumping up against in trying to help others come to the Lord and grow spiritually.

Here are my questions:

1. In Genesis 3:16 when God said that “…Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you,” was He only talking about marriage: an individual woman’s relationship with her husband or was He cursing all women to always be under the control of all men in every era and in every kind of community?

2. Was Eve created to be physically weaker than Adam before the fall or did God change her and her descendants to be physically weaker than men so that it would be possible for the husbands to rule and as part of her judgment?

3. How far can Christian men take this part of the Genesis curse on Eve and all women in individual/community relationships in the church? I do agree that I should submit to my future husband, but what about my relationship with other men who are not my father? How much power/control does God allow men to have over women who are not their wives? There are so many pseudo-Christian cults and fundamentalist churches that use this verse (among others) to advocate abusive relationships between men and women and not just between husbands and wives. For example…I stumbled upon a website where a Christian man (not Mormon) was using Genesis 3:16 and other verses to teach that God created men to be naturally polygamous and gave them polygamous desires, but women were not created to be this way. Because of this, he was teaching that polygamy is not only advocated and instituted by God, but that monogamous relationships are actually spiritually damaging to men! These are the kinds of false teachings and lies that the evil one uses to alienate unbelieving women and immature Christian women from Christ. I saw and read these types of teachings from those who claim to be men of God when I was young, hurt and vulnerable. I thought these men truly represented who God was and it turned me against Him.

4. Can men justly use Genesis 3:16 or any other verses in scripture to advocate political enslavement of women to men? The history of sinful mankind is characterized by wicked/abusive relationships: individual and collective, between different nations, different races and between family members. I know women are just as sinful as men and can hurt/tempt/rape/kill other women (like Lot's daughters), children and men too, but because we are physically weaker than men it is easier for men to hurt us and take advantage of us. Throughout history men have usually collectively and violently ruled over women. I know this is the result of sin and our fallen state, but the devil is using this history to alienate women from God, like he did with me. God does punish the collective evil of nations with military conquests/control by other nations and slavery has been a part of this. Throughout history both men and women could and do become slaves and God regulated the slavery happening in ancient Israel. Also I can see His love and mercy towards men and women when reading all of the different statutes in the Mosaic law outlined in the Old Testament, especially those regarding slavery.

I think most women in 1st world countries are blessed with more political freedoms and rights than women other eras of history and in other parts of the world but, again, a lot of cults and fundamental churches teach that this is a bad thing. I am very grateful to God that I have the freedom and ability to seek my own employment and earn my own wages without having to marry a man (for economic reasons) or become a concubine. I may be a “slave” to my employer, but the laws in this country protect me from becoming a sexual slave. More than ever before Christian women have freedom to devote to growing closer to God and developing their ministries, especially single Christian women.

In our culture so much of the Bible teaching for women it is fluff that focuses too much on marriage and relationships without helping women to learn the deep things the Bible teaches which will bring them closer to Christ. That is why I want to teach God’s Word correctly to women… so we can move beyond all of the relationship talk, defend against all the false teaching, guard against the political manipulations and get into the meat of Scripture. I know we are under the Genesis curse (which is also blessing) but we should not be making idols out of men or our husbands.

Again – no rush in getting back to me this week. And please let me know if you, your family or anyone else on the Ichthys prayer list need more specific or urgent prayers!

In Christ's Love,

Response #15:

I am personally appalled at the multiplicity of incidents of ill-treatment of woman by any number of churches, denominations and men claiming to be "Christian"; this is a longstanding problem as you know.

Likewise the husbands are to live together [with their wives] in accordance with [biblical] knowledge (i.e., according to what the Bible has to say by word and example about how to properly treat one's wife), [behaving] as [one ought] towards the more delicate female person (i.e., in respect for their femininity). [You husbands] must bestow [all appropriate] honor [on your wives] as fellow heirs of the grace of [eternal] life, so that your prayers may not be hindered (i.e., sin in this regard compromises prayer).
1st Peter 3:7

The above is paralleled by many specific scriptures, and it is also certainly the case that the Bible generally promotes loving relationships where humility is the rule, and NEVER arrogant wielding of authority in oppressive behavior. But people always misuse the Bible.

Husbands are the authority in a marriage relationship, but that authority is circumscribed by the principle of love and mutual belonging one to another (1Cor.7:3-5; Eph.5:22-33).

Outside of that, the only thing scripture has to say on the matter of authority is that women are not allowed to be the pastor-teacher of a congregation (which, as we have discussed before, does not mean that they can have no teaching role, just not the authoritative one which rules the whole church). And as I always also point out, men without the gift are not allowed to be the pastor-teacher either – and even those with it are not to be put in a position of authority until they are prepared and unless they pass the tests outlined in the pastoral epistles.

With that background, on to your questions:

1) Marriage is meant only.

2) Women and men perfectly complement each other – under paradise conditions. In Eden, there was, as I have written and discussed in BB 3A, no functional authority relationship to speak of because there was no sin, no curse, no necessity. The Bible doesn't say that women were made weaker. The curse is about "desire" for a husband. As I have also noted, without having the desire for a husband and a family hard-wired in, it would be understandable if women seldom got married.

3) Men and women are (theoretically) equal in our society, and I see no biblical mandate for relegating women to a second class status in the Church, nor any biblical mandate for them to be submissive (a loaded word) to men generally. They are to be RESPONSIVE (better word) to their husbands. Having said that, we live in an imperfect world. We are responsible for what we say and do as witnesses to Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are watched and evaluated, whatever we do. Somewhere between aggressive disrespect and cowing submissiveness is a good place for all of us to be in how we relate to others in authority in this world. The world, it is a fact, expects different things from women than from men. We are aware of those expectations and take everything into account in how we decide to comport ourselves. But we do not allow trivial matters to stop us from doing what Christ wants us to do in this world. From recent posting:

Question #10:

What does it mean to "give way to fear" in 1st Peter 3:6?

Response #10:

NKJV has, a bit more literally, "not afraid with any terror" in 1st Peter 3:6. In other words, Peter is commending respect for husbands from their wives, but is very careful to distinguish this godly behavior from being terrified of – or terrorized by – their husbands. Marriage is a two-way street as Peter is also very clear about in the context. So a husband is to treat his wife with love so that she feels no terror, and she is to show respect even though it is not being forced upon her. Also, "not afraid of any terror" will mean that a wife will do the right thing for Jesus Christ first, even as she truly respects her husband. And she will not allow herself to be terrorized into omitting what she should do or doing what she should not do as a Christian woman, even though she is married (and possibly to a less than honorable man).

Here is a link on this: "Patriarchy?".

4) No. Not with any validity, at least. Just because something is a historical fact doesn't mean it's ordained by God. Your examples of slavery and polygamy are good parallels here. They were both endemic in times past (and still have not disappeared entirely), but it's hard for any enlightened person to argue that they were "good institutions".

I heartily agree that "love and marriage" constitutes a greatly disproportionate percentage of the "teaching" of most Laodicean churches (to the extent that they teach anything), and that it also mostly strays into areas which scripture does not mention and comes up with conclusions which are not biblical. Freedom is like the internet: it's an opportunity. Can the opportunity be abused? Yes, and it frequently is; but I'd rather have it for myself and take responsibility for using it wisely rather than having it taken away.

Do feel free to write me back about any of this, my friend.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Dr. Luginbill,

Thank you for answering my questions this week. How did your week go?

I did get some rest this week, so now I am a off my usual schedule and trying to catch up. The Fire department had another fitness training event this weekend, which helped me get a better idea on what I need to be working on with my training. I ended up having to go to a salvage yard to buy a tire to practice with – part of our test is having to use a heavy mallet to strike a tire, pushing it across a table within a certain amount of time.

Thank you for your answers to me about my questions concerning the status of women in history in relation to men and what God’s Word really teaches were very, very helpful. Concerning 1 Peter 3:7:

"Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers." (NIV)

Is Peter only talking about our physical weakness in comparison to men?

Also do you know of any decent book that I can read to help me understand more about the way people lived in the ancient middle east? I would like to have a background understanding of what the norms were during those times. I know this differed greatly from culture to culture - the Israelites were living a lot differently from the nations around them.

Please let me know if there are any specific prayers I can pray for you or anyone on the Ichthys prayer list this week!

In Christ's Love,

Response #16:

Wow! You have to be tough to be a firefighter! Keeping you in my prayers on this.

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel (skeuos), and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
1st Peter 3:7 NKJV

On 1st Peter 3:7, yes, the word 'skeuos', "vessel", refers to the physical body (cf. 1Thes.4:4). It's certainly true that the average female is slightly smaller in stature and slightly weaker in strength than the average male – that seems to me to be part of the design reflected in Genesis chapter two. Because we certainly know that mentally and spiritually men and women are equals, with equal rights to winning the eternal rewards that the Lord will give for doing the jobs He gives us in this world. That's in the same verse, after all: "heirs together of the grace of life", with "heirs together being a single word, 'synkleros', meaning very directly that we all have a share in Christ and in the New Jerusalem – but of course the level of reward related to that share will differ person to person depending NOT on our gender but on how we performed for Jesus Christ in this life.

The effects of the physical differences mentioned above were more pronounced in the ancient world, it seems to me, since almost all professions and ways of earning a livelihood were physically intensive in a way not true today. And of course, we are talking about a general rule here. In the USMC, I had more than one Marine who was less than average size but was married to a woman who was taller and larger (and it was not uncommon to hear of the wife getting the better of things in a dust-up).

So I don't think Peter is addressing the biblical roles or the cultural limitations placed on women in antiquity (this differed from place to place and time to time, with Rome of Peter and Paul's day being probably the most benign place for women in the ancient world). Given the time and place, spousal abuse was not uncommon, so Peter's words in the Spirit here are important, telling the men that just because a woman may not be able to put up a physical fight does not give her husband any right to rely on physical force in their relationship: as believers, we are all equal heirs, and if a man does go that route it will be going against God – resulting in hindered prayers.

I don't really know of a satisfactory book on this subject. Just on the subject of "woman's role in society", think of how different the answer to such a question would be just in our country between, 1820, 1920 and 2020 (not to mention gradations therein). As a result, "manners and customs" books tend to be so general as to be nearly or totally worthless. Add to that the fact that for many of the time periods one would be  interested in the sources are quite limited. For more on this, see the link (skip down to Q/A #9):


My week went well – thanks for asking. Put year Peter #28 to bed finally. Taking this week to catch up on some things around the homestead.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #17:


I have a question regarding a subject that I am sure you receive many questions about: Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage. Although I am not a Theologian or a Professor, I have looked up countless position papers, research papers, etc. (which, I’ll admit, has caused me quite a bit of confusion with the numerous opinions available). Being divorced myself, I am biased as to why this topic is so important to me. In my research, it appears that the early church fathers did not allow for remarriage, under any circumstances, even adultery. From the writings of some, it appears they even advised that one in a second marriage should cease performing their marital duties and, if possible, return to the first spouse. This seems very contradictory to what is taught present-day (many pastors refer to Deut. as a prohibition against this very thing). I’m sure you are incredibly busy, but if you have any insight that you can share, it would be greatly appreciated. Mainly, is it possible that the early church fathers were more correct and millions of people are living in an on-going state of adultery? Are millions of divorced Christians unable to ever remarry? It appears the early church fathers made this a “heaven or hell”, “Jesus or the world” decision. Or, if one has repented of their short-comings in a marriage, and reconciliation is no longer possible, can a divorced/repentant/forgiven Christian remarry without fear of hell?


Response #17:

Good to make your acquaintance.

First off, I wouldn't pay any attention to the "church fathers"; it is a rare thing when they get / got anything right whatsoever. Revelation tells us that the very first era of the Church after that of the apostles, the era of Ephesus, "abandoned their first love" (Rev.2:4-5), namely, attention to the Bible, the Word of truth. Those who followed were no better. My advice: read the actual Bible, and also find yourself a solid, orthodox (in the true sense) teaching ministry which have tested and can rely on for explication of the scriptures. You are certainly welcome at Ichthys any time.

As to the substance, I will give you some links below to where the details of this very timely question are discussed. As to the gist, there is no such thing as a "state of adultery" and there is no such thing as a "make or break sin". Believers are saved; unbelievers are not; period (e.g., Jn.3:18). Believers are indeed disciplined for sin, and it is certainly true that any believer involved in a pattern of gross sin will suffer intensely for it. That will result in the long run in either the believer responding or not. For those who respond / repent / confess, there is always forgiveness. For those who refuse to give up their favorite gross sinning, one of two things will happen: a) the discipline will become so great that the person in question will harden his/her heart against God and turn away into apostasy; or b) the person in question refuses to give up either their faith or their sin; in such cases these individuals are taken out of this life ingloriously via "the sin unto death" (see the link: Apostasy and the Sin unto Death).

What about marriage and divorce? The bottom line of scriptural guidance is as followed:

1) Are you single? Better not to get married.

2) Are you married? Better not to get divorced.

3) Are you divorced? Better not to get re-married.

4) Are you re-married? Better not to get divorced.

A marriage is a marriage. It's a legal commitment and even if it was questionably contracted (i.e., the Christian in question "didn't have the right" – there are cases where remarriage is biblically sanctioned and many situations where it is a judgment call), nevertheless such commitments are binding. A Christian doesn't have the right to dump their spouse out of concerns over "was this marriage sanctioned?" If you are married, you are married, and the Lord expects you to be a good spouse as long as that is possible (clearly, if abandoned or divorced by the other or forced out through abuse, that is impossible).

I am personally appalled at the great number of people out there at present who are counseling Christians to divorce – often where the marriage is happy and there are children dependent upon it – basing their horrific and damnable "advice" on misinterpretations of scripture (as you can see from the links). If a person made a mistake or even knowingly "wrongly" got married, that is an omelet which can't be unscrambled. Best to honor the commitment made before God. That is the godly thing to do – and believers are NOT cast into hell for doing the godly thing. People who play upon the understandable guilt of those who don't understand grace, forgiveness and the Bible ARE in danger of being cast into hell, however – because I have a hard time believing that a genuine follower of Christ would do such a thing.

Here are those links (just a selection – you find more links within these):

Marriage and the Bible VIII

Marriage and the Bible IV

A Conversation about Divorce and Remarriage

What about Christians who Remarry?

Divorce and Remarriage: What does the Bible say?

Marriage and the Bible VII

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #18:


Response #18:

Yes, this tension between spouses is one of the unintended side-effects of cooping everyone up in this pandemic. Former first lady Rosaline Carter is said to have complained to her husband after they left the White House, "I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch". So he found things to occupy himself with outside of the house. The biblical version:

Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
1st Corinthians 7:5 NKJV

The operative part for this discussion: no one can concentrate on prayer and Bible study with someone else in their face constantly, even if they are otherwise beloved.

I certainly also know what you mean about people with worldly perspectives. It's difficult to share their concerns and enthusiasms, since, even if we do so on some superficial level, their lack of appreciation for what's really important leaves us speaking a different language almost. And it's very important too not to allow ourselves to be dragged down to their level. So it is a struggle, especially if we are talking about spouses and children. But the Lord has promised us that we can have peace no matter what. Peace is our citadel whence we can always retreat despite the shot and shell. From there we begin to rebuild the joy even as we focus on the hope ahead. It's always important not to let being thrown off a little sour everything. We need to have short memories about such things and let the past stay there, even if it's only just yesterday.

Keeping you in my prayers daily, my friend.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #19:

I recently had a wobble about my old bugbear, apologies! - because I saw the woman at the well as sinful just because of her latest man, and it not being at all clear about the previous husbands. They could have been legitimate. Although she does say to the townsfolk “all I ever did” not “all I’m doing now”, so perhaps she was not widowed. Previously I was comforted to note, on the assumption she’d been divorced, that divorce did effectively end marriage, since all 5 were husbands proper. (If I need that assurance I have Deut 24.) In the only other passage mentioning serial husbands, there are seven, but widowhood is in view, but here it doesn’t say so. You said to me that she was certainly divorced. May I ask how you can be sure of that please? Might help nail down the stray thoughts!

It’s all so tantalisingly vague! Needs to be, not to give people a license to remarry willy billy, I suppose.

One problem with putting worry aside (which was a lovely time) is that when it comes back out of left field, as I’m afraid it did, I’d forgotten the defences you’d given me! And so I have reread all your wonderful words to me, seen many new thoughts that got by me first time, and so I’m feeling stronger again, but without that key piece of John 4 perhaps?

Response #19:

On the woman at the well, the thing I would take away is that the Lord did not tell her to marry or divorce or remarry or go back to her first husband or live celibate – or anything of the sort. That was not His purpose. He was not trying to correct her behavior; He was trying to get her attention with this statement so that she would be willing to come to the truth. That is what we are given to see. But what does this passage really show us? First, it shows us that our Lord cared about this woman: He spent time with her even though He was tired and even though it was a frowned upon practice for a man and a prophet to do something like this, especially for someone "not perfect" (cf. Lk.7:39). Second, it shows us that what was really important was her turning to the Lord: that was what He desired and what the conversation effected. She was then saved! Third, it shows us that she was willing to likewise violate convention and take risks to lead others to the truth – and so she did! A great many were saved in that town as a result of her spiritual courage. We should all respond to the Lord as she did. Her name is written in heaven and her deeds are memorialized in scripture. This is what we should emulate and contemplate – not her marital status.

There are a great many "perfect people" – in the world's eyes – who are going to hell. Praise be to God that He searches out every lost sheep who truly desires to belong to the flock of the Great Shepherd!

Question #20:

Good evening,

I have been reading your articles on divorce and I am terrified. My wife filed for divorce from me. In the state of Georgia it only takes one to divorce. I cant stop her. I hate divorce. I have fought and fought hard for this marriage. We started marriage counseling 4 yrs ago and I finished my individual portion. My wife went to 2 sessions of hers and stopped. We have both made our mistakes and contributed to the state of our marriage. We made a vow to God and each other. I want reconciliation. She will not. The divorce filing came out of nowhere as our marriage had actually gotten stronger (I thought) over the last 4 yrs. I asked her why and she said she just didn't love me. We have been married 15 yrs and have 3 kids. I am so scared. She will not reconcile. We are both christians. I don't want to let God down. I don't want to be condemned. Am I to be an outcast the rest of my life? Am I to be alone the rest of my life? I don't want to twist or bend the scriptures. I want to honor God. Can you offer any advice?

In Christ,

Response #20:

Good to make your acquaintance.

I'm a bit puzzled by your email. If you have been reading the many Q/As at Ichthys, while many correspondents express somewhat similar concerns, my replies certainly don't give any basis for the fear you are expressing. When you say, "I don't want to be condemned", at Ichthys it is always made very clear that believers are saved, unbelievers are not. Marriage and divorce have zero to do with whether or not a person is a believer. If you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, then you have no worries about your eternal future – just as long as you stay faithful to Him to the end (cf. Col.1:23), maintaining your faithful allegiance to Him (spiritual growth is important for that, especially in the Tribulation soon to come; see the links).

As to the specifics of your situation, I do sympathize with you. But if what you say is true, then it is not your fault that a divorce is taking place since you don't want a divorce (not weighing in here on what may have gone wrong; it's difficult to make a marriage work in this present world under the best of circumstances; there's usually plenty of blame to go around). So I hardly see how you could be letting God down in this respect.

You ask for advice but it seems to me that you have no choice in what is being presented to you so that there is no action you can take, good or ill. While this is a terrible thing to have to undergo, it is at least a small solace when God takes control and takes things completely out of our hands. That seems to me to be from what you have shared your present situation. So I would advise you 1) put all this in God's hands where it clearly is; 2) determine to do your best to draw close to the Lord Jesus Christ through spiritual growth in the days and years ahead. That is the best thing any of us can do.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and only Savior,

Bob Luginbill

Question #21:

Thank you for your reply. I guess it has to do with God hating divorce and matthew 19 and sermon on the mount. I guess the issue is I am doing my best. I hate divorce. It was never an option for me. I am concerned about my future. Since divorce is a sin and it was thrust upon me it seems from most of the articles I have read on the subject I must become a hermit. I am like a leper instead of saying unclean I say divorced. And what of my future? If I were to ever encounter a possible relationship am I to shun it so as to not be in a constant state of adultery? Thank you so very much for taking the time. I apologize if I am coming across raw. This is just so painful.

Response #21:

1) "I must become a hermit"; never read THAT in the Bible. Citation?

2) "I am like a leper instead of saying unclean I say divorced"; never read THAT in the Bible either.

3) "If I were to ever encounter a possible relationship am I to shun it so as to not be in a constant state of adultery?" This is a horrific false teaching which is making the rounds nowadays, and the fact that you repeat it leads me to believe that you have not yet read what I have posted about this subject. Here is a good recent link which will lead to many others as you explore the site: "Love, Marriage, Divorce and the Bible III".

I hasten to add that although you may conclude that you can remarry without any spiritual trouble, as I always am required to point out, marriage itself is trouble (1Cor.7:28b), and that is why I always summarize the biblical position as follows:

1) Are you single? Stay single.

2) But if you marry, stay married.

3) But if you divorce, stay single.

4) And if you remarry, don't divorce.

Of course, few human beings are capable of being celibate and single their whole lives long. Marriage is not sin (1Cor.7:28a). Divorcing your spouse without due cause and marrying someone else is a sin – but there is no such thing as a "constant state of adultery". Did Jesus tell the Pharisees either to divorce their new wives or to remarry their old ones? Of course not. Damage done is damage done. But God forgives sin – for those who come to Him in faith and ask for forgiveness.

This is all very basic stuff, but in our Laodicean era, most Christians know precious little about biblical truth. The only way to be successful in this life – for the Lord – is through spiritual growth. Ichthys is dedicated to that blessed goal and the eternal rewards that accompany it. So while I'm happy to have you read about the issue that troubles you at present and also to answer your questions as best I can, it is incumbent upon me to point out that no Christian will ever be truly happy in this life absent a close walk with Jesus Christ – and that is achieved not just by keeping one's nose clean but critically also through spiritual growth.

Be pleased to put the Lord first from here on in. You'll never regret it.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #22:

So I was thinking about the past conversation we have had about certain pastors saying that a second marriage causing someone to go to hell. What makes them believe that what they are saying is so true I mean so true that they actually have people get a divorce? That to me is insane. I guess it don't make any sense to me.

Response #22:

It doesn't make any sense to me either – any BIBLICAL sense.

When it comes to false teaching, however, there are all sorts of reasons for it, but they resolve into this:

"For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves."
Acts 20:29-30 NKJV

"Pastors" who are not actually teaching the truth of the Word of God or doing in any way what Jesus Christ wants them to do are concerned for their stomachs (Phil.3:18-19). That means doing whatever is necessary to bring in more people and more money. That is the whole game in most "churches" today in Laodicea. Hyper-legalism is just one approach to that. Look how upset it got you! So this approach does get people's attention. Here are the "benefits" I see that those who are harping on this false teaching receive: 1) notoriety (look how much internet and "conference" and other attention they get through this particular lie) – which of course leads to followers and donors; 2) giving a great deal of self-righteous satisfaction to their followers who have never divorced or never been divorced by their spouses etc.: these can feel "godly" because this is pretty much all the pastor ever goes on about and they are "holy" in this regard so they must be "completely holy" (even if they are indulging in all sorts of secret sins); 3) for those poor individuals who let themselves be manipulated into destroying their lives by doing what these "pastors" tell them is necessary, they become that pastor's slave for life. Why? Because if you give up everything for a cult, you can't ever afford to let yourself think or believe you've made a mistake.

The Nazis and the Communists were/are also very "sure" – as are the Muslims and the Buddhists and the Mormons and the JWs and the Roman Catholics, etc., etc.

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
Romans 10:2 NKJV

As this passage shows, zeal means nothing if it is not directed towards what is true. It's just a quicker road to hell. And I would label it ironic that those threatening hell for anyone who doesn't follow them are actually leading all who do straight down there on a fast track – except for the fact that this is exactly what the devil wants.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Yes I will admit it has caused me a lot of anxiety. But I will never ever leave my husband because one that's insane just to leave someone cause of someone's else's beliefs and why would I tear up my whole family. When I'm in my high anxiety it like I say what of they are saying is real or if it wasn't real them when am I still bothered by it. I think is that a sign from God telling me it's real just because I can't completely forget it. But when my anxiety is low then I'll see how dumb it is. I can't believe people have actually done it before I hate that this has caused me so much anxiety and it makes me wonder if that's a sign from God saying its real. I wish I couldn't just go back or get it completely out of my mind.

Also where do they get that that is right in their own mind and they truly believe that what they are saying is true?

Response #23:

I certainly am happy to hear that you wouldn't seriously consider doing something these people say to do – when they don't have a single Bible verse saying to do it – out of fear of consequences the Bible itself does not threaten. Any one of us could make up all sorts of stuff to scare people, threatening hell if they don't do it. Getting people to believe it would be the challenging part – especially since it wouldn't be in the Bible – but there are enough out there who allow fear and guilt to get the better of them that cults usually find some victims.

To put aside misplaced guilt and fear, we do have to aggressively apply the truth in faith so as to get over some stumbling blocks – and we all face them (they're just different, person to person). Spiritual growth is the key to getting better at this, I hasten to add. We can't just concentrate on the particular hurdle we're having trouble with; it has to be a broad-based effort to walk closer with Jesus through attention to all the truth He's given us.

"Also where do they get that that is right in their own mind and they truly believe that what they are saying is true?"

If I knew the answer to that one I'd be head of the Psychology and Brain Science department! Or as it says in scripture in regard to guidance in dealing with such people:

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
2nd Timothy 2:24-26 NKJV

In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Please can I ask is there any exception to remarriage after divorce? Assuming marrying a divorced person is adultery, children born in such harmony before the understanding of such or even born as result of fornication where do they stand with God?

Response #24:

When you write, "Assuming marrying a divorced person is adultery", whatever the true circumstances were when the marriage was contracted, 1) Christians are supposed to stay married thereafter if at all possible; and 2) children are certainly NOT to be penalized for any indiscretion on this score by their parents (1Cor.7:14). It is possible to "wrongly marry", but then it is possible to commit all number of sins (and everyone sins: e.g., Rom.3:23; 1Jn.1:5-10).

The time to be concerned about "whether or not it was completely legitimate" is before, not after marriage. There is an evil false doctrine / false movement sweeping evangelicaldom that asserts that if there was any such problem with the marriage, then the couple should divorce. That is horrific. The Bible NEVER counsels divorce. If a person divorced their faithful spouse in order to marry another person and then did so – that is what the Pharisees are reproached by our Lord for doing – then no doubt it will be necessary to confess and repent. But our Lord did NOT tell the Pharisees to divorce wife #2 and go back to wife #1 (cf. Deut.24:1-4). Why not? Because that would be trying to right one wrong with another wrong: if we marry, we are obligated to the one we marry. If we divorce and break that obligation, nothing can go back and repair that broken egg – and certainly NOT divorcing AGAIN.

Here is a recent link which will lead to many others for the details: "Marriage and the Bible VIII".



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