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Few would disagree that when a husband or a wife dies, the other is free to remarry. Paul clearly teaches this in Rom. 7:2. It is important, however, to understand that it is God who grants this freedom. Only God can loose the bond made by the marriage covenant. In any situation where God does not loose, husbands and wives remain bound to their obligations to one another.
Today, we need to understand the authority of God over our marriages and our homes. Just as we would do in any other matter, we need to submit every decision about marriage to God. Whatever He does not approve by His divine authority is unlawful and constitutes sin. The promises and commitments that marriage is built upon may not simply be laid aside when human beings decide to do so. Only in circumstances where God releases the bond is anyone free from those commitments, and the simple truth is that there are only two such occasions when God looses the bond of the marriage covenant. One is when a spouse dies, as indicated above. The other is given in Mt. 19:8,9. Here Jesus granted the right of divorce to one whose mate has committed adultery. Even here, it should be noted, God looses only the one doing the putting away, and then only when the cause is fornication.
God envisioned the marriage relationship as a permanent one. Because the relationship is one instituted by Him, marriage is governed by God’s will. It is His prerogative to determine its principles and its rules; and it is His authority that will ultimately punish disregard for His law. Jesus put the matter very simply and clearly when He said, “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mt. 19:6).
In the world around us, people sever themselves from their marriage partners for many reasons. Often the reasoning is that they will separate but not divorce, or they will divorce but not remarry. In either case, there is a setting aside of what God has said about the permanency of marriage. Marriage involves a covenant to which God Himself is a party. We cannot back out of that covenant without showing ourselves faithless before God and treacherous to our mates. Whatever God has bound simply must not be loosed by us, in the absence of His revealed approval.
Monday: Proverbs 2:17
Key Idea: God is a party to the marriage covenant between husband and wife.
Questions for Family Growth: What is the “covenant of her God” spoken of in this passage? How can God be involved in an agreement between two human beings? Consider 1 Sam. 20:8 and 23:18. What points are made in Mal. 2:13–16?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:28.
Tuesday: Romans 7:2,3
Key Idea: When one marriage partner dies, God releases the other partner from the covenant.
Questions for Family Growth: When one spouse dies, why is the other spouse free to remarry? Other than death, what is the only other circumstance in which God releases someone from the marriage covenant? See Mt. 19:8,9.
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:29.
Wednesday: Matthew 19:3–6
Key Idea: It is sinful to separate what God has joined together.
Questions for Family Growth: What question was Jesus asked by the Pharisees? Was the question about divorce and remarriage, or simply about divorce? What was Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees? Is Jesus’ answer binding for us today?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:30.
Thursday: Mark 6:17,18
Key Idea: It is sinful to be married to one person while bound to another.
Questions for Family Growth: To whom was Herod married? Why was it sinful for him to be married to this person? Look again at Romans 7:2,3. What is the difference between being “married” and being “bound”?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:31.
Friday: Psalm 15:4
Key Idea: We ought to keep our promises even when keeping them turns out to be difficult.
Questions for Family Growth: What does this text mean when it speaks of swearing “to his own hurt”? What does it mean that the godly person “does not change” after making a promise? What would be the only conditions under which we might change what we’ve promised?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 14:32.