Marriage Meanderings

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Then taking the members of Christ, shall I make [them] members of a harlot? Let it not be! Or do you not know that he being joined to a harlot is one body? For He says, The two [shall be] into one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:15-16).

Relative to the harlot, Paul says, “Or do you not know?”  Do you not know WHAT?  WHAT is it exactly that should or ought to be known?  Is God the Holy Spirit through Paul stating that WHAT ought to be known is OBVIOUS and SELF-EVIDENT? What is the necessary and inevitable result of this “joining,” the result of which is that the “two [shall be] into ONE FLESH”?  What does ONE FLESH mean?

The older commentators spoke discreetly of this “joining” as the “carnal conversation” or “impure conjunction” with a harlot.  This is speaking of the mere act of sexual intercourse with a harlot with its inevitable result.  So, what is the necessary and inevitable result of sexual intercourse from this passage?  Answer:  The two shall be into one flesh.

The Holy Spirit through Paul references Genesis 2:24 to prove the point of what necessarily and inevitably happens when two people of the opposite sex engage in sexual intercourse.  So, what happens?  Answer:  Marriage happens.  Not necessarily a lawful and God-pleasing marriage happens, but a marriage in fact DOES happen.

“Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).”

“And the Pharisees came near to Him, tempting Him, and saying to Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every reason? But answering, He said to them, Have you not read that He who created [them] from the beginning created them male and female? And He said, For this reason a man shall leave father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:3-6).

To set the Scriptural truths noted above in logical form:

Premise 1:  Sex alone makes people “one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:16).
Premise 2:  “One flesh” is the marriage union (Matthew 19:6; Genesis 2:24).
Conclusion:  Therefore, sex alone is the marriage union.

It is very important to differentiate and distinguish between the metaphysics (or reality) of the marriage union and the lawfulness (or morality) of the marriage union.  Paul’s reference to Genesis 2:24 in 1 Corinthians 6:16 is meant to show, NOT that there is a difference in the METAPHYSICS of the ONE-FLESH union, but in the MORALITY of the one-flesh union.  Matthew Poole writes:

“The conjunction of the husband and wife, mentioned [in Genesis 2:24], and the conjunction of the fornicator and the harlot, differ not as to the species of the act, only as to the morality of it; the former is an honest and lawful act, the other a dishonest and filthy act. So that he that is wickedly joined to a harlot, maketh himself one flesh with her with whom he committeth that folly and lewdness” (Matthew Poole; underlining mine; not endorsing Poole as a true Christian when I quote from him).

Another important differentiation and distinction is between marriage as “one-flesh” in Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 6:16, Matthew 19:3-6 and marriage as it appears publicly in the culture or society.  There is the metaphysical marriage that is either moral or immoral formed by sex ALONE (see Genesis 2:24, 1 Corinthians 6:16, Matthew 19:3-6).  AND then there is the public manifestation and declaration of this metaphysical sex-ALONE-formed marriage in the culture or society through various legally-appointed ways.  There are also legal implications for this societal, cultural, public marriage declaration (e.g., property rights, child-custody issues in certain cases of divorce, etc., etc.).  The point is that SEX ALONE creates the one-flesh marriage union and the various civil purposes or religious ceremonies do NOT make persons more one-flesh or more married than they were before.

In His reference to Genesis 2:24 in Matthew 19:3-6, Jesus concludes:

“And He said, For this reason a man shall leave father and mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So that they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

“Let not man separate” necessarily implies that this is NOT an adulterous marriage (one-flesh) union.  Adulterous one-flesh unions ARE to be separated and fled from (1 Corinthians 6:18; Romans 7:1-3).  Non-sinful or lawful one-flesh unions are NOT to be separated and fled from (Matthew 19:3-6; 1 Corinthians 7:10-14).

What if two unbelieving virgins marry and make a public declaration of their commitment to lifelong marriage?  Does the command to “let not man separate” apply to their situation?

It must be pointed out that everything that the non-Christian does is sin (Proverbs 21:4; Romans 8:8; Hebrews 11:6).  And although the marriage of two unbelieving virgins (no longer virgins upon commencement of marriage of course) is not adulterous, their marriage union is NOT pleasing to God.  Why not?  Because EVERYTHING the unbeliever does is sin.  Their gardening, their morality, their charitable giving — everything.  They cannot perform righteous deeds unless they are first given a perfect righteousness that answers the demands of God’s law and justice.  In other words, this must happen to them:

“For He made the [One] who knew no sin [to be] sin for us, that we might become [the] righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21; https://agrammatos.wordpress.com/2009/10/10/gospel-atonement/).

Nevertheless the unbelieving husband and wife ought NOT to separate (Matthew 19:6) any more than they ought to cease from plowing their garden or plying their trade in providing for their children.  Every activity of theirs’ is sin, dead works, evil deeds, and FRUIT UNTO DEATH (see Proverbs 21:4; Romans 7:5, 8:8; Hebrews 11:6).  But this fact does not mean that the unbelievers are to shirk their responsibilities.  Now if God saves them then these same activities will be FRUIT UNTO GOD done in thankfulness through the cross-work of Jesus Christ (see Romans 7:4; Philippians 1:11; Hebrews 9:12-14, 13:20-21).

If God causes only one of these two unbelieving virgins (now married and virgins no longer) to believe the gospel, then God through the apostle Paul states these words:

“But to the rest I say, not the Lord, if any brother has an unbelieving wife, and she consents to live with him, let him not leave her. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified by the husband; else, then, your children are unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Corinthians 7:12-14; underlining mine).

So, do not leave; do not separate in this particular situation. The immediate (prior) context shows Paul saying this:

“But I command the ones being married (not I, but the Lord), [that] a woman [is] not to be separated from her husband; but if indeed she is separated, remain unmarried, or be reconciled to the husband; and a husband not to leave [his] wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11; underlining mine).

Again, be not separated;  do not leave (cf. Matthew 19:3-6).  But WHAT IF there IS a separation?  What then?  Answer:  Remain unmarried or be reconciled.

An illustration about “remain unmarried.”  Did the bitter and resentful (now drunken, now adulterous) husband fulfill the obligation to “remain unmarried” just so long as his lack of sobriety kept him from staggering to the civil magistrate for a certificate with mistress what’s-her-name?  Did he “remain unmarried” just so long as he did not form a culturally or civilly-recognized marriage?

So, what does “remain unmarried” mean?  It does NOT mean that one may form a marriage with a harlot and then proceed to “reconcile” with separated spouse since, after all, they “remained unmarried.”  No — it doesn’t work that way.  Biblically understood, to “remain unmarried” means to remain celibate or be reconciled to the separated spouse.

There has been a lot of emphasis on not leaving, not separating, let not man separate, etc.  And if there is separation there has been the admonition to remain unmarried or be reconciled.  Paul has been hammering on this point about NOT SEPARATING in 1 Corinthians 7 for a while.  So would it not be quite natural to deal with a possible situation such as the following?

“But if the unbelieving one separates, let [them] be separated; the brother or the sister is not in bondage in such matters; but God has called us in peace.  For what do you know, wife, whether you will save the husband? Or what do you know, husband, whether you will save the wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:15-16)

This passage has been twisted and adulterated by multitudes who seek a pretext or excuse for remarriage while the previous spouse is living, thus promoting the continuation in the sin of adultery (the men who penned the Westminster Confession of Faith is one salient example of this).

The Bible is quite clear about what happens when two people of the opposite sex engage in sexual intercourse.  It is also quite clear that death — and nothing else — dissolves the marriage bond to free one to marry another:

“Or are you ignorant, brothers, (for I speak to those knowing Law), that the Law lords it over the man for as long a time as he lives? For the married woman was bound by Law to the living husband; but if the husband dies, she is set free from the Law of the husband. So then, [if] the husband [is] living, she will be called an adulteress if she becomes another man’s. But if the husband dies, she is free from the Law, [so as for] her not to be an adulteress [by] becoming another man’s” (Romans 7:1-3; underlining mine).

Many cavalier and agitated minds ADD “desertion” to the Apostle’s clearly stated “death.”

So, back to one of the most oft-abused passages in the Bible:

“But if the unbelieving one separates, let [them] be separated; the brother or the sister is not in bondage in such matters; but God has called us in peace.  For what do you know, wife, whether you will save the husband? Or what do you know, husband, whether you will save the wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:15-16; underlining mine)

What is the bondage in such matters?  What is the bondage Paul speaks of here in view of not only the immediate context, but the context of what the entire Bible says about the constitution of marriage, divorce, and remarriage?  Paul mentions the concept of peace here —

“but God has called us in peace.”

Paul just said if the unbeliever leaves, then LET THEM LEAVE.  Do not try to keep the recalcitrant, refractory, stubborn, hostile-to-the-gospel spouse from leaving.  LET THEM GO.  In this particular instance, PEACE takes precedence over an attempt at persuading the unwilling, non-consenting, and unbelieving spouse to live with them (1 Corinthians 7:12-13).  It also takes precedence over the unbelieving spouse’s possible conversion to the gospel.

“For what do you know, wife, whether you will save the husband? Or what do you know, husband, whether you will save the wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:16)

God’s calling in peace takes precedence over the possible conversion of an unbelieving spouse whose hostility to true Christianity compels them to repudiate their marriage relationship.  If this is an issue of not casting pearls before the swinish spouse, then as Jesus said, they ought not to so cast.  IF the believing spouse reasons in the hope that despite the present war or hostility in the house, it may be that God will grant the unbelieving spouse repentance, THEN Paul basically says: NO. Let them go.  For God has called us to peace.

“But if the unbelieving one separates, let [them] be separated; the brother or the sister is not in bondage in such matters; but God has called us in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).

The BONDAGE clearly is the bondage of NOT letting the unbelieving spouse go.  The unbelieving spouse MIGHT stay, you say?  They might stay if you compromise.  They might get saved?  How do you know?  God has called you in peace.  Or, perhaps they would be willing to “reconcile” with you if you would humble your self by renouncing Jesus Christ?  Let go of your “pride” that glories solely in the cross, man!

Some theological perverts assert that Paul is speaking of the “bondage” to remain unmarried, and thus this “bondage” refers to the “bondage” of not committing adultery by remarrying while the original spouse lives.

“It was also said, Whoever puts away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, Whoever puts away his wife, apart from a matter of fornication, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever shall marry the one put away commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32).

Applying this to 1 Corinthians 7:15, the unwilling and unbelieving spouse would cause the believing spouse to commit adultery IF the believing spouse were to remarry.  The phrase “apart from a matter of fornication” means that in the matter of fornication the spouse causes herself to be an adulteress.  But if it’s apart from this matter of fornication, then the husband who puts her away like this CAUSES her to commit adultery IF she remarries while he remains alive.

“A wife is bound by law for as long a time as her husband lives; but if her husband sleeps, she is free to be married to whomever she desires, only in [the] Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Here Paul reaffirms what he has been saying throughout his letters,  especially his letter to the Romans and his letter to the Corinthians.  “If her husband sleeps” — NOT if her unbelieving husband is not willing to live with her.

Some of the theological perverts alluded to previously say stuff like:

“There is no reason why the innocent party through the fault of the guilty party should be exposed to the danger of committing adultery.”

Call it too harsh, or too strict, or whatever.  But what did Jesus say?

“It was also said, Whoever puts away his wife, let him give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, Whoever puts away his wife, apart from a matter of fornication, causes her to commit adultery. And whoever shall marry the one put away commits adultery” (Matthew 5:31-32).

Presumably the objectors to Biblical teaching believe that the innocent party is NOT guilty of a matter of fornication.  But Jesus says that the innocent party is caused to commit adultery, and whoever marries the innocent party commits adultery.

Here’s a related comment:

“Such a person hath broken the bond of marriage; and Christians are not under bondage by the laws of God to keep themselves unmarried on account of the perverseness of such parties to the marriage covenant.”

IF this person who “hath broken the bond of marriage” is still alive, THEN Christians ARE to FREELY DELIGHT in obeying God’s law of marriage.  Christians do NOT ADD to the perverseness by committing further perverseness; they do NOT defile and desecrate the marriage bed by remarrying while the perverse and previous spouse is still living.  Contrary to the theological perverts, it is NOT a matter of “bondage” to delight and honor the marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4).

Marriage is serious.  Sex is serious.  Sending away (i.e., divorce) is serious because it is an act of treachery.  WHY is this sending away an act of treachery?  At least one reason is because the sending away violently and recklessly exposes them to the danger of desecrating God’s marriage bed upon remarriage.

“Then guard your spirit, and do not deal treacherously with the wife of your youth. Jehovah, the God of Israel, says, He hates sending away, and to cover [with] violence on his garment, says Jehovah of Hosts. Then guard your spirit and do not act treacherously” (Malachi 2:15-16).

The divorce or sending away that is treacherous is seen in Jesus’ statement that if a person puts his wife away, apart from a matter of fornication, he CAUSES her to commit adultery.  Of course, IF she remarries she is CAUSED to commit adultery.  She has been treacherously dealt with.

Probably most men who are presently married are NOT married to the wife of their youth.  Where is she?  Where is the wife of your youth?  Who is the wife of your youth?  The wife of one’s youth is the first person with whom you formed a one-flesh union (cf. Genesis 2:24; 1 Corinthians 6:16; Matthew 19:3-6).  You were probably just an idiotic and immature teenager who thought you knew better than everyone else when you slept with her.   You were “just dating;” you were in what is called “a dating relationship.”  Not very committed, and not especially serious, right?

Or perhaps you were one of those dolts who deceived themselves into believing that “living together” in a semi-committed relationship (which means only “committed” for now, until someone else you can trick comes along) was a prudent preparation for “trying out” marriage, a foolish sort of “test run”.

This “relatively committed” living together — as opposed to lifelong marital commitment — is for most a further preparation for, and compounding of, the treacherous dealings of divorce and remarriage.

[If you have slept with, say, four women before settling your fornicating self down with a woman you would finally call “wife,” then you are an adulterer several times over.  God through the prophet Malachi severely condemns such whore-mongering which is a kind of war-mongering that does violence to the women it deflowers, and to the marriage law it defiles (cf. Hebrews 13:4).]

What to do?  Repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ wherein the only righteousness God accepts is revealed.

Paul speaking to King Agrippa:

“I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but to those first in Damascus, and Jerusalem, and to all the country of Judea, and to the nations, I proclaimed [the command] to repent and to turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance” (Acts 26:19-20).

Turning to God implies turning from idols (false gods). “Turning to” is faith; “turning from” is repentance.  To turn to God is to believe His gospel of salvation conditioned SOLELY on the propitiating blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.  To do “works worthy of repentance” is to do works that show you are not a liar when you say you believe God’s gospel.  Such repentance is repenting of believing that salvation was conditioned on anything proceeding from your own person (whether enabled or not) as forming some part of the ground of your salvation or the assurance of your salvation.

Further explanations of what it means to “repent and to turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance” see the following:

Everlasting Life

Gospel Atonement

Gospel Resurrection

Gospel Repentance

Every Christian’s State and Walk: A Study on Romans 8:1-9