Count the Cost
“Dad, is there ANY scripture you can find in the Word of God that would allow us to give our blessing to my father-in-law’s up-coming marriage to a divorced woman?” That was the question that started me on the journey to find the truth about this issue.
We had lived in Indiana, and the church in which I was ordained did not allow us to remarry divorced people. So, I had never really faced the question until we moved from that state. Since it was now my own decision to remarry couples, I did so, accepting the teaching about the innocent party.
Now God started me on a quest for the truth. I went to my knees, searched the Scriptures, and hardly ate or slept while God taught me. The truth is, according to Malachi 2:13 through 16, God says He won’t accept their offerings anymore. Why? - Because they have dealt treacherously with the wife of their youth who is the wife of their covenant. God says HE HATES divorce and they have wearied Him by saying everyone who does evil is good in His sight and He delighted in them. If we are to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, why would we want to do something He hates?
I have always believed the plain words were the main words. If Scripture is not plain it leaves room for man to manipulate the Word, and manipulate they have.
Jesus says in Luke 16:18: “Whosoever (same whosoever used in John 3:16) putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth (ongoing) adultery, (if God didn’t consider the man and woman still married it wouldn’t be considered adultery, it would be fornication) and whosoever (same as John 3:16) marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. THOSE ARE PLAIN WORDS!
Jesus says in Mark 10:11,12: “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband AND be married to another, she committeth adultery. THOSE ARE PLAIN WORDS!
Paul tells us in Romans 7:2-3 that if a woman marries another man while her husband is alive, she SHALL (a command) be called an adulteress though she be married to another man. THOSE ARE PLAIN WORDS!
The Scripture that is unclear to most Christians is Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 about remarriage. Instead of searching out the background of this Scripture which uses the word fornication instead of adultery, Pastors have taken it as a carte blanche to remarry divorced members of their church and to divorce and remarry themselves. Now Christians find themselves in the position of being less forgiving of their mates than non-Christians. The divorce rate in America is over 50% while among Christian believers it is approximately 60%. Shouldn’t, at the very least, those stats be reversed? When it comes to remarriage, according to a 2002 study by the Center for Disease Prevention, among women age 14-44, 82% of Fundamentalist Christians are most likely to remarry within ten years of divorce, while in ten years 66% of non-religious people are likely to remarry. The Word says in Matthew 6:15 that if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive us. So, where does this leave us? Since divorce is an act of unforgiveness, it follows that we have a problem receiving God’s forgiveness.
We were privileged to travel to the Holy Land and while there, a Jewish guide explained Matthew 5 and 19 to us. Matthew was written to the Jews, who had the custom of arranging marriages. The father of the groom paid the bride price, struck hands with the father of the bride and the marriage was a done deal. But the marriage was not consummated until the night of the wedding feast, usually at least a year after the fathers’ arrangement. This was to prove her virginity. If there was no blood on the marriage sheet from breaking the hymen, she was not considered a virgin but was considered a fornicator and her husband could put her away (divorce her). That is why Matthew 5 and 19 say fornication. It was written to the Jews in accord with their customs.
Joseph chose to put Mary away quietly before the Angel told him to not be afraid to take her as his wife. In Jesus’ time the Jews didn’t divorce because of adultery, because adulterers were stoned and then the “innocent” party was free to remarry. God says in Mark 10:8 that “They twain shall be one flesh so that they are NO MORE twain (two), but one flesh. In other words He makes you one and you will NEVER AGAIN be two. I had to ask God to forgive me for remarrying divorced people and going against His Word.
We have a ministry called “New Hope for Broken Marriages” which came about because of my wife and I going through the valley and almost divorcing. Then I believed like a lot of Pastors and Christians believe today. I could divorce her and God would forgive me and it would be under the blood. I found out later no sin is under the Blood if it isn’t confessed and relinquished. You have to ADMIT IT AND QUIT IT! Christians today in the churches don’t find it hard to admit it but they find it very hard to quit it.
The number of pastors divorcing their wives is appalling. My only conclusion is that they don’t believe God’s Word to be true. It’s the old story of the frog in the boiling water. It’s not too bad in the beginning, but by the time the water is boiling, it’s too late. I plead with pastors and pastors’ wives to COUNT THE COST. Not only do they put themselves in danger of missing Heaven (no adulterers will enter Heaven), but they endanger all who follow their teaching, and as Pastors, will be held responsible.
PLEASE PASTORS, COUNT THE COST!
THE PRICE IS TOO HIGH TO BE WRONG!
Pastor Dana Hartong
Copyright© 2003 by Rev. Dana and Val Hartong. All rights reserved except as noted below.
This article was written for Theological Foundations Ministries at www.marriagedivorce.com for purposes of publication on its web sites. It may be reproduced for non-commercial reasons by others provided it is copied as is, and is unaltered in anyway whatsoever and this full copyright notice is included in all copies.