Another question was emailed to me a few weeks ago primarily on the issue of divorce and remarriage among Christians. He had a 2-part question; the first dealt with salvation, and the second about remarriage.
First question: “Is salvation lost if a separated guy marry [sic] again? Even it is already annulled? Is the salvation of the partner whom he married also lost?”
My reply: Well, firstly, the Bible teaches that salvation is of the Lord and nothing can be contributed by man to have it (Titus 3:4-7). The means to receive it is by faith – which is also a gift (Eph 2:8-9). Thus, salvation is believing in the Lord who is proclaimed through the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
Sin does not disqualify us, for if it does, then no one is saved for everything that we do is marred by sin. Only the finished work of Jesus Christ through His sinless life, sacrificial and substitutionary death, and resurrection has made anything that we do (as saved people) holy and acceptable to God (see Hebrews 10:8-18).
Having the truth of our salvation, its basis, its merits and its security in Christ Jesus briefly established above, remarriage of a separated person does not disqualify him from such a wonderful salvation. However, there are other consequences, particularly the conveyance of a conflicting message concerning the Gospel and Christians divorcing and re-marrying even when their original spouses are still alive. This I find dishonorable, and based on the original question, disqualifies men from Christian ministry (eldership and deaconship). But more importantly, righteousness is the fruit of true faith in Jesus Christ, and every believer through the mediation of the Spirit and the Word heeds the call to love the Lord God above all else. And loving the Lord manifests in humility and submission to His will.
Second question: (originally in Pilipino) Can a person whose marriage is annulled re-marry?
My reply: (This is a shortened version of my lengthy reply). Referring to the texts in Matthew, particularly chapter 19:3-10, we take note of the original questions of the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any reason?”
I highlighted two words in the question so that we can ground our answer correctly. The use of the word “lawful” refers to the requirements of the Law of Moses. Wanting to find fault, this question was directed at the Lord. In His response, noted the following:
- That God’s will has been declared even before Moses that when two people – man and woman – are joined together, they become one (Genesis 2:24)
- That divorce was not of God’s but of Moses’ command because of “the hardness of their hearts” – meaning they would not obey the Lord concerning matters on marriage.
- That divorce can only be meted out only if one of the spouses are sexually immoral.
Therefore, it is not lawful to divorce for ”any” reason. The only reason allowed for divorce is adultery of one of the spouses. However, we must remember that under the Law, adultery (the only ground for divorce) is punishable by death.
If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” - Leviticus 20:10
The death of the adulterous spouse now frees the other spouse to remarry because it is only through the death of one spouse can marriage be dissolved. An allegorical view concerning the believer’s union with Christ ’s death and resurrection was discussed by Paul in the first few verses of Romans 7. In it, the allegoryof marriage and its dissolution through death is used allowing for a remarriage.
Having said this, whether marriage is annulled (Philippine law does not allow divorce) or divorce as granted by the laws of any human government, remember that the Law of God is above these laws and no re-marriage can be allowed unless one of the spouses die.
I would also like to share with you what Albert Barnes Commentary said about this section of Scripture:
And I say unto you. Emphasis should be laid here on the word I. This was the opinion of Jesus—this he proclaimed to be the law of his kingdom—this the command of God ever afterwards. Indulgence had been given by the laws of Moses; but that indulgence was to cease, and the marriage relation to be brought back to its original intention. Only one offence was to make divorce lawful. This is the law of God. And by the same law, all marriages which take place after divorce, where adultery is not the cause of divorce, are adulterous. Legislatures have no right to say that men may put away their wives for any other cause; and where they do, and where there is marriage afterwards, by the law of God such marriages are adulterous.
Barnes’ emphasis is on the authority of Jesus Christ.
One famous Philippine TV/radio personality who has already gone to be with the Lord is Helen Vela. When she became a born again Christian, she relates in her beautiful testimony of heeding the call of God to be separated from the man whom she cannot be married because that was not her true husband. Her original husband separated from her long before and lived in adultery with another woman. If only that taped testimony is still available, it would be an encouraging word for Christians who are in the same situation.