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“Till death do us part.” They’re the words we normally hear at wedding ceremonies today between a man and a woman who are dedicating their lives to one another in holy matrimony. From the beginning of creation we find this was to be so.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave (a bond like glue) unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed, Gen 2:23-25.
The “one flesh” statement here is clearly a Hebrew idiomatic phrase for being “married.” Yahshua the Messiah confirms that it was Yahweh that had placed Adam and Eve together as “one”:
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what Elohim has joined together, let man not separate,” Matt 19:4-6 NIV.
It was later that they became physically intimate (Gen 4:1), which is scripturally allowed for those that are married, Ruth 4:13. We also must remember, before moving forward,
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for Elohim will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral, Heb 13:4 NIV.
Marriage, Sex, and the Family Unit
Marriage can be a wonderful and beautiful union, with physical intimacy adding a dimension for expressing loving emotions and pro-creation for the addition of children to the family. Some married couples are not able to have children due to physical or other difficulties. The reasons vary from war to other accidents in which injuries prevent physical intimacy as normally could take place. These couples, otherwise, lead very normal lives, and in some cases adopt children to have the traditional family unit made up of a man, woman, and children.
The family is really the foundational building block of homes and communities. Take away family and you will have a breakdown of society. In many countries outside the United States family units are made up of an extended family of grandparents and grandchildren, sometimes all living within the same house or community all caring for, and looking out for one another. Israelite culture also expressed these types of living arrangements early on, though, admittedly, more of a nomadic ancestral living, with examples of patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob being the precursor of all of Israel.
Sex Doesn’t Cause Marriage
From early on we also learn that sex does not cause or make a couple married. We have Jacob and Rachel as an example of the agreement of marriage allowing Jacob to call Rachel his wife before he had been physically intimate with her.
And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that I may go in unto her, Gen 29:20- 21.
Long before this example we have the account of Cain being married to his wife before any physical intimacy took place. It says, “Cain knew his wife,” Gen 4:17. In other words, she was his wife before they had relations which produced children.
There was a “bride price” in times past, but there was only an agreement of marriage if and after the father accepts the bride-price.
And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins, Ex 22:16-17.
There is a similar but opposite dowry process in India in which the family of the bride-to-be actually pays the husband’s family. In both cases, sex does not a marriage make.
We also find that the proper thing to do if premarital relations takes place is to marry,
If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days, Deut 22:28 29.
It is not an excuse to have premarital sex to think you’ll be marrying the one you’re with anyway. It would be a sin to do so, and it comes with a warning, Gal 5:19-21 (Note: Strong’s NT:4202 “fornication,” not to be confused with NT:3430 “adultery” or NT:1495 “Idolatry” in this case).
Some may think that since a virgin’s hymen will break (Duet 22:13-21) it shows a blood covenant process has taken place. However, a covenant has not taken place, especially when considering those who marry in which, as already mentioned, physical relations can’t take place, such as with, Joseph and Mary, Matt 1:24-25. Also, marriage is obviously allowed between non-virgins.
Dinah was raped by Shechem (Gen 34:1-2), which didn’t cause marriage, but did cause death (Gen 34:25-26). Shechem even recognized that sex didn’t cause marriage, because after the act, he went to his father and said, “Get this girl for me,” he demanded. “I want to marry her,” Gen 34:4 NLT.
The sad account of Judah and Tamar is yet another situation that didn’t cause a “marriage” situation, Gen 38:18, 24, 26.
King David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba (2 Sam 11:4) didn’t cause them to become “one flesh.” Only when an agreement (covenant) came were they then married (one flesh), verse 27.
The following statement by the Apostle Paul may initially seem to put a question mark on the consistency of the above statements, as here it looks like “one flesh” is exclusively describing “sex.” The Apostle Paul says to the brethren:
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Messiah? Shall I then take the members of Messiah and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.” But he who is joined to the Master is one spirit with Him. Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from Elohim, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify Elohim in your body and in your spirit, which are Elohim’s, 1 Cor 6:15-20 NKJV.
Reread the above verses while thinking of physical and spiritual Israel. If one becomes a part of the body of Messiah (similar wording is used in 1 Cor 12:12-27), then he or she is not to go and be united or married with an adulterous harlot (the world).
After coming into the faith (are baptized) we can only marry someone in the faith (1 Cor 7:39; 2 Cor 6:14-15), just like we are to live “righteously” in this world after baptism (Titus 2:12). We must understand that those of the body of Messiah are already considered to be the bride through covenant process (2 Cor 11:2; Rev 19:7) and hence have already been given the family name, John 17:11; Rev 14:1. Today, we are to prepare for the coming wedding.
We are not to draw back physically or spiritually as ancient Israel did, for they were punished for such things;
Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come, 1 Cor 10:11 NASU.
Paul, when speaking to the Corinthians, may very well have had the prophet Hosea in mind when he said, “joined to a harlot,” 1 Cor 6:15.
When Yahweh first spoke through Hosea, Yahweh said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking Yahweh,” Hos 1:2 NASU. (See also Hos 5:4)
A warning to not commit Israel’s unfaithfulness was being related, consciously by Paul or not, to the brethren in Corinth and therefore to us today. Yes, sexual immorality (adultery specifically) was also being spoken of, but it is also relating marrying into symbolic Babylon and being “one” with her.
Yahweh had directed Hosea to show, as an example, Israel’s adulterous actions against Yahweh. Judah committed similar “idolatry” as well by playing the harlot, Ezek 23:17- 21. It was a forsaking of Yahweh, something we must not do since we are coming into a covenant with Yahweh, like ancient Israel (both Ephraim and Judah) did in the past:
And when I passed by and saw you again, you were old enough to be married. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign Yahweh, and you became mine, Ezek 16:8 NLT.
Marriages by Covenant Process
In addressing the tribe of Judah’s sins in particular, Yahweh sarcastically impersonates Judah,
Do we not all have one father? Has not one Elohim created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers? Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination has been committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the sanctuary of Yahweh which He loves and has married the daughter of a foreign mighy one. As for the man who does this, may Yahweh cut off from the tents of Jacob (all the tribes of Israel) everyone who awakes and answers, or who presents an offering to Yahweh of hosts. “This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of Yahweh with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because Yahweh has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant’,” Mal 2:10-14 NASU.
Marriages of both unbelievers and believers are something that Yahweh recognizes. Though not of Israel, and not necessarily believers in Yahweh, there are examples of pagan rulers who had wives in Scripture. Joseph had to deal with one woman in particular who was the wife of an Egyptian master named Potiphar.
From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, Yahweh blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of Yahweh was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against Elohim?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her, Gen 39:5-10 NIV.
Men today should take note of Joseph’s good character and recognition that one is not to tempt themselves by sticking around in a situation that can lead to adultery or other types of sin. Potiphar was married, and the account is written down as an example and testimony for us.
Another ruler was King Abimelech in whom Abraham, in trying to protect himself from being killed, said that Sarah was his sister. She was technically his half-sister, but long story-short, Yahweh had closed King Abimelech’s own wife’s womb as a punishment for grabbing Sarah.
The whole account is given in Genesis chapter 20, but concludes with “Elohim healed Abimelech and his wife,” verse 17, confirming they were married.
How were they and others like them (1 Kings 16:30-31) married? The answer is by whatever ceremony or process of law they had. Just as our governments today have governing marriage laws that we are to abide by and that Yahweh recognizes. It is all by covenant (agreement) process which will be continuing into the future before Yahshua’s return:
And as it came to pass in the days of Noah, even so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all, Luke 17:26-27 ASV.
Every culture seems to have marriage ceremonies in place. It may very well be that Yahweh does not give specific guidelines on “How to get married” in the Bible for the purpose of honoring all marriage vows within the specific laws of the land, which we are to abide by.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of Elohim: the powers that be are ordained of Elohim. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of Elohim: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation, Rom 13:1-2. (See also Titus 3:1 and 1 Pet 2:13-15)
Marriage, we find, is not only “Till death do us part,” but also for reasons of infidelity couples may separate. Yahweh Himself had given Ephraim (Israel) a bill of divorce for the unfaithfulness committed.
Yahweh said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly (pretending to), saith Yahweh. And Yahweh said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah, Jer 3:6-11.
Yahweh evidently didn’t give Judah a writ of divorce due to the fact that Yahshua the Messiah was to come forth from Judah. But the fact remains, divorce is allowed for reasons other than a severance of the marriage resulting from the death of a spouse. It is a true statement that Yahweh hates wrongful or inappropriate divorce.
“I hate divorce,” says Yahweh Elohim of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says Yahweh of hosts, Mal 2:16a NIV.
Hillel and Shammai Schools
In Scripture we find that divorce for any reason had basically been allowed, but was not the ideal situation, and was certainly abused as divorce is in today’s society,
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before Yahweh: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance, Deut 24:1-4.
Stemming from these Scriptures came two well known schools of thought espoused by two different teachers back at the time of Messiah.
One was the Hillel school which taught that there was in fact, because of the law, the right to “put away” (another way of saying divorce) one’s spouse for the smallest of reasons.
The other school, taught by Shammai, was the more conservative of the two and said that basically only for the reason of sexual immorality was there such grounds for divorce. This Yahshua agreed with in His answer to the basic question, “Can a man divorce his wife for any reason?”
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore Elohim hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery, Matt 19:3-9.
To this even the disciples were almost in disbelief, and said, “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry,” verse 10.
The reason Yahshua gave for allowing divorce was “due to the hardness of their hearts.” It seems safe to say that this was the same reason polygamous relations were allowed, even though the kings were warned not to multiply their wives or else, Deut 17:17. They suffered the consequences of their actions.
Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself, Deut 17:17 NKJV.
Most notable was King Solomon who was led astray into their false worship,
As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other idols, and his heart was not fully devoted to Yahweh his Elohim, as the heart of David his father had been, 1 Kings 11:4-5 NIV.
Not only did he have wives, but he added “foreign” wives to himself, which was forbidden in Deuteronomy chapter 7:3.
When Yahweh your Eolhim brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations — the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you — and when Yahweh your Elohim has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them, Deut 7:1-3a NIV.
He may, however, have reasoned that was alright as long as they were from distant cities.
This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby, Deut 20:15 NIV.
When you go to war against your enemies and Yahweh your Elohim delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her, Deut 21:10-14 NIV.
When Judah came back from being in captivity for 70 years in Babylon, they came to know that they had to put away their foreign wives and children under the leadership of Ezra, Ezra 10:3. He did not tell them they couldn’t remarry, but did show them from the law that they couldn’t be married to their “foreign” wives.
Today, one would be hard-pressed to figure out if one is of pure Israelite stock. This is evidently part of the reason why the Apostle Paul said to us today not to divorce.
And unto the married I command, yet not I, but Yahweh, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the rest speak I, not Yahweh: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him, 1 Cor 7:10-13.
The original intent was to have strong family structures that work to build the foundations of society with Yahweh as the focal point. Paul was evidently for this as well.
Homosexual relations that were forbidden in the Old Testament and that were forbidden in the New, will also not be allowed in the coming Kingdom of Yahweh. It just is not part of the original intent or overall plan, but today you see it becoming more prevalent even though Yahweh calls such things an “abomination.”
Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable, Lev 18:22 NIV.
Homosexual unions today are not recognized as marriages by Yahweh since they do not constitute the original intent of a man and a woman.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh, Gen 2:24 NIV.
There are also other improper relations, such as Herod having his brother’s wife.
For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this becauseof Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife,” Mark 6:17-19 NIV.
That particular situation was probably seen by John as an incestuous relationship. Incest was specifically forbidden in the law (torah), Lev 18:16; 20:21. It may also be that John the Immerser took the Shammai School’s view as Yahshua did, Matt 19:3-9.
Reasons for Divorce
Paul gives one other reason for divorce other than unfaithfulness. He says,
But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but Elohim hath called us to peace, 1 Cor 7:15.
In other words, for a member of the body of Messiah, one is not bound to a marriage if the unbelieving spouse leaves. It is effectively ready to be dissolved, following the laws of the land (meaning, divorce proceedings), unless reconciliation can be obtained under the guidelines of Deut 24:3-4 and 1 Cor 7:11.
The concept of a non-guilty party is found in the book of Numbers chapter 5:12-31. Though addressing an adulterous situation, the principle relates to one deciding not to obey Yahweh. The one who does obey Yahweh cannot be accused or punished. Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity, verse 31.
We effectively have three things in Scripture that allow for a marriage to be dissolved:
|Sexual immorality (fornication, Heb. “Zanah,” Jer 3:1; Hos 2:5; Amos 7:17),|
|which includes, but is not limited to, adultery.|
|Death of the spouse, 1 Cor 7:39.|
|“...if the unbelieving depart (divorces)”…, 1Cor 7:15.|
Reasons for Remarriage
The same three reasons listed above are also the three reasons which can allow a person to remarry. But there is at least one more which is still connected to one of the former reasons.
When we are baptized into the true name of Yahshua, we effectively are going through a symbolic burial (death). We are striving to put away the past wrong ways of living and, in a sense, it is a symbolic washing away of transgressions against the heavenly Father. They are put away permanently as east is from west.
It is similar in example to a book of your former life being immersed in water and all the ink being washed away. When the book comes up, a new pen is put to it and starts recording a new life in Messiah Yahshua.
Not even the best attorney or accuser (namely Lucifer) can look back and say, “You know what, you haven’t been forgiven of everything!” Satan can’t say that and neither can we. Doesn’t the heavenly Father even have the right to annul any previous oaths/covenants, even if it is a previous vow, Num 30:5, 12. Those that are single, when they come into the faith, are therefore free to remarry within the faith.
Living in Adultery?
Are those coming into the faith that have divorced and remarried numerous times living in adultery? Can a deacon or elder in good conscience baptize those that have a questionable marriage? These are questions that come up. To answer such questions let’s look to examples in Scripture.
Did any Jews not receive the Spirit on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2 because they had divorced and remarried? Remember, many Jews evidently divorced and remarried for “any reason” as the law allowed,
When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife, Deut 24:1-2.
Yet not one of them was told to get rid of their spouse.
What was Yahshua’s example with the woman at the well in which he asked for a drink of water?
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Yahshua, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Yahshua replied, “If you only knew the gift Elohim has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?” Yahshua replied, “People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.” “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me some of that water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to haul water.” “Go and get your husband,” Yahshua told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Yahshua said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband — for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet,” John 4:7-19 NLT.
Notice that Yahshua acknowledged that she had “five” husbands. And she was now evidently living with a man whom she had not married, truly a sexually immoral situation.
What are the odds with this Samaritan that every one of her previous marriages were to the standards that Yahshua had laid out for the Pharisees who were trying to trip him up by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”
The woman certainly would have had to marry the man she was with or separate from him if she were to come into the faith, but the point is Yahshua acknowledged she had been married, not just a couple of times, but “five times.”
Elders and Deacons
Can there be leaders within the Assembly that have divorced and remarried?
Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of Elohim’s assembly?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap. Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well. Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Messiah Yahshua, 1 Tim 3:1 13 NIV. (See also Titus 1:6-9)
A husband of “one wife” is consistent with the “original intent.” It does not mean, husband of “one original wife.” There is a difference.
Yahshua said, It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery, Matt 5:31-32.
Some will say, in verse 32, “It was alright to give a writ of divorce even within the betrothal or engagement period,” is to assume that there were two separate papers for saying, “This is not my wife and I am not her husband.”
Two different documents did not, and still do not, exist. Divorce is divorce, as remarriage is remarriage. Both happen when a couple has been legally married. An engagement does not a marriage make, it only leads to the marriage itself. A couple should not marry if they feel or think they are incompatible after a prolonged engagement.
In the end, we are not to shut people out because of their past mistakes nor hold back a potential leader who can help serve the body of Messiah.
Was the Apostle Paul held back from serving because of his former lifestyle of persecuting the brethren? How was Paul, of his own admission, being the “chief” (1 Tim 1:15) sinner among “all,” allowed to lead the members if he wasn’t completely forgiven of “all” previous transgressions?
The conclusion concerning elders in the faith is that, if they’re married, their wife (singular) is to be in the faith also. There are 3 reasons for this:
|1 Cor 9:5 - the Apostle/ Elder Paul specifi cally said “believing” wife.|
|Titus 1:6 - “believing” children strongly suggests a product of a “believing”|
|1 Cor 7:39; 2 Cor 6:14 - An Elder is to be an example (above reproach, 1Tim 3:2)
|to the body in word and action. No one is to look back at a prospective elder’s former history before baptism and say, “They cannot serve in that position, because they divorced and remarried before they came into the body of Messiah.”|
Coming into the Faith
Should we dig into peoples’ history and start denying them access to baptism? Should we disrupt whole families due to their previous marriages? Are we to shut the door on people trying to enter into the kingdom?
Paul never contradicted Yahshua and Yahshua never contradicted Paul. There seems to be no question of Paul’s intentions in addressing the Corinthians the way he did. It was to help them overcome their shortcomings and to help these new believers—some single, some married, some previously divorced and remarried, etc.—in their walk with Yahweh and Yahshua.
What is missing in all of this instruction is his telling ANY married couples to separate. Paul was not going to recommend breaking up families, the very structure of society, but emphasized that we should live at peace, even with an UNBELIEVING spouse. “Brethren, each one is to remain with Elohim in that condition in which he was called,” 1 Cor 7:24 NASU.
Paul said in the same chapter that the children are “holy,” even when just “one” in the family comes into the body of Messiah. What he laid out for us, under the inspiration of the Spirit, is that we should care for our families and love them, even if one spouse doesn’t believe.
He did NOT refer back to Ezra’s time and use that to say those in Corinth should separate from their foreign (pagan, unbelieving, etc.) wives or husbands. There is a difference today than Ezra’s situation back at that time. Even with that said, there is no indication that Ezra refused them the right to remarry.
If Yahweh winked at ignorance in the past, should we not do the same of those things done in the past? Yes, we are now called to repent and to be holy. Is it unholy to show mercy to those who repent of the actions and therefore the situation they may find themselves in? That is, married to an unbeliever (foreigner) or having previously been divorced and remarried?
We also must keep in mind that the Apostle James says to not “trouble” new believers.
Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to Elohim from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath, Acts 15:19-21 NASU.
Four things they were to eliminate out of their lives immediately, but putting away spouses was not one of them. They were then welcomed into the synagogues every Sabbath to learn more.
It is a simple matter of not shutting the door, nor tearing apart families, who are clearly seeking a new way of life for themselves and their children. In some cases, their children’s children.
-Elder David Brett
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