DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE, A SCRIPTURAL STUDY
 by Robert Wells

     One of the most controversial subjects in the body of Messiah is divorce and remarriage.  Is it a sin to get a divorce?  If not, is it a sin to re-marry?  Are you living in adultery if you re-marry after you are divorced?
     There has been, and is, much misleading teaching concerning this issue.  Many people needlessly feel guilty about their marital status.  Marriages have broken up because of false teaching.  People have been led to go contrary to Yahweh's law, only to end up committing suicide, because of wrong (according to the word) council.  Obviously there is a definite need for an in depth study of this topic.  The following is the author's attempt to harmonize all scriptures concerning this very controversial issue.
     Any study of divorce/re-marriage must be based on the law of Yahweh.  If it is based on anything else, it's not even worth considering.  With that in mind, we must define all of the key words in this study.  These words will be defined as we come to them.  The law concerning divorce and re-marriage can be found in Deuteronomy, the book of the law.  Please note that Deuteronomy is Yahweh's law, not the law of Moses.  Moses was merely the instrument of Yahweh (His servant).  Yahweh gave the law to all of Israel.  He delivered it to Moses, who was responsible to give it to all of Israel.
 Now, let's turn to Deut. 24:1-4.  All scripture will be quoted from the King James translation, unless otherwise stated.
     Deut. 24:1-4  1) "When a man hath taken a wife and marries her, and it comes to pass that she find no favor 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.  2) And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.  3) And if the latter husband hate her, and write  her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house, if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4) 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."
     In verse 1, the words "bill of divorcement" are from one Hebrew word, #3748 in Strong's concordance, meaning a cutting of the matrimonial bond.  The words "send her out" are #7971 in Strong's, meaning to send away.  Please note that, in verse 2, after the woman has a bill of divorcement and is departed, she may go and re-marry.  Both qualifications must be met before she may be another man's wife.  This will be important to remember later on in the study.
     In verses 3 and 4, note that if a woman's second husband divorces her and sends her away, she may not re-marry her former husband!  I find it interesting that many of those who say that it is adultery to re-marry after being divorced, also say that one should divorce her second spouse and get back with their first.  Both statements are contrary to the law of Yahweh, and the second statement is an abomination.
      Deut. 24:1-4 is the law concerning divorce/re-marriage.  There are exceptions to that law.  I'll address those later, but for now, let's look at the various New Testament scriptures pertaining to this subject.
     Matt.5:31-32   31) "It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32) But I say to 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."
     If we take the King James version as it is written here, it definitely says that anyone who marries a woman that is divorced is committing adultery.   However, this is inconsistent with  Deut. 24:1-4, the law of Yahweh concerning divorce  and re-marriage.  I refuse to believe that Yahshua taught contrary to the law.  Therefore, let's take a closer look at this.
     Verse 31 is consistent with the law; therefore we can let it stand as is.  In verse 32 however, where it says "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery", the word "divorced" is #630 in Strong's.  It means to free fully, i.e. literally relieve, release, dismiss.  The primary meaning here is not divorce, but to put away, as in a separation.  There are two specific words for divorce in the New Testament. In Strong's concordance, #647 means something separative, specifically divorce; #3084 means a loosening, i.e.  specifically divorce.  Yahshua did not speak contrary to the law here.  Most of our translations, though, are not accurate.  I believe that George Lamsa's translation is accurate in this case, that is the last part of Matt. 5:32.  Matt 5:32b (Lamsa)  "and whoever marries a woman who is separated, but not divorced, commits adultery."   Lamsa is correct here, because he is in agreement with the torah.  However, in the first part of this verse, he uses the word "divorces" where he should have used "put away".  Check your concordance.  The word is #630 in Strong's, meaning to put away! And so, correctly translated  Matt. 5:32  should read: "But I say to you that whoever puts away his wife, except for fornication, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is separated but not divorced, commits adultery."   I hope this clears up a very controversial new testament verse.
     Now, let's look at Matt. 19:3-9.  (3) "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?  (4) And He answered and said unto them, have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, (5) and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife:  and the twain shall be one flesh; (6) Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.  What therefore Yahweh hath joined together, let no man put asunder."
If Yahweh brings a couple together, they won't have to worry about separation or divorce.  Yahweh is not going to bring two people together that are not compatable.
Matt. 19:7  "They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?  (8) 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."
If a man does not diligently seek Yahweh's will in whom he will marry, he is likely to make the wrong choice.  Not consulting Yahweh is hard hearted.  Because men were, and are, making the wrong choice for their mates, Yahweh allowed for divorce and re-marriage (Deut. 24:1-4).
Verse 9: And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, commiteth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.  No bill of divorcement is mentioned here.  If a man marries a woman that is put away, but not divorced, he is committing adultery.
     Now, let's turn to Romans 7:2-3.  "For a woman which hath a husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress:  but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be marrried to another man.
This is a favorite passage of those that say that it is adultery to be re-married if you are legally divorced.  If you ignore the law of Yahweh, these verses seem to say that a woman could not re-marry after a divorce, otherwise she would be an adulteress.  However, the simple fact is that if she be legally divorced, she no longer has a husband!  These verses only apply to someone who is married.  If you are divorced, you are not married!
     Paul was well versed in the torah (Gal. 1:14), and in his first epistle to the Corinthians, he wrote a passage that should leave no doubt in your mind, if you simply look up the meaning of the key word.  1 Cor. 7:25-28.  V. 25 "Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of Yahweh:  yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of Yahweh to be faithful."  The intended meaning of the word "virgins" is celibacy, and Paul writes that there is no commandment of Yahweh concerning this.  V. 26 "I suppose therefore that it is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be.  (27) Art thou bound to a wife?  Seek not to be loosed.  Art thou loosed from a wife?  Seek not a wife."  If you believe that it is adultery to re-marry after a legal divorce, then it is convenient to assume that the word "loosed" refers to separation by death!  However the Greek word here is #3080 in Strong's concordance, and it has only one very specific meaning.  The word means divorced!  With that in mind, now let's put the last part of V. 27 with the first part of V. 28.  "Art thou divorced from a wife?  Seek not a wife.  But and if thou marry, thou hast not
sinned;"  Paul can only be addressing those who have been divorced here, and he says that if you marry you have not sinned!
     Isn't that amazing?  Paul, an expert in the law, says exactly the opposite of what many are teaching today.  Yahweh is merciful.  His mercy endures forever.  He doesn't expect us to live the rest of our lives with someone who may be totally incompatible, because we didn't seek Yahweh's will in the first place.  He does expect us to be firm if we do decide on divorce.  We cannot divorce our 2nd spouse in order to go back to our 1st.  Yahweh says this is an abomination (Deut. 24:4).  Yet, that's exactly what many people were taught.  I've heard of cases where people actually ended up committing suicide when they returned to their first spouse, and again it did not work out.  What a tragedy!  And yet, it could have been avoided, had they only sought Yahweh's will.
     I mentioned that there are exceptions to the law of divorce and re-marriage.  Let's examine those now.
Deut. 22:13-19 describes a case where a man takes a woman to be his wife.  He then finds out that he hates this woman.  He calls her a whore and says that she is not the virgin that she claimed to be.  If the woman's parents prove that she was a virgin when she got married, and that the husband is lying, then the
husband is bound to his wife for life.  He may not put her away all his days.
     The other exception is described in  Deut. 22:28-29.  It's short and simple, so I'll just quote it.  "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."
     Now, let's turn to Jer.  3:1-15.  You can read the entire passage at your leisure.  I'll just pick out the key verses for now.  Verse 8, "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.  Now verse 14, "Turn, O backsliding children, saith Yahweh: for I am married unto you:  and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion.  In verse 8, Yahweh says that He gave Israel a bill of divorcement, but in verse 14 He says that He is married to her!  Either the translation is inconsistent here, or my whole thesis does not hold water.  I believe that the King James translation is inconsistent again here.  The word "married" in verse 14 is #1166 in Strong's.  It means to be master, hence to marry.  I think that's a little ambiguous.  Therefore, I looked the word up in the Brown, Driver, and Briggs Hebrew lexicon. Here the meaning becomes clear as "to be lord over".  The Revised Standard version of the scriptures more accurately translates this verse as: "Return, O faithless children, says Yahweh, for I am your master;".
Obviously, Israel could not return to Yahweh if she were spiritually re-married, otherwise Yahweh would be breaking His own law (Deut. 24:3-4).
Anyone can come to Yahweh through Yahushua the Messiah.  When you accept Yahushua as your savior, and obey His law (Yahweh's law), you become a part of the commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians chapter 2).  This is how Israel returns to Yahweh.  It's the only way.  Yahshua is the door (John 10:9).  No man comes to the Father except by Him.  Yahushua is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:16).
     There is another area of the law that applies to divorce and re-marriage.  Most people want to ignore this part of the law, but that does not nullify it.  The law that I am referring to is found in Deut. 22, starting in verse 23.  "If a damsel [that is] a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; 24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, [being] in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you."  Did you notice why Yahweh says the man in this case is to be stoned?  He was to die according to the law because he "humbled his neighbour's wife"!  A betrothed bride was considered the same as married.  In this example from the torah, both the man that lay with a betrothed virgin and also the virgin were guilty of adultery.
     I ask those who would condemn someone who has been re-married after being divorced, isn't being engaged to be married the same as being betrothed?  I would say that it most certainly is the same.  If getting re-married after divorce is not acceptable, then neither is marrying after splitting up from being engaged acceptable.  Let's be consistent with Yahweh's law.  "Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?..." (Romans 2:22)
     We have seen thus far in this study that re-marriage after a divorce is in fact consistent with Yahweh's law.  A man can exact the law and divorce his wife, unless his case is one of the exceptions that was discussed.  "And now I will show you the most excellent way." (1 Corinthians 12:31) Colossians 3:18-19 NIV 18. Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in Yahushua.  19  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
Ephesians 5:22-33 NIV  22  Wives, submit to your husbands as to Yahushua.  23  For the husband is the head of the wife as Messiah is the head of the assembly, His body, of which He is the Savior.  24 Now as the assembly submits to Messiah, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah loved the assembly and gave Himself up for her  26 to make her holy, cleansing {Or having cleansed} her by the washing with water through the word,  27 and to present her to Himself as a radiant assembly, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.  28  In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  29 After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Messiah does the assembly--30  for we are members of His body.  31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." {Gen. 2:24} 32 This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Messiah and the assembly.  33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
     If people would only take these words seriously, there would be no such problem as broken families.  Wives need to submit to their husbands, and husbands need to love their wives.  This is easier said than done.  Yahweh did not include any qualifiers in the above quoted scriptures.  That makes it real hard for a wife to submit to a husband that is not living as he should be.  Yet Yahweh did not say "wives submit to your husbands as long as he is totally righteous."  He simply says "wives submit to your husbands."  By the same token, husbands are to "love your wives, just as Messiah loved the assembly and gave Himself up for her.....husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no-one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Messiah does the assembly."  It's all about headship.  No woman who is seeking Yahushua is going to have a problem submitting to a man who submits himself to Yahushua and His word.  No man who is following the example of Yahushua is going to have a problem with giving of himself to his wife.
     However, we do not live in an ideal world yet.  People do not do a perfect job of living by the word of Yahweh.  Therefore, most marriages are not perfect.  We run into problems.  Are we supposed to end a marriage the first time we get frustrated?  No!  We need to follow the example of Yahushua in all things.  "To this you were called, because Messiah suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.  He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth." {Isaiah 53:9}  When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly.  He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;" (1 Peter 2:21-24 NIV).
     Perhaps your spouse is ignoring the word of Yahweh, and you are being mis-treated, abused, neglected.  If you really believe the words of our Savior, if you consider yourself to be a believer, then you must respond as Yahushua would.  Do not retaliate.  Do not make threats.  Entrust yourself to Him who judges justly.  Remember these words of apostle Paul:  "If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.  And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.  For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.  Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are set apart.  But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so.  A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; Yahweh has called us to live in peace." (1 Cor. 7:12-15)
     Why are there so many divorces/remarriages today?  One reason, I believe, is that we condition our young people for it by promoting the whole idea of dating!  Our teenagers date, get emotionally involved with someone, then split up and start the cycle over again.  There is no such precedent in the scriptures.  Yahweh's way has been forgotten and replaced by man's way.  The bottom line is that people are not living according to the word of Yahweh.  The physical is a shadow of the spiritual.  If unhealthy marriages are commonplace, then it follows that it is commonplace that our relationship with our spiritual husband, Yahushua, is unhealthy.  Look around you.  It is obvious that we need to return to Yahweh.
     Yahweh divorced Israel.  He is calling her back.  Yah is again going to marry Israel.  This time His bride will be submissive.  The bride that Yahushua is going to marry is a different Israel.  She has the same name, but this is a different person.  The Israel that Yahweh divorced had a heart of stone.  She would not submit to Yahweh.  This Israel was from a very specific blood line.  The Israel that Yahweh is going to marry this time comes from any and all blood lines.  This Israel does not have a heart of stone.  She has Yahweh's way of life written on her heart.  This is an entirely different person than the one that Yahweh divorced.  A new covenant has been drawn up.  This time the covenant has been sealed with Yah's own blood.  Let's be a part of that perfect marriage, and let's let our own marriages be a shadow of what is to come.