Biblical Teaching on Divorce and Remarriage -- By: Charles C. Ryrie

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 03:2 (Fall 1982)
Article: Biblical Teaching on Divorce and Remarriage
Author: Charles C. Ryrie

Biblical Teaching on Divorce and Remarriage

Charles C. Ryrie

This survey of the biblical teaching on divorce and remarriage gives special attention to the meaning of the exception clause in Matthew and preference to the view that it refers to unlawful unions and therefore does not justify divorce for sexual immorality. Since only death, not divorce, breaks the one-flesh relationship, remarriage is permitted only ofter the death of a mate. Reconciliation is always the goal for those in a troubled marriage.

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Divorce and remarriage are biblical doctrines, and like other doctrines must be formulated on the basis of sound exegesis and biblical theology. Sound exegesis furnishes the raw material, the data; biblical theology correlates the results of exegesis in relation to the progress of revelation. The result provides authoritative instruction for this crucial area of life today. Undebatable authoritative truth comes from revelation. Our experience cannot create it; it should conform to it; certainly it must never compromise it.

I. The Teaching of the Old Testament

A. The Institution of Marriage (Gen 1:26-27; 2:18-25)

1. The Purpose of Marriage

Marriage was instituted in the context of creation, making it an ordinance that applies to all regardless of the presence or absence of faith. God’s proposes in giving marriage to all mankind were (1) to supply the lack a man or woman has alone; (2) to encourage a faithful, monogamous relation for the fabric of society; and (3) to establish the one flesh relationship.

The first relates to the word “helper” in Gen 2:18. It simply means that each alone lacks what the mate can supply so that together they make a complete whole.

The second finds its basis in that God made only one wife for Adam and said that he should “cleave” to that wife (Gen 2:24). Cleaving carries with it the idea

…of clinging to someone in affection and loyalty. Man is to cleave to his wife (Gen 2:24). Ruth clave to Naomi (Ruth 1:14). The men of Judah clave to David their king during Sheba’s rebellion (2 Sam 20:2). Shechem loved Dinah and clave to her (Gen 34:3) and Solomon clave in love to his wives (1 Kgs 11:2).

Most importantly, the Israelites are to cleave to the Lord in affection and loyalty (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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