IS ADULTERY A CONTINUAL STATE AFTER REMARRIAGE?
The well-meaning interjector may reason however that such a person is “living in a state of adultery” because the second marriage after divorce is not recognised by God as a marriage, that the first union remains binding, and therefore until further “sacrifice” of separation and the consequent breakup of family occurs, forgiveness cannot be obtained: and that this condition remains until reconciliation or the death of the first spouse has occurred. Only then can marriage to a second spouse be allowed! In response to this theory we submit the following points as a sample of some of the obvious objections.
(a) If this reasoning is correct then the conditional clause of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 need explanation that covers the many contradictions that a whole range of theories have suggested over many years. Such theories ignore what brethren Thomas and Roberts believed was the simplest and most obvious interpretation. These theories set aside the principles of Bible interpretation which marked the rediscovery of the truth from Papal and Protestant blasphemy. These principles of Bible interpretation are consistently used on other first principles, but sadly appear to be set aside when it comes to the subject of divorce and remarriage! Bro. Roberts points out “It ought not to be a matter of difficulty to determine how the Scriptures are to be interpreted. It ought to be easy to maintain that, with certain qualifications, the Bible means what it says”. These theories are often made a test of fellowship to the point where bro. Roberts would not today be fellowshipped by other Christadelphian groups! We cannot but wonder how different the ecclesial world would be today if all brethren and sisters on all the issues that have divided the household of God and none more than the divorce and remarriage question, had instead stood fast with brethren Thomas and Roberts in their understanding of Scripture; their spiritual maturity made plain the demands of God’s holiness and truth while dealing with the realities of life where sin has marred the divine ideal.
(b) Nowhere in Scripture does the term, “living in adultery” apply to a second marriage after divorce.
(c) If the above explanation is correct then those who have divorced and remarried before coming to knowledge of the truth, ought to separate before they are baptised to manifest “true repentance”. Members of the Dawn fellowship, in trying to circumnavigate this consequence to the above theory, state that it is a false deduction to claim that as “sin is the transgression of God’s law and seeing that the people in the world are sinners, such people, although in darkness, transgress the precepts of God’s law”. Interestingly, this type of reasoning is adopted when the subject of divorce and remarriage is raised but abandoned when other pre-baptismal sins are discussed! The same author states, “We have no authority for saying that a faithless Jew or Gentile sins in ignorance against the precepts of Christ’s law, for they are outside that law”. This theory, charged by some Central brethren as “Andrewism”, makes baptism the point of responsibility, greatly weakening their witness. It goes without saying that bro. Roberts roundly dismissed such a theory. In response to the question, “Have we any actual sins of our own to be forgiven at our baptism? Or is the effect simply to free us from the law of sin and death that we inherit from Adam”. Answered, “How could any doubt exist on the point? Why should it be necessary to put such a question? Presumably because someone suggested that as the Gentiles are without God, and not under law to Christ, they cannot commit sin, which is the transgression of the law. This is a mistaken application of truth. Though the Gentiles are not accountable, because helplessly what they are, they are nonetheless transgressors, who must be forgiven before they can obtain favour. Leviticus 20:23 shows that nations not under law are odious, because of their wickedness”.
Christendom Astray by R. Roberts: Lecture 1: The Bible―What it is and How to Interpret it
“Christ’s teaching on divorce and remarriage” by GM Clements, published by The Dawn Book Supply
(d) Nowhere in the New Testament is there a case of the Lord requiring a second divorce and separation as proof of repentance.
(e) Let us not forget the spiritual guidance of Deuteronomy 24:1–4. Verse 4 illustrates how Yahweh deals with the practical realities of the divorce and remarriage question. The divine commandment in verse 4 was designed to make an Israelite reflect deeply upon his actions against his wife; once divorced and remarried, if she was then loosed by her second husband or even if the second husband died, the first husband could never take her to himself again. This command should have discouraged the practice; yet because of the “hardness of their hearts” Israel ignored God’s warning. This was the practice the Lord condemns in Matthew 19 where the Pharisees divorced and remarried multiple times. Nevertheless, Deuteronomy 24:4 proves that this second marriage is binding by God, though an obvious departure from the divine standard.
(f) The Lord Jesus differentiated between the woman of Samaria’s five husbands and the man she was then living with. In doing so, the Lord Jesus did not in any way condone her immorality yet noted her previous marriages as marriages.
In Matthew 19:9 the Lord speaks of a second marriage following divorce and of a marriage to a divorced person as “committing adultery” because the motive of the man who divorces his wife, innocent of porneia, that he may marry another, is no different in the Lord’s estimation from a man desiring to satisfy his lusts with one other than his wife.
The penetrating motive revealing teachings of the Master of Matthew 5 again becomes the key to correctly interpreting the Lord’s terminology in Matthew 19:9. Matthew 5 shows us that the Lord judges hidden motive as if it were literal action taken to its contemplated fulfilment. In Matthew 19:9 the Lord is judging the motive of the man who puts away his wife, whom he knows is innocent of unfaithfulness, so that he may marry another, as outright adultery which to the Jewish mind under the Law meant the death penalty. Likewise, the one marrying the divorced wife is said to commit adultery because his heart with its most intimate desires is improperly directed to one whose love, faithfulness and affections are covenanted to another.
Though the sin committed in the second marriage does not strictly conform to the normal definition of adultery, the motive and the unlawful desires and affections aroused by it are comparable to an act of adultery. We emphasise the word act, because adultery is not a condition or a state. It may be a series of acts but it is not a “state”. The Lord says that the sin of remarriage in Matthew 19:9 is compared to an act of adultery. Again we emphasise the key in understanding this is Matthew 5:28–32 where the Lord shows that this adultery begins with deceitful lusts and covetously ends in divorce and remarriage.
It is also interesting to note, that with reference to the Greek of Matthew 5:32 and the Lord’s words “causeth her to commit adultery” is in the “aorist infinitive tense and passive voice”. This refers to simple action and not linear or continuous action while the “passive voice” represents the subject (the wife wrongfully put away) receiving the action of the verb. The second occurrence of the phrase “commits adultery” at the end of verse 32 is the same verb in the Greek that is used in Mark 10:11–12; Matthew 19:9 and Luke 16:18 and is in the “present indicative”. This tense represents action in progress now as opposed to action in the past or the future. As we would expect the spirit consistently selects the language that best reflects the teaching of Christ set forth in Matthew 5:28–32 i.e. the adultery was progressive from its inception in the mind, to its physical manifestation in remarriage and the language and grammar used illustrate this point. We cannot overemphasise the importance of a correct understanding of Christ’s principles taught in Matthew 5 on this matter. It not only sets forth the grave sin of allowing deceitful lust to harbour in our hearts to the point of leading us to divorce and remarriage but it also (verses 21–48) reveals what ought to be the spirit of the wronged party by the appreciation of the grace of God―to know Him and Jesus Christ whom He sent.
The Christadelphian 1873 pp 232
“A Parsing Guide to the Greek New Testament” by Nathan E. Han
“For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:20–24).