Espousal, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
The best place to begin a controversial discussion is to start at the beginning, and allow the conversation to find a common ground. No matter which controversial subject we approach, the idea is to find truth and truth is only in the hands of the Lord. Thus starting at the beginning can sometimes help destroy the pride that often keeps a great conversation and the search for truth from turning sour. Although this article isn’t a conversation between two people, it is however a study of many years of conversations with men over espousal, marriage, divorce and remarriage. My main goal in this article is to express that knowledge and truth I’ve found over the years in my own personal research and the research of others. They is no intentions here to prove anything to anyone, I can only hope that what I’ve found and hold as truth will spark an examination and or a confirmation of the doctrine we all hold dear.
One of the most critical mistakes believers often make about the espousal is they try to understand ancient espousal-ship by comparing it to the America engagement. Espousal-ship is not engagement as defined here in America and when it is compared to the America engagement it’s robbed of its scriptural authority.
In an espousal-ship there is a ceremony in which vows are exchanged a contract is signed, witnesses present and a purchasing of the bride with some sort of token is given. In the espousal relationship the two are called husband and wife, awaiting only for the bridegroom to come to the house of the bride and carrying her away to complete the marriage ceremony. The espousal-ship is a binding relationship can only be broken with a bill of divorcement.
In the American engagement there are no vows, no contract, or no witnesses, and the couples “aren’t” consider married, but are regarded as to be married. The American engagement is neither recognized as a legal union of a man and woman and the engagement relationship is easily broken for any reason without a bill of divorce. This is certainly not the case with espousal-ship; the relationship is binding by the exchange of vows, the contract, the witnesses and the purchase of the bride. As a matter of fact, there is simply no difference between an actual traditional American marriage ceremony, and the Jewish espousal-ship. The America wedding hold a ceremony where vows are exchanged and a contract is sign, and witnesses are present, afterwards there is what is called a “honeymoon”, where the couple “supposedly” (as the Jewish do) seal the marriage.
The Jewish wedding unlike the America wedding is a two part ceremony with the first part being the espousal (the exchange of vows, the contract, witnesses and token) and then about one or two years the second part took place which completes the ceremony. The second part deals with the husband finally taking his wife home. However, doing the second part there is no need for contracts, vows, or a minister because the couple is already considered married. In fact, if the husband sought to take his wife immediately after completing the first half of the ceremony he could, and no sin would be committed. Now if there were some unknown in-completion in the marriage that kept them from being 100% husband and wife, he couldn’t take her right away. The first part of the ceremony isn’t weaker then the second, because the marriage is bound by the first part not the second.
A couple is forbidden to have intercourse without first completing the first part of the ceremony. The first part of the ceremony gives the couple the right to be joined in physical relationship. The first part of the ceremony gives the couple the right to be called “Husband and Wife”. Thus, understanding espousal is crucial when discussing marriage, divorce and remarriage as they pertain to the bible and our everyday life.
(Gen 2:7) Then the LORD God took some soil from the ground and formed a man out of it; he breathed life-giving breath into his nostrils and the man began to live.
(Gen 2:18) Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to live alone. I will make a suitable companion to help him.”
(Gen 2:21-24) Then the LORD God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the flesh. He formed a woman out of the rib and brought her to him. Then the man said, “At last, here is one of my own kind— Bone taken from my bone, and flesh from my flesh.’Woman’ is her name because she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one.
God formed man from the ground and he breathed life into his nostrils and the man came alive. Afterward, God cause man to fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man’s ribs, closed up the flesh and formed a woman and brought her to him. Adam’s knowledge and prophecy of marriage is the next spectacular thing that happens.
“At last, (Adam says) here is one of my own kind— Bone taken from my bone, and flesh from my flesh. ‘Woman’ is her name because she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united with his wife, and they become one.
Marriage is a union started by God between a man and a woman. Marriage was setup as a relationship that would last as long as both man and women were alive. In the beginning there was no death so the marriage relationship would last forever. On the other hand, once the first man disobeyed God, sin brought death, and death brought the separation of a relationship that was meant to be forever. Howbeit, because of sin and death, women and men are left widows, widowers, and children are left orphans.
In Matthew 19 Jesus says, “Haven’t you read the scripture that says that in the beginning the Creator made people male and female? And God said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and unite with his wife, and the two will become one.’ So they are no longer two, but one. No human being must separate, then, what God has joined together.”
First and foremost, it isn’t a sin to divorce. We know this by the teaching of Paul ““And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, 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.” The sin ends up being remarriage when it not done in accordance to the teaching of Christ.
The principle of divorce by adultery originated in the Law of Moses, saying, “When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come 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”. (Deu 24:1)
Deuteronomy 24 gave the people of Israel permission to divorce by writing a bill of divorcement and placing it in the wife’s hand, and sending her out of the house. The Law of Moses uses the word “uncleanness” but the Lord Jesus while teaching on divorce explains that the “uncleanness” was “fornication” or unfaithfulness. On the other hand, the Jewish rules interpreted “uncleanness” to mean “for whatever” asking the Lord, “Is it lawful (Moses Law) for a man to put away his wife for every cause”?
Jesus answered their question with a question asking, “What law did Moses give you?” The Pharisees quickly turn to Deuteronomy chapter 24 to express the fact that Moses did allow them to put away their wives through a bill of divorcement. However, it is clear through the response of the Lord Jesus that the law of the bill of divorcement was being falsely interpreted by the Pharisees which lead to a massive abuse of the law that was set to protect his people.
But listen to the words of the Lord Jesus. “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”.
It’s here that most people stumble and fall into the same pattern of the Pharisees which held the doctrine of unlawfully putting away their spouses for any reason, only today men command people to be bound to their spouses no matter what they do.
Jesus never communicated this and neither did the Law. Jesus said, “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept”. The word precept means injunction, that is, an authority prescription: – commandment, “LAW”, or an ordinance. So the bill of divorcement is a “Commandment” in the Law that was interjection because of the hardness of the hearts of men. The injunction came after the sole purpose of God from the beginning when he created male and female, desiring that the man would leave his father and mother finding a wife, cleaving to her they being two would because one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”.
So now, although we understand the mind of God from the beginning when he created male and female we can’t fail to notice the interjection of the bill of divorcement which came because of sin and gave men permission to divorce. The Holy Scriptures says God hates the putting away. Nonetheless, there was still given to the children of Israel a bill of divorcement permitting them to put away the spouse in the case of uncleanness being found in her. Therefore understanding that the LORD hates divorce, married couples should work hard to remain faithful and consecrated to one another, least one of them is found guilty of fornication which can result in the very thing God hates.
Jesus said, “For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept”. The Law of divorcement was given because all humanity will not remain faithful to the marriage vow. Historically, when men sent away their wives without a bill of divorcement the women had no one to support them. They couldn’t return to their father’s house and no one was allowed to marry her because she was still bound to her husband. The law of divorce frees women to remarry or to return home.
Deuteronomy 24 gave the people permission to separate and for the reason of uncleanness, so the doctrine teaching people to stay married to a spouse no matter what they do is undeniable rule out once Deuteronomy 24 is understood.
What about Roman 7?
(Rom 7:2-3) For the woman which hath an 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 married to another man.
There are certain groups prohibiting divorce and remarriage solely on Roman chapter 7. But it’s critical to remember how the same Law gave men the right to put away their spouse when uncleanness is found in her, and the same law allowed the divorcee to remarry after receiving the bill of divorcement.
(Deu 24:1-4) 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 the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
The two authors aren’t in conflict, they’re simply speaking from two difference circumstances, one brings the LAW of Marriage and the other on the Law of Divorcement. Unfaithfulness in a marriage puts the marriage in jeopardy of divorce, however, when there is no unfaithfulness in the marriage the relationship is binding and should extent the life of the couple. Therefore one law doesn’t contradict the other.
It would be a total injustice to quote Romans 7 in the attempt to bind couples together no matter what, and ignore the fact that the same Law allows men to give a bill of divorcement.