Marriage, divorce and remarriage are words we use to describe the various, basic human relationships underlying the family life. The proper understanding of the meanings and implications of these words help us to know how we should live in those relationships for a happy family life.
Look at the creation and you cannot help but notice the superiority of the human community over the others, for example, the dog’s and cat’s. Which living creature in the whole of creation has subdued the earth more and better than what human beings have done so far? Much of the laws of nature have been discovered and are still being discovered by men today. God did fearfully and wonderfully create man capable of investigating and understanding this world even as He commanded them to have dominion over it on His behalf.
It should also be obvious to us that God expected the above task assigned to man to be done through many generations. By the creation of Eve and the giving of her to Adam for his fruitfulness and multiplying, the LORD God was saying to man that his work cannot be done all by himself. He must raise up a godly family to help him with the task.
Many generations have come and gone, but there is still much of this Creation of God that we are still ignorant of. Though we try to understand and describe to the best our abilities, we have not been able to do a proper job after man had fallen into sin. Man is to subdue all things for the glory of God.
But, in his estate of sin and misery (in his condition as a fallen creature) he cannot but sin against God (fall short of God’s glory). He is in no position to raise another generation to continue the task, even if he is doing well for himself. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Just look around, and you will see that this age-old institution of marriage is fallen on hard times. Many busy young people of today do consider the formal marriage (where you need to get registered with the authority) as a waste of time. This is especially so when the time comes for them to get a divorce. There are so many rules and regulations governing such serious actions and so they rather simply co- habit and agree to part ways when the time comes – as simple as that.
On another front, we do come across the gays who insist on their rights to marriage for parties of the same sex – men marrying men and women marrying women. This is nothing but a redefinition of marriage so as to claim the package of legal rights and privileges, for a once forbidden relationship, in a moment. Ungodly people are simply selfish and care neither for God’s glory nor the good of the human society.
When we see the Church supporting such erroneous concepts of marriage by allowing them, and worse, accepting gay people into office to conduct the same, we know that this divine institution is being severely attacked! This is the scene of marriage today.
Divorce, or the break-up of a family, legally or otherwise, is rampant these days. This seems to be the case in any developing or developed nations, as if growth necessitates such evils.
If the marriage union is necessary for man to carry out his calling to serve God, then divorce and all activities leading thereto must be evil, at least, in the undermining of his basic and fundamental calling as the bearer of God’s image and likeness. The depreciation of having and maintaining godly homes demonstrates the aimlessness of men in all their lives. The development of this world without God’s grace is a development of a systematic removal of that which truly and rightly binds us together in truth and unity, namely the Triune God. It is of, by, and through the Triune God that all things find their meaning and unity. The world is traveling on the road of separation and ultimate destruction. This road of divorce is what God hates. All things shall end up at the Final Judgment Seat of Christ to see if they are worthy of entrance into the New Heaven and New Earth wherein dwells righteousness.
Remarriage to another other than one’s own spouse is a further corruption and confusion of one’s own already problematic marriage. Repentance and reconciliation is the solution to a problematic relationship. All holy actions in such a dire situation (including the acceptable divorce) must serve this solution. Remarriage is never such an holy action as it undermines true repentance and reconciliation.
That the world around us is full of remarriages is exemplified by the lives of film stars so admired and worshipped by many all over the world. In fact, they boast about how many times and with whom they were married through their “successful” careers and lives. They are unashamed of their sinful ways, but rather promote them with pride.
When we look to the church for guidance and support, we find shaky floors, pillars and walls. In some instances the waters of destruction are already seeping into the boat. The Church that boasts of being entrusted with the divine ministry of reconciliation, is now providing a place of shelter for people who give up and want to start from the beginning again. This is an easy way out which leads to more problems. The church has failed to be the Pillar and Ground of the Truth for God’s people. The heavy hand of the Lord need not always lead to repentance and reconciliation, but, in some cases, it even justifies a further confusion in a relationship.
As God’s beloved covenant people, we must address these issues in this world not because we hope to change the world and avoid the inevitable Judgment Day, but because the truth must be testified to the glory of God and the comfort of His people living in this dark and sinful world. As God’s chosen people we must live the antithetical life which is not an easy task to perform. We need all the encouragement from our Heavenly Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. And there is no reason why He should not address these issues clearly for our good, protection and guidance.
Moreover, these are not problems peculiar to our modern world so that we cannot expect meaningful solutions from the ancient writings of the Bible. The issues involve human relationships as old as the human nature as created by God. It is of the nature of man that he loves and procreates. The family is inevitable. And when man fell into sin, all these sinful issues developed naturally in the development of sin. So, we read of the problem of polygamy early in the history of man. The whole Bible is full of stories related to family life, and thus, to such issues as divorce and remarriage. To say that the Bible lacks data on such matters to be clear is to suggest that God sees them as trivial. Even discerning social scientists acknowledge that these are serious matters affecting the well- being of nations and their futures. God is not silent on such matters, but we are careless and deceived to have neglected the careful study of His Word for His solution.
Since the rise of the remarriage controversy in First Evangelical Reformed Church until now, the Lord has only confirmed to me that remarriage is a sin to be repented of by God’s people as they seek to testify for God and seek His glory in this present world. I am therefore very happy when Salt Shakers asked me to write a series of articles on these issues. Though my health is not the greatest for such a long project, I believe God will enable when He commands it graciously. I do covet all your prayers for me to write to His glory and praise, and the comfort of His great people.
Written by: Pastor Lau Chin Kwee | Issue 8