Divorce And Remarriage – “The Evils Of Forbidding Marriage”

This article is part 4 of 9 in the series Divorce and Remarriage

(We are grateful for this material by Olan Hicks, provided here with permission.)

   1 Timothy 4:1-3  One of the strongest condemnations found anywhere in scripture is here in what this passage says about the doctrine of forbidding marriage. Please note that it comes from God. This is not a personal opinion on my part. The inspired apostle Paul says here that the Spirit ( Spirit of God) expressly predicted that in latter times some brethren would do five things. 1. depart from the faith, 2. give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 3. speak lies in hypocrisy, 4. have a seared conscience, and 5. forbid people to marry and command to abstain from foods. This is strong language. Yet most people have never realized how evil this particular doctrine is. Consider now the evil deeds this text says are done by people who forbid marriage.

   1. First it says they “depart from the faith.” This is to turn from what God’s word says. When they say that divorced people cannot be married again they do this. I don’t say it is intentional but the first mistake in today’s version of this departure is to revise the statement of Jesus in Mat. 19:6. They depart from it. Whereas Jesus said, “What God has joined together let not man put asunder,” these brethren say, “What God has joined together man cannot put asunder.” Thus they conclude that divorced persons are still married “in the eyes of God.” The command “Do not” is changed to “cannot,” and becomes a declaration of impossibility. Upon that step a pyramid of error is built which ends up literally departing from the faith, the Biblical concept, on this whole subject.  It ends up denying virtually every passage on the subject throughout the New Testament.

   2. The second thing it says they do is they “Give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” Are demons involved in this? How is Satan behind this? Why would he want marriage eliminated from anyone’s life? In 1 Corintians 7 Paul said three times in the first 9 verses that marriage is God’s appointed way for us to avoid sexual immorality. Satan does not want that avoided, he wants it practiced. Of course then, since marriage is a deterrent to immorality, Satan wants it deleted. Thus two opposite sides are in this picture. God is for marriage and against divorce and Satan is for divorce and against Marriage. Those who try to eliminate marriage from someone’s life are on Satan’s side on that part of this equation.

   3. “Speaking lies in hypocrisy.” For a long time I wondered why the Spirit said this. Where is the hypocrisy in the “marriage forbidden” doctrine? If you notice what they write or hear them preach, you will find that every article and every sermon is a tirade about how wrong it is to divorce, as though that were the issue of difference between us. It is not. There is no question it is wrong to break marriage. They pretend to be opposing divorce when the fact is they oppose marriage itself and not divorce at all. A person might be divorced, completely without cause, and upon repentance, he will be acceptable to them while he remains divorced. But if he marries, then he will be disfellowshiped. So it is not divorce that they oppose actually, but marriage itself. Thus it is a pretense. This may be where the hypocrisy is.

   4. “Having their conscience seared as with a hot iron.” I have also wondered about this. Where does a seared conscience fit in the picture of marriage forbidders? Most of them I have talked with seem to have little or no feeling for the cruelty that the marriage forbidden decree imposes. I have seen them sentence young boys 20 to 25 years of age, to life long celibacy and seem not to mind doing that at all. When the disciples suggested “It is better not to marry” Jesus said, “Not all can receive that saying,” Mat. 19:11. Paul said the same thing, that some have the gift of celibacy and some do not. For those who do not he said, “Let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn.” (1 Cor. 7:8-9) Surely anyone who can give some thought to the fact that eliminating marriage is setting aside our defense against immorality, and to the fact that doing so places a normal person in a condition of burning, and yet can exert force to demand this of a fellow human being, must have a non-working conscience.

   5. “Forbidding to marry.” At the creation God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helpmeet for him.” (Gen. 2:18) It is remarkable that men could come along thousands of years later and issue an opposite decree, “forbidding to marry.” That command is purely a human assumption. God not only did not give it, He decreed the opposite. Men have tried all sorts of maneuverings to try to make God say this but He didn’t. They site Ezra 10. But those people were only forbidden to marry heathen wives. They were not forbidden to marry anyone at all. They site Herod’s case with Herodious. But he was only forbidden to have his brother’s wife. He was not  told he could have no wife at all. No one in scripture was ever told that he was “ineligible to marry.” It is as Foy Wallace Jr. said, Jesus did not prescribe that sentence as the punishment for marriage breaking and preachers who do so are ascending the judge’s bench. (Sermon on the Mount and the Civil State, pg. 41-42)

   Opposing divorce is right. God said He hates that. But to make divorce a second unpardonable sin with life long celibacy as the punishment is from human tradition, not divine tradition. It is a more evil thing than most folks realize, even though those who do it usually mean well. When you think about the fact that it is first a departure from the faith, that is bad enough in itself.  And second, the Bible says it is a doctrine authored by Satan. It serves his purposes. How can that be acceptable? Thirdly it is imbedded in an attitude of hypocrisy, pretending to be what you aren’t. And beyond that it takes a person of unfeeling conscience to swallow it, and fifthly it is opposite to what God decreed from the very first.

   Let’s continue to follow the Biblical instructions to oppose all sin, including marriage breaking. But let’s not oppose an appointment of God in the process. let’s apply the teachings of the Bible to the handling of every sin, including this one. Remember Satan can make something that is very wrong appear to be very right.

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