“What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6)
It was the year 2003. I was already divorced from my husband of twenty three years and had just recently been saved. I joined a small church in my neighborhood. I was in need of prayer support, and often asked for prayer. To my dismay my then pastor and other leaders in the church refused to pray for me. Being a “newborn babe” ( 1 Peter 2:2 ) in Christ, I was baffled. Some one prayed me into the kingdom of God, that I know. “We serve a loving, merciful, faithful and just God, so how could that be?”, I asked myself.
I was soon to learn the reason they would not pray for me. I was told, by my then pastor, that God hates divorce, and therefore I should go back to my ex-husband, tell him that I made a mistake, and beg him to take me back. Also, that only if my husband was beating me to near death or he had committed adultery I was allowed to leave the marriage, and Matthew 19:6 was quoted to me.
Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
(Malachi 2:16 NKJV)
“For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.
As I sat in my living room contemplating what my then pastor said, I heard in my spirit these words – “The key is what God has joined together.” This means that the command in Matthew 19:6 for us not to pull apart or separate what “God has put together” pertains only to what God has (indeed) put together”!(emphasis added). If God did not put the marriage together, we can get out because we are not bound by it. Divorce is not God’s ideal, but God does not hate all divorce because He speaks of Himself, in Jeremiah 3:8, as having divorced Israel because they forsook Him to worship idols. Israel was unfaithful to Him. God hates unscriptural divorce among His people (Matthew 5:32).
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Are All Marriages “Joined Together” By God?
Many Christians believe that all marriages between a man and a woman are “joined together” by God and receive His blessings. The Scriptures of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10 , and Nehemiah, chapter 13 clearly show that this is not the case. Back then God did not approve of or “joined together” the marriages between His people and the heathen. Neither did He hold His people responsible for the vows they made to their pagan wives, as some would argue. God does not join together what He does not approve!
It is no different today than it was back then. God is the same “yesterday, today and forever” ( Hebrews 13:8 ). He never contradicts Himself. He commands us not to be “unequally yoked together with unbelievers” whether it is in marriage, personal relationships or any unhealthy associations, and for good reason. And He gave us these reasons in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
(14) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
(15) And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
(16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(17) Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
(18) And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
The one exception is the rule in 1 Corinthians 7:12-16 for the believer already bound to an unbeliever at conversion. Under grace, if the unbeliever is willing to continue living with the believer, he or she is not required to put the unbeliever away, for the believer sanctifies the husband or wife. But if the unbeliever leaves, the believer is “not under bondage in such cases.”
1 Corinthians 7:12-16
(12) But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
(13) And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
(14) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
(15) But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
(16) For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
Some Marriages Are Not “Joined Together” By God
Marriages by unsaved persons are not “joined together” by God for, like our former selves, they are children of disobedience and wrath. Though God loves them, for He is love, they walk “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2-3). For example (worst case scenario), can you see God joining together in marriage men and women who are professing active worshipers of Satan? Will God contradict Himself by having fellowship and close intimate relationship with the devil while commanding us to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness? (Ephesians 5:11)
(2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
(3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
(Ephesians 5:11) And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
It is still common practice in some churches for the pastor to put marriages together. Young Christian men and women in these churches are “joined together” in marriages as a means of keeping them from sexual sin, with disastrous results. “For it is better to marry than to burn” ( 1 Corinthians 7:9 ), they are told. And for those who made their own choice for a mate, permission has to be granted by the pastor for them to be “joined together” or the marriage cannot take place in that church. The pastor has to give his seal of approval on all marriages in these churches. “… for there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God”, Paul writes in Romans 13:1 NKJV. Does that mean that all these marriages are approved and receive the blessings of God? God will allow it, but He doesn’t necessarily approve it, and therefore did not put them together.
Also, it is common practice among women in the church, because of the lack of sufficient men in their congregation or the church at large, to seek a mate, an unbeliever to be “joined together” in marriage. Spiritually these unions are painful and counterproductive as two animals unequally yolked together ( Deuteronomy 22:10 ).
Donald Campbell comments on this type of marriages that are destructive to Christianity as follows:
The New Testament adds its consistent witness against marriage between believers and unbelievers. Paul directed believers to marry “only in the Lord” ( I Corinthians 7:39 ). Yet today as in previous ages, some believers rationalize that they will lead the unsaved mate to the Lord – but it rarely works that way and children more often than not follow the ways of the unregenerated spouse.
Certainly God did not put together these marriages either , for they violate the command not to be “unequally yoked” ( 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ).
As for homosexual marriages, God definitely has no part in it.
Thou shalt not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Do you believe you believe that God “joined together” these people When He Himself condemns this union?
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves …for even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful … and they did not like to retain God in their knowledge …
In conclusion, we must bear in mind that the Scriptures were written for and to the believer in Christ Jesus, not to the world. They must therefore be viewed and interpreted in that context. God “joined together” only marriages by the people who belong to Him, and that are acceptable to Him. And it is these marriages that He commands that “no man put asunder”.
(Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
Jesus is Lord!
Glory to God!
“I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1)