AW Pink on Divorce & Remarriage

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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Mr. Pink says:

Marriage is not a mere civil thing, but is partly spiritual and Divine, and therefore God alone has the power to appoint the beginning, the continuance, and the end thereof. Here the question is likely to be asked, What of the innocent party where a divorce has taken place: may such a one marry again with Divine sanction? To the writer it seems strange that, though there is a decided consensus of agreement, yet all Christians are not one on this matter. In seeking the scriptural answer to the question, let it first be borne in mind that infidelity on the part of either husband or wife annuls the marriage covenant, the man and woman being no longer "one flesh," one of them having been adulterously united to some other. Divorce goes yet farther, for it legally dissolves and removes the marriage relation. We are therefore in hearty accord with the Westminster Catechism of Faith which declares: "In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce, and after the divorce to marry another, as if the offending party were dead" (Chapter 24, section 5).

In his excellent piece, "Of Marriage after Divorce in Case of Adultery," John Owen pointed Out that to insist that divorce simply secures a legal separation but does not dissolve the marriage relation would bring in a state harmful to men. God has appointed marriage to he a remedy against incontinence (1 Cor. 7:2), but if innocent parties lawfully divorced may not marry again, then they are deprived of this remedy and debarred from this benefit. If the divorced person has not the gift of continency, it is the express will of God that he should marry for his relief; yet on the supposition of the objector he sins if he marries again, yea is guilty of the horrible crime of adultery. Is not this quite sufficient to expose the untenability of such an anomaly?

Again, can we suppose for a moment that it is the will of a righteous God for an innocent person to be penalized the remainder of his or her earthly life because of the infidelity of another? Surely the very idea is repugnant to all who are really acquainted with the Divine goodness and mercy. Why, if an innocent man upon a divorce is not then at liberty to marry again, he is deprived of his right by the sin of another, which is against the very law of nature; and on such a supposition it lies within the power of every wicked woman to deprive her husband of his natural right. The right of divorce in case of adultery, specified by Christ, for the innocent party to make use of, is evidently designed for his liberty and relief; but on the supposition that he may not again marry, it would provoke a snare and a yoke to him, for if thereon he has not the gift of continence, he is exposed to sin and judgment.

But apart from these convincing considerations, the Word of God is plain and decisive upon the matter. In Matthew 5:32, Christ lays down a general rule, and then puts in an exception thereto, the nature of which exception necessarily implies and affirms the contrary to the general rule. The general rule is: Whosoever putteth away his wife causeth her to commit adultery, and he who marrieth her becometh guilty of the same crime. The "exception" there must be a contrary, namely that the innocent party in the divorce may lawfully marry again, and the one marrying him or her is not guilty of adultery. But that is the only exception. 1 Corinthians 7:15, has been appealed to by some as warranting re-marriage in the case of total desertion: but that passage is quite irrelevant, teaching no such thing. The verse refers to an unbelieving husband deserting a believing wife: in such case (says the apostle) she is not "bound" to pursue her husband and demand support, nor to go to law on the matter; rather is she to follow a course of "peace." The verse says nothing whatever about her being free to marry again; nay, verse 39 of the same chapter says "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth."

In Matthew 19:9, Christ declared, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." Here again it is evident that the plain sense of these words is: He who putteth away his wife for fornication and then marrieth another is not guilty of adultery. In such a case the bond of marriage has already been broken, and the one so putting away his guilty wife is free to marry again. When our Lord condemned the putting away and marrying again for every cause, the exception He made of "fornication" clearly allows both divorce and re-marriage, for an exception always affirms the contrary unto what is denied in the rule, or denies what is affirmed in it. (Condensed from Owen, who closes his piece by saying, "This is the constant practice of all Protestant churches in the world.")
(An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, s.13).

Does anyone else think that he contradicts himself in stating that it is not consistent with God's character for an innocent person to be penalized for the fault of a guilty person, but then not allowing remarriage in the case of irremedial abandonment?
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
"Does anyone else think that he contradicts himself in stating that it is not consistent with God's character for an innocent person to be penalized for the fault of a guilty person, but then not allowing remarriage in the case of irremedial abandonment? "

I noticed that too. The believer in this case is forever in this life bound to an unbeliever, which then contridicts "be ye not unequally yoked to an unbeliever."



[Edited on 2-27-2006 by BJClark]
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
I can only speak for myself and for the testamony of those that I have heard. If I were to be abandoned, I would remain as I was in the hopeful even of repentence and return of my spouse, even if it meant that it would not happen until my deathbed. I find that would be my duty as a wife...that my spouse might be won by my behaviour and silence. I am fortunate to have a believing spouse.

[Edited on 2-27-2006 by LadyFlynt]
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
LadyFlynt,

I guess I could put this on my own thread, but as I'm reading your reponse here, I will just ask it here :)

Do you take the stand as some of the Preachers listed in my post take, that if a person has remarried, they MUST divorce their spouse and go back and to their former marriage? Or was that the area you refered to that you were NOT as hardline?


I can only speak for myself and for the testamony of those that I have heard. If I were to be abandoned, I would remain as I was in the hopeful even of repentence and return of my spouse, even if it meant that it would not happen until my deathbed. I find that would be my duty as a wife...that my spouse might be won by my behaviour and silence. I am fortunate to have a believing spouse.

[Edited on 2-27-2006 by LadyFlynt]
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Bobbi,

I think Deuteronomy 24:1-4 absolutely contradicts what those people you reference are saying.
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
py3ak


I think Deuteronomy 24:1-4 absolutely contradicts what those people you reference are saying.

To which *I* would agree with you, though many of them would not.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Well, I guess they will just have to be wrong, then! Unless they want to join us where it's warm and snug.:sing:
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
No doubt Dr. McMahon or the Huguenot from Virginia can correct me if I'm wrong, but I was looking through SWRB's stuff from the Puritans on divorce and remarriage, and they seemed to be arguing this way:
If the divorce was legitimate, then so is remarriage.

Would those who know more agree that such is the general tenor of Puritan thought on this topic?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Scott: I would not call her remarriage a marriage. I would call it adultery.
 

VirginiaHuguenot

Puritanboard Librarian
Originally posted by py3ak
No doubt Dr. McMahon or the Huguenot from Virginia can correct me if I'm wrong, but I was looking through SWRB's stuff from the Puritans on divorce and remarriage, and they seemed to be arguing this way:
If the divorce was legitimate, then so is remarriage.

Would those who know more agree that such is the general tenor of Puritan thought on this topic?

I'm not an expert in this area by any means, but my understanding of the Puritan view concurs with yours. This PCA position paper gives a helpful outline of Puritan thought on the matter.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Scott, that is an interesting point. Plainly our Lord distinguished between some form of official union and merely 'shacking up'. At the same time, it seems clear from that context that He considered it all as sinful. Perhaps He was just speaking her language, as at the moment the vital thing was not to debate the nature of her sin but to demonstrate the fact of it.
I see your point. To me it would seem that if adultery was the grounds for divorce, and it was not mutual then the innocent party can remarry; the guilty is not likely to be constrained by commands. But once another union is established, it too cannot be dissolved without sin, and there is no return (Deuteronomy 24).
 

LadyFlynt

Puritan Board Doctor
Sorry, I just saw this thread back up...didn't know, or expect anyone to ask me anything. (sorry, BJ ;) ) I do not agree with divorcing a second wife to go back to the first. However, IF my spouse were to divorce me and remarry...I still would not remarry until after his death, if he preceded me...but would NOT expect him to divorce his second wife...and in fact, would not remarry him if he had been married to someone else.

[Edited on 3-11-2006 by LadyFlynt]
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Scott,

Sometimes something is wrong, but still real. There is a real union between a harlot and a man, but it is wrong (1 Corinthians 6). When people act without right what they get into may be sinful, but that doesn't mean that it is not real. For instance, I don't believe that a heretic has a right to this; yet many heretics are in a pastoral office and do preach (of course, they preach poison and kill the flock).
I don't think Jesus justified the woman by His use of the term marriage; indeed, He was convincing her of sin in that conversation. But Scripture is silent on what He instructed her to do afterwards.
From what you have said your wife is in the wrong. If she should ever come to repentance (which in God's mercy she yet may), I don't believe you could take her back (Deuteronomy 24). But what she should do at that point is a more difficult issue.
I am not sure I am understanding your question or what you are driving at however, so if this post seems wide of the mark that may be why.
 

Scott Shahan

Puritan Board Sophomore
Deuteronomy 24 and if she goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Can the Lord decree that His revealed will would not be done here?
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
What do you mean by decree? If you mean have some people disobeyed God in this way, thus demonstrating that it was all part of God's sovereign plan, yes. If you mean approve of, no.
 

Scott Shahan

Puritan Board Sophomore
I mean your first statement, some willingly disobey God and in so demonstrate that it was all part of God's sovereign plan. So God can say one thing and will another.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
God can command one thing and decree another, yes. The alternative is that every sinful act is outside of God's control.
 
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