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There are two types of marriage from a legal standpoint, by covenant and by contract.
Human marriages are by contract
All marriages these days are by contract. You sign a legal license to marry and are formally married either by a preacher/rabbi, or in a civil ceremony by a “member of the court,” such as a justice of the peace or a ship captain. A license and a contract are required because the government wants to know who is responsible for any children and property belonging to this union. That is the extent of the contract in marriage.
Covenant marriage places the responsibility on God
But Judeo-Christian tradition sees marriage as a covenant and instead of there being 2 people in this marriage contract, there is a third, God Himself. The vows are taken before God and He assumes a special part in the union. A covenant to God goes way beyond a contract. In fact salvation as a promise from God is the most sacred of all the covenants he has made with the human race. From God’s standpoint we can break a covenant but He cannot.
You and your spouse might break that covenant, but God will not. The couple promise not only fidelity to each other but to God, and to His demands on their life and witness, and their raising children in the faith.
Ministers are wise to refuse to marry
Perhaps that helps explain why some ministers will not perform some marriages. A minister is within his rights not to marry any couple he does not think will fulfill the union properly or are not serious about the Godly connection each of them has. Since the marriage covenant under God also includes raising the children in a Godly home, you can easily see why same-sex marriages are not allowed in most denominations or by most ministers. Natural children are an impossibility.
Individuals who divorce can break their contract, as recognized by the state, but not the covenant. When it says “What God has joined together Let no man put asunder” (Matt 19:6) it means, under covenant law. Humans might separate what God joined, but God is not required recognize their having done sos. The Law of God is greater than any law from the State of Nebraska, or any other jurisdiction for that matter. This should help explain why so many of the rules regarding marriage in the New Testament seem to militate against divorce.
Legal human divorce does not break a covenant marriage
Women will occasionally say, “He may have divorced me but I still feel married to him” and be telling the truth. From God’s standpoint that union may well still stand. A man can divorce if his wife commits adultery but if she did not and he marries, he becomes an adulterer and God cannot bless sin, which may explain why so many 2nd marriages fail.
Statistically 2nd marriages fail at a far greater rate than 1st marriages, as a tacit confirmation of this spiritual fact. And same-sex unions have a far greater statistic of divorce than other unions. Lawyers frequently support same sex marriage because they know they want added legal business! (Some day I’ll write on Too Many Lawyers.)
In the case above, is the rejected woman expected to remarry her husband? Absolutely not. Many women are more than happy to be rid of a philanderer; let the new wife put up with him. God has not called us to bondage says the scripture. In all cases He wants to be the person involved in your life decisions.
Any kind of interference is called adultery
Because marriage is a covenant relationship of 3 (he, she and God) no other human should either get in the way, or ever take sides. You can always take God’s side, but you may not know what His Side is. Marriage is intensely personal and outsiders, no matter how close to the situation, esp. children, cannot know what is going on. And God does not want us to take sides either. Parents who try to break up a marriage will face God’s judgment if only on the other side of the grave.
In fact to take sides is to be involved where you don’t belong. This covenant of 3 does not include you and nosy interference can get you quickly on God’s naughty list, esp. close friends, mothers-in-law and The Other Woman. Minding one’s own business is always good counsel.
If you are facing or have faced divorce, you can learn the mind of Christ in the Bible. He has made it clear we are not to focus on the past, or be depressed in the present, but always to look forward, and not be in bondage to failures of the past.