Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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February 2006, Volume X, Issue 22


Let Them Not Divorce (2)

From our consideration of I Corinthians 7:10-11 last time, it is evident, first, that even Christians may be tempted to divorce. Perhaps this was one of the things that the Corinthians wrote to Paul to ask about (1). Certainly Paul himself spoke to this issue: "Let not the wife depart from her husband … and let not the husband put away his wife" (10-11). There are two main false principles which militate for divorce. Asceticism holds that singleness and sexual abstinence in marriage are more holy than marriage with sexual intercourse. Paul seems to be attacking this, especially in I Corinthians 7:4-5. The opposite extreme of asceticism, lust, is also a threat to marriage: "I want her, so I’ll divorce my wife that I can have her." A professing Christian even said that God told him in a dream to divorce and remarry! But now we have the God-breathed, sufficient Scriptures (II Tim. 3:16-17); God no longer speaks through dreams. All sorts of cunning excuses and lies come in: "That man [or woman] I want is a better Christian than my spouse, so I’ll divorce and remarry to be more godly." Don’t play with the temptation to divorce. Think soberly!

Second, churches and believers must be totally convinced of the sin of unbiblical divorce. If a woman divorces, she tempts her husband to commit adultery, and she lays herself open to this temptation as well. Jesus declared, "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" (Matt. 5:32). Unbiblical divorce also means that the couple now do not pay the debt of sexual intercourse which they owe each other (I Cor. 7:4-5). This is a sin both against the seventh and the eighth commandments. Unbiblical divorce is also a sin against the marriage bond. God makes a man and a woman one flesh, but then one or both seeks to put asunder what God joined together (Matt. 19:5-6). Think too of the picture of Christ and His church. Christ never divorces His church, in the OT or in the NT. Christians are called to reflect His faithfulness and love. The Lord says that He hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). Thus divorce is expressly forbidden: "Let not the wife depart from her husband … and let not the husband put away his wife" (10-11).

Third, fornication is the only biblical ground for divorce (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). Desertion is not a ground for divorce, as we shall see when we consider verse 15 later in this series on I Corinthians 7. Ray Sutton gives as grounds for divorce idolatry, witchcraft, divination, spiritism, blasphemy, false prophecy, Sabbath breaking, murder (including physical abuse), desertion (physical and sexual), sexual sins, stubborn failure of a father to provide economically for his family, rebellion against biblical authority and malicious perjury. Fellow Christian Reconstructionist, Rousas Rushdooney, speaks similarly. Westminster Confession 24:6 rightly observes that "the corruption of man [is] such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage." No matter what distresses, troubles and cares there may be in a marriage (I Cor. 7:26, 28, 32), fornication is the only ground for divorce (Matt. 5:32; 19:9), and even in the case of fornication, they do not have to divorce.

Fourth, divorced people have two, and only two, options. One is to "remain unmarried" (I Cor. 7:11), which Christ called making yourself a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Matt. 19:12). The other option is to "be reconciled" to your spouse (I Cor. 7:11). No permission is given for remarriage. Even after divorce, the woman is told that he is still "her husband" (11).

Fifth, divorce (referred to here as departing, leaving and putting away [10-11]) does not enable remarriage. The divorced person has two options, either remain unmarried or be reconciled to his or her husband or wife (11). Divorce does not create a third option, namely remarriage. Divorce does not enable remarriage because it does not annihilate or dissolve the bond of marriage. After divorce, he is still in God’s eyes—the most important eyes!—her husband and she is still his wife. After divorce, neither of them can remarry as long as they both shall live. This is the case because only death dissolves the marriage bond (Rom. 7:2-3; I Cor. 7:39). God makes the bond in marriage. God dissolves the bond at death. Neither man nor the state nor the church nor adultery nor desertion nor sin nor Satan can dissolve marriage. God unites two people in marriage and only He can break the bond (at death).

Sixth, all this is also the teaching of the Lord Jesus during His public ministry: "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord …" (10-11). Matthew 19:9 is the only biblical passage which could, with any plausibility, lend support to remarriage when one’s spouse is living. But not only would it be the only text to teach this; and not only would it contradict other texts (Matt. 5:32; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Rom. 7:2-3; I Cor. 7:39); and not only would it not evoke the disciples’ shocked response, "If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry" (Matt. 19:10), or elicit Christ’s explanation (Matt. 19:11-12); but the apostle Paul by inspiration summarizes the Lord’s teaching as being that the divorced person has two options: "remain unmarried, or be reconciled" to his or her spouse (I Cor. 7:11). Thus Matthew 19:9 cannot allow for divorce and remarriage. Its exception clause ("except it be for fornication") gives an exception allowing divorce but not allowing remarriage after divorce. Rev. Stewart

The Divine Blood Theory

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot (I Peter 1:18-19).

Some fundamentalists argue from I Peter 1:18-19 that the physical blood of Christ is incorruptible. Some argue that Christ’s blood is different from our blood, that He did not receive His blood from His mother, Mary, but possessed supernatural, sinless blood. Some say that Christ’s blood is divine; others that it is both divine and human. Some say that all of Christ’s blood (without a single drop missing) is in heaven, either in some sort of vial or in Christ’s body (though how could 33-or-so year’s worth of blood fit in a human body?). A reader who disagrees with these strange ideas asks for some comments.

Christ’s humanity did not differ from us in any way at all (except for His sinlessness), much less in the kind of blood He had flowing in His veins. Romans 8:3 is decisive: "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh." Christ was like us in our sinful flesh (except for His sinlessness), possessing a real, complete and weaken human nature. Thus He had human (not divine or divine and human) blood.

Hebrews 2:14-17 cannot be cited in support of a contrary position, not even by appeal to the Greek original, which is correctly translated in the AV. No monkeying with the text can alter its meaning. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."

Let there be no doubt about it: Christ was like us, possessing the same "flesh and blood" as we have (not divine, or divine and human, blood) and the same weaknesses which our sinful natures have (except for His sinlessness). He took on Him a human "nature" like all "the seed of Abraham," for "in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren." Moreover, Christ looked like His mother, probably more than most children look like their mother, for, being born of a virgin, He had no earthly father.

In this truth of the reality and completeness of Christ’s human nature (including His having real, human blood with all its properties) rests our salvation. Unless Christ was like us in all things (except for His sinlessness), He could not "destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" or deliver us "who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" or "make reconciliation" for us as our "merciful and faithful high priest." The whole of our salvation rests on the truth that Christ possessed a human nature like ours in every respect (blood included), except for His sinlessness.

The divine blood theory (denying as it does the reality and completeness of Christ’s human nature) is an ancient heresy that finds its first proponents among the Gnostics in the second and third centuries AD. It was repudiated by the church in the controversy over Docetism, and again in the Apollinarian controversy. It is a Monophysite or Euthychian error which confuses and mixes the two natures of Christ and is thus condemned in the Chalcedonian Creed (451). Would that the proponents of such nonsense as divine blood knew their church history!

In speaking of the shedding of the blood of Christ, Scripture refers to His bloody, atoning suffering on the cross for the sins of His elect people. Christ’s shedding His blood on the cross was His suffering the torments of hell on behalf of His children. The Son of God died a bloody death for us in our nature! Christ’s blood is precious and incorruptible with respect to its redeeming and saving and cleansing efficacy and virtue. All for whom Christ shed His blood are regenerated, called, justified, adopted, sanctified and glorified!

Christ died on the cross by suffering the torments of hell—eternal death—under the fury of God against sin. He died physically when the blood He received from His mother poured out of His body, because He had to endure our physical death as well as our spiritual death. It was crucially important that He die physically. He came in human flesh like us in all things; He suffered all that we suffer; He died as we die; He was buried as we are buried. He bore all God’s wrath against sin. This truth is bound up in the repeated biblical teaching that Christ shed His blood for sin. To deny that Christ shed blood exactly like our blood is to deny salvation. Let these false purveyors of wrong doctrine take note!

All that I have said does not mean that Christ died because He lost too much blood through the nail holes and the crown of thorns and the scourging . His life was not taken away from Him—although the wicked Jews and Pontius Pilate were guilty of His murder. Christ gave Himself to death by an act of His own will (John 10:17-18). This began in Bethlehem when Christ took to Himself our weakened human nature. He willingly entered the sufferings of hell to endure our hell. In His perfect obedience, He poured out His own blood to save us as a part of His willing sacrifice. Wonder of wonders! Prof. Hanko

(For a longer treatment of this subject, please read the article, "Fundamentalists and the 'Incorruptible' Blood of Christ).

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