by Edward Ridenour, for Today's Christian Marriage
Biblically, marriage either exists or it doesn’t. Men, religion, or culture do not prescribe the law that governs it, i.e., the origin and validity of its existence, when it has been violated, its elimination, etc. When marriage exists, it is either Biblical (legitimate, holy, God approved) or unbiblical (illegitimate, defiled, worthy of judgment). And most importantly, it is a lifelong unending attachment or defilement.
It is in the context of this last marital premise (“lifelong unending attachment”) that I want to emphasize, which one must recognize in order to accurately describe what the Lord meant when He declared in Matthew 19:6 “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”(KJV)
As it is in so many other instances when defining Scripture, it is essential to have an accurate understanding. This critical fact is equally important when it comes to defining Biblical marriage. This includes those things referenced in Scripture that are involved with marriage, i.e., “put away,” “fornication,” or in this case “put asunder.”
Without accurately defining marriage, these particular associated references will be misconstrued and wrongly conveyed, which will distort, confuse, or contradict. There are no two ways about it. Because of the obvious severity found in Scripture in violating marriage (fornication) having an accurate understanding is imperative for the professing Christian.
As I have so vehemently proclaimed and pointedly shown in my previous articles, Biblical marriage is not something the church teaches. They believe in and teach an intermixed form of marriage. They inject or assign secular marital concepts within Scripture, which frequently distorts the true meaning of Scripture creating non-cohesiveness and/or contradiction.
Now, practically all (at least those I am aware of) Biblical translations, revisions, and commentators translate the last part of verse six as “let not man separate” or “let no man separate” or “let no man split apart,” along with “let not man put asunder.” To infer that the words separate, split apart, or even put asunder should be rendered is definitely accurate. It does infer separation.
However, where the problem exists with each of these renderings (including the KJV), compared to the original text, is the insertion of the word “let.” This inserted word does not represent the original text and distorts the true meaning of the intent and statement given by Christ. The original text just reads “man not separate,” which means “man cannot separate” and not that he shouldn’t.
To insert the word “let” infers the meaning that men or any man possesses the power to separate a marriage that God has joined, to where it no longer exists. It insinuates that man or men have the wherewithal to disjoin what God has joined. This insinuation is absolutely inaccurate and I know is based on an ignorance of the Scriptural theology and principles of Biblical marriage (sexual intimacy).
The evidence of this fact is completely borne out in Scripture itself. To infer otherwise is to contradict Scripture and its teaching on marriage law, whether by Jesus, Paul, or Moses.
Regardless of any other person or entity, neither the woman nor the man married to each other has the power to separate their self from the other. Man has the capability to join his self to another, which also involves God, but that is all.
Not only this, however, nowhere in Scripture is it ever alluded to that God disjoins any marriage, whether legitimate or not. There is only one natural disjoining that can occur – death. Just as marriage (joining) only happens naturally, its separation only happens naturally, and only within a legitimate marriage - not a fornicated illegitimate one.
I whole-heartedly agree with this comment found in the Pulpit Commentary concerning this verse of Scripture (Matt. 19:6) saying, ”Man does thus infringe the primitive rule when he divorces his wife. Herein he opposes God and acts against nature. He and his wife are one; they can no more separate from one another than they can from themselves. If we regard our Lord's language in this passage without prejudice, and not reading into it modern notions, we must consider that he here decrees the indissolubility of the marriage tie. His hearers plainly understood him so to speak, as we see from the objection, which they urged.” AMEN!
Therefore, inserting the word “let” violates and contradicts other Scripture, as well as the context of what Jesus was declaring in his rebuke to the Pharisees.
As I described in my article BIBLICAL MARRIAGE: A Sacred Law, Biblical marriage creates a holy complete man and that holy complete man is not to make it unholy, whether it be the husband or the wife, by defiling their self with someone or something else, which will defile the marriage (the holy man). Although neither can disjoin the marriage, one of the two that make up that one man has the power to defile it.
Let’s examine some Scripture and see why what I am proclaiming is a correct analysis:
- Matthew 19:1-10 – The very context of this text to which Christ
declared this statement regarding “separation” gives full proof as to
the validity of my claim. The Pharisee’s were trying to imply that the
“Bill of Divorcement" given by Moses procured a separation of a marriage
Jesus made it very clear, however, that this bill was granted to protect the woman from her husband’s evil dealings with her, yet it did not eliminate their joining as God designed it at the beginning of creation. The law of this design had not changed.
Therefore, because of this lifelong joining, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (KJV)
Even with the divorcement bill, marriage was still intact and any remarriage would culminate in adulterous fornication by all parties involved, except where the putting away was for the reason of the other spouse engaging in a sexually fornicated act, which then would nullify the instruction on adultery through remarriage. The remarried innocent spouse would not be guilty, nor the one they married of committing adultery. The violator was already defiled and guilty.
- Deuteronomy 24:1-4 – Though Moses granted the “Bill of Divorcement,” he knew very well that the marriage was never separated. This is so clearly revealed by the fact that even though the woman was put away she became “defiled” by the new joining, which verse four indicates. This confirms what Jesus declared.
- Romans 7:2&3 – Even though the context of these verses wasn’t
in the vein of teaching all the principles of marriage, one principle is
unmistakenly presented. That principle was the lasting union of a
legitimate marriage. A lasting law is pointedly proclaimed, where
nothing dissolves that marital law other than death itself. Otherwise,
Paul’s teaching on this law, as well as separation from the old law and
being married to the new law in Christ is not true and does not exist.
To infer that man is capable of and has the power to separate a marriage and is warned not to, contradicts this law and teaching of the Apostle Paul regarding its unchangeable authority.
This inference also contradicts the unchangeable authority of the natural effect of adultery, changing a woman from a “wife” to an “adulteress.” If man can separate marriage to where it no longer exists, no one would ever have to bear the distinction of adulterer or adulteress, as Paul alluded to. This Biblical distinction only applies to an illegitimately married person.
So, what Jesus is declaring to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9 is that no matter what man might devise “what God has joined together, man cannot separate.” This is the true rendering of this Scriptural passage. No man can separate a God joined male and female.