Heb 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers G-d will judge. (New American Standard)
Heb 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers G-d will judge.(KJV)
I have read from Hebrews (Messianic Jews) the NT section read with this week’s Parsha. Unfortunately, not everyone who reads this verse will be comfortable with it, for in today’s society honoring the marriage contract does not seem to be very high on the list of our priorities. Also, too many people are unequally yoked from a religious standpoint. In many cases it is the consequence of entering into a marriage inadvisably in the first place. Far too many marriages are founded on sexual attraction with little thought given to a person’s character or focus in life. I like to say that we marry our Rebecca’s when we should marry our Leah’s.
As a Messianic rabbi, I see far too many non-Jewish unions under tremendous stress because one mate is now maturing, and building a relationship with YHVH Elohim through Torah with the result that they find their mate is intolerable of their G-dly commitment. All too often it becomes a battle of wills that leaves one with the dilemma of how to make the marriage survive when there is intransigence on the part of the other. The scripture is clear that we are to place G-d first in all our commitments and in our relationships. All too alarming is that not too many in this world of self-seeking, self-gratification, the me now generation is able to adjust to such an arrangement.
We find that the inner aspect of each of the partners in a marriage relates to their individual spirituality. Each will take a stand, either with the holy, or G-d forbid, with the unholy. It is how we take a stand that gives a meaning to the possibilities given to us. For the partners find themselves in a dual aspect. The outer functioning by way of cause and effect and the inner informed by either the Spirit of G-d or the spirit of HaSatan. Those whose spirit derives from haSatan are dominated by self-cause and are not subject to the winds of cause and effect; for the unbeliever will not cognizant a power stronger than their own ego and selfishness. On the other hand the believer’s conduct and choices will be moderated by the Spirit of G-d.
In most cases of marital discord where one is a believer, we see that a husband or wife is jealous of his partner’s devotion to YHVH/Yahshua and Torah. He/she feels that they have been supplanted as the object of their partner’s affection and loyalty. It can best be categorized as the one seeing a rival for the hand of their loved one in G-d. Yet, it seldom takes this form in the cause and effect allegations made. Instead, the offended spouse levels accusations such as you spend too much time at an assembly or don’t devote enough time to me, or are giving too much money to them, etc. et al., but it is not the true cause of their disaffection. They simply cannot admit to themselves that YHVH/Yahshua has become, and rightly so, the priority in their spouse’s life. Simply put, it is jealousy in the most virulent form because they have put themselves forth as opponents of G-d.
It is pretty awesome even for a believer to admit that G-d is his rival for the affection of his spouse, and I’ve see some believers struggle with that question, but for an unbeliever, it is tantamount to a repudiation of their entire value system, their life, their self worth. They are want to understand how it is that G-d, an intangible something that they may have only given lip service to has become an unwelcome suitor, and how they have become an antagonist in a real and personal way to an abstract and unimportant concept in their lives.. It is even more alarming because there is no tangible object onto which to direct their antagonism and frequently they take their frustration out on their partner and refuse to correctly identify the real problem in the marriages life.
Yahshua said in Luke 12:51 “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division (12:52) For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.”
Believers must be ready to encounter opposition even in their marriages for we have been forewarned.
This brings us to free will in the covenant of marriage. Free will is not just a free choice to do something uncompelled by outside forces it essentially is a free choice to understand and to interpret what we encounter in a way controlled by the Ruach HaKodesh within us. Those who have not encountered G-d and committed to him will make choices in accordance with their limited understanding, devoid of the Ruach’s counsel. It hurts me to say but that is why an unequally yoked union has little chance of survival.
We all are involved in a variety of relationships with our families, friends, community, and G-d. The understanding and interpretation we give to them and situations evolving from these relationships are not necessitated by anything external, if we are G-d’s, nor are they fixed in some way that our interpretation can have only one meaning. Ultimately, the way we interpret them completes a meaning that we return to YHVH/Yahshua. In due course the way in which we interpret them is ours, and a process of exercising our free will.
YHVH tells us to choose life, to choose possibilities that are holy, and do not choose possibilities that are unholy. By our choosing possibilities that are holy we unite our will with G-d’s Divine Will. Such choices are often painful and may separate us from loved ones; yet, it is those choices that determine G-d’s Will in our lives.
When we make the right choices YHVH/Yahshua will make for us new situations and enhancements that are a reflection of what we have returned to Him. We will be led to deeper and fuller understanding of Him and His ways.
The anti-messiah spirit in the world constantly assaults the institution of marriage both legislatively and morally, from within and without our religious institutions. Much of humanities unlawful behavior, disrespect to authority, as well as rampant crime is a consequence of our antinomian society. As a consequent, humanity is more and more less restrained by covenants, be they between us or with YHVH Elohim. We want it our way and we want it now. This attitude is endemic in our culture and should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with scripture. For the scriptures tell us men will wax more and more evil in the end times calling evil good and good evil. We see that all around us, in all segments of society, we are being assaulted by those who promote liberty as license. Sha’ul addressed this tendency of human philosophy in the book of Romans. Let me read:
Rom 5:20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
Rom 5:21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Yahshua HaMashiach our Adonai.
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 G-d forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Sha’ul’s argument and his rhetoric are designed to show the folly of such a philosophy. In Mathew 6:24 Yahshua said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve G-d and mammon.” We have to make a separation between the two. But how is that possible in a marriage when we are trying to preserve it.
First, let’s try to understand from this scripture’s viewpoint of what marriage is in relation to our subject verse. One, marriage should be honorable in all and every aspect. How we treat our spouses publicly and privately. We are to show respect and to love that spouse above all others, parents, children, all, except YHVH/Yahshua. Two, sex in marriage is to be pure. Undefiled by engaging in extra-marital sex. That means forsaking all others. This may also refer to the laws of Niddah that I have covered elsewhere. We see from the pulpits that too many misled ministers teach that sex is something forbidden by the scriptures except for procreation, which often leads to frustration and temptation. On the contrary, sex in marriage is an integral part of that union.
In 1 Cor 7:2 we are warned, “But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.”
1 Cor 7:3 Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
1 Cor 7:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
1 Cor 7:5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
These verses detail to us that we are not to withhold sex from a partner except for religious purposes and during “Niddah” (Lev. 15:19’ Lev. 20:18), for to do so may lead them into temptation. It also does not restrict marriage to the purpose of procreation. We are not to withhold ourselves from marriage, and we are to be mindful of the needs of our spouses in all aspects of the relationship. Yet, we are warned by other scripture to make a marriage sanctioned by G-d. Too many of us forget this second part of the marriage equation. In Judaism an unmarried person has failed to perform one of G-d’s mitzvoth, but being married to an unsuitable mate may be likened to hell on earth. We must marry one that is echad with us in focus, direction and purpose.
If we find ourselves in an untenable situation and there is no respite. Are we to remain in union with a wife beater or husband beater or someone who constantly degrades their spouse or by their attitude divides the household and denigrates G-d’s purpose for marriage to raise G-d fearing and obedient children unto Him? Unlike those that would make it an institution that gives the offended spouse no way out I do not interpret scripture that way. Ideally, we should be united for life, so says Yahshua, but realities often deter this and when one spouse comes between G-d and the offended spouse we have to consider carefully the future of that union.
I never advise divorce if avoidable. However, the scriptures do not teach that a person may not divorce and remarry, but a person in this circumstance personally has to make a decision as informed by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit)
Let’s look at the verse that confuses so many. “Anyone giving the get (divorce) to his isha (wife) and taking another wife commits ni’uf (adultery), and the one marrying a gerusha (divorcee) commits ni’uf (adultery). Lk. 16:18
The question posed to Yahshua is a debate between the schools of Shammai and Hillel, concerning the subject of divorce. It is a debate over the verse in Deuteronomy 24.1.
When a man taketh a wife, and marrieth her, then it cometh to pass, if she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some unseemly thing (uncleanness in the KJV indecency in the NASB) in her, that he writeth her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house. JPS
6172-`The word translated “unseemly thing” here and in uncleaness in the KJV and indecency in the NASB derives from the Hebrew word: ervah er-vaw’ which means; nudity, literally (especially the pudenda) or figuratively (disgrace, blemish):–nakedness, shame, unclean(-ness).
Many on reading Luke 16:18 would conclude that once divorced you may not remarry, but let us examine this in light of Hebrew. This passage is Hebrew based and reveals Hebrew idiomatic expressions not translated into Greek or English.
In Luke, the words “divorce” and “marry” are in the present tense. However Mark 10: 11 the parallel verse puts these words in the subjunctive mood. In Hebrew, the grammatical construction would have made them one continuous action.
Converting the Greek text into Hebrew it reads: “kol hamegaresh et ishto venose aheret menaef, Anyone who divorces his wife and marries –in order to marry another- is committing adultery.
Bearing in mind that the original text founded in Hebrew, translated into Greek and then into English and realizing that the writers of the NT were Hebrews, the “kai” in this passage ( Luke 16:18) translated as “and” should have been translated to read “in order to”.
From the Hebraic view, this verse is not addressing the question “Is divorce permissible?” Nor is Yahshua addressing the question, “Can a divorced person remarry?” Yahshua believed, as the Torah teaches, that a marriage having been terminated by a valid bill of divorcement, both parties were permitted to remarry.
Because of misunderstanding, many people have suffered from a wrongful interpretation for careful exegesis of this passage teaches that remarriage after a divorce is not adultery if divorce is for a valid reason. On the converse, human nature will employ divorce in order to commit adultery and this is wrong. Yahshua never abrogated the Torah’s instruction on divorce and remarriage.
Here is part of a sermon I previously delivered at the Synagogue addressing this subject; we now are at the passage where Yahshua addresses adultery. You have heard it said by them of old time, “thou shalt not commit adultery,” but I say unto you, “That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Here again those that only understand the letter of the Law: “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” without seeing the concept supporting it, have reduced it to one particular matter, and therefore nullified it. They have forgotten the whole spirit of the Law. Sha’ul tells us that “The letter killeth but the spirit giveth life. These who see the letter only, say in effect, “As long as you do not commit adultery you have kept the law,” but, Yahshua disagrees and points out the concept, the spiritual element of the Law where even harboring lustful thoughts is sin. When we see only the letter of the law and not the concept it is built upon, we do not see the exceeding sinfulness of sin. If we do not see the concepts behind these commandments, we do not see the doctrine of sin. Today’s religious leaders fail to recognize the doctrine of sin because they do not see the concept behind the teaching. That is why churches are in such sad shape today because failing to evangelize by first teaching the Law, and the doctrine of sin instead teaching profession only results in conversions that mean nothing. If we do not have a meaningful understanding of sin our conversion is naught. We must understand not just the particular, but also the concept behind the particular because without that you do not have an inclusive picture of the mortification of sin. Yahshua in His Sermon teaches us that the concept of holiness and the sanctified life, which would regard it as a matter of our physical being, is more than the particulars we read in the Scriptures. Moreover, we are not left with guessing what the concept is for the particulars are commented upon thoroughly in other biblical citations. We but just have to find them and intelligently apply them to arrive at the concept being taught. Then we will realize the nature of sin and all its consequences.
Commentators on the Sermon on the Mount most often avoid Yahshua’s teaching on divorce. We cannot study some parts of Scripture and avoid the rest for that is sin. It is moral relativism, taking what we are comfortable with and disposing or ignoring the rest. In this section, Yahshua again employs the formula “you have heard it said…but I say unto you.” It is in this section that He is explaining the Kingdom relationship to the Law of G-d. He even emphasized the importance of the Law by saying: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Bearing all this in mind, we need to look at what the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy 24: 1-4 portends. The first thing we notice is that Moshe did not mention adultery in the matter of divorce. We have to remember that anyone taken to be an adulterer was stoned to death. Therefore, we need to keep this principle in mind. The Mosaic Law laid down divorce in three main principles. It was permitted when there was some natural, moral or physical defect discovered in a wife. Frivolous reasons were to be eliminated by this Law. It also required a judicial process unlike earlier times, and forbade a man from remarrying a former wife. The concept here is that marriage is not something you can walk in and out of at will. Many of the Pharisees and scribes saw the particular as getting a divorce for any reason was acceptable, and missed the concept that the Law of Moshe pertaining to divorce was designed to limit divorce because it was a holy institution and not to be entered into lightly. Now to the main heading, what does Yahshua say about this matter of divorce? “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.” If we consult Mathew 19: 3-9 we are more informed on this subject, because it is a fuller explication of what Yahshua puts in summarized form. The Pharisees and scribes had come to Him to trap Him and asked “is it lawful for a man to put his wife away for every cause?” They themselves were actually sanctioning this view of the commandment and the particular and not the spiritual concept supporting it. Yahshua answered them emphasizing the sanctity of marriage. Divorce was permissible only for the cause of fornication. Now, look in 1 Corinthians, chapter 6, where Sha’ul warns us about becoming one with the flesh of a harlot. A harlot or prostitute is a symbol of false religion, false worship. Are we to be united with a harlot, obviously not! If a person is a harlot meaning an unbeliever, then that person according to the Torah is the “living dead.” The point here however is that Yahshua is saying the only cause for divorce is fornication. The particular = physical fornication or adultery, but the obvious is that physical adultery was judiciously handled by stoning to death and divorce was not necessary, so the fornication spoken of here, the concept supporting the particular, obviously informs us of more than what the particular infers. It is spiritual fornication, serving anything other than the Living G-d. If a believer is yoked with an unbeliever, “the living dead,” who is a spiritual adulterer than the concept behind the particular “except for fornication” informs us that divorce is permissible when yoked to an unbeliever who will not repent, and come to the One True G-d. G-d’s Marriage is echad, one flesh, one focus, one direction, and we are to be set-apart from all unG-dliness, even from a partner who denies the sovereignty and headship of YHVH Elohim.
Let me leave you with these two verses to contemplate:
Mark 10:29 And Yahshua answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
Luke 11:17 But he, knowing their thoughts, said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and a house divided against a house falleth.