You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free

Renette Vermeulen

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All the rabbinical laws and references to marriage and divorce I could find in the Old Testament were structured by the rabbis to shift all the failure of marriage and the consequences thereof onto women, while vindicating men to fornicate, divorce, and force women into sex slavery as they chose.  A man was even allegedly ‘entitled’ to claim the wife and children — (most probably small and young girls,) of his slave, and if the husband-slave protested, he was forced into slavery for the rest of his life, (Ex. 21:4-6.)  Men could take female captives as sex slaves and supposedly ‘marry’ them by ‘going into them’ - and then, “if they have no delight in them, set them free,” (Deut. 21:10-14.) 

What happened to God’s indissolvable marriage covenant while the rabbis of the Old Testament presumed positions, authority, and rule over women, which God never sanctioned? (Mal. 2:13-17; Gen. 1:27-28; 2:18-24.) 

A man was also at liberty to sell his young daughter as a sex slave, (v. 7-9.) The man did not need a “letter of divorce” to take whomever he chose as his sex partner or co-called “wife.”  In violation of God’s Law, only women who adulterated received the death penalty, not men, (Lev. 20:10-27.)  As if the marriage covenant applied to women only, married men could simply heap up as many sex-slaves, concubines and ‘wives’ as they could afford.  To get rid of his wife by covenant at any whim, (or  his concubines and other prostitutes,) all he needed to do was to write them a “letter of divorce” — mostly without the acknowledgement that they are free to marry other men.  For example, the entire passage in Ex. 21 where ‘masters’ push ‘slaves’ (either their wives, sex-slaves, and/or concubines) into ‘divorce’ by “diminishing their food, clothing, and marriage rights,“ [as if he could keep so many women satisfied, the poor deluded stud,] could only result in the women leaving him if he consented to give them “a letter of divorce.”  But even then, the women left without any compensation whatsoever.  Deut. 24:1, “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes… he [can simply] write her a certificate of divorce, put it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” 

Þ Yet, in Mt. 5:27-32, Jesus condemned all this ‘legal’ prostitution and other abuse of women by commanding that even if a married man lusts in his heart after another woman he is committing spiritual adultery, and vice versa, of course.  “And whoever divorces his wife [or her husband] for any reason except for sexual immorality causes her [or him] to commit adultery [should he or she marry again.]  And whoever marries a divorcee commits adultery.”  Jesus said marriage is indeed ‘sacred and binding’ — except in death, and unrepentant adultery, (1 Cor. 7:15.) 

Jesus made it plain, it is a lie that ‘some vows were made to be broken.’  Still, some people think that not all marriages were blessed by God because they ended with the bad fruits, which came from hasty, bad choices.  It is not that God did not bless the marriage, but that unrepentant people do with their marriage partners as they want.  God, Who gave us the great gift of free will, will not stop our bad choices although He will warn us against them through His Moral Law, which is written on our hearts, (Rom. 2:14-15.)  Yet, once we have made our choices and sealed them with a solemn promise like in the marriage covenant, we must remember that God stated in Eccl. 5:4-7, “When you make a vow to God, [or to someone else, as far as it depends on you...] pay what you have vowed - better not to vow than not to pay. Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin.  Nor say before the messenger of God [the minister or magistrate] that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hand…  Fear God.”  Sadly, billions of people suffer innocently because we humans are not responsible for the corrupt choices of spouses, parents, family, or anyone else — and their failure to pay their vows to God and to other people. 

Still, as the Old Testament rabbis and New Testament church clergy demonstrated, man usually does with God’s Word whatever he chooses, (Mark 7:13.)  So, I know of an older woman, who, without considering her two young children, divorced her husband to marry his youngest brother.  The two are allegedly “very happy together,” and she states that it was “a wise move, as her first marriage was not God’s will, because she was unhappy with the older brother.”  Yet, what this woman and her husband’s baby brother committed through adultery and divorce, was incest,  (Lev. 18:16; 20:21.)  Do not let the Scripture-twisting rabbis of the Old Covenant fool us.  What Old Jacob did  by supposedly “marrying” both Lea and her sister Rachael was adultery, polygamy, and incest.  All such immorality came from pagan nations not from God, (Lev. 18:24-30; Genesis Chapters 29-30; Lev. 18:18.)  As Jesus commanded, His original creation principles must always govern marriage and divorce, and other relationships and secular duties between genders in general, (Mt. 19:1-10; Gen. 1:27-28.) 

No marriage is “a bed of roses.”  All marriage partners have personality and background issues to deal with on their way forward.  The wise advise of Prov. 27:17, “[As] iron sharpens iron, [so] the [character of] one man sharpens the [character] of [another,]” does not speak of an idyllic life together.  It is an allegory of conflict, hardship, and differences being “smoothed out” between two people through the aggravating, painful process called “life.”  Someone commented, “This phrase is almost universally seen as positive: wise people should be questioning, encouraging, coaching, and challenging, [supporting, and teaching] each other [to grow together emotionally and spiritually to truly become “one in mind and Spirit” in Christ.]”      

On the other hand, when adultery, a double life of fornication, lies, deceit, infidelity, alcoholism, violence, rejection, and other forms of soul and life-destroying behavior repeatedly and irreparably breaks the holy marriage covenant without the consent, choice, and mostly the knowledge of the innocent spouse, divorce seems inevitable.  When the guilty partner refuses to repent because he or she is just spitefully destructive, has lost interest in the marriage, or chooses to continue manipulating the innocent spouse to continue in his or her sin, divorce is indeed valid.  Jesus gave us a disciplinary process to work through when we must deal with hard-hearted, unrepentant people; spouses included, (Mt. 18:15-20.)  The recovery of any relationship, (our relationship with God, spouses, and other people,) always pivots on complete repentance from the decimating sins that cause the devastation.  True believers will choose to salvage the marriage (or any other relationship) if it is at all possible, because Jesus commanded us to pursue peace under all circumstances — but not at any price, (1 Cor. 7:10-16.

The dreadful sin of continuous abuse was never sanctioned by God.  No one has he ‘right’ to assault a defenceless child, (which is not ‘discipline’ but a cruel attack,) a woman, a powerless man, or even an animal.  When the life of a spouse (and the children) are on the line, the abused spouse must leave no stone unturned to get help as soon as possible.  If the offending spouse remains unrepentant, there is only one way to deal with that person.  Jesus commanded in the context of serious abuse such as adultery and other forms of serious, continuous abuse, if an unrepentant person “causes [innocent spouses, children, parents, or friends,] to stumble... “pluck it out, [or reject that person] and cast it [or her or him] from you…” [so that you yourself can survive emotionally, spiritually, and even physically,]”  (Mt. 5:27-32.) 

Þ Yet, even for adultery, divorce is not mandatory.  No one can force the abused spouse to choose divorce above forgiveness.  It is always a personal decision.  Yet, peace through forgiveness for serial adultery is rarely obtainable, as reconciliation is always a two-way street.  Although we influence one another in a thousand ways, we are not responsible for the unrepentant choices other people make, (Ezk. 18:19-24.)  It is impossible to change people without their consent.  Not even God forces people to change.  He does not want slaves but loving children.  Salvation, redemption, blessing and spiritual growth in Christ is always a personal choice.  So, if an unrepentant person refuses to let go of his or her demons, the innocent spouse should eventually let go of the person for the sake of the eternal life, and emotional and physical safety of the innocent.  Abuse, left untreated God’s Way, is always an escalating process, (1 Cor. 7:13-16; Mt. 18:15:20.) 



Where Jesus not Paul commands in 1 Cor. 7:10-11, “If the [believer] departs from [a believing spouse,] let [him or her either be reconciled to [the believing spouse or] remain unmarried,” this constitutes divorce for “just any reason,” because adultery, (except for the death of one of the spouses,) is the only cause that ends the marriage covenant, (Mt. 19:1-10.)  Jesus also stated in Lu. 16:18, “Whoever divorces his wife [or her husband for any other reason than adultery, Mt. 5:31-32,] and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her [or him] who is divorced from [his or her spouse] commits adultery.”  

Where Paul gave advise on marriage and divorce in 1 Corinthians Chapter 7, the Old Testament misogynist view that the husband does not really need to keep his marriage vows while the wife is compelled to comply, is greatly diminished.  What troubles me in this passage, (1 Cor. 7:1-2; 8-9,) is that, firstly, if one does not view it in context, it seems as if Paul advocates celibacy above marriage.  But what he probably means by “it is good for a man not to touch a woman,” is that it is good for singles to rather remain celibate than to fornicate, (1 Cor. 6:15-20.)  Secondly, in this chapter, Paul embroiders on what Jesus commanded concerning divorce for ‘any other reason than sexual immorality.’  He states, “I command, not the Lord…” (1 Cor. 7:12.)   So, we must not depart from what Jesus taught on His Creation Principles concerning marriage and divorce, (1 Cor. 7:10-11; Mt. 19:1-10; 5:31-32,) while we consider what Paul said in this passage. 

We must appreciate it that Paul took the time to analyse the dilemma of one spouse coming to Christ while the other spouse refuses to surrender to Jesus, (1 Cor. 7:12-16.)  The hardest thing any Godly spouse can be faced with, (except for adultery, fornication, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, etcetera,) is to “be unequally yoked” with an unbelieving spouse, (2 Cor. 6:14.)  Hence, a believer, when considering marriage, must be very careful in choosing a spouse.  What Paul was talking about here, is the dilemma when Jesus enters a home some time after marriage.  Still, we can accept that Paul was speaking about unbelieving spouses who live morally clean lives, and not unbelieving fornicators and adulterers, when he said he commands believing spouses not to “divorce their unbelieving spouses,” (1 Cor. 7:12-13.) 

In God’ infinite grace, He has made provision for a believing spouse to continue with the marriage covenant when the other [morally good but unsaved] spouse persistently chooses to reject Jesus and the truth of His Word, (1 Cor. 7:14.)  So, Paul wrote, (and this makes sense on a mental level,) “If the unbelieving [spouse] chooses to live with the believing [spouse,]” and not the other way round, there is no real reason for the believer to call for divorce. “For the unbelieving spouse is sanctified, [made spiritually clean not saved] by the believing spouse…  [Remember that adultery does not quality the unbeliever to live with the believer, unless the believer chooses to forgive the adulterer, who then repents of all fornication.]

“But if the unbeliever departs, let him [or her] depart, (1 Cor. 7:15-16.)  The believing spouse is not under bondage [to the marriage covenant in the case of desertion.]  But God has called us to peace.  [Let us do our part to save the marriage.]  For how to you know, [Godly spouse,] that you will save [your ungodly spouse?’  Nonetheless, do not live on false hope and promises with this unbeliever, who departs now because he or she might never accept and follow Jesus,]”  (1 Cor. 7:12-16.) 

Þ It seems that, according to Paul, (remember he stated it is him speaking here not Jesus, 1 Cor. 7:10,) apart from the death of a spouse, adultery, and fornication, the desertion of the unbelieving spouse also completely nullifies the marriage covenant so that the innocent spouse may marry again.  It seems logic because, how can a marriage continue if one spouse simply rejects the other spouse, and deserts him or her, and their family?  (1 Cor. 7:15-16.) 

Nevertheless, it seems that marrying, or being married to a bad person, who does not repent from life-destroying sins, (sins other than adultery or sexual fornication, and as Paul adds here, desertion,) actually chains Godly spouses to a “stinking, dead body,” which they must drag with them for the rest of their lives, even if they do divorce, or until the bad spouse dies, (Mt. 5:31-32.)  However, as said, Jesus also commanded that an unrepentant person, (either believer or unbeliever, spouse or no spouse,) through His disciplinary process as described in Mt. 18:15-20, can and must be treated “as a heathen and tax collector,” (Mt. 18:17.)  Not treated with hatred, but certainly not as a believing brother or sister — or a spouse, with the purpose of shaming that person into repentance, if possible, which must then lead to the person’s ‘restoration’ to fellowship, and if possible, to his or her marriage partner, (1 Cor. 5:4-13; 2 Cor. 2:5-11; 6:1-11; Gal. 6:1-5.) 


Neither husband nor wife, father nor mother, grandfather nor grandmother, son nor daughter, brother nor sister has the right to oppress, steal from, hurt, slander, lie to, rule, cheat, manipulate, and harm another human being.  Jesus commanded us to do unto others as we want them to do unto us.  Our human spirits, souls (minds) and bodies must be temples of the Holy Spirit.  We cannot allow unrepentant people to destroy His temple through unrepentant sin.  Jesus never commanded us to tolerate unrepentant abuse indefinitely, (1 Ths. 5:23; 1 Cor. 6:15-20; 3:16-17; Mt. 18:15-20.)   

Whether the spouse is a serial adulterer and deserter, the abused spouse must realize that both the decision to go or to stay have terrible consequences.  Separating the interwoven lives of marriage partners is so complicated that no one can escape unharmed.  The  brokenness will always leave deep scars and most probably be carried through to the next relationship.  For the children especially, the separation can be devastating.  Financially, it will also be the children that suffer the most. 

Yet, abuse is an incredibly strong demonic power, and in a marriage relationship, as in any other relationship, repentance and restoration by the offender is the Scriptural and rational answer.  Should such repentance not occur, (as serial abusers can cry a river of tears without ever keeping one promise,) mere forgiveness will not be enough to secure the spiritual, emotional, and physical safety of the abused spouse and children.   Yet, it is a fact of life that it is not always possible to flee from such a demoniac to start a new life — which is usually not a success in any case.  But to live under such unbearable conditions is almost impossible, especially without a clear directive of the Holy Spirit Himself. 

Spouses who choose to stay, must therefore refuse to accept more empty promises.  To secure at least some financial support for themselves and in the case of a young family, for the future of the children, spouses can change the financial state of their marriages from “in community of property” to a post-nuptial agreement. If offenders agree, they must then ‘put their money where their mouths are,’ and pay for their infidelity and deception the next time they give way to their demons. 

Following the clear directives of the Holy Spirit in the truth of Scripture is the only real answer to this (or any other) demonic dilemma.  We must stop deceiving ourselves and realize that a quick-fix to such immense destruction of life and limb is an unobtainable dream.  God never lets us jump over the river or fire, but by His grace, He always takes us through it all to build His strong, Godly character in us, and to teach us obedience to His true Word in complete reliance on Him. 

Marriage will always remain sacred and binding; we must never believe we may divorce as we pleaseIt is a fact that even fornication, adultery, violence and other types of devastation, once sincerely confessed and truly repented from, need to be forgiven to restore our own inner peace, God’s holy marriage covenant, and to bring spiritual, emotional, and physical healing to the victim and everyone else affected by the abuse.  We are only spiritually and emotionally free while we remain in the will  of God.  Once true repentance from such serious sin enters a broken relationship, responsible forgiveness has the power to save that marriage; honoring and glorifying God in the process. 




Facebook Post August 2016, DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE IN THE BIBLE.  Paul wrote, “There is now no condemnation for those who do not live according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit...”  (Rom. 8:1.)  These are the believers of Christ who have experienced His complete forgiveness, and have repented from sin, dealing with those whom they have trampled according to  Jesus’ directions in Jam. 5:16.  “Confess your trespasses [against one another to one another,] that you may be healed.  [‘Forgive me, I have committed slander, emotional murder, adultery, etcetera, against you….’ and ‘come clean’ by telling the whole truth of what you have done to that person,] and then pray for one another.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous person avails much.”  All sin is sin.  Do not let anyone condemn divorcees while overlooking other types of sin.  The problem with relationships began in Eden when the husband and his wife disobeyed God.  When they had to take responsibility for what they did, regretting and confessing their sin to turn everything around, they began to practice the fine art of blame shifting instead.  “The snake deceived me...”  “That woman You gave me...”   And without cursing them directly, God cursed the whole earth because of them.  The consequences of their unrepentant sin still severely affect not just every human being, but also every innocent, living thing on earth. 

The fall affected the provider-husband in a way that made everyone suffer.  Weeds and thorns of all types infected every sphere of life, and, since that day, not only humans, but every living creature has to wrest a life from the earth.   [Ever watched a spider or an ant work for its food?]  In spite of what churches teach, God did not curse the wife to a life of violence, verbal abuse, and demonic oppression under the harsh rule of her husband.  The same goes for the husband, of course!  Instead, God actually warned the wife that, [and this also applies to the husband,] if she allows her now scrambled priorities to idolize her husband instead of worshiping and serving God above all else, the man, as the physically stronger one, will treat her harshly. 

All relationships, (humanity’s relationship with God, with each other under the marriage covenant, their families, and with all other people,) were severely marred by only that one act of unrepentant disobedience to the Highest God.  Jesus came to give every human being a way out of that cursed position without God by bringing complete blessedness and healing to all those who choose to live in Him, (Jn. 1:12-13; Gal. 3:10-14.)  Still, most of humanity chooses to continue in the art of blame shifting, hatred, and emotional and physical murder, (1 Jn. 3:15.) 

A Jewish writing described the marriage relationship as follows, “God did not create the woman from the feet of man so that she should be his slave, but from his side, so that she can be near his heart.”  They should have added, “God did not create the woman from man’s head that she should rule him, but from near his heart, so that she should help and encourage him.”  But instead of realizing these great truths, the fact remains that behind every successful man... is a woman rolling her eyes.  And behind every successful woman is a man shaking his fist. Marriage partners forget that even before God joined them together through the marriage covenant, God gave them joint-management over His entire creation.  To execute joint-management over secular and ecclesiastical work, and also in general management of the marriage covenant, they need to “submit to one another” in everything Godly and true, (Eph. 5:21.) 

Often, instead of pulling together to get their marriage carriage to the finishing line, either the husband or the wife or both are going mad to get out of the restraints that yoke them together in marriage.  Every Godly marriage counsellor will always attempt to save a runaway marriage carriage by calling both the husband and the wife to accountability, and repentance, so they can stop attacking each other and start pulling together.  However, if one or both spouses refuse to submit to God and to each other in everything Good, Godly, and True, there is no hope for that marriage.  If adultery, drug and alcohol abuse and violence are left unrepented [remember that our bodies are supposed to be temples of the Holy Spirit,] guilty spouses are systematically demolishing their marriages and everyone around them – especially the precious family that God had entrusted to their care. 

If the wild horse insists on getting out of that yoke and greater harm to all involved is unavoidable, divorce is imminent.  Paul, not Jesus, (Mt. 5:31-31,) wrote that if the unbeliever deserts the Godly spouse, the innocent spouse is free to marry again, (1 Cor. 7:15.)  But before we take that dreadful step, let us remember:  divorce is death to that marriage, but without a burial  or complete turning away from the ‘wild’ horse,’ the good spouse and their family will suffer continuous grief, because in many ways, both the guilty and the innocent partner as well as the children remain yoked to that rotten corpse, the dead marriage.  Sadly, lovers never realize that Jesus said we must not enter the marriage covenant lightly, nor annul it lightly, because He hates divorce – not because He condemns it as some ‘unforgivable, binding’ sin, but because He wants to spare us all the incredible brokenness and disruption attached to it, (Mal. 2:14-16.) 


Facebook Post, August 2015I have been asked to write more about marriage. Remembering that marriage is the first covenant that God made between His newly created human species, and therefore it is a covenant no one should enter into without deep consideration, I cannot help remembering the utterly superficial advice of most elderly people to young couples: "To marry is not buying horses." That's it? Makes sense in some silly way, because if we think of the marriage covenant in terms of ''playing true love,'' or a convenient business transaction, we will never get mauled when our spouses commit adultery, choose to party with their friends instead of coming home, lie, deceive, manipulate, never defend us when we need support, waste all the money on flashy cars, jewellery, gambling and unnecessary items - and assault us verbally and physically when we object.

What will happen to such a marriage and the children of that marriage if both spouses choose to live so immorally? Where will these children learn the many precepts of God's moral law, which set humans apart from animals? If they are taught that Mommy is just ''one of the girls,'' and Daddy is just ''one of the boys,” how will children ever know the Creator God in all His love and mercy, and the fact that a marriage requires constant fidelity, a lifetime commitment and self-sacrifice?''

Still, opposite characters usually attract. It is not uncommon to find a stable character married to a wild stallion powered on raw testosterone - or a wild mare, who just cannot get it into her head that she is not Cleopatra, married to Old Job. This is a great disaster in the making, if one or both spouses never truly surrender themselves wholly to Christ – and to their spouses.  Hence, God sternly warns in 2 Cor. 4:16, "Do not be unequally yoked to unbelievers, for what does Christ have in common with Belial?” (Hebrew for Belial: Worthlessness.)

Sadly, this is the grave situation many faithful spouses unwittingly dunked themselves into when they married an unfaithful husband or wife as unbelievers - or much worse, when they married unequally yoked as believers. Whatever the case might be, such deceived spouses always end up abused and broken. (Broken in many little pieces like that old Humpty Dumpty character that sat on the wall, as there is no better explanation for such complete brokenness, which only God can put together again.) But take heart, you very disappointed and deeply hurt husband or wife, because God has seen it all, and if you have really surrendered it all it Jesus, and are willing to work through this His Way, you will come through this marsh much stronger, wiser, and of course somewhat older.  After all, did God, Who can never lie because He is not a mere man, not say in Rom. 8:28 that we know that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him? 

This does not mean that we must smother our common sense when it comes to choosing a marriage partner.  If this person is a drunkard, a violent person, a big spender, a perpetual liar…  chances are slim that anyone will ever change him or her — unless he or she sincerely submits to the Lord Jesus Christ, (and to your Godly advice,) of course.  One piece of advice I always give to couples: make certain that you are not marrying that person while he or she is prone to sexual immorality, alcohol and drug abuse, bad relationships, has a terrible employment record, and lives in a huge amount of debt.  Do a credit and other checks and as far as possible on that person.  Love is blind, they say, but marriage affects all levels of life.  You do not only marry the person, you really do marry the family-in-law, that person’s finances, and bad habits.  For instance, if that person’s finances is in the red, yours will be too, because you will be liable for half of everything that person owes.  If that person clings to bad company, chances are that he or she will choose the bad company instead of choosing you.  “Be sober, be vigilant, your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone [gullible] to devour,” (1 Pt. 5:8.) 


Facebook Post, 2016, Speaking on marriage as ''not buying horses,'' and illustrating the marriage covenant as two horses, yoked together, drawing a carriage, I have to share what I once saw. I cannot find the video on the internet, but it showed two horses yoked together in a carriage during some kind of show. The horses began calmly, pulling together strongly, until one of the horses suddenly went berserk.  The wild one reared up with such brute force that it nearly flipped the carriage, hauling the driver into the air, and almost yanking the other horse off its feet.

However, the other horse immediately took a firm stand to bring the wild one under control. While the mad one continued to neigh frantically trying to rear onto its hind legs, butting, kicking and biting to get out of the carriage restraints, the calm horse