Who May Marry?
When God created man and placed man in the Garden of Eden, God realized that something was not good. "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him" (Genesis ). Therefore, God made the woman for the man. In doing this God instituted the marriage state. Jesus placed His stamp of approval on the marriage state by saying:
“Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6).
God instructed Paul to write, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge" (Hebrews 13:4). Marriage is instituted by God, and very important in our lives, thus, we need to study who has the right to this state. From my study in the Bible I have found three classes of people who have the right to marry.
First, we need to notice that not all people have the right to be married and thus do not have the right to get married. The case of Herod and Herodias shows this to be true.
“For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife” (Mark -18).
Herod and Herodias had married, yet John the Baptist said that they did not have the right to be married to each other or to get married. Let us now consider who has the right to get married.
The first class of people that have the right to get married are those who have never been married. In noticing this point, we note that marriage is an option, we do not have to get married. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul deals with some questions regarding marriage. Paul deals with these in view of the present distress of verse 26. In view of that distress he says:
say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide
In verse 28 Paul continues, "But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you." Then in verse 38 Paul tells the father who had a virgin daughter, "he that giveth her in marriage doeth well." This tells us that those who have never been married have the right to marry.
The second class of people who have the right to marry are those who have lost their mate by death. Paul writes:
“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man” (Romans 7:2-3).
Thus, we find that if a couple is married and one of them dies, the one that lives has the right to remarry.
The third class of people that have the right of marriage are those who have put away a spouse, because the spouse committed fornication. In Christ's sermon on the mount Jesus says:
“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” (Matthew 5:32).
Consider also this incident in the life of Jesus:
“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 19:3-9).
We see from these two passages that God does not want divorce, and that the only one that has a right to remarry after a divorce is the one who put away, divorced, their mate for the cause of fornication. Anyone else who divorces and remarries committeth (continuous action) adultery.
The three classes of people that have the right to marry, thus, are the ones who have never been married, the ones who have lost their mates, and the ones who have put away their spouses for fornication. These are the only ones who have the right to marry, anyone else who gets married sins in so doing and continues to sin until they get out of that sinful state.
Marriage is a wonderful state to which God has blessed man. We need to be preparing our young people for this blessed state: teaching them how to act and treat the person whom they marry which will ensure happiness in the marriage, and who they have the right, with God's approval, to marry. [Beacon; 10.20.08; Bellview church of Christ; 4852 Saufley Field Rd; Pensacola, FL 32526; www.bellviewcoc.com.]
Note: We commend brother Hatcher on this good arlicle. In it, he turns neither to the right hand or the left, but simply stays with what the Bible teaches. Indeed, there are those who loose where God has bound, and others who bind where God has loosed, in the matter of marriage. But, If we stay with the Book, we wont' go wrong! (2 John 9) Danny Douglas