Luke 16:18

Marriage, Divorce, & Remarriage
Luke 16:18
Intro: Here’s the verse the Lord gave me the day when I knew I was to propose to Angie…

Proverbs 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.

Second only to saving grace, she is the greatest gift God has given me. We were married in the Lord in 1995. I’m grateful for a lasting marriage. And yet, divorce has remained ever present among the Christians we have ministered to since I’ve been a pastor.

Luke 16:18 Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery.

How can we consider what divorce is and what divorce does until we know what the Scriptures teach about marriage? How can we know what a divorce tears apart until we learn how precious marriage is to God? Me must equip ourselves with the biblical view of marriage.  Since divorce is the dissolving of a marriage (“putting asunder what God has joined together”), we must understand plainly what divorce dissolves and how far-reaching the consequences are.

For instance, some say that divorce does not truly end a marriage. They talk about divorcees as “still married in God’s sight.” Is this true? How can that be a valid concept? It is certainly not biblical language.

This issue is not an academic one. It is not material for debating in the great halls of scholarship. Resolving the problem of misunderstanding the nature of marriage/divorce has very important practical applications for life. These ideas must not be avoided by Christians who want to know truth. To solve these problems, we must learn what it is that establishes a marriage. How is a marriage made? To know what a marriage is, it will help if we first know what a marriage is not.


1.    human invention

Contrary to the current prevailing worldview in our culture, mankind did not create marriage. It is not a necessary convenience that people developed over years of trial and error to sort out responsibilities for children and finances.

God tells us that He Himself established, instituted, and ordained marriage at the beginning of human history (Gen 2-3).

If marriage were of human origin, then humans could have the right to set it aside. However, since God made marriage, only He has the right to do so.

He has told us that marriage will remain until the life to come.

Mark 12:25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

If God had said nothing more about marriage after He established it, we might be able to argue that we are free to make up the rules for it.

But the Lord did not leave us in the dark; He has revealed His will about marriage in the Scriptures. 

For it not to be sin, individuals may marry, be divorced, and be remarried only if, only when, and only how He says.

2.    side-issue

He designed it as the foundational element of all human society.

Before there was a church, a school, or a business instituted, God formally introduced marriage when He declared…

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

In all its forms, society itself depends on marriage. 

The formal attack on marriage today, seeking to redefine it or eliminate it altogether, is an attack on society itself (and on God, who built society on the foundation of married households).

Additionally, marriage is the foundation upon which the church rests as God’s special community. As the households go, so goes the church. 

The “house” in Scripture is the smallest unit of society. It is a group of persons, living under the same roof, under one human head, as a separate decision-making unit.

This “house” (equivalent to our “family” but a richer concept) is a unit with which God deals as a unit (others are individuals, congregations, nations).

Therefore, an attack on marriage which forms “houses” is an assault on the basic sub-unit of God’s church.

3.    primarily for childbearing

Contrary to other prominent religious groups, God did not design marriage primarily to propagate the human race. 

While the Lord has ordained that procreation must be carried out as one duty in marriage (“be fruitful and multiply”), and only within marriage, procreation is not the fundamental feature of marriage.

We must not confuse marriage with mating. 

Humanity could propagate itself just fine without marriage. We are all too familiar with poverty-stricken neighborhoods and ghettos where marriage is weak or almost non-existent, that grow enormously from mating disconnected to marriage.

Marriage is something much more than mating. We must differentiate the two.

4.    the same as sexual union

We must not equate marriage with sexual relations.

The marriage union is holy and official before God. Sexual relations are only holy in the context of marriage. 

Marriage is different from, bigger than, and inclusive of sexual union. But the two are not the same. 

When the minister declares, “I now pronounce you husband and wife” at the wedding ceremony, he is telling the truth. The couple have made their vows to God and to each other, and they are now married. 

The first sexual encounter after the ceremony does not consummate their marriage, the covenant does. Marriage authorizes sexual activity between spouses.

The honeymoon is proper and holy only because the couple is already married.

Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

And adultery, later on, does not dissolve a marriage, even though it places tremendous strains on it.

Sexual relations, per se do not make a marriage and do not break a marriage.


It is past time for Christians to make crystal clear what God has said about this matter. 

There has been too much guessing, too much philosophizing, and too much psychologizing instead.

God has spoken clearly. His Word is so explicit that there is no room for speculation or doubt.

Genesis 2:18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

The reason for marriage is to solve the problem of loneliness.

Marriage was established because Adam was alone and that was not good. Therefore…

Companionship is the essence of marriage.

God made most of us so that we would be lonely without a spouse – an intimate companion.

It was not just to help him (not even primarily), that God provided Eve for Adam, but as his companion. He, too, must provide companionship for her, as all other husbands since.

The Bible describes marriage this way. We cannot overstate the primary importance of companionship.

Proverbs 2:17 Who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God.

Malachi 2:13 And this is the second thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. 
Malachi 2:14 Yet you say, “For what reason?” Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

Companion = contains the idea of “one who is tamed.” Speaking from the animal world, we cannot establish a relationship with a wild animal, but we can know and love domesticated ones. 

Marriage companionship is the close, intimate relationship of a husband and wife. “Wild” attitudes or actions such as always being gone to be with others destroy companionship. Warm, tame, willing to be close actions build it.

Companionship, then, means being close.

A companion is one whom you are intimately united in thoughts, goals, plans, efforts, (and in the case of marriage, in bodies).

Marriage is, in fact, a covenant of companionship. In this covenant, two people agree to not only bear children and raise them, and to satisfy each other’s sexual needs, etc. – but these goals are too narrow and are even somewhat temporary.

The husband and wife vows/swears to live together as the closest possible companions for the primary purpose to take away each other’s loneliness for the glory of God. 

Ezekiel 16:8 “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God. 

Hosea 2:20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord. 

Marriage is a formal arrangement between two persons to become each other’s loving companions for life. By marrying, they contract to keep each other from ever being lonely so long as they shall live. 

Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 

To become “one flesh” here means to become one person.

Since the marriage union is the closest, most intimate of all human relationships, spouses often begin to think as one, to act as one, even to feel as one. 

Their lives become so intertwined that they become one functioning unity. 

A wife is her husband’s counterpart. She fills out the man’s life. She complements him and completes him. She makes him a larger person than he could have been alone. 

She brings into his frame of reference a new feminine side that he can view life from, and that he could not have known any other way.

Likewise, he also brings to his wife a masculine perspective that enlarges her life, making her a fuller, more complete person than she could have been apart from him.

The marriage covenant of companionship solves the problem of loneliness not merely by filling the gap, but by overfilling it!

Helping is an important aspect of companionship. The two are united in effort and work. 

There is someone with whom he/she can talk things over, someone to counsel, someone to care; to share joys, perplexities, ideas, fears, sorrows and disappointments; a helper. 

A marriage companion is someone with whom you can let down your hair.

Genesis 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. 

Since Adam and Eve were both sinless, they were also shameless. They were able to be perfectly open with each other, utterly transparent with each other, and completely vulnerable with each other. They had nothing to hide.

Marriage alone provides the proper setting for such openness. 

Those who are married in the Lord enjoy the ministry of the Holy Spirit in this area. What are the rewards?

Truth unifies, love binds, and hope orients.

These elements allow for openness without shame.

It is this view that plainly shows that marriage is far more than authorized sexual relations. Mating = one body; marriage = one flesh. 

The difference is companionship.

“Leave father and mother and be joined to his wife”…what do these words mean?

To “leave and cleave” is a phrase about breaking up something that is temporary in favor of joining something together permanently.

temporary = parent/child relationship
permanent = husband/wife relationship

The most basic family relationship is not the parent/child relationship, but rather the husband/wife. God ordained this.

“leave father and mother” = the parent/child relationship is designed to be severed (not totally, but effectively), so that the original relationship that existed when he/she was living in the home will not continue.

When he marries, a man can no longer sustain the same relationship to his parents that he once did. It must change. 

He must now become the head of a new decision-making unit that we call the family or the house.

He is still his parent’s son, but he has outgrown childhood – he is no longer their child. Critical distinction.

We know by experience that the parent/child relationship is close, but it is never described as “one flesh” or “cleaving” or perfectly corresponding.” And Jesus never commands of it, “let not man separate.”

Alternatively, a husband and wife must join and continue to live in unity of soul, spirit, and body throughout the remainder of their lives. Nothing but death must be allowed to break that unity. It is to be permanent.

Our godless society has reversed this. Now it is more acceptable for the parent/child relationship to be the most important. This wounds both parents and children alike. Everyone loses.

God put a husband and wife in the Garden, not a parent and a child.

In our culture, parents often live for their children. They are urged to give their best time and energy and money and thoughts to their offspring.

This is tragic because it seriously deprives the children of one of the most important rewards of childhood – observing a godly marriage to learn how to have one themselves one day.

Parents who build their lives around their children frequently end up therapy/counseling around the time when the last child is leaving home. 

They realize that all they have left is each other! They are going to have to spend the rest of their days together, and they dread it. 

What is left are two stranger who have little or nothing between them except their children. They have failed to build a marriage while they were busy raising children. All the talks and activities were centered around the kids. 

The most harmful thing parents can do to their children is make them the center of family life.

A wall plaque: “The best way to be a good father to your children is to be a good husband to their mother.”

What children need to see is not indulgent parents who squander all their love and concern on them. 

What children need to observe the most is parents who know how to love and live with each other. 

How else will children learn how to build solid marriages for themselves? 

Every child needs parents who are concerned about each other.


illus: What happens to children who leave a home that was centered around them? If mother has lived for her son Johnny, she will find it very difficult to let him go. She will likely hold onto to one arm as his new wife holds on to the other. Johnny will not know any better, and he will allow them to tear him apart. Everyone will lose. The two women will harbor deep resentment toward each other and toward Johnny. Why are the jokes always about mothers-in-law and sons-in-law? Because it’s sillier and safer than the truth. Counselors have found that the real problem is usually between the two women. All of it could have been avoided if God’s instruction about leaving and cleaving had been followed.

illus: A word to older children still living at home is appropriate. If you want to do what is best for you and your parents, you will not demand so much attention and interest from them. You will not be anxious to squeeze every second that you can out of them. They only have so much time in a week. They need to spend some of it with each other. Perhaps offer to help make that possible. When the time comes for you to leave home, they should be looking forward to your leaving. They will know that you are capable enough to start a new life for yourself, and they will have a life for their own to enlarge together. Parents ought to be saying every now and then, “Won’t it be great when that last one is gone? We will really be together again at last.”

God lends children to parents for a while to prepare them for the future; then off they must go. They should be a joy, but they cannot be the foundation of joy in a marriage.

The candid question: What kind of life would you have right now if your children were suddenly taken from you? What have you really built between the two of you? Do you have common interests? Do you do things together? What do you talk about at night?

If those questions are profoundly difficult to answer, then the application for this sermon for you is very simple: Get to work at becoming a companion to your spouse.