John Piper is an example of a popular evangelical teacher who teaches that Luke 16:18 was an absolute statement by Christ on divorce rather than a general statement condemning divorce. In his article entitled “Divorce & Remarriage: A Position Paper” Piper writes:
“All of my adult life, until I was faced with the necessity of dealing with divorce and remarriage in the pastoral context, I held the prevailing Protestant view that remarriage after divorce was Biblically sanctioned in cases where divorce had resulted from desertion or persistent adultery. Only when I was compelled, some years ago, in teaching through the gospel of Luke, to deal with Jesus’ absolute statement in Luke 16:18 did I begin to question that inherited position…
Luke 16:18 calls all remarriage after divorce adultery… This verse shows that Jesus does not recognize divorce as terminating a marriage in God’s sight.”
But Piper and all other Christians who regard Luke 16:18 as an absolute condemnation of divorce and/or remarriage are inconsistent when we know in 95% percent of cases they would regard Leviticus 24:17 as only a general condemnation of killing even though it lacks any qualifiers.
“And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.”
Leviticus 24:17 (KJV)
“18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
Luke 16:18 (KJV)
In other words – if you are going to say the based on Luke 16:18 that Christ is condemning all instances of divorce and remarriage then you must rightly say Leviticus 24:17 is condemning all instances of killing. The fact is it just as absurd to say that all instance of divorce and remarriage are condemned by God as it is to say that all instances of killing are condemned by God. The Bible clearly shows allowances for both divorce and remarriage as well as killing.
Divorce Does Terminate a Marriage in God’s Eyes
Contrary to the teachings of John Piper and others Biblical divorce is not just a permanent form of separation where the couple remain married in God’s eyes for the remainder of their lives and they are forbidden from remarriage.
The fact is there are several passages of the Scriptures which clearly show that divorce does in fact terminate a marriage in God’s eyes.
“1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
“2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.”
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (KJV)
In Deuteronomy 24:2 we read that a woman sent out from her husband in divorce may go and be another man’s wife. If God had a problem with this action of a wife being sent off in divorce by her husband marrying another man he would have said so here or elsewhere in Moses law. But nowhere, not here or elsewhere is this action of her remarrying condemned.
Another key phrase here is from verse 4 of Deuteronomy 24 is where he uses the phrase “first husband” which in the Hebrew is actually speaking to her former husband as her “former owner”. Her first husband is no longer her owner. Therefore her marriage to her first husband is terminated in God’s eyes and she was an unmarried woman eligible for marriage once again.
God when speaking of Israel whom he divorced for her adultery with false gods says this after his divorce from her:
“Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;”
Hosea 2:2 (KJV)
God again clearly points out here in Hosea 2:2 that divorce does in fact terminate a marriage in his sight.
Finally in New Testament the Apostle Paul confirms for us that even if a wife wrongly divorces her husband she is still considered “unmarried” in God’s sight:
“10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
I Corinthians 7:10-11 (KJV)
The Concept of Remarriage Primarily Applies to Women and Not Men
In Exodus 21:10-11 we read:
“10 If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money.”
Exodus 21:10-11 simultaneously proves two important points. First it proves that the concept of “remarriage” does not really apply to men (except in one instance) because men are allowed to marry additional wives.
Remarriage for the most part applies to women because as Deuteronomy 24:1 states when a man takes a woman and marries her he owns her. Marriage in the Hebrew was a man taking ownership of a woman as his wife. So whether her husband divorces her or he dies the next marriage she enters into is a “remarriage” because she was formerly owned by another man.
So up to this point we have proven from the Scriptures that divorce does in fact terminate marriage in God’s sight whether it was done for lawful reasons or not and we have proven that remarriage primarily applies to women because men can take more than one wife.
So when a man and woman are divorced they are now eligible for to marry just as any other person is may marry except for two instances.
The Bible Forbids Remarriage in Only Two Situations
There are only two types of “remarriage” that are forbidden in the Bible.
The first is found in Deuteronomy 24:3-4 where God forbids men from remarrying their wives whom they have divorced if they marry another man. The second type of remarriage that is forbidden is if a woman treacherously departs from her husband (leaves or divorces him for reasons other than Exodus 21:10-11 allows) she is forbidden from remarriage to any other man except her former husband whom she wrongly left.
She is off limits to all other men even though she is unmarried and if another man marries this unmarried woman who wrongly left her first husband then he is guilty of another form of adultery Christ describes in the Gospels.