The Bible says, "Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge" (Heb. 13:4).

It is evident that our society as a whole no longer takes marriage as seriously as it once did. Marriages are entered into on a whim and dissolved in a heartbeat. The government has gradually loosened its laws pertaining to marriage and divorce in accord with the loosening views of our society. Consequently, first marriages entered into by young people are now viewed only as "starter marriages," much as a first home for a young couple may be viewed as a "starter home." The parallel is obvious: just as the young couple will soon grow out of their starter home and look for a new and better one, they are just as likely to grow out of their starter marriage. The result is that a divorce will occur and then the young man and woman will each find someone else to marry in their pursuit of happiness. It seems little thought is given to the consequences of this attitude toward marriage. Perhaps even less thought is given to how God may view this approach to marriage.

God's marriage law is revealed to us in the gospel of Christ. Doubtless, many either scoff at the idea of theteaching of the New Testament having any application to present day marriages, or ignore its teaching on the subject altogether.. However, that does not change the fact that it is God's law. Regardless of our attitude toward the words of Christ, we can be assured that his words make up the standard by which each of us will be judged (In. 12:48; Rom. 2: 16). For this reason, it is of vital importance that we come to a proper understanding of God's marriage law. According to the Scriptures, God's marriage law is:

One Man For One Woman

1. The Lord defines marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman. When questioned concerning marriage Jesus said, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh '?" (Matt. 19:4-5). God's clear intent for marriage from the beginning-has been that it is to be a relationship between one man and one woman (1 Cor. 7:2).

2. No other arrangement can be considered a lawful marriage. In his evil imagination, man has dreamed up all sorts of variations on God's arrangement for marriage including polygamous and homosexual unions. Many relationships that are considered marriages today are, in terms of God's law, nothing more than examples of sexual immorality. Those who have perverted the marriage relationship must repent or face the wrath of God in judgment (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21 :8).

For Life

1. Marriage is a permanent relationship. Of the husband and wife relationship Jesus said, "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Matt. 19:6). The Scriptures always affirm that marriage is intended to be a permanent, life-long commitment between a husband and wife. It is unfortunate that it is often viewed instead as a temporary relationship that mayor may not work out for the long-term.

2. The marriage bond is severed at death. The apostle Paul writes, "A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord" (I Cor. 7 :39). Should one of the partners in the marriage die, then the other is free to marry another eligible person. However, as long as both partners are living, the marriage must remain intact.

With One Exception

1. An innocent spouse may divorce a sexually immoral spouse. Jesus said, "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matt. 19:9). The only lawful reason given by the Lord for repudiating a marriage partner and marrying someone else is in the case where one spouse is guilty of sexually immoral behavior. Such a case presents the lone exception in which a wife may divorce her husband and marry another, or vice-versa. However, it is important to note that if the guilty one who has been put away for sexual immorality marries another, then he "commits adultery" (v. 9). The guilty fornicator is not free to contract a new marriage following the severing of the marriage he destroyed through his sexuall immorality.

2 . Any other case of divorce and remarriage results in adultery for all parties involved. The overriding message of God's marriage law is: "Whoever divorces his wife and :marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mk. 10: 11-12). What if a husband and wife divorce because they don't get along, have fallen out of love, have grown apart, or for some other reason? Any subsequent marriage they enter into will, in reality, be an. adulterous relationship. Society may condone these second, third, or fourth marriages as honorable, but according to God's law they are simply immoral relationships. It is time our society started respecting God's marriage law. Haven't we seen enough of the terrible consequences brought about through careless views toward marriage, divorce, and remarriage? It is no wonder that, "the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence" (Mal. 2: 16). If only man would cease loving that which God hates. How is your attitude toward God's marriage law?

David Dann