Question:

Please, I would like to know if you have read the book "Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible" by Jay E. Adams. Is this book by Jay Adams biblically and scripturally correct, especially in regards to the remarriage of the innocent and guilty party in a divorce?

I will like to know your views having read a lot about divorce an remarriage on your web site in regards to the innocent and guilty party.


Answer:

I just happened to have Jay Adam's book in my library. Though it has been decades since I read it, I recalled that it contains some fundamental flaws. I spent several hours this afternoon skimming the book to refresh my memory.

Mr. Adams assumes that all accepted or proper divorces automatically includes the right to remarry if the person chooses. This is contrary to Paul's statement: "But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:11). Mr. Adams tries to get around this by claiming that "let her remain unmarried" only means for a period of time and that Paul didn't mean permanently. However, this is an assumption on Mr. Adams' part. There is no indication of a temporary term in this passage.

He also claims that when an unbeliever leaves a Christian that this allows the Christian to remarry. However, Paul's statements in I Corinthians 7:12-16 says nothing about remarriage. Mr. Adams assumes remarriage is allowed because he assumes that all allowed divorces imply allowed remarriages. Mr. Adams also errs in claiming that the phrase "the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases" (I Corinthians 7:15) is stating the marriage covenant has been terminated. He misses the fact that "bondage" is a reference to slavery and Paul is stating that the married Christian is not a slave to the unbelieving spouse -- that is, required to leave Christianity just to remain married. The phrasing does give or imply permission to remarry another.

Because of his conclusion regarding unbelievers, Mr. Adams then comes up with a complex system whereby two Christians could divorce for any reason which allows remarriage. He claims that if a Christian improperly divorces his wife for some reason other than fornication, then Matthew 18:15-17 should be applied. If he ultimately refuses to take his wife back, then he is withdrawn from by the church and is now considered an unbeliever. Mr. Adams then applies his incorrect conclusions regarding I Corinthians 7:15 to the situation and declares the wife is then allowed to remarry. Oh, and the withdrawn from husband could also remarry because in Mr. Adams' view God's laws don't apply to unbelievers. And if the former husband later repents after marrying another, then he is forgiven of all sin and is welcomed back with his new wife.

All of this is just an elaborate system to avoid the straight forward statements of both Jesus and Paul. Divorce, in general, is not allowed. If divorce happens, then both parties must remain unmarried or be reconciled. Only if the divorce is because of fornication can the innocent party marry another after the divorce if they so choose. In all other cases, the parties remain bound by the terms of their covenant.