The Common View on Divorce for the Unequally Yoked Creates a Clear Contradiction in God’s Word

On the first page of God’s holy word He provides the very first commandment, which is to follow our heavenly Father’s example by separating light from darkness, then God says that He gave us a greater light (the sun) to rule by day and lesser lights (the moon and the stars) to rule by night. Similarly God has provided greater light to rule the saints and many more lesser lights to govern the disobedient.  Just as the sun’s light is greatly superior to that of the moon and the stars, so also must the first principles of Scripture supersede and provide clarity to His myriads of lesser commands and instructions.  Though the myriads of lesser lights exist for specific guidance, they must never cross the boundaries set forth by Scripture’s first principles–greater light.

What are these first principles of Scripture? Just as mankind lives in the light of the sun day after day and year after year without giving the sun much thought, in the same way God’s children live in the light of the first principles without giving them much thought—these are understood as God’s light by and in and through which we live.

These first principles include: the knowledge of who God is in all of His attributes and to have no other gods besides Him, to know who mankind is after the fall, to glorify God in everything we do, to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, to separate light from darkness (be holy as I am holy), to love others as you love yourself, to believe in God’s only begotten Son as the savior of the world, and to be heralds of the gospel of Christ Jesus.  Certainly this is not an exhaustive list, but these none-the-less are first principles.

Then, God provided a myriads of commandments not to rule a holy people, but unholy peoples…those who want to kill, steal, rape, covet, curse, lust, sloth, pervert, adulterate, fornicate, and the like. So then, it is critical that Christians interpret God’s myriads of commands consistent with the first principles of Scripture.

A perfect example is when the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath because He healed people on the Sabbath.  Technically, one could argue that they had a point.  According to God’s laws the Sabbath was to be a day of rest and Jesus was working miracles on the Sabbath.  Yet we know that it was Jesus who was in the right and not the Pharisees because Jesus was glorifying His Father in heaven (one of the great lights) by healing the sick and preaching repentance and belief in Him (another of the great lights).

The Pharisees were in the habit of improperly interpreting God’s commands.  However, when properly interpreted and/or applied none of God’s laws will ever cross the boundary lines established by God’s first principles.

Whenever an interpretation of any biblical passage contradicts one or more of the first principles of Scripture, then we know that the interpretation is wrong. This is precisely what happens when Christians prohibit divorce for the unequally yoked in marriage.  They arrive at their conclusion by interpreting Paul’s words in First Corinthians 7 as a universal prohibition against divorce for believers who realize they are unequally yoked to a child of Satan.  This conclusion and therefore interpretation contradicts the first principles of separating light from darkness and to glorify God in whatsoever you do.

God’s word properly interpreted will never contradict itself.  So then, since the first principles to separate light from darkness and to glorify God in whatsoever you do are not in any way ambiguous, then it becomes manifestly obvious that any prohibition against marital divorce for the condition of being unequally yoked is unbiblical and therefore man-made.

But What of 1 Corinthians 7

In First Corinthians 7, Paul is providing a temporary injunction to allow time for the believer to determine whether or not their unbelieving spouse will soften or harden to the same gospel that brought them to Christ. To avoid any misunderstanding, Paul clarifies his original intentions in First Corinthians in his second epistle, aptly titled, Second Corinthians.  In his second epistle, Paul carries over into the New Testament a ubiquitous Old Testament commandment.  He writes a significant and succinct defense of one of God’s First Principles of Scripture to separate light and darkness, and especially so in human relationships (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:2).

The blog author is aware that people will point to a word (any number of possibilities) or a phrase in the First Corinthian 7 passage to prove their point that Paul intends it as a universal command, but they need to realize that the interpretation they insist upon causes a conflict with Scripture’s fundamental general teaching of separating light from darkness.  They must come to an interpretation that does not contradict the greater and more straightforward biblical truths and particularly those that make up the First Principles of Scripture.

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?  Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.’  Therefore, ‘COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,’ says the Lord” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17a).

About Josiah Portermaine

By the abundant lovingkindness and grace of God I have been in Christ for over 45 years. I live to love and serve God in whatever capacity He has in mind. And can do no other but to follow my conscience as scripture and reason guide me threw the shadow lands. I raised 5 children one of whom now sees clearly as he walks on streets of gold. I have a Masters of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City. I own a business in Nebraska, but I live to serve God. I have preached in three different churches for a period of 10 years. I love preaching God's word. Because of my divorce I am not currently serving in any official capacity, but I know that the Lord has a ministry for me. My goal is to write a book on the topic of divorce when unequally yoked, and this blog is a step in that direction. No brother or sister in Christ should divorce their spouse solely upon the advice they find here or anywhere else for that matter. Immerse yourself in God's word, and go before the Lord--wait upon Him and He will make it clear when the time comes that you are called to repent of your unequally yoked marriage. Christ's continued blessings, Joe View all posts by Josiah Portermaine

2 responses to “The Common View on Divorce for the Unequally Yoked Creates a Clear Contradiction in God’s Word

  • Northern Gal

    Hi Joe,
    I have had the misfortune of discovering that churches are full of unsaved folks who have been led to believe, or who have deluded themselves into believing that they are saved which results in either unbelievers marrying unbelievers or believers marrying the unsaved out of ignorance or laxity on the matter. i ‘ve been having a look through your site and I think somewhere that you had mentioned Martin Lloyd Jones as a good source of solid teaching. I was wondering if MLJ believed as you do regarding unequally yoked marriages and if he outlines his thinking on it somewhere in his messages.
    Thanks for your time

    • Joe Porter

      Northern Gal,
      Though painful it is actually a great blessing for you that you have discovered the reality about churches in our day. Those who lack this understanding regarding the dismal state of the modern churches are themselves unsaved or immature in their faith at best. It is a good evidence of spiritual growth in you to be able to discern good from evil. And you are correct, at least in my estimation, that those who are truly regenerate are marrying unbelievers in these “churches” in droves. Once a believer has woken up to this reality they will be able to guard against it if they happen to be single. But the website and the book that I am writing is for all those believers who now find themselves unequally yoked. Of course, I advocate that genuine believers grow in holiness and in biblical doctrine as quickly as they can so that they “because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). This must be done prior to marriage and a family. Otherwise, people are likely to find themselves in a forbidden marriage to an unbeliever.
      As for MLJ’s thinking upon the matter, I did not have this understanding myself prior to his death, and I was only a young Christian myself when he died in 1981, so I did not get to discuss this matter or any other with him. I strongly recommend his book ‘Christian Marriage’ as I recommend anything that he did both his sermons and his books. His book did encourage me very much in what I am saying on the subject, but he did not expound it himself. Formally he took the position that only adultery was a biblical ground for marital divorce. One of the many things I love about MLJ is that he refuses to say more than what God has said on any subject. So why did his book encourage me? First, he teaches in the book and in many sermons that he never tells other Christians what to do. He believed in providing people with biblical doctrines and teach them accurate theology and then allow them to apply it in their own circumstances based upon the movement of God’s Spirit and in accord with their own conscience. He says very plainly in the book (chapter one is on 8 basic principles that are priceless, which he used to be his guide) that Christianity is not a set of rules and regulations that we must follow. The bible always explains why we are to live in this or that way. He says, “We should be clear and happy about it; and therefore there should be no contradiction, there should be no ‘kicking against the pricks’, or working against the grain, or feeling that I have to do it but wish I had not to do it, but rather wishing to get as far away as I can from it. That is not Christianity. The Christian is a man who rejoices in the way he is living. He sees it clearly, he does not want anything else; it is inevitable, his mind is satisfied.” MLJ states plainly in this book that Christian Marriage is far superior to all other marriages. He uses Paul’s teaching to the Ephesians to show how only a Christian marriage can emulate the relationship that Christ has with his church. As I reflected upon this I could not help to think that Christ Jesus is God and every single member of his church or body are regenerate Christians. Not one of the false Christians we spoke about earlier are in the body of Christ. If Jesus will not have any unbelievers in his marriage or union with the body, then why would I allow it in my own life? Nevertheless, MLJ clearly stated that only two believers even have a chance of having a Christian marriage. Therefore, an unequally yoked marriage cannot obtain to God’s ideal for marriage. Finally I will make this one last observation from the book. In his teaching on Ephesians 5:25-33 he says, “the key to the entire paragraph is ‘Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God’. That is the basic principle, and it is to be true of all members of the Christian Church.” Then in the same paragraph MLJ says, “What is the essential thing about marriage? He says, it is this unity–these two, these twain, have become one flesh. So you must stop thinking of them as two, they have become one. Therefore any tendency to assert self at once conflicts with the fundamental conception of marriage” As he stated more than once none of this is possible if both married partners are not in Christ Jesus. Do read his book.
      Feel free to contact me as often as you desire. This is my full time ministry and my greatest interest at this time in my life, so you will not be bothering me in the least. I do not want anyone getting a divorce before they work hard at growing to maturity. Following the lead of the Holy Spirit and following your conscience are critical, but remember how deceitful our hearts can be so that you do not sin against the Lord. Obviously, I advocate divorce for the unequally yoked, but you have to take your marriage to the Lord and petition him for his will in your own case. Clearly in the mean time I strongly urge against having additional children and getting into additional debt with an unbelieving spouse. Always be kind, good and loving, but do not be foolish. I hope to hear from you again. Keep me updated as you consider these matters.
      Christ’s continued blessings,

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