Decades ago, when a couple exchanged matrimonial vows it meant something in many of their minds. Sadly, it’s different today, but there are things we can do to reverse this trend.
According to the results of Gallup Poll’s 2008 Values and Beliefs Survey released May 19, 70 percent of Americans now believe divorce is morally acceptable, surpassing the previous high of 67 percent in 2006.
While as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ I can say that this is a result of man’s sin nature (Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:10) and an ongoing fulfillment of the prophecy uttered by Christ (Matthew 24:12), I would like to focus at this point on one of many elements dealing with marriage: the vow.
Viewing the Vow
I began to contemplate the full meaning of a marital vow back in 1979 when pastoring an Assembly God Church in Eagle Mills, North Carolina. At that time, there was an undercurrent in the Assembles of God (AOG) to revamp the denomination’s rules regarding those seeking ministerial credentials, making it easier for some to acquire credentials despite past marital issues.
Back then, I sided with those who wanted to relax the rules. However, Dorcas, my wife, suggested that I prayerfully reconsider. So, I did. As I communed with God in my mind as to why the conservative thought in the AOG was steadfastly against the change, I felt God indicate to me that I should study what the Word of God said about vows, along with some other points about marriage.
Research did show that under the law of Moses a vow before God was quite solemn and could not be terminated, unless a male granted such authority to a female in his household. And, as most people know, the law of Moses permitted divorce.
A Crystallization by Christ
However, Christ made it very clear and plain that Moses permitted such things due to the hardness of the hearts of the Jews who lived centuries before His blessed advent. In His teaching on the subject in Matthew 19:3-12, He specifically focuses upon the Genesis account where God made husband and wife one flesh and fully indicates the union is to be inseparable. If one prayerfully studies the Holy Bible, they will see that certain laws and principles are established in Genesis and are upheld in the New Testament by the words of Christ and of the Holy Spirit through the NT writers, regardless of the Mosaic law. The union of one man and one woman for life is such a case.
Only Physical Death Dissolves the Vow
If one looks at the actual scriptures they will see only one thing dissolves a marital vow: physical death. Please note that I wrote “the actual scriptures.” Compare 1 Corinthians 7 in the King James Version (KJV) with some newer translations like the New International Version (NIV) and you will see the NIV and some others place the word “divorce” where the KJV does not. If you could read the actual Greek, you would see the KJV is closer to the Greek than many other versions. A person reading 1 Corinthians 7 in a newer version might come to the conclusion that Paul by the Holy Spirit states one may divorce an unbeliever if that person leaves. However, this could not possibly be true, because as he nears the end of his discourse on the matter, Paul writes by the Holy Spirit (verse 39), “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” The same holds true for the husband, for there is neither male nor female in the eyes of God (Galatians 3:28).
Published in: Family