by Herbert W. Armstrong
1973 edition

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV



Yet that very effort has brought vicious accusations of precisely the opposite.

"There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Human reasonings, when used to subvert the Word of God, often seem more right than the way of God.

For many years the Church of God issued a small booklet explaining the true biblical teaching in regard to human-caused problems of divorce and remarriage. But this plain and simple truth of God has been increasingly challenged.

Technical books have been written purporting to prove that the Word of God allows divorce and remarriage to another. Such is a doctrine of men and not of God.

Some so-called Bible scholars, attempting to justify the prevalent trend in breaking up families by divorce and allowing remarriage, have resorted to a striving about the technical meaning of certain words -- especially the Greek word porneia.

God's Word admonishes us to "strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of hearers" (II Timothy 2:14). And the 15th verse continues: "STUDY to show thy self approved unto God ... rightly dividing the word of truth."

For those who sincerely want to understand and obey the teaching of our God, this larger booklet is now issued by the Worldwide Church of God. It answers the assumptions of those who choose to strive with words and the Hebrew and Greek derivations. It makes plain the overall PURPOSE of God, and His true MEANING of the institution of marriage.

The guidance of the living Christ, Head of this Church, in the teaching of the Church from the beginning has been completely demonstrated in this enlarged booklet. The object was not to please people, or to please ourselves, but to prove what is the true and faithful WORD OF GOD, to show OURSELVES approved unto God, and to RIGHTLY divide His Word of TRUTH. We are all to be JUDGED by this WORD OF GOD, regardless of temporary and imperfect judgments of men.

Received in the attitude of the Holy Spirit of God, this booklet will prove a real BLESSING to all who obey the living God.


Are there "Bible grounds" for divorce and remarriage? Adultery? Mental or physical cruelty? Incompatibility? Or none?


THE ALARMING rise in the divorce rate is America's growing national tragedy! It is MORE! It is America's national SIN! Other nations are likewise guilty. Divorce is at an all-time high. In the 12 months ending February 1973, the increase in divorces in the United States was 8.7% over the preceding 12 months.

The very foundation of any nation's solidarity, strength and power is a solid and stable FAMILY structure. When a nation's FAMILY LIFE is breaking down, that nation is disintegrating -- committing national suicide!

Every Fourth Home Affected

In some areas, more than every third American family has been broken up by divorce. For the whole nation it's about one in four. For every 100 marriages there now are 31 divorces.

We are only too well aware that the TRUTH on this vital subject will strike home to about every fourth reader. We are aware, too, that some will be offended by the TRUTH. It is not our wish or purpose to offend. But I have been commissioned by the living Creator and universe ruling GOD to "Cry aloud, and spare not!" To "lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their SINS!"

And that I must do even though, unfortunately, some will take offense. This appalling national (and international) sin reaches, as a foul stench, to high Heaven! Because our peoples are thus harming themselves and their children, the living God is aroused and angered! It is threatening the destruction of Nations!

The very fact that this sin extends into every fourth home is the impelling reason the living God commissions this truth to be sent into those homes. It has been far too long neglected by a guilty clergy!

Where God Places the Blame

Do you realize where the very GOD places the blame for this colossal national sin? Squarely on the clergy who have withheld God's TRUTH from the people! Listen to God's stinging indictment against the ministers of this world:

"My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds [ministers] have caused them to go astray" (Jer. 50:6).

In this booklet we give you the plain, unvarnished WORD OF GOD on this subject. We give it to you precisely as the Eternal God reveals how HE looks upon this subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage!

WHY Marriage?

What is God's PURPOSE in marriage? How does HE "look at it?"

For that matter, WHY marriage, anyway? Is there any real REASON for it? What s its MEANING? Or is there any?

Today educational institutions indoctrinate students with the theory of evolution. Evolution is based on the postulated nonexistence of God. It is the atheists' attempt to explain the presence of a creation without a Creator. Disbelief in God and a spirit of rebellion against His laws has led some to question the marriage institution altogether. There have been predictions that marriage is on the way out -- soon to be a relic of the past.

To them, marriage has no moral or spiritual authority. No laws bind one to it, except those of the state. No moral codes prevent its dissolution. They cannot account for its origin. They see no PURPOSE in it -- no real reason for it.

When, they may ask, in the evolutionary development of man from a lower species of animal, did the marriage custom start? Animals do not marry. Marriage is not necessary for reproduction. Animals procreate, but they do not marry, though some species mate. But they have no HOME and FAMILY life. So when, why, and how did animal-becoming-man decide to start the marriage custom?

The old repressive morality taught that the only purpose of sex was reproduction. But if that be true, NO MARRIAGE WOULD BE NECESSARY. Animals are male and female. Animals are of the two sexes -- they reproduce, but they don't have married FAMILY life.

So, WHY MARRIAGE? Those who disbelieve in God can see NO Authority for marriage. No PURPOSE! No MEANING!

So a sick and disbelieving world invents its "NEW MORALITY" which is promiscuous IMmorality. And the sin of DIVORCE and REMARRIAGE accompanies it!

But when we come to understand THE PURPOSE for human life on this planet, we begin to understand the REASON for marriage. And it is much more than merely reproduction.

Why MAN?

You can positively PROVE that GOD exists. We refer you to our free booklets "Does God Exist?" and "Seven Proofs God Exists."

God is the Eternally living Great Designer, Creator, Lawgiver, Source of all basic knowledge, Giver of life, peace, happiness, joy, and abundance. He is the GIVER of every good and perfect gift -- including eternal life.

But, now -- WHY MAN?

Is there a REASON why God put mankind on the earth? God never does things without a PURPOSE!

God, through human life upon the earth, actually is REPRODUCING HIS OWN KIND!

God designed and made cattle after the cattle kind (Gen. 1:24). He made horses after the horse kind -- dogs after the dog kind -- chimps after the chimp kind. But God said: "Let us make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness" (Gen. 1:26) -- after the GOD kind!

Man was made to have a close and special relationship with God his Creator. Converted man has actual FELLOWSHIP with God (I John 1:3). Animals have no such relationship!

God's PURPOSE is that man come to know the true values from the false -- to know THE WAY that causes all GOOD -- to come to repent of every false way, and to CHOOSE the right and living WAY, that he may receive the Holy Spirit of God. Thus being begotten as a child of GOD, finally at the time of the resurrection, being BORN INTO the Supreme Divine FAMILY -- the GOD FAMILY -- which Family IS the KINGDOM OF GOD! To understand, you need our free booklet, "What Do You Mean -- the Kingdom of God?"

Animals have no such potential.

Man, now, is composed of material flesh from the ground. He is formed and shaped like God -- but composed of matter. God is composed of spirit! God formed man from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2:7). That material dust became a living SOUL. So the soul is composed of matter! So the Word of God reveals! But when man finally becomes BORN of God, he shall be composed of SPIRIT. Jesus said, "that which is born of the flesh IS FLESH; and that which is born of the Spirit IS SPIRIT" (John 3:6). Then, at the time of the resurrection, God "shall change our vile body [of corruptible flesh], that it may be fashioned like unto his [Christ's] glorious [SPIRIT COMPOSED] body (Phil. 3:21). To fully UNDERSTAND, you need our free booklet, "What Do You Mean -- Born Again?"

Then -- A Marriage

Then what?

Then there shall be A MARRIAGE! But HOW? What kind?

God's PURPOSE involves the raising up of His Church. It is GOD'S Church, named after the FATHER of the God Family -- named the Church of God. Every one repentant, an obedient believer and over comer, upon receiving God's Holy Spirit, is baptized by God's Spirit -- BY GOD HIMSELF -- into HIS Church. The Church, spoken of as a WOMAN, is the affianced Bride of the living, glorified Christ.

At the time of the resurrection and Christ's coming in supreme Power and Glory, the Church of God, its members being changed to spirit immortality, shall enter into the KINGDOM OF GOD.

At that time, Christ shall MARRY HIS Church (Eph. 5:22-33): At that time, it is written, "The Lord God omnipotent reigneth ... the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready" (Rev. 19:6-7). And verse 8 shows the wife to be "the saints."

Why Church Called His Wife

But WHY, prior to the marriage, is the Church called "his wife?" Because God married Israel at Mt. Sinai (Jer. 3:14). Much more about that 3rd chapter of Jeremiah later! But the making of the Old Covenant (Exodus 24:68) was the marriage ceremony, setting up Israel as not only wife and Church, but also as a KINGDOM -- the KINGDOM OF ISRAEL.

The LORD (YHWH) of the Old Testament is the CHRIST of the New Testament. When Christ was crucified, Israel's husband DIED, ending that marriage legally (Rom. 7:2).

But the Church is ISRAEL, spiritually begotten. Gentile converts are no longer foreigners from Israel (Eph. 2:11-19). Israel is pictured as the natural olive tree; and Gentiles as wild olive trees (Rom. 11). But because of unbelief the natural olive tree branches were broken off, and Gentile converts, as branches of wild olive trees, were grafted into the natural olive tree of Israel (Rom. 11:17). And natural-born Israelites, by repentance, belief and conversion, are grafted back into the ISRAEL tree. The CHURCH is pictured as converted Israel -- or Spiritual Israel! (Rom. 11:23.) The New Testament Church, then, IS Israel, spiritually!

Since Israel's husband died, she is freed from her Old Testament marriage and free to marry! Christ's death paid the penalty of her sins (spiritual adultery and harlotries) as a Church or nation, as well as those of the individuals.

So the CHURCH -- spiritual Israel -- becomes the affianced Bride, to MARRY Christ. And when this divine MARRIAGE takes place, Christ will be marrying HIS WIFE!

Betrothed Woman Called Wife

There is another reason why the Church, prior to the wedding ceremony, is called "His WIFE." A betrothed woman, in Scripture, is called her fiance's WIFE, though the marriage has not yet been BOUND -- prior to the marriage ceremony (Matt. 1:18-20, 24). This was ancient Jewish practice. There was a betrothal ceremony, called the "erossin" ceremony. The betrothed or espoused woman remained in her father's house until the wedding ceremony, called the "kiddushin" ceremony. At this kiddushin or wedding ceremony, the marriage was BOUND. Then the husband took his wife to his own house.

Marriage Covenant IS the Gospel!

Jesus came as the Messenger of the Covenant! (Mal. 3:1.) He was the Messenger bringing us the message of the New Covenant, which is the MARRIAGE covenant which will establish the Church AS the KINGDOM OF GOD. Just as Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, so is Christ of the New. The GOSPEL is THAT MESSAGE! And just as the MARRIAGE at Sinai set up the Kingdom of Israel, so the marriage of the Church to Christ will set up the KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH!

So that marriage IS the Gospel!

That DIVINE MARRIAGE, which simply IS the NEW COVENANT that will establish the KINGDOM OF GOD upon earth was typified by the OLD COVENANT. It was God's marriage to carnal, physical Israel, which established the Kingdom of Israel as one of earth's nations.

Now WHY was the NEW COVENANT made necessary?

The answer is plain in Hebrews 8. "... if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second" (verse 7). What was the fault with the Old Covenant? "For finding fault with them ..." (verse 8) "which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord" (Jer. 31:32). They committed adultery. They went further and also committed harlotry.

The DIVINE MARRIAGE is to be founded on better promises than the old (Heb. 8:6) which promises are "eternal inheritance" (Heb. 9:15) which includes the gift of ETERNAL LIFE.

Permanency of Marriage

The DIVINE MARRIAGE to Christ will last FOREVER. The "wife" will not break it, nor depart from her Husband, as Old Testament Israel did, for she shall be divine, in a spirit condition where she CANNOT sin (I John 3:9).

Now some objector, trying to overthrow the truth by a technicality, might argue, "the analogy doesn't hold water, because human marriage, now, is broken by death -- whereas the DIVINE MARRIAGE cannot be broken by death."

But, in scriptural terminology, the term "forever" means, "continuously without interruption, so long as the involved factors exist." In that Biblical sense, human marriage, now, is FOREVER! The factors are a husband and a wife. When one dies, the factors involved no longer exist. It does not, therefore continue binding in the resurrection (Matt. 22:28-30).

Therefore, the mortal human marriage now is, indeed, the true type of the immortal divine marriage in the resurrection.

One seeking to justify divorce and remarriage by technical argument might reason: In the DIVINE MARRIAGE, neither husband nor wife would be able to commit adultery. In this mortal life they can. Therefore it is not true type and anti-type.

But IT IS! All factors do not necessarily need be identical in true type and anti-type. And this bit of human argument is the very reason there must be a NEW COVENANT!

Why the New Covenant

If there had been no fault with the Old, no place would have been sought for the New (Heb. 8:7). The fact of the disobedience on the part of Israel under the Old is the very reason that made necessary the New. Read the whole chapter of Hebrews 8. Because Israel committed adultery -- and harlotry and worse -- God will make the New Covenant ONLY with those who have proved, by repentance, overcoming, and obedience through God's Holy Spirit, that they will not repeat that fault in the New. The New will be made with those who have proved they have God's Laws, by their own volition, written in their minds and hearts. Therefore, in the resurrection, God will make them as He is, so it will be impossible for them to sin or be unfaithful. They must first prove it by FAITHFULNESS in this present mortal life.

One may now justify his own sins in his own mind by human reasonings. But he won't be judging himself in the final judgment. GOD WILL! We here are merely making clear HOW GOD LOOKS AT MARRIAGE -- and how He will judge!

The Gospel Jesus brought is the Good NEWS of the coming Kingdom of God.

This is a MOST IMPORTANT TRUTH which has not been fully recognized!

What IS Kingdom of God?

Let's be sure we UNDERSTAND it!

The KINGDOM OF GOD is the FAMILY OF GOD! The Kingdom of Israel was the "Children of Israel" -- as they are called repeatedly in the Old Testament -- which actually was the FAMILY OF ISRAEL -- which became one of the kingdoms -- governments, or nations -- of the world. In precisely the same manner, the KINGDOM OF GOD will be the FAMILY (spirit-born CHILDREN) of GOD! It will be the one and only world-ruling Kingdom -- GOVERNMENT -- ruling over ALL NATIONS.

And what will the KINGDOM OF GOD include? It will include those saints spiritually BORN of God the Father, and MARRIED to God the Son!

The GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is the GOOD NEWS of this KINGDOM OF GOD. That Kingdom includes those (the Church) MARRIED to Christ!

So what does that mean?

It simply becomes axiomatic that when one becomes converted, and is put by God's Spirit into the Church, he also automatically has become betrothed to the marriage with the living CHRIST!

And what of that marriage? Will it be subject to divorce and remarriage? You know that answer is a THOUSAND TIMES NO! That marriage can never be broken!

The betrothed wife MUST BE FAITHFUL in her betrothal! In the experience of Joseph, the betrothed yet unmarried husband of Mary, mother of Jesus -- he, supposing she had been unfaithful, was minded to put her away before the BOUND MARRIAGE. If one of us, spiritually betrothed to the living Christ, becomes unfaithful through physical divorce and remarriage in this Christian life, would not our espoused spiritual Husband, CHRIST, PUT US AWAY? SIN does cut us off. Unless repented of and forgiven, we would never make it into God's KINGDOM!

What is God's command to us, in this regard? It is:

"Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law), -- DO WE know it, or desire to get around it? -- "how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law ..." (Rom. 7:1-3).

No Loophole

Anyone who thinks he has found a loophole to allow divorce and remarriage does violence to this clear, plain statement of GOD'S LAW! Any scripture that would allow divorce and remarriage would contradict the above-quoted scripture. Then we should be accusing the Word of God of contradicting itself, and nullify the entire Bible. THERE ARE NO CONTRADICTIONS, as we shall clearly show!

If any should claim that scripture applies to women only, notice verse 1: "... how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth." In addition, we know that God has no double standard, and is no respecter of persons.

The marriage institution was ordained for man by God at the creation of man (Gen. 2:24). Human marriage was given as a TYPE of the spiritual marriage of the spiritual "woman" -- the Church -- to Christ in the Kingdom of God. That marriage to Christ will NOT be subject to divorce and remarriage. Therefore neither can the human marriage be subject to divorce and remarriage. God's Law forbids it. No law allows it. Any such law would DO VIOLENCE to the human type of the divine anti-type!

To be UNFAITHFUL, now, to the betrothed relation to Christ would, as we shall show by the Scriptures, result in Christ "putting us away" -- BEFORE that marriage! Why? Because SIN "puts us away."

Marriage is a GOD-plane relationship. Even though a physical union, it is a DIVINE INSTITUTION, ordained of GOD. God had great PURPOSE and MEANING in giving it to man. God's Church, called to preach Christ's GOSPEL OF THE KINGDOM (to be established over earth by the MARRIAGE COVENANT with Christ -- which IS the NEW COVENANT) -- cannot pollute that very Gospel by approving divorce and remarriage!

The True Meaning of Marriage

Remember, in this exposition, we are viewing the subject as God views it.

I repeat. Though marriage is a physical union, it is a divine institution. God does nothing without a reason -- a definite PURPOSE! To understand the "WHY" of the Laws of God respecting the marriage institution, we need to know still more about the REASON God had in mind for establishing marriage.

The living Christ already is crowned with GLORY and HONOR (Heb. 2:9). He is the first-BORN of many brethren (meaning us who have His Spirit) (Rom. 8:29). Christ is the "captain of our salvation" (Heb. 2:10). That is, He is the Pioneer, who has gone on ahead, leading the way, as the Husband, preparing the dwelling place for His wife (John 14:2). Jesus rose from the dead. He is alive -- and He is DIVINE -- as we shall be. He has been GLORIFIED-His eyes as flames of fire, His face bright as the SUN! Full strength! (Rev. 1:14-16.) That's what WE may inherit!

Are you really comprehending this colossal TRUTH? Are you?

And WE, if we repent, believe with living faith, and accept Jesus Christ as personal Saviour and betrothed Husband, can receive God's GIFT of the Holy Spirit. That GIFT imparts to us the very life, essence, nature, mind and power of GOD! It begets us, now, as God's own (yet unborn) SON! And if we GROW spiritually, (II Pet. 3:18), overcome, and endure we shall, at Christ's coming, be changed from mortal flesh to immortal SPIRIT (I Cor. 15:44-45). We, collectively, shall be the BRIDE OF CHRIST!

Man's Transcendent Potential

And that is the supreme heritage of human MAN!

Man, now lower than angels, has a destiny far higher!

So grasp this stupendous TRUTH if you can!

For here is the greatest GOOD NEWS you can ever know! That GOOD NEWS IS the Gospel. And that very Gospel involves faithfulness in any marriage relationship NOW, for it is preparation for the spiritual marriage to Christ for all eternity!

MAN, and man only, of all life forms God has created, can be born into the very GOD FAMILY -- the KINGDOM OF GOD! And as a most vital part of it, he will enter an eternal, nonbreakable, never-to-be-divorced MARRIAGE relationship.

To PREPARE us for that, God has made us mortal-human, and ordained the MARRIAGE and FAMILY relationship in this life!


God has never given animals this MARRIAGE and FAMILY relationship! Angels never marry nor are given in marriage (Matt. 22:30). Angels have never enjoyed FAMILY status!

The God-Plane Relationship

The MARRIAGE and FAMILY relationship is a GOD PLANE relationship -- higher than even an angel-plane relationship. And God bestowed it on MAN because man is being now prepared for the MARRIAGE and FAMILY relationship FOREVER in the GOD FAMILY!

Think of it! Of all life forms -- whether plant, animal, human or angel, in all that God created, MAN ALONE was created for MARRIAGE and FAMILY life!

In the Kingdom of God -- in the GOD FAMILY -- there will be MARRIAGE and FAMILY relationship -- BUT NO DIVORCE!

God is consistent!

Could we be preparing for that kind of marriage FOREVER by divorcing and remarrying NOW?

What a supreme, matchless, awe-inspiring potential!

You are, if converted with God's Holy Spirit dwelling in you, the heir of God, and co-heir with Christ, to enjoy eternally this unbreakable marriage and family relationship in God's Kingdom! Even now a begotten child of God! You are betrothed to marry Christ!

The Divine Family

God IS the divine FAMILY! The FAMILY relationship demands a husband-and-wife relationship. And that demands faithfulness to the matrimonial bond. Human marriage, now, again I repeat, is the TYPE of the divine marriage setting up of God's Kingdom on earth.

God, I repeat, is consistent! He does not ordain faithfulness FOREVER in the marriage to Christ, and then PREPARE US for that marriage by ordaining unfaithfulness, with divorce and remarriage during this preparatory period.

The pivotal REASON for the marriage relationship in this human life is to prepare us, BY FAITHFULNESS now, for that eternally faithful marriage state THEN! To constantly remind us of our sacred relationship to Christ, as espoused to the NEVER-ending marriage to Him!

How much sense would it make to teach us to be ETERNALLY faithful, then, by ruling that we may be UNFAITHFUL, now, divorcing and remarrying? GOD HAS GIVEN NO SUCH LAW! That shall be MADE PLAIN!

One of the most important PURPOSES in our human lives, now, is that we learn the SANCTITY, the SACREDNESS, the PERMANENCY of the marriage bond!

Of course, God HAS NOT WILLED that every human must marry. That is made very clear in I Corinthians 7. The Apostle Paul was not married. Yet, I am persuaded that I, like he, have the mind of Christ, and, after all, it was God who said "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Gen. 2:18). However it would be far better to live alone than to be yoked to what might be called "a hell-on-earth" situation. Everyone should take marriage so SERIOUSLY that a wrong marriage is NOT made in the first place. And if THIS TRUTH were known by all, there would be few mis-mated marriages. On the other hand, if this TRUTH were more thoroughly realized, married partners would TRY HARDER to make marriages HAPPY. Our booklet says: "Your Marriage CAN Be Happy."

But, whether married or single, all need to learn that marriage is the TYPE of the coming divine Marriage to Christ. And a type cannot be the type unless CONSISTENT with the anti-type.

I repeat, God's laws regarding marriage -- which is a DIVINE INSTITUTION -- could not be consistent if they provided for divorce and remarriage now, when it shall NOT be allowed then!

Marriage "For This CAUSE"

In Ephesians 5:31 we read: "For this cause ..."-- because of the coming divine marriage of the Church to Christ -- "... that He might present it to himself a glorious church ..." (verse 27) -- for this REASON God ordained the marriage institution for humans, now!

That is the REASON humans are given this GOD-PLANE relationship which has been given to No OTHER species -- whether animal or angel. That is God's PURPOSE in granting humans marriage, now. It is a type! And God's Laws DO make the human type consistent with the divine anti-type!

What a WONDERFUL privilege God bestowed on us, in giving us the God-plane marriage and family relationship! And why? To prepare us for the never-ending JOY and ECSTASY of our spiritual marriage bliss FOR ETERNITY in the KINGDOM OF GOD! In the GOD FAMILY!

GOD'S CHURCH shall NOT be unfaithful! The Church of God cannot -- WILL NOT approve, endorse, or allow in its membership the violation of God's laws respecting marriage, nor the pollution of this God-required FAITHFULNESS!

It may be, because this world's ministers have not proclaimed God's TRUTH, that some may have to live separately, ineligible to remarry. It may be difficult. It may mean suffering. But God inspired Paul to write, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the GLORY which shall be revealed in us" (Rom. 8:18)!

To follow will be the scriptures setting forth God's laws respecting marriage. Then will follow a thorough examination of those passages which some have questioned, as possibly warranting a different conclusion.