A red flag is a warning signal. Thus, “to plant a red flag,” has become a figure of speech meaning to give a warning. In this article, I would like to “plant a red flag” in all our minds on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
I realize that this is one of the most controversial topics in our brotherhood today. More’s the pity since, in my judgment, the Bible is remarkably clear on its teachings on this point. The key text in the New Testament on this subject, of course, is Matthew 19:3-12. Space forbids us to even quote the passage in its entirety, but you are encouraged to re-read it along with this article.
There are at least six major (and many minor) false doctrines in the church today on the subject of divorce and remarriage. One thing they all have in common is their desire to justify those in adulterous “marriages.” It is not necessary to refute each one specifically nor is that our goal. (For those who are interested in learning more, we would recommend the July 1997 issue of The Spiritual Sword on that subject).
In my judgment, one mistake too many brethren make when studying Matthew 19 is that they stop with verse nine. Here Jesus said, “But 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).
Now how did Jesus intend for this teaching to be understood? Was it a loose teaching that permitted divorce for just any cause or was it a strict teaching meant to restrict divorce and remarriage? The reaction of the disciples in verses 10-12 shows that it was a strict teaching and Jesus agreed with them. Now here is where I want to plant a red flag in all our minds. While we may not be familiar with every false doctrine taught on this subject, we can know that anytime we hear anyone teaching a theory of divorce and remarriage which makes it easier for people to do so, they are teaching error! Forewarned is forearmed, brethren: let us not be fooled by the devil and his agents!
Travis L. Quertermous
Dexter church of Christ