Bible Study Discussions with Gary Panell
Question: Hello Gary and Marlene, I thank you for your response and prayers. I have some good news, but I did want to answer your question first. I did live with my husband during our engagement for about a year before we were married. We dated about 2 years, were engaged, and will be married 2 years in the beginning of September. Regardless, I had confessed and repented of the sin of living together shortly after we married. I did grow up in a Christian family, but the encouragement was to be the best person you could be and as long as you have Jesus—that was the bottom line. And it is, but no one lived differently than the rest of the world.
That is no excuse for me, but it wasn’t until just a few months before our wedding that my husband and I found the church we are now members of. We have learned so much about what it means to really live your life as a Christian and it has been a time of immense spiritual growth. We still struggle and maybe always will, but with the Lord we can do anything. So the good news is…he agreed to seek counseling with me!
I had already shared my situation with a Christian sister and she and I had been praying about it for weeks. I did give the ultimatum. At first I didn’t think he would, but he has agreed. This weekend he has said and shown his determination to change but only time and counsel will tell if his heart is really in it.
I don’t know if you would feel lead to discuss this any further with me but it so, I wonder if I might share some other concerns I have? My struggle is that I honestly don’t understand why sexual immorality is the only grounds for divorced… [Here she gives a study online that tries to show from Scripture that divorce on other grounds than sexual immorality is ok in God’s sight.]
I don’t mean to try to justify what I’m saying AT ALL, I’m merely sharing inner conflicts I have with other Christians who are more mature in the faith than I—to hopefully discover some deeper understanding of the word of our Lord. I truly want to seek and do what is right…
I am at this time very hopeful and grateful that the Lord has helped my husband see the situation we are in and has encouraged him to agree for help. I hope that one [day what I have gone through will be used to help others…
Answer: Hi, again, it has taken me a long time to get back to you. Marlene and I are glad that there is some progress. Usually it takes some time to work things out even with the Lord's help so it is wise to be patient and not do something quickly. God is still in the prayer answering business. Your other question about sexual immorality being the only grounds of divorce will take a longer letter and I think I might put it on the Discussion page later, if you don't mind. I will not, of course, use anything that would give away your identity. When you have a question like this many more people do as well.
I am glad that you are searching your Bible all the time to find God's answers. We won't know many answers until we get to heaven, but it is not wrong to study. One thing you need to know, and that is it is not wrong to separate when there is abuse. Divorce is even an answer sometimes. However, when it comes to remarriage that is another thing altogether. There have been husbands or wives that have been terrible drinkers or on drugs, etc. but were gloriously saved. God does not give up on people like we do sometimes. His timetable may be longer than ours. All I know is that for two thousand years every sound Bible teacher has believed and taught the word on this area of remarriage, and that is remarriage is when there has been sexual immorality. You might get into a discussion as to what sexual immorality consists of, but Jesus made it quite clear as to what He was talking about.
By the way I did look at the sight you gave me to visit. It does bother me that they do not give their background education, etc. Maybe it was there and I just missed it. Also, they seemed to avoid a key verse in this study of marriage and divorce and it is found in Malachi 2:14-16 “…Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant.
15 But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. 16 "For the Lord God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence," Says the Lord of hosts. Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously."
You might think that I am not sensitive to what is going on in your marriage, but this is not so, our children have had problems with divorce. Marlene and I, in the past, considered divorce when our marriage seemed like hell on earth, but you know God had a better answer. Now it seems like heaven on earth sometimes, so that is one reason why we try to help people with their marriages. We have two Bible Studies on this that might help and that is 1 Corinthians Part 2 about chapter 7 and following. Also, Ephesians, about part four, these studies are found in the commentary section of our websites.
Then the long article on alcohol, Is It Alright for Christians to Drink Alcohol? has a wonderful true story of a man who was saved out of alcohol and abuse, and marriage was restored. I could go on, but this is all I will say for now. I don’t expect that you will understand necessarily when you are going through so much right now. We will continue to pray for you and your husband.
One last thing in this area, though, that also might help and that is the closer we both get to God the closer we draw to each other. This includes intimacy as well. Think of it like a triangle with God at the top, and you and your husband at the bottom on either side of the triangle. As you both slide up the sides of the triangle toward the top (drawing closer to God) you become closer together also.
21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 And Adam said: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Perhaps these verses may give us a little glimpse of why adultery is the one area where divorce could happen. When a man and a woman get married, they become one. (This is also a picture of the Godhead – three in one). When either spouse is unfaithful, they have broken the oneness that was created when they got married. No other act or argument in marriage would break that “oneness,” only adultery can do that.
3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" 4 And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate."
7 They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" 8 He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And 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."
The act of sex between a husband and wife is the picture of the spiritual “oneness” that takes place in a marriage. When sexual immorality occurs, this then breaks that covenant that was made between the husband and wife on their wedding day.
Feel free to write anytime, Marlene and I love to visit with friends like you. Yes, when God helps you He will let you use this experience to help others, that comes right out of 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
God bless you,
Gary and Marlene Panell
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