Questions From Readers
● When a friend of mine became a Christian, his wife divorced him and refuses even to see him. Though he realizes from the Bible that he is not free to remarry, he has been dating someone. What does the Bible indicate about such dating, and how can I best help him?
It is sad that by an unjustified divorce his wife has exposed him to loneliness and temptation. Still, as long as he is not Scripturally free to remarry, his dating is wrong and dangerous. He needs kind but firm help, some of which you may be able to give.
Today legal divorces are granted on many grounds. In the eyes of the government, once such a divorce becomes final the two persons are “single” again. But God’s Word presents a different view. Jesus said: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication [porneia, gross sexual immorality], and marries another commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9) So if a government grants a legal divorce when no Scriptural basis for it exists, and no immorality has since occurred, God still views the two as man and wife.
This knowledge helps Christians to appreciate how a person who is not Scripturally free to remarry should conduct himself or herself. It should be just as he or she would act if still legally married and living with a mate. While particularly referring to marital relations, Proverbs 5:15-21 makes it clear that a married man should not pursue romantic interests in other women: ‘Be faithful to your own wife and give your love to her alone. Be happy with your wife and find your joy with the girl you married. Let her charms keep you happy; let her surround you with her love. Why should you give your love to another? The Lord sees everything you do.’ (Good News Bible) Yes, a person who in God’s eyes is married should avoid other romantic involvement. Faithful Joseph refused to become immorally involved with a married woman.—Gen. 39:10-12.
To do otherwise would show disrespect for the marital arrangement and for its Originator, Jehovah, and would set a bad example as to Christian conduct. Further, if such a couple kept romantic company, they would face strong pressure to engage in sexual acts that are proper only in marriage. We read: “Let marriage be honorable among all, and the marriage bed be without defilement, for God will judge fornicators and adulterers.”—Heb. 13:4.
Spiritually qualified persons should offer Bible-based counsel to one who is dating while not being Scripturally free to marry, trying to “readjust” such a one. (Gal. 6:1) If he does not respond, they should persist in efforts to help, warn and reprove him, even ‘reproving him with severity.’—Prov. 29:1; Titus 1:10, 13.
They may be able to strengthen his love for God and his appreciation for the deep pleasure and satisfaction of being loved and blessed by God. (Rom. 8:35-39; 2 Cor. 4:16-18) They, and others in the congregation, may be able to help him to overcome loneliness by having proper, upbuilding association and by keeping busy in fine works. (Titus 2:14) Thus they may be able to turn him from a course that could lead to his breaking God’s law against adultery, for then he may have to be disfellowshiped from the congregation.—1 Cor. 5:9-11.
If someone persisted in dating where there was no Scriptural freedom to marry, likely many in the congregation would feel obliged to apply the Biblical advice offered about one who refused to work: “If anyone is not obedient to our word . . . , keep this one marked, stop associating with him, that he may become ashamed. And yet do not be considering him as an enemy, but continue admonishing him as a brother.” (2 Thess. 3:14, 15) Many Christians who highly regard God’s marital arrangement would not want to socialize with someone who deliberately dishonored it. By their refusing to have such social contact with the individual, and by what they say in the congregation about accepting God’s wise advice, they may be able to move him to abandon his wrong course.—Jude 23a.
● Proverbs 10:6 reads: “Blessings are for the head of the righteous one, but as regards the mouth of the wicked ones, it covers up violence.” What do these words mean?
This proverb nicely contrasts the fitting outcome for two kinds of persons—the righteous and the wicked. Our considering its meaning can help us to analyze what type of persons we want to be.
The person who is pure and righteous at heart gives ample evidence of that. As Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt. 12:34, 35) Yes, a person of this type regularly speaks things that are kind and helpful, and he acts accordingly. How do you react to such a sincere person? Is it not with favor? Does he not receive your blessing and appreciation?
In contrast, one who inwardly is wicked, hateful or malicious is basically intent on doing others harm. Though he may sometimes offer sweet speech, eventually he gives in to violence, either physical violence toward others or speech that attacks and tries to tear them down. Not meriting others’ blessings, he gets their curses instead.
In the original Hebrew, an alternate reading of this last part is: “Violence will cover the very mouth of wicked people.” This emphasizes what the wicked person receives and its possible effect on him. It bears out the principle, ‘what you sow is what you reap.’ He sows the seeds of hostility and badness, and that is what will come back on him. This, as it were, covers or shuts his mouth. If anything will, the violent results of the wickedness he spreads will in time return to him and silence him.
Which outcome do we desire? That depends on what kind of persons we are trying to be inside.