Jesus on Divorce and Remarrying

   Okay, I had been asked why there were some different passages on divorce in the Bible. The person also wanted to know how being unequally yoked fit in, because that was also grounds for divorce. Letís look at the first part of that and three verses first.

 Matthew 5:32

But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.


Matthew 19:9

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. 


Mark 10:11

And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

   Note that there is also a passage similar to Mark in Luke. To address the supposed contradiction, it is as I have said before, not all writers capture the same detail. Why? Some feel it not necessary, some donít remember, and some, as in this case, presuppose that certain things are understood. In the day that this was written, the Jews of the time were accustomed to the law. There were laws in place for ďputting away ones wifeĒ, which can be found in Deuteronomy 24; however, two schools of thought came out of this. There were those that said only adultery or fornication (referred to as being unclean in Deuteronomy) was acceptable. Another school of thought was that any grounds were acceptable right down to just not liking the way they did their hair! (sounds like today's age) Matthew was simply addressing this to verify the one and only ground for divorce. Why did Mark and Luke leave it out?

   Let me answer that like this. If I told someone, ďYou cannot park on the shoulder of the road, except in an emergency.Ē, yet I then told someone else, ďYou cannot park on the shoulder of the road.Ē Would I have contradicted myself?  What about all the road-signs that say not to park on the shoulder of the road, yet law-books would record that it is okay in an emergency? No, there would be no contradiction. One case spells out the whole thing; in the other case the person is taking for granted that you already realize the exception without having to state it. That is no different than the case here with Mark and Luke. So, there is no contradiction.

   But wait, what about that verse saying you can divorce for being unequally yoked? I know you have heard people say that is a reason for divorce right? That is a classic example of someone misquoting the Bible. The author of the misquoted verse is Paul; so, letís look at what he said.

2nd  Corinthians 6:14

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    See that? It says NOTHING about divorce. In fact, if you read the whole chapter, Paul is telling us not to be a part of those spiritually unyoked to our God. He is explaining how to live a life in a world of wickedness. Paul never states this as grounds for divorce. Paul did speak of divorce though. Want to see what he said?

1st Corinthians 7:10-14

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

   Reading the whole chapter shows Paul is trying to tell us that he chose not to marry, but not all can live up to that. If one canít, rather than fornicate, he says you should be married. He then re-iterates in his own words what the Gospel books tell us Jesus said on divorce. He even goes further to talk about how if your spouse is not a believer, you have an obligation to stay with them to try and help lead them to Christ. Quite the opposite of words people try to use to put words in Paulís mouth he didnít say.

   This twist into scripture is not new. In fact, the Pharisees were trying to trick Jesus when He answered them on divorce. Letís read a bit more in Matthew chapter 19 to get an idea of what was going onÖ..

Matthew 19:3-9

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

   Okay, so donít get mad at me. These are the words of Jesus; youíll have to take it up with Him. Notice He talks about because of the hardness in their hearts Moses gave writs of divorce. From the beginning it was not meant to be so. Moses put in a reprieve, but since Jesus made his statement in verse 9, it is just not so anymore. We have become a culture that will divorce because itís time to trade in on a new model, we just donít get along, married to young, or any other number of excuses. We have 800-numbers for divorce lawyers, ads on TV and newspapers for quick divorces, and the list goes on. Professing Christians have aligned themselves with the secular world in giving excuses to be divorced and remarry, but Jesus gave you NONE except infidelity.  It comes down to whether we will put more stock in the words of Christ versus the opinions of men. Is this a tough thing to deal with? Yes. But Paulís statements about not being unequally yoked would have saved MANY marriages if people had heeded them before choosing a spouse anyway. And because professing Christians are so easy to add their own clauses into Jesusí words as to what can constitute a divorce, is exactly the reason why the qualifications for being a husband of one wife are overlooked for such offices as preachers as laid out in 1st Timothy chapter 3. Certainly a man who was divorced due to an adulterous wife qualifies, but those who have come up with other reasons to divorce have no God-given right to that office. Yes, thatís a whole other subject. Point of the matter is, when it comes to divorce, you have to stick with what Jesus said, and not manís wishes.


In His Grace,

            Mike Harris



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