When I say divorce advocates I mean the people — Christians or otherwise — who try to advocate that the exception clause in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 mean that a husband can divorce his wife if she commits adultery. I’ve already outlined the total case from the Scriptures on why this is false in On divorce Part 4.
What Jesus actually says is two separate statements:
- Don’t divorce period (v6): “What God has put together let man not separate”
- You can put away if there was fraud (v9): “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.”). This refers to Deut 22 where there was an invalid covenant marriage if the wife was supposed to be a virgin but was not. In other words, you can put away (without a writ of divorce) if there was deception because it formed an invalid marriage.
This is not difficult to understand given the whole context of the Scriptures by textual analysis and overarching theme. This unifies all of the Scriptures on putting away and divorce (putting away + writ of divorce) with each other: Deut 22, Deut 24, Jeremiah 3, Isaiah 50, Malachi 2, Matthew 5, Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 16, Romans 7, 1 Corinthians 5, 1 Corinthians 7, and the case of Joseph and Mary.
In comparison to the egalitarians
Egalitarians hang their argument mainly on two specific versus:
- Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
However, there are many other passages in the Scriptures such as 1 Cor 11, Col 3, Tit 2, 1 Peter 3 that state wives should submit to their husbands. They radically ignore most of the other Scriptures to hang onto a fringe opinion.
Additionally, the egalitarians try to reinterpret words like headship to mean ‘source’ instead of an authoritative position. The divorce advocates try to reinterpret “put away” to mean “divorce” and “fornication” to mean “adultery” when the Scriptures never do that.
- Pharisees said: Matthew 19:3 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?
- Jesus said: 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.
- What Jesus would have said, if He meant you could divorce for adultery: Matthew 19:9 Whosoever shall put away AND GIVE A WRIT OF DIVORCE TO his wife, except it be for ADULTERY, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
It is logically incoherent to hang on to the meaning that fornication means adultery because Jesus would have used the word adultery if he meant adultery. Plus, this means that Jesus would have agreed with the Pharisees’ initial statement. Jesus never agrees with the Pharisees. The disciples response affirms that Jesus was not agreeing with the Pharisees: Matthew 19:10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. In other words, if you can’t divorce period then it’s better not to marry.
This is not to mention what the apostles and early Church fathers taught on marriage, which is no divorce period and there is no putting away unless there was an invalid marriage (like 1 Cor 5). They’re the ones who understood this passage directly from the mouth of Jesus.
Likewise, the early Church did not permit women in leadership positions, and men were the head of their families.
The Word Jesus gives is logically clear (paraphrased):
- v6: Don’t divorce period.
- v9: Deception and/or illicit sexual unions don’t form a valid covenant [marriage]. (Deception: Deut 22; Incest: 1 Cor 5).
I’ve gone through four iterations of the “On divorce” outlining the total case, and every time it’s the same old Pharisaical hard heartedness on this passage. The divorce advocates are like the egalitarians. They twist Scripture to fit what they want.
It’s a hard, hard, hard, hard Word. Even the disciples agreed that it was an insane Word: If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
Let’s not fool ourselves that divorce in a valid covenant marriage is ever the right thing, even if a spouse commits adultery. Jesus never permits divorce for adultery.