Divorce Part 7 Final

This post is the final consolidation and simplified explanation of the Scriptures on divorce. Previous discussions include several conversations and much of the same material from On divorce and On divorce Part 2 and On divorce Part 3 and On divorce Part 4 and On divorce Part 5 and On divorce Part 6.

Also related: polygyny and the Lysa divorce fiasco (which they are currently reconciling which is good). This is one of the original research articles that got me started on analyzing the Scriptures on divorce and also evidence by Leslie McFall.

The “Betrothal position” has the most evidence to support it given the context from Matthew 1 (in the same book) and pointing toward the difference between putting away and divorce (putting away + writ of divorce). John Piper gives a good summary of it here. That’s my official position on the topic after having done more research from the past post.

I took a lot of the info from previous posts and condensed it a bit. I also added substantially more points in sections 6-10 the summary of all evidence section.


Table of contents

  1. Deuteronomy 24 — What is legal divorce according to the Scriptures?
  2. Deuteronomy 22 — What constitutes marital fraud?
  3. Jeremiah 3 and Isaiah 50 — The adulterous cases of Israel and Judah
  4. Malachi 2 — the background from the Old Testament to the New Testament
  5. Deuteronomy 24 and Matthew 5 and 19 — The synonymous terms of legal divorce in the OT and NT
  6. Matthew 19:3 — the Pharisees’ multi layered trap
  7. Matthew 19:4-6 — Jesus goes back to the creation
  8. Matthew 19:7 — The Pharisees’ confusion
  9. Matthew 19:8 — Jesus’ response on hardness of heart
  10. Matthew 19:9 — The heavily misinterpreted passage of Scripture
  11. Matthew 19:10-12 — the disciples actually understand the gravity of marriage
  12. Matthew 1:18-19 — the case of Joseph and Mary
  13. Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:13-18 — the unification of Matthew with Mark and Luke
  14. Romans 7 — understanding the context of Jewish divorce
  15. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 — the Lord’s command to husbands and wives
  16. 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 — Paul, not the Lord, says to live with unbelieving spouses
  17. Summary of all evidence
  18. Conclusion

1. Deuteronomy 24 — What is legal divorce according to the Scriptures?

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement (sêpher kerı̂ythûth), and give it in her hand, and send (shâlach) her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement (sêpher kerı̂ythûth), and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth (shâlach) her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

Legal divorce is composed of two parts in Mosiac law. This will be important later.

  1. Sepher keriythth — Writing and giving the wife a bill of divorcement.
  2. Shalach — Sending her out of the house or away.

2. Deuteronomy 22 — What constitutes marital fraud?

Marital fraud is found in Deuteronomy 22.

Deuteronomy 22:13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, 14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:

15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: 16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; 17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; 19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away (shâlach) all his days.

20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: 21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

From a historical perspective, at the time of Jesus no women who were caught in marital fraud were actually stoned. Women caught in marital fraud were simply put away without being legally divorced (put away + writ of divorce) as the couple was not considered legally married.

Distinguishing legal divorce from marital fraud is important because it shows how a woman could be put away (without being legally divorced).


3. Jeremiah 3 and Isaiah 50 — The adulterous cases of Israel and Judah

The Lord acquiesces laws he outlined in Deuteronomy 24 for legal divorce in the cases of Israel and Judah.

Jeremiah 3:6 The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. 7 And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away (shâlach), and given her a bill of divorce (sêpher kerı̂ythûth); yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. 9 And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. 10 And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.

Israel was not brought back out of Assyrian captivity. By the NT, they were no longer “Jews” but “Samaritans” because they have been divorced by God and intermixed with the surrounding nations. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews because they were no longer part of the God’s chosen people.

Note: The Lord still wants repentance in Jeremiah 3:14 even though He legally divorced Israel. Since they are part of the ‘Gentiles’ now, they can now be redeemed by Christ.

On the other hand, the Lord speaking to Judah does not divorce her even though He puts her away.

Isaiah 50:1 Thus saith the Lord [to Judah], Where is the bill of your mother’s divorcement (sêpher ‘êm kerı̂ythûth), whom I have put away (shâlach)? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away (shâlach). 2 Wherefore, when I came, was there no man? when I called, was there none to answer? Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot redeem? or have I no power to deliver? behold, at my rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish stinketh, because there is no water, and dieth for thirst. 3 I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering.

In the case of Judah, we know that Jesus comes from the lineage of Judah and David. The Lord allows Judah to be put away into captivity for their transgressions. Afterward, He redeems and delivers Judah out of captivity as read in Nehemiah and Ezra and upholds  His covenant with them through the rebuilding of His temple. Then He brings full redemption to them through sending His Son Jesus to die bring forth the New Covenant.


4. Malachi 2 — The background from the Old Testament to the New Testament

Malachi is the last prophet for 400 years before Jesus. Malachi points out Israelite backsliding due to assimilation of the surrounding cultures much like today.

Malachi 2:14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. 15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away (shâlach): for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously. 17 Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

The passage only talks about putting away and not legal divorce under the Law of Moses. The background is that “divorce” in surrounding cultures was simply putting away (without a writ of divorce). Husbands sent their wives out of the house and that was a divorce. Husbands mimicked the surrounding culture because of two reasons:

  1. Selfish gain. If a wife was legally divorced — put away with a writ of divorce — she would receive back the dowry that the bride’s father paid. However, if she was put away without a writ of divorce she would not receive back the dowry.
  2. Marginalized wives. A legal divorce — put away with a writ of divorce — would allow the divorced wife to remarry. However, if a wife was put away she would still be legally married to her husband, which allowed her unable to remarry without committing adultery.

This is why putting away is termed treacherous by the Lord. This assimilation of the surrounding culture sets the stage for Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees in the New Testament.


5. Deuteronomy 24 and Matthew 5 and 19 — The synonymous terms of legal divorce in the OT and NT

The OT was written in Hebrew and the NT was written primarily in Greek.  There are synonymous terms in the Hebrew and Greek.

Deuteronomy 24:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement (sêpher kerı̂ythûth), and give it in her hand, and send (shâlach) her out of his house. 2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. 3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement (sêpher kerı̂ythûth), and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth (shâlach) her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; 4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

  1. Sepher keriythth — Writing and giving the wife a bill of divorcement.
  2. Shalach — Sending her out of the house or away.

Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away (apoluō) 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 (apostasion), and to put her away (apoluō autos)? 8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away (apoluō) your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, except it be for fornication (porneia), and shall marry another,commit adultery (moichaō): and whoso marrieth her which is put away (apoluō) doth committeth adultery (moichaō).

G630 — ἀπολύω — apoluō — ap-ol-oo’-o
From G575 and G3089; to free fully, that is, (literally) relieve, release, dismiss (reflexively depart), or (figuratively) let die, pardon, or (specifically) divorce: – (let) depart, dismiss, divorce, forgive, let go, loose, put (send) away, release, set at liberty.

G647 — ἀποστάσιον — apostasion — ap-os-tas’-ee-on
Neuter of a (presumed) adjective from a derivative of G868; properly something separative, that is, (specifically) divorce: – (writing of) divorcement.

  1. GREEK Apostasion and HEBREW Sepher keriythth — Writing and giving the wife a bill of divorcement.
  2. GREEK Apoluo and HEBREW Shalach — Sending her out of the house or away.

Note: I crossed out the two instances of “divorce” within Strong’s definition of apoluo because apoluo does not denote a legal divorce according to the Law of Moses. Hence, Jesus would not have used apoluo to mean “divorce” in Matthew because He does not abolish the law but fulfills the law.


6. Matthew 19:3 — the Pharisees’ multi layered trap

Line by line analysis, given our solid background:

Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away (apoluō) his wife for every cause?

Your spider senses should be tingling with the tricky wording of “lawful” with “putting away” (without writ of divorce) and “every cause.”

The main trap is the Pharisees are pitting Roman law versus a specific interpretation of Jewish law. In Roman law you could “divorce” your wife by “putting her away” (apoluo) much like the surrounding cultures in Malachi 2. However, Jewish law in Deuteronomy 24 you could divorce your wife by “putting her away” (apoluo or shalach) AND giving her a bill of divorcement (Apostasion or Sepher keriythth).

The secondary trap of the Pharisees, specifically the Hillelites, claimed you could legally divorce for “every cause” due to an interpretation of uncleanness in Deuteronomy 24 meaning any form of displeasure. (The article gets the conclusion wrong, but the background is important). Roman husbands could just send a wife away to divorce her whereas Jewish Law required broad or narrow cause.

The trap: If Jesus answers that you can “put away a wife without a bill of divorcement” the Pharisees can call Jesus a blasphemer as He is not following Jewish law. If Jesus says that you “need a bill of divorcement” or “a narrow range of causes” to put away then the Pharisees accuse Jesus to the Romans and say that He is subverting Roman law (like they eventually did before Pontius Pilate as they claimed Jesus was a ‘King’ which was antithetical to Roman rule).

Other similar Pharisee traps:

  • ‘Is it lawful to pay taxes to God or Caesar’ (Matt 22, Mark 12) which would pit Jewish law against Roman law.
  • ‘In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say?’ (John 8) with the woman caught in adultery. The Law required stoning, but Romans did not allow the Jews to execute anyone.

There is a pattern of Jewish vs Roman law interpretation.


7. Matthew 19:4-6 — Jesus goes back to the creation

Matthew 19:4 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.

Jesus knows that it’s a no-win question. He sidesteps the Pharisees’ trap by avoiding talking about Roman and Jewish law and causes. Instead, Jesus discusses the creation of man and what God intended. He would know because He was there in the beginning (see: John 1:1-4).

This is Jesus’ answer on divorce: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

No (man initiated) divorce.


8. Matthew 19:7 — The Pharisees’ confusion

Matthew 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement (apostasion), and to put her away (apoluō autos)?

The Pharisees see that Jesus has cleverly sidestepped their trap and are confused. If God did not intended for any divorce then why divorce in the Law of Moses in Deuteronomy 24?

The Pharisees acknowledgement that the Law of Moses declared that a divorce is composed of putting away AND bill of divorcement reveals their trap that we saw earlier. The Pharisees knew that a divorce was putting away and a bill of divorcement, but they only tested Jesus on putting away only.


9. Matthew 19:8 — Jesus’ response of hardness of heart

Matthew 19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away (apoluō) your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Jesus responds that this part of the law was created by Moses because human hearts are hard.

Jesus agrees with God: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”

Note that the Law is equated to be equitable, not the standard of holiness that all Christians should strive toward. Any who think divorce applies to them have hardness of heart.


10. Matthew 19:9 — The heavily misinterpreted passage of Scripture

Jesus answers the original question that the Pharisees posed: “what lawful instances can a man put away?” You can see the mirror of the verses which confirms this:

Matthew 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away (apoluō) his wife for every cause?

Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, except it be for fornication (porneia), and shall marry another, commit adultery (moichaō): and whoso marrieth her which is put away (apoluō) doth committeth adultery (moichaō).

Jesus is answering the Pharisees original question. Next, read the verse without the “exception clause” to understand why it makes sense.

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

Simplified:

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, […], and shall marry another, commit adultery (moichaō): and whoso marrieth her which is put away (apoluō) doth committeth adultery (moichaō).

In plain English:

If you put away your wife and marry another you commit adultery and whoever marries her commits adultery.

The meaning is obvious. If you put away your wife without legally divorcing her — give her a writ of divorcement before sending her away — you’re still married to her. If you’re still married to her, both you and her commit adultery if you marry another.

Now to add in back the exception:

Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, except it be for fornication (porneia), and shall marry another, commit adultery (moichaō): and whoso marrieth her which is put away (apoluō) doth committeth adultery (moichaō).

What is the only case you can “put away” a “wife” without legal divorce? In the Law of Moses that would be Deuteronomy 22 where the marriage was invalid because of fraud. Since the marriage was invalid because of fraud, you can put her away without giving her a writ of divorce.

Porneia, in this case, refers specifically to invalid marriages because of marital fraud.

There is additional evidence why porneia does not refer to adultery here.

  • First, Jesus specifically says “except it be for fornication (porneia). “Fornication” is any illicit sexual union including incest (1 Cor 5) and adultery. If Jesus was referring specifically to adultery here then “moichao” is a much more accurate term than “porneia.” Moichao is used later in the verse, yet it is not used here. You would have to admit that Jesus doesn’t know to use the term “adultery” if he is permitting divorce.
  • Second, if Jesus was talking specifically about a legitimate divorce for adultery, according to the Law of Moses, He would have said (in reference to Deut 24):

“Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) with a writ of divorce (apostasion) his wife, “except it be for adultery (moichiao),

Instead, He says in reference to Deut 22:

“Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, “except it be for fornication (porneia),

The Greek wording is important because it tells us what passages Jesus is referencing in Mosaic Law. The answer is Deuteronomy 22 and illegitimate marriages as opposed to Deuteronomy 24 and rules on divorce.

  • Third, this also explains exactly happening in Malachi 2 and Roman times. Husbands were defaulting to the culture and putting away their wives without a writ of divorce contrary to the Law of Moses. The wives could not marry again because they were still married to their original husbands. If they did they were committing adultery.
  • Fourth, Jesus continues to avoid the Pharisees’ trap. Remember, “putting away” in Roman culture is synonymous for divorce. Jesus references the only part of the Law where “putting away” is valid, which would not conflict with Roman divorce laws.
  • Fifth, sacraments/covenants like marriage cannot be formed if there is deception by any party. They require that the full Truth is disclosed. This is similar to contract law and why there are annulments for invalid marriages.
  • Sixth, the nail in the coffin. If Jesus was saying you could divorce for adultery, then He would simply be repeating Deuteronomy 24 verbatim as it says a husband could legitimately divorce for adultery. Given the disciples response in the next section, we know that is not what Jesus is saying.

A preponderance of logical evidence backs the “exception clause” referring directly to the Deuteronomy 22. The man could put the wife away (without a writ of divorce) because the marriage was a sham. Thus,

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, except it be for fornication (porneia) [illicit/fraudulent sexual deception which forms an invalid marriage], and shall marry another, commit adultery (moichaō): and whoso marrieth her which is put away (apoluō) doth committeth adultery (moichaō).

Therefore, Jesus makes two distinct statements in this entire passage:

On marriage and divorce:

Matthew 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

On putting away in regard to fraudulent marriages (referencing Deut 22):

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, except it be for fornication (porneia) [illicit/fraudulent sexual deception which forms an invalid marriage], and shall marry another, commit adultery (moichaō): and whoso marrieth her which is put away (apoluō) doth committeth adultery (moichaō).

In conclusion, Jesus says there is no divorce. You can only put away if there is marriage fraud.

For example, in the case of fraud, a wife that lies about her past sexual history can be put away because it’s a fraudulent marriage. Interestingly, though we often negatively critique him, Mark Driscoll experienced this. You can see the devastation, which is why God makes an exception for this.


11. Matthew 19:10-12 — the disciples actually understand the gravity of marriage

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. 11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

The disciples, despite how they are often mocked at not understanding things, readily understand that Jesus is saying that there is no divorce. The only exception is that you can put away a wife if she fraudulently married by deception.

Additional evidence supports this. As mentioned prior, if Jesus was saying you could divorce for adultery (like in Deut 24), the disciples would not have responded like this.

When Jesus fulfills the Law, it is always vastly more difficult than the former Law. For example, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt 22) is transformed to “a new command I give to you: that you love one another, just as I have loved you, that you love one another” (John 13, John 15).

The standards of the the New Testament always supersede that of the Old Testament.

No divorce period except for fraudulent marriages is a hard word. A really hard word.


12. Matthew 1:18-19 — the case of Joseph and Mary

Additional evidence is the case where Joseph was going to put Mary away.

Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus [r]Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been [s]betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away (apoluō autos) privily.

Joseph engagement and marriage with Mary would have been fraudulent because he was supposed to be marrying a virgin. To him Mary was not a virgin because she was with child. It took an angel of God to convince him otherwise.


13. Mark 10:2-12 and Luke 16:13-18 — the unification of Matthew with Mark and Luke

 In Mark 10:

Mark 10:2 And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away (apoluō) his wife? tempting him. 3 And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? 4 And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement (apostasion), and to put her away (apoluō autos). 5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. 6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

10 And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. 11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away (apoluō) his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery (moichaō) against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away (apoluō) her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery (moichaō).

And also in Luke 16:

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. 16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.

18 Whosoever putteth away (apoluō) his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery (moichaō): and whosoever marrieth her that is put away (apoluō) from her husband committeth adultery (moichaō).

First, there is no “exception clause” in both Mark and Luke. This would conflict with the passages in Matthew passages if it referred to adultery. As we now know, Mark and Luke do not conflict with Matthew because the “exception clause” refers to fraudulent marriages and not divorce for adultery.

Second, the background behind these passages is that Mark and Luke were mainly written to the Gentiles while Matthew was written to the Hebrews. The reason for this is that “putting away” was “divorce” for the Gentiles. The instruction is that they should not do that at all. As they were not under the Law of Moses, this goes back to Jesus statement of original intention: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” There is no divorce for Gentile believers.

Third, the Mark passage is particular instructive. The disciples asked him in the house later about Jesus’ true thoughts in private: no divorce (which goes along with “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”).

If Jesus had said this out in public, the Pharisees could have had him stoned as divorce was lawful for Romans.


14. Romans 7 — understanding the context of Jewish divorce

Romans 7:1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

In Romans 7, Paul is speaking that the covenant of marriage is unbound by death.


15. 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 — the Lord’s command to husbands and wives

The Lord speaks through Paul:

1 Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (chōrizō) from her husband: 11 But and if she depart (chōrizō), let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away (aphiēmi) his wife.

G5563 — χωρίζω — chōrizō — kho-rid’-zo
From G5561; to place room between, that is, part; reflexively to go away: – depart, put asunder, separate.

G863 — ἀφίημι — aphiēmi — af-ee’-ay-mee
From G575 and ἵημι hiēmi (to send; an intensive form of εἶμι eimi (to go)); to send forth, in various applications: – cry, forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, let (alone, be, go, have), omit, put (send) away, remit, suffer, yield up.

G630 — ἀπολύω — apoluō — ap-ol-oo’-o
From G575 and G3089; to free fully, that is, (literally) relieve, release, dismiss (reflexively depart), or (figuratively) let die, pardon, or (specifically) divorce: – (let) depart, dismiss, divorce, forgive, let go, loose, put (send) away, release, set at liberty.

The Lord speaks through Paul that any type of separation (legal divorce or not) that those in the marriage are to stay single or reconcile. In other words, do not divorce. If you separate, you must stay single or reconcile. There is no remarriage.

This agrees with Jesus’ original statements on divorce: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Jesus and the Father are one, and they are in agreement.


16. 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 — Paul, not the Lord, says to live with unbelieving spouses

1 Corinthians 7:12 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 away (aphiēmi autos). 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 (aphiēmi autos). 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. 15 But if the unbelieving depart (chōrizō), let him depart (chōrizō). A brother or a sister is not under bondage (douloo) in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

This passage is also used as a so-called exception clause for remarriage. “If I’m not under bondage anymore because my unbelieving wife or husband left me then I can remarry.” This interpretation is incorrect.

If you examine the wording closely, the passage only says that if they depart then you’re not under the bondage (douloo) anymore. Greek douloo is from doulos which means servant/slave and is the verb form of slave which means enslavement. This is bondage is our duty to God for the marital roles and responsibilities.

This verse must also be taken in context with the other verses in the Bible and passage. As Romans 7 and 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 show, the Christian must stay single or reconcile and that the marriage covenant is only broken by death.

1 Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (chōrizō) from her husband: 11 But and if she depart (chōrizō), let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away (aphiēmi) his wife.

Notice the same wording of an unbeliever departing (chorizo) and a wife departing (chorizo). They are still under the marriage covenant and must stay single or reconcile.

Likewise, the end of the 1 Corinthians affirms this too:

1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound (deo) as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.

This is affirmed again at the end of 1 Corinthians 7. Notice the difference in the Greek word deo versus douloo used in the other verse. Deo means to bind. This is the same language that is used for the marital covenant as oneness/binding. and is only broken by death.

There is no divorce or remarriage for Christians with unbelieving spouses either.


17. Summary of all available evidence against divorce and remarriage

  1. Jesus notes the standard is “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
  2. Divorce from the Law of Moses is for those hard of heart.
  3. Putting away is not divorce according to the Law of Moses, which both Jesus and the Pharisees knew.
  4. Jesus was answering the original question the Pharisees were asking about “putting away.”
  5. Textual analysis points to “except for porneia” pointing to Deuteronomy 22 instead of Deuteronomy 24, especially in context of Matthew 1 Joseph and Mary and the trap the Pharisees were trying to trick Him.
  6. Moichao = act of adultery specifically. Jesus doesn’t use that word in the “exception”
  7. Disciples response (“it is better not to marry”) indicates that it does not refer to Deuteronomy 24 where you can already divorce for adultery.
  8. Why would Jesus repeat and agree to with the Pharisees that you can divorce for adultery. Hint: He wouldn’t.
  9. Precedent of Joseph and Mary where “putting away” is the righteous option for marital fraud (not killing her according to Deut 22).
  10. Agreement of Mark and Luke with no exceptions. If Jesus made an exception Matthew, then Mark and Luke would not agree with Matthew and the Bible would contradict itself. It is not an ‘addition’ to Jesus’ statements in Mark and Luke.
  11. In Mark, the disciples ask Jesus again privately, and He clarifies any putting away = adultery. If he had done this publicly, the Pharisees could have had him stoned as Roman Law said you could put away to divorce which would make Jesus deny Roman Law.
  12. Romans 7 and 1 Corinthians 7 showing that death breaks marital covenants with no other exceptions.
  13. 1 Corinthians 7, the Lord says that a wife and husband should not separate, but if they do, they should stay single or reconcile. This agrees with “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” and does not agree with an ‘exception’ for divorce.
  14. The whole book of Hosea is about God commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute and how that symbolizes God and His people who are adulterous. God still wants them to come back to Him. We are to emulate God.

Other evidence:

  • A husband who runs off with another woman is still married to his former wife, and he will be held accountable for judgment to God for that.
  • You (and most others) took vows in marriage, which God takes very seriously. Story of Jephthah sacrificing his daughter because of his vow. Vows in Numbers 30, God on vows, Jesus affirms the seriousness of vows. Your vows are not null and void because someone else did something wrong.
  • All the Biblical marital roles and responsibilities are unconditional (Eph 5, Col 3, Titus 3, 1 Peter 3, 1 Corinthians 7). You don’t get a “get out of marriage free” card or “I can act mean to my wife if she treats me poorly” card if the other person is sinning. The Bible still commands husbands to love their wives and treat them with honor and calls wives to submit and respect their husbands…. no matter how bad the other spouse acts.
  • Our ministry as Christians is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5) which also includes marriages that have had crazy sins happen in them.

Piper has some additional points based on hypothetical scenarios that support the no divorce position.

Overall, I can’t think of one piece of evidence in combination with looking at both the Old and New Testament that indicates one can divorce for adultery. The only circumstantial evidence that those who support divorce for adultery keep trying to stand on is that “porneia” can refer to adultery in some instances according to Strong’s. Ironically, it is never used to refer to adultery in the NT, especially when there is a more suitable word which is moichao.

There are also no Christian traditions that support divorce for adultery. The only exception is in the past century or so with the rise of feminism.


18. Conclusions

Jesus talks about marriage, divorce, and putting away. Understanding which passages Jesus refers to is critical to unifying all of Scripture on the topic of divorce.

  1. Putting away is NOT divorce in the context of Mosaic Law and in the gospel of Matthew. It is a two part process of putting away and a bill of divorcement. – Deut 22, 24; Mal 2; Jer 3; Isa 50; Matt 5, 19
  2. Putting away is synonymous with divorce for the Gentiles. — Mark 10; Luke 16; 1 Corinthians 7
  3. God and Jesus’ plan for marriage is that “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” – Gen 2, Matt 19; Mark 10
  4. There is no get-out-of-marriage adultery clause. Who you are married to you should stay married to regardless of any sins they commit. This is a hard word as even the disciples said it was better not to marry. Separation seems to be an option if you can’t live with them. Reconciliation is ideal. – Matt; 19, Mark 10, Luke 16, 1 Cor 7
  5. Under the Law of Moses and according to Jesus, a marriage is illegitimate if your wife committed sexual fraud prior to marriage. Example: Claiming she was a virgin when she was not (Deut 22). Hence, you can put her away without divorcing her since it was a sham. – Deut 22, Matthew 5, 19; Mark 10; Luke 16,
  6. If a spouse leaves stay single or be reconciled. – 1 Cor 7
  7. If an unbelieving spouse leaves you are not under bondage of marital roles and responsibilities. You are still under the marriage covenant, and you cannot remarry. – 1 Cor 7
  8. Those already remarried in their second and third marriages are NOT to divorce and reconcile with their first spouse if they come to Christ (See: Note 1 for more details). The heretical interpretation is perpetual adultery with the new spouse. In this line of thought, divorce and reconcile and remarry with the first spouse. This view goes against what Deuteronomy 24 says in that if a first husband divorces a wife and another marries her even if she is divorced or her husband dies then she is not to remarry him again otherwise is it an abomination. – Deut 24, Matthew 19

Note 1: Divorce, remarriage, and perpetual adultery:

1. There is perpetual adultery if the participants are made completely aware of the roles and responsibilities and the everlasting nature of marriage. In other words, “sacramental marriage” affirmed by the Church.

2. However, those who were not made aware sinned in their ignorance. Those that don’t undergo the rites of the Church in the marriage ceremonies in both (?) Catholic and Orthodox tradition means that the marriage formed is potentially invalid. Hence, since the marriage wasn’t valid they are free to marry another. A marriage can be affirmed sacramental in which case divorce and remarriage is a sin.

3. This would also go along with the position that those in their 2nd or 3rd marriages and then come to Christ would not have to divorce and go back to their first spouse. They can get their current marriage affirmed by the Church with all of the details of the Covenant.


Final Conclusion, according to Scriptures, for Christians

  1. No divorce period. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”
  2. Stay single or reconcile. No remarriage. This includes marriage to unbelievers who leave.
  3. Your recourse is separation if you absolutely can’t live with them (though not ideal).
  4. Fraudulent marriages are not marriages. Covenants require truth from all parties to be established.
  5. If you have a “Christian marriage” (or sacramental marriage) — both of you know that marriage is forever on earth and the accompanying roles and responsibilities — then any divorce and remarriage is perpetual adultery.
  6. 2nd or 3rd marriages that come to Christ can be affirmed as Christian marriages. They would not have to go back to their first spouse and are not in perpetual adultery. Prior marriages are effectively “annulled” as you did not understand Christian marriage.

This is why I believe (as a Protestant) that the Catholic method of sacramental marriage is probably the best method to deal with marriage and divorce in a broken world. Orthodox I can see the reasoning on, but it is not as strictly faithful. Protestant views on marriage are trash, and it is no surprise that they have the highest divorce rates of any denomination of Christianity and divorce rates almost as high as secular culture.

I’ll probably get a zillion comments on this from pro-divorce proponents as most of my other posts on this. Unless someone addresses all of the evidence in section 17, I probably won’t participate. Most of the pro-divorce proponents only argue that porniea includes adultery and that putting away = divorce and ignore every other available evidence because it doesn’t support their point. No one ever refutes: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”  and divorce = hardness of heart.

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50 Responses to Divorce Part 7 Final

  1. donalgraeme says:

    This is why I believe (as a Protestant) that the Catholic method of sacramental marriage is probably the best method to deal with marriage and divorce in a broken world.

    It is a hard teaching, but that is the nature of our Faith. We are always looking for excuses to get out of our duties and obligations, and this is one area where Christians have gone overboard lately.

    But all that aside, an exceptional post. Well researched and presented.

  2. Ame says:

    as i was going thru all the stuff in my first marriage, not one person mentioned to me that the bible says i was to remain single or be reunited to him. not one. and i was exposed to many in leadership positions and many who were well studied in the bible. every.single.one said that since he had been serially unfaithful and since he left, i was ‘biblically-free’ to remarry. i now do not believe i was, but it’s obviously too late now.

    i’m not catholic and have no plans to convert, however i do believe this is a grave error in protestant churches.

  3. Pingback: Saturday Saints- #138 | Donal Graeme

  4. @ Donalgraeme

    It is a hard teaching, but that is the nature of our Faith. We are always looking for excuses to get out of our duties and obligations, and this is one area where Christians have gone overboard lately

    Yes, “weasels” would be the appropriate word for the pro-divorce crowd.

    Also, thanks.

  5. @ Ame

    as i was going thru all the stuff in my first marriage, not one person mentioned to me that the bible says i was to remain single or be reunited to him. not one. and i was exposed to many in leadership positions and many who were well studied in the bible. every.single.one said that since he had been serially unfaithful and since he left, i was ‘biblically-free’ to remarry. i now do not believe i was, but it’s obviously too late now.

    Sadly, I am not surprised.

    We’re always told to take the Bible in context with other verses, but this is one of several places where Pastors don’t want to take the Bible in context with the rest of the verses. Both on the adultery issue and abandonment issue.

    Perhaps cause it puts them in a bind with so many Christians who want to divorce and remarry… just like they are afraid of upsetting the congregation by preaching on submission, headcoverings, or that spouses are not to deny each other sex.

  6. Derek Ramsey says:

    Your interpretation of Matthew 19 implies that polygamy in all forms is wrong, for it expressly forbids a man from marrying another woman while he remains married to his put-away wife. While I don’t particularly disagree, how do you balance this against, say, levirate marriage? (If you discussed this in parts 1 through 6, which I did not read, I apologize.)

    “Fraudulent marriages are not marriages. Covenants require truth from all parties to be established.”

    A fraudulent marriage is a marriage if the husband, upon discovering the fraud, chooses not to pursue the matter. Since it is up to the husband’s choice, I argue that the Christian has a duty to stand by his wife regardless. Only in Matthew, in the context of Hebrew Law, is an exception given. There is no exception for Gentiles, the vast majority of Christians.

  7. Derek Ramsey says:

    Ah, I missed the polygyny link in the article. Disregard my comment.

  8. Scott says:

    Not bad. I think this is really good work.

    The effective difference between the Catholic and Orthodox positions are basically that Orthodoxy accepts that divorces “happen” while never actually condoning or codifying them. Under this rubric, there is a clear victim–the one whose spouse is effectively behaving like they are divorced. Orthodoxy does not hold the victim accountable for the behavior of the divorcing spouse in that case.

  9. Jack says:

    So, the conclusion of the matter is that divorce is not an option for a Christian. It seems to me, that if divorce is not an option, then Game is the only recourse that an unhappily married Christian man has to make an unbearable situation more tolerable. This is especially true in a situation where the wife is unregenerated, and responds to his acts of Christian love with a contempt for perceived weakness. However, in other posts, you seem to condemn Game. If divorce and Game are rejected out of hand, and Christian love is despised and trampled on, then what is a man to do? I’m interested to hear your thoughts about this question.

  10. Minesweeper says:

    “Matthew 19:9 .whosoever.. shall marry another,… ”

    so, remarriage option, settled right there. Jesus said you can remarry.

  11. AngloSaxon says:

    On top of that polygyny is not an option apart from extreme circumstances according to DS which weakens men even further because that’s one less tool to use when the wife is being very disobedient.

  12. @DS:

    That might be an insult to weasels, as they don’t smell as bad.

    On the responses from within the Church, there’s a context aspect we always need to remember. The “Church” has been converted over the last couple of centuries to a voluntary service organization. It’s really not possible to offer “hard truth” in that type of setting. There ends up being a fundamental authenticity issue implicit in all of the discussions.

    Call it the “Fat Pastor Problem”, but no one actually takes those without “skin in the game” very seriously. Doesn’t mean people will listen if you are authentic, but there is minimal chance they will when you are not.

  13. @AngloSaxon:

    Polymory should always be banned. It is highly destructive on societies and generally just destroys the place. Even in the OT, it was pretty much dead except for the royal family, which really should tell us a lot.

    @Jack:

    DS uses a tighter definition of “Game”, so he’s got a long set of posts on discussing that aspect.

  14. Novaseeker says:

    Perhaps cause it puts them in a bind with so many Christians who want to divorce and remarry… just like they are afraid of upsetting the congregation by preaching on submission, headcoverings, or that spouses are not to deny each other sex.

    It’s part and parcel with pretty much everything else. The Church as a whole has completely surrendered to the sexual revolution in every area other than a pro forma resistance to abortion — all other aspects of the sexual revolution from gender roles to pre-marital sex to divorce, to sex in marriage, etc, has been “adjusted”, de facto, to the new post-sexual revolution social norms. The reason is simple: without doing so, almost everyone would either leave (in the case of Protestants and some Catholics) or ignore (in the case of many Catholics). The rank and file have voted with their actions: they love the sexual revolution, for the most part, and it is much more important to them personally than obeying the moral tradition of the church. The pastors are in real, actual bind, because the sexual revolution basically owns people’s minds.

  15. @ Scott

    The effective difference between the Catholic and Orthodox positions are basically that Orthodoxy accepts that divorces “happen” while never actually condoning or codifying them. Under this rubric, there is a clear victim–the one whose spouse is effectively behaving like they are divorced. Orthodoxy does not hold the victim accountable for the behavior of the divorcing spouse in that case.

    Thanks for clarifying.

    Off topic, but I really like the Orthodox position on sin as disease.

  16. @ Jack

    So, the conclusion of the matter is that divorce is not an option for a Christian. It seems to me, that if divorce is not an option, then Game is the only recourse that an unhappily married Christian man has to make an unbearable situation more tolerable. This is especially true in a situation where the wife is unregenerated, and responds to his acts of Christian love with a contempt for perceived weakness. However, in other posts, you seem to condemn Game. If divorce and Game are rejected out of hand, and Christian love is despised and trampled on, then what is a man to do? I’m interested to hear your thoughts about this question.

    There’s a lot to unpack here.

    1.

    It seems to me, that if divorce is not an option, then Game is the only recourse that an unhappily married Christian man has to make an unbearable situation more tolerable.

    However, in other posts, you seem to condemn Game.

    You’ll have to clarify what you mean by “Game”

    2.

    This is especially true in a situation where the wife is unregenerated, and responds to his acts of Christian love with a contempt for perceived weakness.

    If divorce and Game are rejected out of hand, and Christian love is despised and trampled on, then what is a man to do?

    This seems odd to me.

    A Christian husband who loves his wife is going to:

    A. Start being the head of his marriage by making decisions and leading. Regardless of whether she follows or not.
    B. Loves her toward sanctification through kindness
    C. Is concerned with treating her like he treats himself
    D. Nourishes her (meets her needs)
    E. Cherishes her (is affectionate with her)
    F. Is not embittered toward her
    G. Is understanding of her as a weaker vessel
    H. Treats her with honor as a co-heir in Christ

    None of these ‘show weakness’ nor would they be ‘worthy of contempt.’

    The only thing that would be worthy of contempt is trying to placate her feelings by working (such as doing more chores, jumping through hoops, and things like that), which is not a Christian response.

    True, she may *still* be rebellious because she wants to fight him for the leadership position, but that is not contempt.

    However, if she still rebels against you fulfilling your Christian marital roles and responsibilities, you haven’t lost anything. She is still unregenerate, but you are doing the most important thing that you were not doing before: You’re honoring God.

    God can use you honoring Him to win your wife through your Christian lead-by-example influence on her. God will probably not win your wife if you treat her like she treats you or get into some cyclical behavior of treating each other poorly.

    But even if He doesn’t, you have still made the most important eternal choices possible.

  17. @ Novaseeker

    The pastors are in real, actual bind, because the sexual revolution basically owns people’s minds.

    Brilliant summation.

  18. Lexet Blog says:

    The gospels are meant for all, and the benefit of all, meaning that to say certain gospels are messages to certain people creates a conflict of message. Scripture is unifying, with one message to the church.

    Also, to say that the other three gospels say nothing doesn’t mean anything. The four gospels are different in what they focus on (point of view), and while there is a lot of commonality between them all, they all have unique portions. This doesn’t mean they contradict each other- they don’t. They should be read as a unified message though.

  19. Lexet Blog says:

    Where else in scripture do we have culturally relevant and irrelevant commands and teachings? One rule for the Jew, another for you? That’s a bizarre hermeneutic

  20. Lexet Blog says:

    It’s a dangerous conclusion, considering the warning against those forbidding marriage. It’s also a dangerous conclusion, as it casts aside the entire Old Testament’s view if adultery. Lastly, it’s dangerous, because the hermeneutic used to arrive at the permanence view requires us to accept that different gospels and epistles sent different messages to certain groups, that weren’t to be observed or taught to others. That is schizophrenic, and a license to false teachers to pick and choose what applies and where.

  21. Lexet Blog says:

    You can’t hold a “no divorce” theology and accept headcoverings. Why? Because for divorce, your rule of interpreting scripture is that certain passages are only applicable to specific audiences, and can only be viewed in light of cultural nuances. It ignores the fact that the scriptures are for all Christians, and the scriptures teach one, universal and consistent message.

    That is one of the arguments against using head-coverings today. They say it was only culturally relevant to Corinthians, or that it’s the only portion of the Bible mentioning it, etc.

    People who make the latter argument aren’t familiar with how different the four gospel accounts are from one another, in what they record, and in why information is unique.

  22. Derek Ramsey says:

    “Scripture is unifying, with one message to the church.”

    This is logically fallacious. It amounts to you insisting that it must be true because it suits your theology.

    First, it neglects that the Bible actually contains multiple messages targeted for specific people and groups at different times. This includes things like regulations specific to the priestly class, Jesus setting up a new covenant to replace the old, fulfilled covenant, and Paul giving personal non-binding advice in his letters. The fallacious reasoning is required to fortify certain sacred cow doctrines (like head coverings).

    Second, it neglects the basic fact that the gospels were originally transmitted as independent units with different recipients. More to the point, if the non-Mathean gospels do not have an exception, then the people hearing those readings would have concluded that there was no exception and that divorce was always unacceptable. Were they wrong? How could they be: they received the infallible word of God and believed it as received. Since the gospels were only selected for combination at a much later time (and alternatives were rejected), it is circular reasoning to claim that the earlier believers would have concluded what the later believers determined.

  23. Derek Ramsey says:

    “One rule for the Jew, another for you? That’s a bizarre hermeneutic “

    No, it is not.

    If you look at the Jewish teachings on cleanliness you find that certain bodily fluids were only unclean if they came from fellow Jews (cite: Pamela Eisenbaum). When they came from foreigners, they did not cause ceremonial uncleanliness. Indeed, throughout the Law you can see the dichotomy: the rules for Hebrews were different from the rules for foreigners. The entire people were set aside as God’s chosen people, held to higher standards than everyone else.

    The old covenant covered the Hebrews and their converts. It is still in force, for God does not revoke his promises. Indeed, he only put them away, he did not divorce them. The new covenant is different for the Gentiles. You can see the debate between the Hebrews and the Gentile Christians right in the pages of the Bible. You can read Paul as he describes, in Romans, how the Law does not pertain to the Gentiles he is instructing. Look at the debate on circumcision (i.e. converting to Judaism) and how it binds one to the old covenant.

    “That is schizophrenic, and a license to false teachers to pick and choose what applies and where. “

    No, the Bible says what it says. Whether there were rules for one group or another does not change what the Bible says or what its instructions are to you and me. You don’t get to pick and choose, but you do need to understand what it says. Moreover, false teachers will false teach regardless. They need no license, but in your fervor to fight them off you ironically join them.

  24. Jack says:

    Lexet, I believe Deep Strength is only offering an exegetical understanding of the scriptures. The hermeneutical applications have yet to be determined.

  25. @ Lexet

    Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that “putting away” is synonymous with “divorce” for Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 1 Corinthians.

    Here are the logical conclusions:

    1. Malachi 2 now says God hates “divorce” instead of putting away. Oops, now you have the fact that God hates “divorce” instead of putting away.

    2. Jesus affirms God’s plan still: “What God has put together let no man separate”

    3. Jesus still says divorce was added my Moses for hardness of heart (agreeing with Malachi 2 that God hates divorce).

    4. The disciples amazement indicates that ‘except for fornication’ still refers to Deuteronomy 22 instead of 24 because otherwise they would have agreed about divorce for adultery. Jews could already divorce for adultery

    5. Jesus would not have agreed with the Pharisees about divorce, which He would be doing if He agreed you could divorce for adultery.

    6. Luke 16 now refers to no exceptions for adultery.

    7. Mark 10 now refers to no exceptions for adultery.

    8. The sequence of events is:

    A. Jesus telling the Pharisees “What God has put together let no man separate”
    B. Matthew 19 Jesus telling the Pharisees “And I say to you if anyone divorces, except for fornication,…”
    C. Matthew 19 Disciples amazement
    D. Matthew 19 Jesus tells them about eunuchs
    E. Mark 10 Later the disciples ask Him about it in the house, to which he replies there are no exceptions.

    If Jesus had made statement E in public, the Pharisees could have taken Him to the Romans for subverting Roman divorce law (AKA no divorce). This is the reason the “except for fornication” statement is made publicly.

    9. 1 Corinthians 7 the Lord indicates that Christians are to stay single or reconcile still.

    10. Romans 7 and 1 Corinthians 7 indicate that only death breaks the marital covenant.

    11. Does not agree with the Bible’s passages on Vows

    12. Does not agree with Hosea on faithfulness

    13. Does not agree with 2 Corinthians 5 on the ministry of reconciliation, including marriages

    14. Early and consistent Church tradition on staying single or reconcile. No remarriage.

    Either way, if apoluo means “putting away” or “divorce” in Matthew 19 the conclusions are still the same so it really doesn’t matter. The full weight of evidence is against divorce, especially the nails in the coffin:

    I. God: God hates divorce (Malachi 2),
    II. Jesus + God: “What God has put together let no man separate”,
    III. Jesus: Divorce was created for those with hardness of heart,
    IV. God: Stay single or reconcile

    I personally think there is a distinction between ‘putting away’ and ‘divorce’ for Hebrew and Gentile given the context of the Biblical audience (exegetical), but the hermeneutical interpretation is just the same with either exegesis.

  26. @ LG

    That might be an insult to weasels, as they don’t smell as bad.

    You got a laugh out of me. Maybe so.

  27. Lexet Blog says:

    Deep strength- not the most in depth reply, As I’m on the go, but here are a few counterpoints. It’s not the easiest doctrine to settle on, and I hope others reading this will explore both viewpoints. I feel obligated to post at some point the books I have read on the subject (covering both major positions). I respect theologians with both viewpoints.

    Before I address your points, on the assumption: it’s a good question. I believe putting away was what led to certificates of divorce being made, with the certificate allowing for remarriage. Based on what Christ says in Matthew, Moses’ permission was man-made permission. My opinion on that, as it stands now, is that whether they are separate and distinct terms doesn’t change the outcome (agreeing with your last point).

    The ultimate question is what Matthew 19 says, because it must be read as being in there for a specific reason, and when read with the rest of the NT, make sense (and also OT)

    Per your point 4, “fornication” is the KJV translation of porne ia, which is more encompassing than the mere act of fornication. We get that from the common use of the term at the time it was written.

    The disciples amazement comes from the fact that a lot of people would still be surprised to hear that the only cause for divorce is sexual immorality.

    Per point 5- adultery, under the Jewish law, was not a reason for divorce. It was something to be punished by death. The Pharisees also only brought the woman, and not the man, showing they didn’t even apply the law correctly.
    Given the context of previous chapters, and this occurrence, it is implied the Pharisees had divorced for invalid reasons, thereby committing adultery themselves. A man who is victimized by adultery is not “heard hearted” under the OT.

    Remember, they asked if you could divorce a woman for any and every reason (divorce being a man made institution, which Moses had allowed— that point I’ll grant). I’ll restate here, that adultery was commanded to be punished, and if it were suspected, there was a special sin offering, negating any need for divorce.

    Per 6, 7, etc.: every gospel does not need to mention it for it to be valid. There are many variances in the gospel accounts, but those are not discrepancies.

    Matthew gives the genealogy of Christ, and gives us the story of Joseph. Mark doesn’t. Mark starts out discussing John the Baptist.

    Luke starts out with prophecy, and gives a detailed account of Mary and Elizabeth. It also details John the Baptist’s ministry.

    John starts off with Christ and John the Baptist. No mention of his childhood is given.

    If I am to be consistent with biblical interpretation, and exclude the divorce exception, I would have to throw out large portions of the gospel, because they don’t cover the same details.

    8E is a valid question.

    10- is either your interpretation, or saying that the adulterous spouse cannot remarry while the other is alive.

    11- OT solution to adultery and violation of the vows was death. In NT,

    12- Hosea was a special exception, like other prophets. He was called to humiliation. He was not to put his wife to death, as the law required. (David, likewise was also not put to death, per the lords command. His family was severely punished)

    13, 14: this is a complete change in the approach to adultery. There was no reconciliation under the OT, but mandatory punishment.

    14: early Christian church tradition is not dispositive. All of the epistles were corrections and rebuke to early Christian traditions.

    In Hebrew culture, the engagement was really the beginning of marriage, and one could terminate it for grounds (send her away- apolysia), which Joseph sought to do in Matthew 1. (Joseph is referred as her husband, even though they weren’t “married”)
    He was described as righteous for doing so discretely. He wasn’t rebuked, but told by an angel to not fear taking Mary as a wife. This account is something to consider as well.

  28. @ Lexet

    Per your point 4, “fornication” is the KJV translation of porne ia, which is more encompassing than the mere act of fornication. We get that from the common use of the term at the time it was written.

    In the NT, fornication is not used synonymously with adultery. In fact, it’s also used in conjunction with moichiao such as in Matthew 7:21 and Galatians 5:19. Matthew 19 also has this as Jesus refers to both fornication and adultery.

    The 4 main contexts it is used within the NT are:

    0. Matthew 19 – The contentious exception.
    1. 1 Corinthians 5 – Incest. Men were taking their father’s wives after they died.
    2. Temple prostitution / idolatry (Acts 15, 1 Cor 6, etc.)
    3. 1 Corinthians 7 – Nevertheless to avoid fornications, each man is to have his own wife…
    4. Revelation – Fornication with Babylon

    Point 10 in the OP above also goes with this: Incest is obviously an invalid marriage as well.

    The disciples amazement comes from the fact that a lot of people would still be surprised to hear that the only cause for divorce is sexual immorality.

    You can’t use the death penalty as an argument and also use it as an example of the disciple’s amazement.

    If Jesus was referring to divorce for adultery (rather than the death penalty), then the Pharisees could have Him stoned for contradicting the Law. This is also the trap of John 8 with the woman caught in adultery. They knew Jesus was compassionate, so if He said she shouldn’t be stoned they could have stoned Him instead.

    Per point 5- adultery, under the Jewish law, was not a reason for divorce. It was something to be punished by death. The Pharisees also only brought the woman, and not the man, showing they didn’t even apply the law correctly.
    Given the context of previous chapters, and this occurrence, it is implied the Pharisees had divorced for invalid reasons, thereby committing adultery themselves. A man who is victimized by adultery is not “heard hearted” under the OT.

    Remember, they asked if you could divorce a woman for any and every reason (divorce being a man made institution, which Moses had allowed— that point I’ll grant). I’ll restate here, that adultery was commanded to be punished, and if it were suspected, there was a special sin offering, negating any need for divorce.

    If Jesus was referring to divorce for adultery (rather than the death penalty), then the Pharisees could have Him stoned for contradicting the Law. This is also the trap of John 8 with the woman caught in adultery. They knew Jesus was compassionate, so if He said she shouldn’t be stoned they could have stoned Him instead.

    Per 6, 7, etc.: every gospel does not need to mention it for it to be valid. There are many variances in the gospel accounts, but those are not discrepancies.

    Discrepancies in in stories such as Jesus going to someone’s house are different than prescriptive commands. The prescriptive commands of the Scriptures must align with each other to make sense.

    10- is either your interpretation, or saying that the adulterous spouse cannot remarry while the other is alive.

    1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

    This is an absolute statement about the covenant of marriage. There are no exceptions, similar to Mark 10 and Luke 16.

    11- OT solution to adultery and violation of the vows was death. In NT,

    Again, if you’re arguing death penalty, it doesn’t fit.

    If Jesus was referring to divorce for adultery (rather than the death penalty), then the Pharisees could have Him stoned for contradicting the Law. This is also the trap of John 8 with the woman caught in adultery. They knew Jesus was compassionate, so if He said she shouldn’t be stoned they could have stoned Him instead.

    12- Hosea was a special exception, like other prophets. He was called to humiliation. He was not to put his wife to death, as the law required. (David, likewise was also not put to death, per the lords command. His family was severely punished)

    I probably sound like a broken record by now with divorce for adultery and not the death penalty.

    13, 14: this is a complete change in the approach to adultery. There was no reconciliation under the OT, but mandatory punishment.

    14: early Christian church tradition is not dispositive. All of the epistles were corrections and rebuke to early Christian traditions.

    I’m talking about the tradition of the disciples, not the tradition of the new Christians that had to be corrected.

    In Hebrew culture, the engagement was really the beginning of marriage, and one could terminate it for grounds (send her away- apolysia), which Joseph sought to do in Matthew 1. (Joseph is referred as her husband, even though they weren’t “married”)
    He was described as righteous for doing so discretely. He wasn’t rebuked, but told by an angel to not fear taking Mary as a wife. This account is something to consider as well.

    Again, the penalty was death for Mary. Joseph decided to put her away quietly and is deemed righteous for it.

    Also, no one ever addresses these main points and they still haven’t been answered in the context of the Matthew 19 passage.

    I. God: God hates divorce (Malachi 2),
    II. Jesus + God: “What God has put together let no man separate”,
    III. Jesus: Divorce was created for those with hardness of heart,
    IV. God: Stay single or reconcile

  29. Lexet Blog says:

    Another point. 1 co 7:15 holds that a believer who is divorced by an unbeliever is free, and not enslaved to that marriage.

  30. Lexet Blog says:

    I’ll see if I have time to address the rest of your points this evening. As I just replied, 1 co 7:39 must be read in harmony with v 15.

    The nuance is marriage amongst believers v being abandoned by an unbelieving or apostate spouse.

    I agree that perspective commands must align with each other, but disagree with the overall idea that one verse isn’t enough to add a nuance to God’s commands. It should be a caution flag, however.

  31. @ Lexet

    Another point. 1 co 7:15 holds that a believer who is divorced by an unbeliever is free, and not enslaved to that marriage.

    Incorrect. See Point 16.

  32. Lexet Blog says:

    What about Ezra 10, where the priests Covenanted with God to have all the men divorce and send away their foreign brides

  33. @ Lexet

    What about Ezra 10, where the priests Covenanted with God to have all the men divorce and send away their foreign brides

    Ezra told the Jews to follow the Law of Moses at that time. Not really controversial.

    Also, the issue here is not just marriage to foreign brides but the fidelity of the Jewish nation.

    Couple of points on this from the Bible:

    1.

    Deuteronomy 24:4 then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the Lord. Do not bring sin upon the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.

    This is why Deuteronomy 24 says that wives should not go back to their former husband because of the fidelity of inheritance.

    If the woman went back to her old husband, any potential offspring around the time of the second husband divorce is questionable: they wouldn’t know which husband’s kid it was.

    2. The Samaritans (formerly Israel) were looked down upon the Jews because of lack of fidelity. They were intermarried with the surrounding cultures and thus not part of the inheritance of the Jewish nation under God anymore.

    edit: forgot another example.

    3. Levirate marriage obviously helps to pass on the inheritance for the dead brother/next of kin.

  34. Lexet Blog says:

    “Also, the issue here is not just marriage to foreign brides but the fidelity of the Jewish nation.” Agree, as marriage is far more than just 2 people procreating- it demonstrates something about god, and in the NT, about Christ’s relationship to the church. The NT church is also called to faithfulness in its morality, and I believe it is Hebrews that compares the sexually immoral to Esau, who sold his birthright (Heb 12).

    I’m not sure if I asked you this yet, but it’s important to ask, as it happens a lot in our culture. It requires a position on Deuteronomy and 1 Corinthians 7
    If W leaves and abandons H1 and marries H2, is H1 free to marry?

    I would say yes, as a marriage is formed between H2 and W, and it would be unlawful for H1 to ever remarry or reconcile with W, as she has been “defiled” at that point. Is H1 “enslaved” to singleness at that point?

  35. @ Lexet

    I’m not sure if I asked you this yet, but it’s important to ask, as it happens a lot in our culture. It requires a position on Deuteronomy and 1 Corinthians 7
    If W leaves and abandons H1 and marries H2, is H1 free to marry?
    I would say yes, as a marriage is formed between H2 and W, and it would be unlawful for H1 to ever remarry or reconcile with W, as she has been “defiled” at that point. Is H1 “enslaved” to singleness at that point?

    This is why I like the Catholic position because it distinguishes between ‘sacramental marriage’ and ‘natural marriage.’ Sacramental marriage is a covenant. Natural marriage is a contract.

    For Christians who know marriage is permanent, know the Biblical roles and responsibilities, and everything regarding the nature of marriage relating to the Christ-Church, these sacramental marriages are permanent. Any spouse who runs off and marries another knows they are in perpetual adultery and should return to their previous spouse.

    ‘Natural marriage’ is what non-believers have between each other. If someone converts to Christ after they have been divorced and remarried, they can get their second marriage affirmed by the Church as sacramental as they now know the requirements of the God in marriage. They would not go back to their first marriage.

    We know that a “covenant” needs full truthfulness to be established. Those ignorant of the God’s sacrament are not held accountable for the permanent aspect, but they are held accountable and responsible for repenting for sinning for the first divorce and for establishing their marriage covenant in front of God for their now marriage.

    In other words, believers are held responsible to God for their marriages while non-believers are not. This makes the most logical sense from the perspective of Scripture, as Christians are to be policing each other (Matthew 18, 1 Corinthians 5, etc.) not the world. They should be preaching the gospel to the world.

    Once non-believers become believers and affirm they know the intention and meaning of sacramental marriage, their marriage is now held responsible to the Christian standard.

  36. Lexet Blog says:

    Interesting.

    I obviously disagree, in light of Deuteronomy and the prohibition against marrying a woman who was given a certificate of divorce, was put out, and remarried. That woman is “defiled.”

    “For Christians who know marriage is permanent, know the Biblical roles and responsibilities, and everything regarding the nature of marriage relating to the Christ-Church, these sacramental marriages are permanent. Any spouse who runs off and marries another knows they are in perpetual adultery and should return to their previous spouse.

    ‘Natural marriage’ is what non-believers have between each other. If someone converts to Christ after they have been divorced and remarried, they can get their second marriage affirmed by the Church as sacramental as they now know the requirements of the God in marriage. They would not go back to their first marriage.”

    I disagree with the fact that the church affirming a marriage creates a covenant, and would say any lawful marriage is a covenant, whether the people acknowledge it or not.

    “Once non-believers become believers and affirm they know the intention and meaning of sacramental marriage, their marriage is now held responsible to the Christian standard.”

    Are we not all held to the same standard, right now? Are people only to obey Christian standards of living, or God’s laws, when they become aware of the law?

    We are all called to obey and glorify God. No one can perfectly obey, necessitating a reliance on Christ for forgiveness. However, we are all judged according to the same standard, whether we “know” or willingly acknowledge that fact.

  37. Michael J Price says:

    Thank you for this great article. I completely agree. We are called to obey and glorify God, and this includes in our marriages. Here is a great article you would find interesting: https://joshuasoutpost.com/2018/10/11/5-lies-christians-believe-about-marriage/

  38. @ Lexet

    I obviously disagree, in light of Deuteronomy and the prohibition against marrying a woman who was given a certificate of divorce, was put out, and remarried. That woman is “defiled.”

    This doesn’t make sense.

    Holding Christians and non-Christians to an aspect of the Law of Moses established on making sure inheritances are not corrupted.

    If this is the case, are you going to advocate that Christians also engage in Levirate marriage practices where a Christian brother with a wife also marry his deceased brother’s wife to give him a son?

    I disagree with the fact that the church affirming a marriage creates a covenant, and would say any lawful marriage is a covenant, whether the people acknowledge it or not.

    It is not the Church that creates the covenant. It is God. The Church is a human witness.

    The husband and wife could do it themselves before God, but it’s better to have someone in an official capacity in the Church do it as they can explain it to Christians who may not necessarily be educated on all of the nuances.

    Are we not all held to the same standard, right now? Are people only to obey Christian standards of living, or God’s laws, when they become aware of the law?

    We are all called to obey and glorify God. No one can perfectly obey, necessitating a reliance on Christ for forgiveness. However, we are all judged according to the same standard, whether we “know” or willingly acknowledge that fact.

    How can a natural marriage be a covenant when they don’t know and didn’t agree to any of the stipulations of God’s commands on marriage?

    Covenants require truth and acceptance from all of the parties to establish. This is why the fraudulent claim of virginity of the ‘wife’ in Deuteronomy 22 invalidates the marriage contract. She can be put away without having to divorce her (put away + writ of divorce).

    The Bible makes it pretty clear that Christians are held to a higher standard since they know the Truth and should be policing each other than non-Christians.

    James 3 says that Christians with the gift of teaching receive stricter judgment because they have the ability to influence many Christians.

  39. Lexet Blog says:

    There are the laws of Moses, and the laws of God, which still apply. Hint: what God declares abominable is abominable.

    By your own standard here, Herod wouldn’t have had an unlawful law per Leviticus/Deuteronomy.

  40. @ Lexet

    There are the laws of Moses, and the laws of God, which still apply. Hint: what God declares abominable is abominable.

    As I’ve noted, this is the fallacy of applying standards that don’t match. The Law of Moses is specifically written for the Jewish people. It does not apply to Gentiles and non-Christians.

    Christians can look at it to understand the principles of what God is indicating (e.g. Love God and Love your neighbor) but we don’t follow the Law because we are under grace. Some things in the Law like not bearing false witness against your neighbor, not murdering, and not committing adultery obviously overlap though.

    By your own standard here, Herod wouldn’t have had an unlawful law per Leviticus/Deuteronomy.

    Herod married his brother’s wife (who didn’t even divorce her previous husband). Obvious adultery. Also, incest which is similar to 1 Corinthians 5.

  41. Pingback: The Law of Moses and equitable solutions specifically for Israel | Christianity and masculinity

  42. elizabdoolittle says:

    A few thoughts. As someone who has been divorced for over a decade now and who once held the permanence view, I think it’s pretty ballsy for someone who sits in the position of being married while getting companionship and regular sex to tell divorced people they must remain alone and celibate for their entire lives while their first spouse is living in order to defend the institution of marriage. It’s actually really off putting to even have you comment on it at all, but I think you are coming at it from a noble heart, so I will try to rein in the salt in my reply :).

    I understand that you are trying to give an exegetical examination of the topic, but unless you are faced with the possibility of never having a spouse and being celibate for the rest of your life due to someone else’s sin, I’d say you are commenting on what you most likely wouldn’t be able to bear yourself (Matthew 23:4). I’ve had several years to ponder this question and I have come to the opposite conclusion in the last year or so.

    First, for a little background on my situation, my ex, though we were both baptized, renounced his faith and committed adultery, divorced me and then remarried. He’s been married for 10 years while I’ve remained single. According to Mosaic law, he would have received the death penalty and I would have been free to remarry as a widow. But yet, under Christ’s law, I have less freedom to marry (according to your interpretation) and I must suffer for someone else’s sin. Doesn’t seem fair to me, but ok.

    Second, Piper, Baucham and most of the other pastors in the (semi) permanence camp allow for all second marriages to remain intact. These include those contracted by the disobedient/unbelieving spouse. Yet they require the injured, faithful Christian spouse to remain alone. Again, this is unjust even by OT standards, but these guys (like you) are all speaking from a position of being married and can’t possibly begin to understand what you are forcing on sincere, Christian people by this interpretation. Furthermore, it seems to imply that God shows less mercy to the Christian sinned against than He does to the rebellious, disobedient spouse. I don’t think God gives less mercy to His children than He would to a rebel, but maybe I missed that verse in the scriptures somewhere.

    As far as I am aware, there is only one denomination that seems to hold a truly consistent position in the permanence camp. They actually require the disobedient spouse to separate from their adulterous subsequent marriage (as they see it) and remain single like the betrayed spouse in order to show true repentance. This is because they believe all marriages are permanent until death and no divorces are ever allowed for any reason. If anything, this is the correct way to handle remarriages as a permanence adherent, but you can imagine how popular this is among American Christians and their denomination is quite small.

    Your idea that getting saved washes the adulterous marriage clean, doesn’t really work. If the second “one flesh” union is legit, it means the first “one flesh” union is broken by default allowing the first spouse to also remarry regardless if they were save or not. On the other hand, if the second union is legit along with the first union, then it makes the person a bigamist. God does’t allow for that. So either marriage is permanent til death in all situations, or it’s not. Can’t have it both ways nor can you pick and choose when the marriage is permanent or when it’s not. It either is or isn’t.

    Lastly, Jews weren’t allowed to kill anyone for adultery (or anything else) under Roman rule. So it seems that Jesus’s use of Pornea as being a legitimate reason for divorce would include all sexual sin that a spouse commits while married. Otherwise, victims of adultery would be widows according to Jewish law after their guilty spouse received death for their sin and free to remarry. Since we know that this didn’t happen, it seems that Jesus was allowing for divorce in the case of all sexual sin committed by a spouse. Also, if pornea was just referring to an illegitimate marriage, then there would be no reason for divorce since there was no marriage to start with. Catholics call a termination of an illegitimate union an annulment, not a divorce. The very fact that a “divorce” was required to separate the two spouses shows that the marriage was indeed legitimate.

    I’m pretty sure you won’t agree with my take, but all I’m saying is that this isn’t as cut and dried as most try to make it. There is a reason why Jesus allowed for divorce (and divorce means a marriage existed) in the case of all sexual immorality. We don’t have the right to say that divorce isn’t allowed if Christ says it is in certain cases. The Pharisees were guilty of this same thing when they added to or invalidated God’s law and they were rebuked by Christ for doing it.

    Grace and peace. I hope I wasn’t too cranky in my response. I have studied and studied this question for years and it’s one that is very near and dear to my heart having gone through what I have. I just want you to think about the unnecessary burden you are laying on people based on an interpretation of scripture that isn’t completely locked down and air tight.

  43. @ elizabdoolittle

    First, for a little background on my situation, my ex, though we were both baptized, renounced his faith and committed adultery, divorced me and then remarried. He’s been married for 10 years while I’ve remained single. According to Mosaic law, he would have received the death penalty and I would have been free to remarry as a widow. But yet, under Christ’s law, I have less freedom to marry (according to your interpretation) and I must suffer for someone else’s sin. Doesn’t seem fair to me, but ok.

    Perhaps like Jesus suffered for our sin (when he was actually totally blameless unlike most human marriages)? Doesn’t seem fair to me, but ok.

    This is unlike all human marriages where even if one spouse initiates divorce, both spouses have at least moderate to major culpability in the downward spiral of destructive behavior.

    Second, Piper, Baucham and most of the other pastors in the (semi) permanence camp allow for all second marriages to remain intact. These include those contracted by the disobedient/unbelieving spouse. Yet they require the injured, faithful Christian spouse to remain alone. Again, this is unjust even by OT standards, but these guys (like you) are all speaking from a position of being married and can’t possibly begin to understand what you are forcing on sincere, Christian people by this interpretation. Furthermore, it seems to imply that God shows less mercy to the Christian sinned against than He does to the rebellious, disobedient spouse. I don’t think God gives less mercy to His children than He would to a rebel, but maybe I missed that verse in the scriptures somewhere.

    If you have read my position fully, his second marriage is adulterous.

    If you were both Christians and you know what God says about marriage, then your marriage is permanent. God will judge the spouse who runs off and marries another for adultery.

    Your idea that getting saved washes the adulterous marriage clean, doesn’t really work. If the second “one flesh” union is legit, it means the first “one flesh” union is broken by default allowing the first spouse to also remarry regardless if they were save or not. On the other hand, if the second union is legit along with the first union, then it makes the person a bigamist. God does’t allow for that. So either marriage is permanent til death in all situations, or it’s not. Can’t have it both ways nor can you pick and choose when the marriage is permanent or when it’s not. It either is or isn’t.

    This is incorrect. I think the Catholic position is the best position.

    Since you seem to be familiar with the Catholic position, I’ll just do a brief summary. Sacramental marriage presided over by the Catholic Church as a witness before God is permanent. Natural marriage can become sacramental marriage if both the husband and wife acknowledge the sacrament and agree to it.

    In the case of unbelievers in their “second” or “third” marriage who became Christians, that one would be the one that they can get confirmed as sacramental. Their previous ones are effectively annulled.

    Lastly, Jews weren’t allowed to kill anyone for adultery (or anything else) under Roman rule. So it seems that Jesus’s use of Pornea as being a legitimate reason for divorce would include all sexual sin that a spouse commits while married. Otherwise, victims of adultery would be widows according to Jewish law after their guilty spouse received death for their sin and free to remarry. Since we know that this didn’t happen, it seems that Jesus was allowing for divorce in the case of all sexual sin committed by a spouse. Also, if pornea was just referring to an illegitimate marriage, then there would be no reason for divorce since there was no marriage to start with. Catholics call a termination of an illegitimate union an annulment, not a divorce. The very fact that a “divorce” was required to separate the two spouses shows that the marriage was indeed legitimate.

    This is wrong.

    The Jews could not kill anyone for adultery, but they could go complain to the Romans that Jesus was blaspheming their Law and have Him killed. Like they did eventually with Pontius Pilate.

    Aside from this fact, I listed numerous other textual evidence along with other Biblical relationships (such as vows) in point #17 which shows that Jesus was not referring to adultery for divorce and/or there is no remarriage either.

  44. Derek Ramsey says:

    “As far as I am aware, there is only one denomination that seems to hold a truly consistent position in the permanence camp.”

    Besides the Catholic position, the Anabaptists denominations (Amish, Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, Hutterite) are all in the permanence camp and unlike the Catholics, they hold that all marriages (secular and religious) are permanent, except in the case of adultery. The innocent party was permitted to remarry. A few sects historically forbid all divorce and/or remarriage. Since getting a divorce was often punishable by removal from the church, divorce rates tended to be < 1% (as of the early 80's).

  45. Mark says:

    And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce

    If God only suffered for men to give their wives a bill of divorce and send them away, but didn’t actually condone it, then how is it that God did this exact thing to Israel? If God is perfect and His actions are perfect, then divorcing Israel was a perfect act. It can’t possibly be sin. If it’s not sin for God to divorce Israel, then that establishes a model for humanity.

  46. @ Mark

    If God only suffered for men to give their wives a bill of divorce and send them away, but didn’t actually condone it, then how is it that God did this exact thing to Israel? If God is perfect and His actions are perfect, then divorcing Israel was a perfect act. It can’t possibly be sin. If it’s not sin for God to divorce Israel, then that establishes a model for humanity.

    That would be sound logic if that was the end of it, but you’re forgetting the fact that God’s plan was reconciliation through Jesus Christ.

    This is why Jesus’ ministry to the Samaritans (woman at the well, Good Samaritan) was important because those were the Jews from Israel who had married into the surrounding cultures.

    God still reconciled the ‘divorced’ Israel to Himself.

  47. Bruce says:

    Just a note. It is common for Catholics to understand “porneia” as referring to concubinage. Thus, Jesus was making a distinction between concubinage (as practiced by some in 1st century Judea) and true marriage.

  48. Pingback: What does it mean to be Defiled? – Part I | Σ Frame

  49. Anyaoha Joshua says:

    @ Deep Strength the word douloo in 1 Corinthians 7:15 refers to under bondage in Greek. According to the New Testament Greek Lexical it means
    1. to make a slave o, reduce to bondage
    2.metaph give myself wholly to one’s needs and service,
    make myself a bondman to him
    but at the end of the definition it says “no longer under bound by the law of marriage.”

    In some Greek lexical I don’t see that but can you share truth and light of 1 Cor 7:15 means “by no longer bound.” What is Apostle Paul trying to say there with the duoloo God bless.

  50. @ Anyaoha Joshua

    In some Greek lexical I don’t see that but can you share truth and light of 1 Cor 7:15 means “by no longer bound.” What is Apostle Paul trying to say there with the duoloo God bless.

    I already talked about that in the post.

    If an unbelieving spouse leaves you are not under bondage of marital roles and responsibilities. You are still under the marriage covenant, and you cannot remarry. – 1 Cor 7″

    Paul reiterates why “not under bondage” does NOT refer to the marital covenant later in the chapter and Romans 7:

    1 Corinthians 7:39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.

    Only death breaks the marriage covenant. An unbeliever leaving does not break the marriage covenant but only your marital roles and responsibilities to them.

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