Category Archives: Marriage Restoration

Pardon us for declining to play….reshared testimony about “blended” families

Transcribed by:  Standerinfamilycourt

(h/t to Jamie H.  Rivera, a  member of the community of covenant marriage standers, but is not the unknown author)

Every now and then we get an opportunity to give a voice to those whom our society (and, sadly, the corrupted church) does its level best to silence – the wounded adult children of legalized, institutionalized, papered-over adultery.    Please share this short, impactful blog with someone who is entrapped in hell-bound remarriage adultery, while praying they will come to their senses and escape Satan’s trap.  Since Jesus made it clear that remarriage adultery is an ongoing state of sin until fully repented, escaping this trap always entails legally exiting the immoral. civil-only union and making restitution to the covenant family members, and to the body of Christ.
(Please pray also for this young family because the stresses involved in living with this situation while fulfilling their own parental duty to protect innocent grandchildren from immoral exposure can become unbearable and can sometimes take a toll on the marriages of the next generation.)


Shared Testimony **

Our parents are mad because we will no longer play along with their imaginary game of house, by continuing to pretend that they and their remarriage adultery partners are actual legitimate couples. They are also angry over our refusal to allow history to repeat itself with our own daughters through the brainwashing and programming we received as children. We will not condition our girls to embrace their twisted fantasies and deception. Our children will not call our parents’ pseudo spouses by pet titles reserved for actual God given grandparents. Does this mean we are deliberately and maliciously endeavoring to hurt anyone?  Of course they think so, but truly we hope and pray for the salvation of all involved.

We didn’t ask for our caretakers to uproot our family tree, and put it in artificial soil and an artificial environment (in an environment that’s not even viable for sustaining life nonetheless…in darkness and a sterile environment which is hostile to it’s wellbeing and void of the essential elements necessary to actually keep it alive).   After they put this uprooted tree in artificial soil and in an artificial environment, they continued their toil by attaching artificial limbs to what was left of the real tree–as if to graft those fake tree limbs into it.

Some of them might have regularly watered this tree with a substance they chose to believe was equivalent to water (alcohol) as if to chemically induce merriment and simultaneously convince themselves and those with whom they naturally shared the parts of the real tree, that they truly did love and care for it and want to nurture it, and that it was alive and well.

Some fertilized the tree with candy, toys, money, and other materialistic goods…some even used drugs…some used flattery.

Some took no care at all and left it in that near-desolate environment to continue perishing, and got mad when it wasn’t adapting and flourishing. The majority went above and beyond in their vain endeavors by ceaselessly covering it with artificial decor to hide the rot and decay that was underneath the pretentious facade.   All along, as they went through these elaborate efforts, they kept working to convince us that this new tree was not only real but was also superior. They put more work into their attempts to make a dead tree alive and a fake tree real, and [into] convincing themselves and everyone else of these foolish ideas, than they put into caring for their own real tree.

It seems they will spend their entire lives perpetuating their fanciful yet deluded illusion.  We were children when all of this began, and had no choice in our parents’ decision to edit our God-given family via cut-and-paste tactics.  We were forced to go along with their deranged fantasies and accept these contrived fairytales as reality, all while we were unknowingly being alienated from our own true parents. The adults who spent decades playing these charades refuse to see the difference between an iLLogical family tree they themselves MANufactured versus a bioLOGICAL tree that was created by God.


If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.   – Luke 14:26

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law…”    –  Matthew 10:34-35

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!


For Those Who Like Their Truth En Flambe, We Give You… Pastor Gino Jennings

by Standerinfamilycourt

Two favorite things “standerinfamilycourt” dearly loves to share with you, dear audience, are miraculous restoration testimonies of a God-joined, one-flesh relationship after decades of man’s divorce, and pastors’ sermon series from the small but growing number of faithful shepherds who preach the whole counsel of God concerning the sinful state of dying “married” to the spouse of another… no excuses, no exceptions.    Previously, we shared the bold and truthful series by Brother Sproul, a Florida pastor in the Church of Christ, and Brother Phil Schlamp, a Canadian pastor of an Evangelical Church. We left you with a teaser to stay tuned, because we had our eye on yet another pastor whose sermon series (and plain-spoken boldness for the kingdom of God)  is well worth the listen.

SIFC is not African American but has great admiration for the fire and passion of several wonderful black pastors, unfortunately not all of whom preach an uncompromisingly biblical view of marriage indissolubility, though the one just cited  did teach a faithful view until his own daughter “married” another woman’s estranged husband in 2001.   By way of contrast,  Pastor Jennings, of the First Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Philadelphia,  is a sterling (if slightly brash) example of faithfulness to the hard teachings of Jesus Christ in this matter.   We apologize that most of these recordings end pretty abruptly, but we guarantee that not a single one will put you to sleep.


From a 2001 sermon on divorced remarriage:
Part 1  Summary:  After dealing with false salvation, Pastor Jennings begins to deal at 6 minutes in with remarriage after divorce, based on Romans 7:1-3.
Part 2:   Continues…”if the husband be….what?”  Pastor Jennings continues on, to Matthew 19 and wealthy adulterers running the church, and taking on the homosexualists in the church, as well as the legalized adulterers who try to use the existence of concurrent polygamy in the Old Testament and some current faiths to justify serial polygamy: marrying another while estranged from a God-joined spouse.
Part 3:   Continues in Matthew 19…”who commits fornication?” and underscores it with Matthew 1:18.   “You can go to church tomorrow and shout all you want with that second wife….”    Pastor Jennings goes on to deal with physical abuse in marriage based on 1 Cor. 7:10-11.
Part 4:    Continues in 1 Cor. 7:11…”Most of the preaching in Delaware is different from this …because the preachers there gonna pick a second wife for ya!…Some of you may marry a man who already got a wife…you can’t say that’s your husband….you got another woman’s husband!!”
Based on Hebrews 13:4, he rebukes pastors who justify and even participate in serial polygamy, based on spiritual condition at the time of marriage, as false prophets.   

Ten years later in 2011, the quality of the recording is much-improved, but there is no improving on the guidance in  1 Cor. 7:10-11, as Pastor Jennings’ application of this timeless word is made to a letter inquiry from Jamaica asking about marital abandonment…putting the listener in God’s shoes when Israel left Him…based on Jeremiah 3:8-14.   “Come back, come back…I got lot of backsliders watching me now….God is calling for you, backslider!”  

A second letter addressed in that 2011 broadcast service asks about a 65 year old “coworker” who has both a God-joined and a counterfeit wife, having spent the longer period with his legalized adulteress….Romans 7:1-3, “listen at the bible, never mind Pastor Jennings…listen at the bible!”    In this one, he calls out “religious spoiled brats!”   He calls out a woman who marries an already-married pastor for “playing the whore” based on Sirach 23, and continuing…   “A man that breaketh wedlock saying thus in his heart, ‘Who seest me?  I am compassed about with darkness…the walls cover me…nobody seest me, what need I to fear?  The Lord will not remember my sins!”  

“….Any preacher…(and I know you’re watching, hypocrite!)…(11:45) ..because you Apostolic churches now have changed and now you promote divorce!…You got a preacher that justifies divorce…
[ FB profile 7xtjw SIFC: we would have said “that justifies remarriage“], “you’re following a false prophet, you’re following a liar.  And if you stay under him, you gonna go to hell with him!”

Circa 100 A.D., the martyred bishop of Antioch said something very similar:    “Do not be in error my brethren.  Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God.   If, then, those who do this as respects have suffered death, how much more will this be the case with anyone who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified!   Such a one becoming defiled in this way shall go away into everlasting fire and so shall everyone that harkens unto him.”

For a lot of people, connecting  remarriage with a journey toward hell is about as incendiary as preaching can get, unless like another faithful shepherd we recently covered, you rebuke a remarriage adulterer’s church and birth family for not shunning him or her according to the instructions to the church in 1 Cor 5, in an effort to salvage their soul by forcing actual repentance.   Yet, didn’t John the Baptist preach the same thing?    Was Jesus not preaching exactly the same thing in the sermon on the mount?

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.   If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.   If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body,   than for your whole body to go into  hell.   It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’;  but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a  divorced woman commits adultery.

If the risk of hell from the random but easily-repentable act of adultery with the spouse of another (without the civil-only fiction of subsequent “marriage” to that person) was so high that Jesus earnestly advised physically removing the temptation at the first sign that it was going to be a problem,  how can anyone behind the pulpit possibly entertain the delusion that forsaking one’s covenant family and one-flesh, God-joined partner to establish a faux “blended” family with someone else’s one-flesh is going to be OK with God to the point where that adulterous state can continue until death?   What kind of contemporary fool mocks God to His face by actually becoming a “blended family pastor” ?  No wonder the liberal theologians have all dismissed these words of the Lord as “hyperbole” in their commentaries !    How could we possibly fantasize that the One Who said we would give an account before God for every useless word we utter would engage in “hyperbole” while speaking to us of hell?

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall   |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce! 

A Marriage Permanence Teaching That Actually Goes A Bit Too Far?

Hertzler_DearPastorby Standerinfamilycourt

Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear?    –  Acts 15:10

This week SIFC  was reminded that the surprises never end when it comes to the battleground around the biblical truth and the indissolubility of holy matrimony.    That’s why what we believe must be based on the very same anchor that Jesus Himself dropped when He was challenged by those who didn’t take kindly the change from the Law of Moses that managed sin in lieu of eradicating it from the heart.    When Jesus asked what Moses commanded, and was given the Pharasaic response, He bypassed the regulation found in the book of Deuteronomy, and reminded His hearers that not only did Moses capture the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20),  but he penned the account of the first wedding (Genesis 2:21-24), including the taking of Adam’s rib to form Eve to be “bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh”.   Jesus should have known whereof He spoke:   He was actually part of the “Let Us” of the creation;  He was there.
Jesus Himself testified that Adam parted with a single rib for a very good reason, namely #1M1W4L.

Roger Hertzler is a lay elder or pastor in an Anabaptist-affiliated fellowship, possibly Brethren or Mennonite.   An accountant by education and trade., Mr. Hertzler has written an extensive set of sermons on called “Dear Pastor“.    He may have a part time congregation,  since lay pastors are especially common in Brethren churches.   Views toward, and acceptance of, adulterous remarriages vary widely in these Brethren / Mennonite / Anabaptist churches in practice, but there is a formal body of doctrine that reinforces that marriage is one man and one woman for life.    Some of the Anabaptist teachings we have featured on our Facebook page, Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional are quite sound and enlightened, according to scripture.     This particular piece, however, argues that someone exiting an adulterous remarriage in repentance (and who was not previously married or was widowed) is prohibited by the Lord from remarrying, as is the person they so divorced.

The second part is basically true, with the truly biblical exception of reconciliation with the God-joined one-flesh spouse of their youth, to whom in God’s eyes they never ceased to be wed.     However,  Bro. Hertzler insists that both must remain celibate for the remainder of their lives following the severance of the adulterous union.

Here’s a quick summary of Bro. Hertzler’s arguments advocating for the ongoing celibacy of all divorced parties who have living spouses, either covenant or non-covenant, and why each of these arguments are each either extra-biblical or unbiblical:

(1)  Hertzler:  Remarriage after divorce (church-sanctified adultery) is not just a sin against God, it’s a sin against the non-covenant spouse whom the repenter felt compelled to dissolve the unlawful union to.

[“The raw nature of adultery is that despite all the arguments that we could present, a remarriage has the potential to feel like adultery to the offended party, even when the first marriage was not valid. If a man would, for the sake of purity, leave an adulterous marriage and then remain single, it could be seen as both understandable and honorable to the wife (and children) who are left behind. But for her to see him to get married again while she must remain single would be like a perpetual sword being plunged into her heart. Does it not seem reasonable that Jesus was thinking of this very scenario when gave the “against her” statement in Mark 10:11? “]

(2)  HertzlerThe one repenting of remarriage adultery is still bound to keep their second vows even if they should not have been made, hence remaining celibate is the remaining way to do that while honoring Christ’s commandments.

[“Perhaps we could argue, “Since the second set of vows should never have been made, God didn’t hear those vows, and therefore they can’t be violated.” This argument is dubious since Scripture seems to affirm that God hears even those vows that should not have been made. But whether or not this is true, this argument only takes into account the potential sin against God and ignores the potential sin against man.”]

(3) Hertzler:   Allowing a divorced person who was never legitimately married in God’s eyes to subsequently marry a widow or never-married person creates a “man-made exception” to both Mark 10:11 an d 1 Cor. 7:11, which is presumptuous at best and creates confusion / bad witness.

[“To allow for this exception adds a murkiness to the issue at a time when clarity is needed. It makes the question of my standing with God rest on the actions of other people, people who for the most part are outside of my control.   To make this exception would force us to drastically complicate the methods of dealing with divorcees who are seeking repentance. Rather than simply asking, “Do you have a former spouse that is still living?” we would need to examine each of the former spouses to see if they had been married before. Then, if they had been, we would need to examine the marital situation of each of their former spouses, and so on.”]

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:   if Bro. Hertzler indeed does have a congregation, in addition to his accountancy practice,  it is easy to see how his theories would appeal to him and seem like the only acceptable truth.   In a way, his dilemma (and his interest), in the ugly face of the mess made by many unfaithful shepherds of the flock over the last five decades, is not too unlike what other evangelical pastors of strong conscience but misguided application (for example: John Piper) .   They don’t want to sort through complicated facts and circumstances in determining when to perform a second, third or fourth wedding.    They don’t want the gossip in the church that they know is sure to result if there is covenant reconciliation after an intervening adulterous union (perhaps on both sides), especially where there are non-covenant children.     Counseling everyone to remain celibate seems like the best solution.    However, it is not.

Before getting into the incompleteness of the picture Bro. Hertzler has painted, it is good to get grounded in the core truth about the indissolubility of holy matrimony as Jesus related it.    Armed with this foundation, marriage heresies become much easier to spot.   This process is akin to holding a counterfeit $20 bill up against the real thing.   Many of the truths that rebut Bro. Hertzler’s theories are the same ones that apply to John Piper’s theory that disciples should stay in their adulterous remarriages rather than rebuild their covenant families, or build a first-time covenant family.   


The first problem with Hertzler’s argument #1 where the non-covenant spouse who was in legalized adultery while having a living covenant spouse is aggrieved by a covenant remarriage of their faux spouse, is that the Lord expects that previously married non-covenant to acknowledge their unique, exclusive one-flesh status with that first spouse, plead for their soul, and seek or be open to reconciliation with that original spouse.    Otherwise, there is a violation at the very least of the second “bullet” in the graphic above.    The second problem is that Hertzler’s position wrongly assumes that a supernatural one-flesh God-joining occurred in the unlawful union, and it can’t be both ways.   Hence there is also a violation of the first “bullet”, as well, entailed in this theory.   God cannot join a spouse to two living spouses at the same time.   He only took one rib from Adam.    Jesus blew the whistle on Old Testament polygamy, both serial and concurrent, when He took us back to the creation.   Covenant and non-covenant marriages are not morally equivalent at all, because neither are they metaphysically equivalent.

We respond to Bro. Hertzler’s  point #2 the identical way we responded to Dr. Piper’s similar claim that unlawful vows are still binding on both illicit partners, but in this case we can go a bit deeper.   Imagine standing before the Lord of Hosts, the God of Angel Armies, the God portrayed in Mal. 2 as rebuking the violence and treachery of discarding the woman He said IS (not was) “the companion of your marriage covenant”.    Did He say this of wife number two with whom the priest also made vows?  No, He spoke of effects on the generations of offspring.   Just imagine standing before a holy God who tells us (2:14) He was the witness to your first and only covenant vows, and having the audacity to state  this vow:

“I solemnly promise to spend every remaining day of my life violating the binding vows I made to the person You made me exclusively one-flesh with in my youth, the one who still lives.” 

Would a Sovereign who expects forgiveness, reconciliation and restitution hear or hold binding such a vow, any more than He would hear and hold binding a vow that goes, “I vow to commit murder (hatred), and unforgiveness toward my one-flesh, all the days of my life…”  ?   Few of us understand what it means for God Himself to be a party to covenant, according to His character.    Holding either non-covenant spouse to a vain, unlawful vow in which God’s holiness would never allow Him to participate is to hinder at least one of the spouses from setting the right example before covenant and non-covenant offspring alike.

Bro. Hertzler’s point #3 is the only one that comes even close to having some biblical merit, at least with respect to the spouse who was never in a biblically lawful marriage before entering the non-covenant one.   Indeed, for many years pre-1973, the Assemblies of God had a firm rule against performing a wedding over anyone with a living spouse, and against giving credentials as a pastor to anyone who had a spouse with a prior living spouse, or if they did themselves — very simple, no further questions asked.   As it happens, SIFC also knows many never-married men and women who have come out of legalized adultery unions who have no desire to marry another (widowed or never-married), even though they are free to do so because they would not be violating a one-flesh covenant.    Most of them have children from those non-covenant unions.  All of them earnestly pray for their non-covenant former partner to be reconciled with their true one-flesh.   Most of them are driven by purpose to right this eternally-deadly immorality in church and society, and to serve the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

Nevertheless, there was a joyous wedding this past week in the global marriage permanence fellowship.    A long-suffering widow whose restored-prodigal husband died a short time after he forsook an adulterous remarriage and returned to his covenant home, has been joined by God to a man who came out of two non-covenant unions, the first as an unsaved person, and the second as a convicted, repenting follower of Christ.   Like his covenant bride, this man endured years of hardship and sacrifice  in order to meet his godly obligations to the members of that non-covenant home while exiting the sin, an act that was misunderstood by everyone around him.   His testimony, written near the start of that journey, can be read here ( DWalker testimony).     The wedding was proudly solemnized by a stander-pastor who has ministered for many years to the members of the marriage permanence community who might otherwise be cut off from any fellowship with the body of Christ due to their unpopular stand for the no-excuses indissolubility of holy matrimony.

Meanwhile, within that marriage permanence community, Bro. Hertzler’s blog has unfortunately caused great (if unintended) damage because of the distortion it has caused for some in applying 1 Cor. 7:11.   It seems some carnal believers would like to apply Paul’s counsel to “remain unmarried or be reconciled” as a free choice between two equally moral and acceptable options, rather than the way he actually intended: “prefer reconciliation, but in the meantime remain unmarried“.    Some see this distortion as a way to justify estrangement from an unwanted spouse who is not a threat to their safety or wellbeing or their walk with the Lord, and merely to get around the first part of Paul’s command that a wife should not leave her husband (1 Cor. 7:10).   Once again, the heresy becomes easy to spot through the filter suggested in this post.

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

Let’s Take an AUTHENTIC Stand for Marriage, Christian Right

NatMarriageWkby Standerinfamilycourt

February 7 – 14 is National Marriage Week.
During this week, there will be much going on that is vital and valuable to our nation, but there will be no getting away from the fact that in the corrupted culture of contemporary evangelicaldom, it will be “finders keepers”, and millions in faux “marriages” which are not holy matrimony, will be encouraged to stay there at the peril of their very souls.  The excellent organization, promotes it in this audio link dated January 5, 2017.

Talking about marriage “permanence” is politically acceptable to this crowd, but it will not resolve the nation’s problems because it will not touch the root issue.   Rather, the message needs to be around the far more relevant and offensive topic of holy matrimony indissolubility, according to Matt.19:6,8 and Luke 16:18. This needs to be in the heaven-or-hell terms that Jesus and Paul unflinchingly cast it.

Some crucial topics not likely to be on this year’s agenda:

– When will pastors stop performing weddings that Jesus repeatedly called adulterous (and tell the congregation why) ?

– When will pastors stop signing civil marriage licenses that reflect the only unenforceable contract in American history, and which since 1970, in no way corresponds to Christ’s Matt. 19:4-6 definition of marriage?

– When will pastors stop smearing and stigmatizing the growing stream of true disciples of Jesus Christ who are coming out of adulterous civil unions to in order to recover their inheritance in the kingdom of God? [1 Cor. 6:9-10; Mal. 5:19-21-KJV)

– When will repealing unilateral divorce in all 50 states become as high a moral priority as outlawing the slave trade, or repealing Row. v. Wade, or ending sodomous “marriages” ?

Given what Jesus and Paul both had to say about remarriage adultery (repeatedly by each), true revival when it arrives, is going to look horrifying to the organizers of National Marriage Week, but it will be pleasing to God.   The horror will not be due to the repenting prodigals, but due to five decades of false, hireling shepherds not doing the job the Owner of the fold gave them to safeguard souls first, and then covenant families.


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Does Defending Remarriage Adultery Justify Matthew 14:4 Murkiness, Dr. Piper?

jp_jtbby Standerinfamilycourt

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the news about Jesus,  and said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

For when Herod had John arrested, he bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.   For John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”   Although Herod wanted to put him to death, he feared the crowd, because they regarded John as a prophet.   But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod,  so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked.  Having been prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”    Although he was grieved, the king commanded it to be given because of his oaths, and because of his dinner guests.  He sent and had John beheaded in the prison.   And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother.   His disciples came and took away the body and buried it; and they went and reported to Jesus.   – Matthew 14: 1-12

This is not the first time it’s seemed necessary to rebut a John Piper blog due to its wrong premises, “creative” scripture interpretation  and erroneous conclusions.    This is unfortunate, because Dr. Piper is one of the few who is adamant that divorce is never justified and that remarriage after divorce is adultery in all cases.    The problem is,  he deems all marriages to be morally equivalent and interchangeable once they do occur, hence he deems it to be a “repeated sin” for a repenting prodigal spouse to divorce out of an adulterous union and reconcile with their true spouse.    This time we find a very interesting Piper theory concerning Matthw 14:4 in his blog post dated January 3, 2017:

Piper writes:

We get a lot of emails on relationships, everything from dating, engagement, marriage, and of course divorce and remarriage. This genre of email dominates all the other questions we get. And we get a lot of good push back emails and follow-up questions in search of greater clarity, like this one from a listener named Matthew: “Pastor John, I have a follow-up to you on episode 920 on divorce. Didn’t John the Baptists want Herod to ditch his wife? Because John had been saying to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her’ (present tense). See Matthew 14:4. He did not say, ‘It is not lawful for you to have taken her’ (past tense). And we all know how important tense is interpreting the Bible. She is called his wife. So how do you reconcile this seemingly clear call for a married couple to divorce?”

Piper responds:

 There are at least three things in this passage that are unknown to us and that keep me from using the passage to justify divorce. I admit that sometimes divorce for a faithful believer is inevitable, because Paul says so in 1 Corinthians 7:15 when an unbeliever insists on leaving a believer who does everything he or she can to make the marriage work. You can’t stop an unbeliever from doing that and, therefore, divorce as they carry it through may be inevitable. Remarriage in that situation is another issue. We are not talking about that.

(We don’t disagree! — although, all concerned should bear in mind that all divorce is man-made and dissolves precisely nothing, unless the marriage was adulterous to begin with.)

Here come the highly imaginative arguments:

 John the Baptist may have been telling Herod “Get out of the relationship,” not “Get out of the marriage.”

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Fair enough – the relationship is immoral, and the civil-only purported  “marriage” does not exist in God’s eyes.   We do disagree with the premise of the question, So how do you reconcile this seemingly clear call for a married couple to divorce?”   The objection, of course, is to the loose usage of the term “married couple” for an adulterous union that God didn’t participate in and will never recognize as a marriage.   To claim otherwise accuses a holy God of breaking covenant with the undissolved true marriage, and covenanting with that which His Son repeatedly called adultery.   Both are completely foreign to the holy character of God.

 So, let’s go back to this text. The text says, “For Herod had seized John” — John the Baptist — “and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because John had been saying to him, ‘It is not lawful for you to have her’” (Matthew 14:3–4). That is a good translation, by the way. “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

 1. The first thing that is unknown to me is when Herod married his brother’s wife — or if he actually married her.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  We recommend reading the account of the historian, Josephus (Antiquities 18.5.1 109-115), who informs us that Herod divorced his covenant wife to legalize his adultery with Herodias, and Herodias divorced Philip, if you’re at all curious about this.    Why would the king of Judea bother to divorce his true wife if there wasn’t a pressing need to keep up the appearance of “respectability” by legalizing his adultery?

When John says “it is not lawful for you to have her,” is he definitively saying that they are married? Or only that they are sleeping together or living in some kind of common law situation — kind of a situation that looks like marriage just to avoid legal issues? Most commentators document that they were married, but nobody seems to actually put a date on it in relationship to this event. If they weren’t married, then John is saying: Get out of the relationship. Stop sleeping together. Not, get out of a marriage. I don’t know.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Although most commentators are not entirely trustworthy these days, especially with passages that deal with sexual ethics, or that so much as hint at the sanctity of marriage, in this instance however they are clearly not pulling a speculation out of the air, due to the historical records.    It is you, Dr. Piper, who is doing the unnecessary speculating.   And adulterous remarriage is not actually “marriage”.


 2. The second thing that is uncertain is this: let’s just suppose they were married. The second thing that is uncertain is whether John is actually saying that the marriage should end. He is saying: It is unlawful for you to have her. You sinned in marrying her, if he married her. But it may also be unlawful to throw her out after she had been married to another man and therefore make her destitute on Jewish principle since she can’t go back to that first husband. It is not crystal clear from this text that John is saying ditch her.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  The man didn’t lose his head for saying, “that’s OK, we’ll work it out somehow.   Why don’t you just repent in your heart?  It will be fine, don’t worry.”   Nor did he risk his head for something trivial that wasn’t a heaven-or-hell issue.    John the Baptist, we know from scripture, was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb.   Surely he would have known that Jesus would be abrogating the limited-application Mosaic regulation that prohibited some Jewish husbands from taking some Jewish wives back.   Even if he didn’t, there’s strong evidence that post-marital adultery was never in the scope of this rule under Moses.


 3. But now, let us suppose that John was actually saying: end the marriage. And let’s suppose they were married. So, two uncertainties — we will just assume both of them are true.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  We must respectfully disagree that either of the two items referenced are “uncertainties”, so it’s good that you are assuming they are both true !

The third thing that is uncertain is whether he is saying this because the unlawfulness of the marriage is owing to the fact that she was married before or at the same time or that she was the wife of his brother which, according to Old Testament law, would make the second marriage incestuous, like marrying your sister or your sister-in-law or your daughter. So, Leviticus 18:16 says, “You shall not uncover the nakedness of your brother’s wife; it is your brother’s nakedness.” Or Leviticus 20:21, “If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness; they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.”

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Now here’s where it makes sense to presume that both assumptions are true because they both actually are true, and both clearly create unlawful conditions.   At the same time, incest is not a reason specifically cited by Paul as costing one’s inheritance in the kingdom of God, though most surely it does.   But Jesus defined adultery three different times as marrying someone else’s God-joined spouse, while both 1 Corinthian 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21 tell us explicitly that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God.   How can John reasonably be seen as NOT telling them to terminate this immoral relationship?


 Piper: “I don’t think Matthew 14:4 can be used in any ordinary situation to justify divorce.”

 Frankly — and this kind of boils down to the practical reality — I have never in all my pastoral life been confronted with a situation in which a man had married his sister or sister-in-law. It is difficult to know what I would say about the ongoing reality and propriety of that marriage. My inclination, not having faced it and not having thought more than a little about it, is that I probably would say the marriage should end, the way I would if the man was found to have married his own daughter. But those are such extraordinary cases that I would be very hesitant to build a case in favor of divorce in general upon them.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Red herring (and nice deflection)!   See above.   (And Lord, for the sake of the very souls of our prodigal spouses, on the day they are moving toward genuine repentance, please, in Jesus’ name, keep them out of Dr. Piper’s counseling seat.   You, Lord, have clearly stated that no ongoing adulterer will have any inheritance in the kingdom of God.) 


 So, in view of those three uncertainties at least, I don’t think Matthew 14:4 can be used in any ordinary situation to justify divorce.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  It should be clear that there are no actual uncertainties here, and certainly none that aren’t completely moot.   Man’s divorce is meaningless when there is no holy matrimony  in God’s eyes to actually dissolve.   Rather, it’s repentance, which restores full fellowship with God.  To obfuscate the clear meaning of this passage is irresponsible and cowardly, Dr. Piper.   It shows zero regard for the eternities of the souls involved, unlike the other John who laid down his very life to try to rescue those souls!

It’s understandable that men like Piper fear, and do everything they can to forestall the mass-repentance that will one day explode in this area when true revival reaches the shores of America (and other divorce-happy nations) where the church as been an active accomplice in driving up demand for marriage dissolution by rewarding its foul fruit.   That inevitable day will reflect badly on pastors and denominational leadership who created this complex mess, just like it did on the priests in the book of Ezra when they were forced to confront the negative impact of unlawful marriages and purge them.

Dr. Piper’s rhetorical question is the equivalent of asking whether we can use Exodus 20, verses 15 and 17 to justify the return of stolen goods!

Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.   –  Matthew 11:11-13

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

Dr. Piper’s Divorce, Remarriage, and Doing WHAT??

JPiperBlog2by Standerinfamilycourt

(Ezra, Chapter 9) …the princes approached me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, according to their abominations, those of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians and the Amorites.  For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy  race has intermingled with the peoples of the lands; indeed, the hands of the princes and the rulers have been foremost in this unfaithfulness.”   When I heard about this matter, I tore my garment and my robe, and pulled some of the hair from my head and my beard, and sat down appalled.   Then everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel on account of the unfaithfulness of the exiles gathered to me, and I sat appalled until the evening offering.  But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my ands to the Lord my God;  and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens.”

(John Piper, 8/16/2016)  “So, this is a question then for almost every Christian.   If the marriage that you are in was entered wrongfully, you shouldn’t have entered it. Should you stay in it?   That is the question.   And my answer is: Yes.   Repent honestly before God to each other and to him. Admit it should not have happened. Ask for forgiveness from each other and from God, perhaps from former spouses. And then keep your promises that you made to each other when you made your vows, rather than a second time breaking your word. And Lisa’s question is: Are there texts for that opinion? I mean, you are just saying that, Piper. What about the Bible?  And I want to say here: I could be wrong about this. I could be drawing inferences from texts illegitimately. But there do seem to me to be three or four or more pointers in this direction in the Bible, and I will give them to Lisa now.”       [ emphasis is SIFC’s]

We do admire John Piper’s courage in calling out remarriage adultery with unusual scriptural accuracy in this evil age.    Prior writings of his have been so bold as to agree with both Jesus and Paul that the “innocent party” in adultery, abuse, abandonment, etc. may not remarry while the spouse of their youth lives, no matter how humanistically unfair that seems.    We also admire his humility shown above in admitting, in response to a woman who wrote and challenged him,  that there are really no scriptural texts counseling people to remain in a non-covenant marriage sinfully entered while having a living, estranged spouse.    What we don’t admire is his ignoring several more relevant passages that make it abundantly clear that exiting those unions in repentance is precisely what disciples of Jesus Christ should and must do.

What’s wrong with the “support” Dr. Piper gives to argue for remaining in the ongoing state of serial polygamy, in light of the repeated warnings that no unrepented adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God?     Let’s take a look:

1) In Joshua 9 there is the story of the Gibeonites who, you may remember, hear about Joshua and the Israelites destroying cities, and they don’t want to be destroyed. So, they know they are going to be next on the list of destruction, so they pretend to be from a far away country, they lie to Joshua, and they get him to promise that he will not kill them, because they are not in his territory. And Joshua makes a vow and swears to them before God that he won’t kill them. And then he finds out that they were lying to him. And it says in Joshua 9:19, “All the leaders said to all the congregation, ‘We have sworn to them by the Lord, the God of Israel, and now we may not touch them.’”     There are two reasons why they shouldn’t have entered this vow. One is because the Gibeonites were lying to them and, two, is because it says explicitly that they did not consult God — and God explicitly intended for the Gibeonites to be destroyed (see Joshua 9:14, 24). And now they are keeping the vow they never should have made under horrible circumstances, thus, elevating the importance of promise-keeping or vow-keeping even when it was entered into wrongfully. And I am saying that perhaps suggests — I think it does suggest — that a vow you make to a person to be their husband or their wife till death do you part is not something to be taken lightly.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   From the beginning, Dr. Piper’s inference with regard to the binding nature of vows starts from a biblically-invalid presumption:  that man’s divorce unjoins the one-flesh entity (“sarx mia“) which God’s hand instantaneously and supernaturally creates upon the exchange of valid vows.    Dr. Piper presumes that an act of man rather than the death of one of the spouses breaks the prior covenant.   God’s word does not say that.   God’s word says that only God can unjoin what He has joined, “what therefore God has joined, let NO MAN separate.” – Matt. 19:6, Mark 10:8-9.   God’s word says that God covenants with that entity, unconditionally and irrevocably.   – Mal. 2:14; Num. 23:19.   God’s word says twice that only death releases the partners from their marriage bond. – Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39.

When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.  Do not let your speech cause you to sin and do not say in the presence of the messenger of God that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry on account of your voice and destroy the work of your hands?   –  Ecclesiastes 5:4-6

That being the case, if a prior vow to God, with which He still covenants, cannot be fulfilled due a subsequent vow which a party had no capacity to make without condemning himself or herself to hell in fulfilling it, is it not a false vow?

Another reason that Dr. Piper’s “possession is 9/10ths of the law” human logic fails is that a Barna Group survey in 1990 determined that some ninety percent of the divorces with remarriage occurring in the U.S. church occurred after the parties professed Christ.   Hence, they had every opportunity to know what God’s word says about remarriage after divorce but they proceeded anyway, with Barna Group also measuring and  reporting the serial repeat rate.   Is this not mocking God by putting Him to the test?    Moses, too, stumbled when he tried to “manage” sin instead of eradicating it, and he was therefore rebuked by Jesus….”but I say unto you…from the beginning IT WAS NOT SO!” –  Matt.19:8


Getting back to the Gibeonites,  suppose another pagan group also deceived or bribed the descendants of Joshua and company into subsequently vowing to kill the Gibeonites,  but they later discovered a scroll with the original vow.    Would that subsequent vow be binding on them, simply because it was spoken?  

Now there was a famine in the days of David for three years, year after year; and David sought the presence of the Lord. And the Lord said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”  So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).  Thus David said to the Gibeonites, “What should I do for you? And how can I make atonement that you may bless the inheritance of the Lord?”   –  2 Samuel 21:1-3


2) Jesus talked to the woman at the well in terms that suggest pretty strongly that he believed she had five genuine husbands and one non-genuine live-in. He put it like this: “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true’” (John 4:16–18).

Now, think about that. What does that imply?

It is true that the Greek — that includes this text here — does not have a different word for husband and man or husband and male. So, it could be translated: You have had five men and the man you now have is not your man. But even if you translate it that way, it doesn’t make sense unless you distinguish this sixth man from those other five in some way, because he says: This is not your man. Those were your men. This is not your man. This is not your husband. Those were your husbands. What was the difference? Well, the only thing I know to suggest is that they had somehow formalized the relationship in a ceremony in which they took some promises to create the relationship that was known as marriage — or husband and wife. So, it seems Jesus put some stock in calling those five men real husbands different from five live-in boyfriends that she never married.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Oooh, just let me at this one!    What does that imply, Dr. Piper?    It implies that she was shacking up after the unilateral divorce system entrenched in Mosaic law up to that point  (which Jesus was poised to abrogate on many topics, including the sanctity of marriage) tossed this woman around like last week’s garbage.
We have previously blogged on What about That Samaritan Woman?”    First of all, kudos to Dr. Piper for being honest enough to admit that the meaning of the Greek “andra / andros ”   is fluid enough to range from God-joined one-flesh husband to her “old man” (shack-up partner), one of several other points we make in our blog.    Many a theologian we’ve read aren’t anywhere near as transparent when it comes to the various partners of this chick and how the language could have applied to each.    We’ve already shown where Jesus has rebuked and slammed as adultery various situations (for example, among the Pharisees) where the serial polygamists “somehow formalized the relationship in a ceremony in which they took some promises to create the relationship that was known as marriage”.

Okay, then, suppose Jesus walked in today on Justice Ginsburg or Vice President Joe Biden or  Rev. T.D. Jakes presiding over a legal civil wedding between two men.   Are they not repeating vows?   Are they not repeating vows that if fulfilled, “til death do us part”,  will cost them their souls and their inheritance in the kingdom of God?    Does God’s hand create sarx mia at that particular ceremony?   Are those vows to continue in a lifelong state of sodomy, therefore. “binding”?


3) Here is the third one. Interestingly enough, I was talking this over with all the team of the Together for the Gospel guys, and I won’t say who said it, but one of them, I thought, very provocatively pointed this out: Jesus does use the verb marry for what they should not do and do when he is forbidding them from doing it. Let me show you what I mean. “Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matthew 5:32).


He doesn’t say whoever presumably marries or tries to marry. He says marries. He doesn’t say presumes to marry or tries to marry — as if, yes, this is a real marriage being created. It should not be created and it is like committing adultery when you enter it. He says a similar kind of thing in Mark 10:11–12. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

So, if Jesus is willing to call wrongfully entered relationships marriages, then it seems to me that we should hold people to the expectations of holiness and permanence implied in the word marriage, till death do us part. I take the warning that remarriage involves adultery, “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,” not to mean that sexual relations in a wrongfully entered relationship can never be sanctified through repentance and forgiveness, but rather that an unholy relationship involves unholy sex until that relationship is newly consecrated to God through repentance and forgiveness. That relationship remains tainted at every level.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   We’ve already dealt with the supernatural difference between God-joined covenant unions and all other types of unions legal under man’s amoral laws, but illegitimate under God’s law.   The other kind of joining is discussed by Paul in 1 Cor. 6:16, where it is contrasted with sarx mia.   It is called hen soma (one body), the carnal joining by the devices of man and only the inflicted, unwillful presence of God.   It is not only severable by men, it must be severed for the sake of holiness without which no man will see God.   It is not something God’s holy nature would ever covenant with (even on a “time-evolved” or “grandfathered” basis), because that means forsaking the prior covenant.    As Basil the Great said in A.D. 375,  “The man who has deserted his wife and goes to another is himself an adulterer because he makes her commit adultery; and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress because she has caused another woman’s husband to come over to her…the woman who lives with an adulterer is an adulteress the whole time.”   – Amphilochius 199 (a)


[‘….as if, yes, this is a real marriage being created. It should not be created and it is like committing adultery when you enter it. “]

Dr. Piper, surely you know that Jesus never said entering an unlawful marriage was “like” committing adultery!   Jesus very forcefully stated on three separate occasions, each recorded by two different authors using the same present indicative verb tense in the Greek,  that marrying someone who has a living prior spouse is entering into an ongoing state of adultery.   Once again, to your credit, Dr. Piper, you stop short of resorting to the intellectual dishonesty of claiming this is a one-time act, as so many of your peers consistently do, but in light of all the points made above, we must still take strong biblical exception to your next statement….

I take the warning that remarriage involves adultery, “whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery,” not to mean that sexual relations in a wrongfully entered relationship can never be sanctified through repentance and forgiveness, but rather that an unholy relationship involves unholy sex until that relationship is newly consecrated to God through repentance and forgiveness.

May we ask what other soul-forfeiting, ongoing state of sin mentioned in Paul’s two “lists” – 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21, may be forgiven and continued?    Will the unholy sex between the two civilly married “husbands” be “consecrated to God” through agreeing with God that it was wrong and repenting in their hearts (but not severing the relationship)?    That one shares the lists but isn’t mentioned as early in the lineup, or talked about nearly so much by  both Jesus and Paul as the heterosexual counterfeit for holy matrimony.    From this last point, may we then simply infer, as the gay apologists would like, that just because Jesus didn’t say “whoever ‘marries’ ,  ‘presumably marries’  or ‘tries to marry’ someone of the same sex enters an ongoing state of sodomy…”   that the partners may remain in that relationship and hope to “sanctify” it contrary to Paul’s repeated warnings?   How is either abomination “honoring God”?

May we ask, what does God’s word actually say about the modern day idol of sexual autonomy?

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.  Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.   – Hebrews 10:26-28

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols?   For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,“I will dwell in them and walk among themAnd I will be their God, and they shall be My people  “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.  – 2 Cor. 6:15-17

We love what faithful shepherd and marriage warrior, Dr. Joseph Webb of Christian Principles Restored Ministries says, “no sin ever yet died of old age.”

4) One last thought. If this seems strange that a prohibited relationship can become a consecrated and holy one, consider the example — and there are several in the Bible — of the kingship of Israel. The people came to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:6–7 and said, “‘Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’” And yet, in spite of this evil origin of this new relationship of king and people and God, God made the kingship an integral part of his plan for Jesus to come as the King of kings and Lord of lords and as the Son of David.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Now we’re really grasping, and it’s a really good thing this piece is wrapping up, at least from the defense of “sanctified” serial polygamy side!   An old Sesame Street thinking exercise (and tune) seems really apropos here.   “One these things is not like the others.  One of these things just doesn’t belong.   If you guessed this thing  is not like the others, you’re absolutely right!”    Without the imperative recognition of God’s role in creating and covenanting with an inseverable one-flesh entity, there’s no way to detect that holy matrimony is not like the others.   It is distinct from everything else and cannot be replicated by men, ever.

That said, we can now get to the more obvious flaw in Dr. Piper’s reasoning:  in the clamor for a king over Israel and its resigned fulfillment by the Most High, there certainly was a relationship of evil origin, but there was no new vow, (at least not until the time of David)!   

Among the overlooked biblical examples that are, in our view,  a much more reliable biblical basis for discussing this topic of penitently departing an unlawful civil-only marriage, that do not support Dr. Piper’s position:

(1) Ezra, chapters 9 and 10.   Israel and Judah were ending their 70-year exile from the sacking of Jerusalem after both nations turned away from God, became idolatrous and greedy and made a polygamous mockery of holy matrimony.    God had given unmerited favor in the restoration of circumstances that had allowed the rebuilding of the temple and the wall, but had one more requirement before He would restore their sovereignty as a nation.    Beginning with the disobedient priests, they must purge their nation of unlawful marriages, even where there were children.    Concurrent polygamy still prevailed in Israel, so in many cases the foreign wives were not the covenant wife, hence there was no one-flesh entity.   These dependents were provided for and the relationships were severed.   There was no “repenting in their hearts” that was going to appease God or “consecrate” those unions that His hand never joined.

Although many try to misuse this passage as their proof-text that God allows Christians to drag their unsaved spouses into a pagan court (1 Cor. 6:1-8 and 1 Cor. 7:12-14 notwithstanding) in order to financially and spiritually abandon them with society’s and the church’s approval so as not to be “unequally yoked”,  the correct analogy is to the inherent unlawfulness of any subsequent union under God’s clearly-stated law while the true spouse remains alive.   (Obvious analogies can also be drawn to the current state of society and threat of foreign invasion in many western countries today where the indissolubility of holy matrimony has been steadily undermined since the Reformation, and most acutely in the U.S. in the last 50 years.)

(2) Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29.    The parallel accounts in two gospels of the beheading of John the Baptist for calling out the unlawful “marriage” of King Herod and his brother Philip’s wife Herodias after both had divorced their God-joined one-flesh (pagan) spouses and legalized their adultery under Mosaic law.    There’s a bit of irony in the fact that remarriage apologists dive for cover while miscasting the sin John was calling out as “incest”, for that acknowledges the unsevered (indeed, inseverable) one-flesh entity between Herodias and Philip, does it not?   John, clearly articulated that it was unlawful for Herod to have his brother’s wife.   This is after all the same civil paper was gathered to hide behind that we gather today.    In Matthew 11, Jesus forseeing John’s death, spoke the same words over John. as echoed in Luke 16, just before He said for the third time, “everyone who marries a divorced person is committing ongoing adultery.”   Jesus said of John:

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.  From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.  For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.  And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (v. 11-15)

Luke 16:14-31.   This  sobering “truth sandwich” from Jesus, which the 16th chapter of Luke comprises, starts with a warning about preparing for hell if we are going to be in love with the world system and its unrighteous mammon.   In the middle is the commendation of John discussed above, then there was the scoffing by the Pharisees (who had become world-class serial polygamists now that Ezra had done away with concurrent polygamy), to whom Jesus responded:

“You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” (v 15)

Jesus then echoes His remarks about His cousin, John and the violence suffered in taking the kingdom of God by force, after which He makes HIs enigmatic and exceptionless statement about marrying another after divorcing from a covenant spouse creating an ongoing state of adultery, and immediately following this, He spends the next dozen verses graphically depicting hell.   Coincidence?
(Yes, Dr. Piper, we’d did just imply that if people in unlawful marriages don’t repent by exiting those unions while they still draw breath, they will perish in hell.  We think it’s reasonable to conclude that’s precisely what Jesus was saying here.)

Which brings us to a natural segue in considering the impact of Dr. Piper’s Calvinist background on his willingness to even consider the prospect of hell for a disobedient-to-apostate believer as they make fateful choices about marital holiness.   If you believe “once saved, always saved”,  and if you believe the “finished work of the cross” means Jesus died for all “past, present and future sins”, even a learned seminarian might be tempted toward the view of legalistically staying in a non-covenant union rather than go through the disruption, grief-giving and reputational damage of severing it to keep one’s true, undissolved covenant vow of holy matrimony.   If you don’t believe that remarriage adultery tends to take even believers to hell in pairs, why not counsel illicit couples to stay in their state of serial polygamy?    Why fight the civil laws that foster it, and why not sign immoral and intrusive civil marriage licenses as an agent of the state?

God keep our repenting prodigals away from the John Pipers of this world who are 99% correct in their theology, but the 1% they err in is the very difference between heaven and hell!   May the Holy Spirit speak louder than he.    Dr. Piper, outcome-wise, is just as dangerous as the thoroughly-heretical Dr. MacArthur to a prodigal trying to return to the Lord and trying to repent of his civilly-sanctioned  immorality.

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce! 

Calling Out the High Priest of Serial Polygamy (Hypergrace to You!)

by Standerinfamilycourt

Comments by J.H., a standing brother in speaking recently with his pastor….
I was invited to lunch today by an elder in our church. Our meeting lasted nearly 3 hours. After we were done, he thanked me for sharing my views on MDR with him. Later in the afternoon, he sent me a copy of John MacArthur’s church position paper on the topic. I believe this has been discussed here before; it did not take long for me to find several points of contention. I would appreciate any and all comments that point out the places where we believe this paper would be flawed. Any and all comments are desired as I develop any response I may make to this elder. Thanks.



God Hates Divorce. He hates it because it always involves unfaithfulness to the solemn covenant of marriage that two partners have entered into before Him, and because it brings harmful consequences to those partners and their children (Mal. 2:14-16).

Error #1 – Dr. MacArthur fails to point out that the context of Malachi 2 is specifically addressing only the covenant with the spouse of our youth, and that God not only called breaking faith with that indissoluble covenant “treacherous” and “violent”, He said it always resulted in broken fellowship with Him, and also that it defiled future generations.   The word “sane” שָׂנֵ֣א is the same strong word God used for “hate” in Proverbs 6:16-19 when He tells us His 6 or 7 “hot buttons”

Divorce in the Scripture is permitted only because of man’s sin.

Error #2 – Divorce of a consummated marriage was never “permitted” in scripture, but only to dissolve a ketubah betrothal contract, under which a fiancé was legally considered a wife prior to consummation of the marriage according to Mosaic law.   To the contrary, Jesus said Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning IT WAS NOT SO!


Since divorce is only a concession to man’s sin and is not part of God’s original plan for marriage, all believers should hate divorce as God does and pursue it only when there is no other recourse.

Error #3 – Our Holy God never makes “concessions” to man’s sin!   In fact, in Hebrews, He calls this “insulting the spirit of grace”, “trampling under foot the Son of God”, and “regarding as unclean the blood of the covenant” sanctifying us.   He says, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”.   (Matt. 5:48)


With God’s help a marriage can survive the worst sins.

A civil-only “marriage” (unlike true holy matrimony) cannot survive the worst sin, that of being only carnally joined to someone else’s one-flesh covenant mate, as per 1 Cor. 6:16, rather than joined by God’s hand as per Matt. 19:6.   There is no “help from God” for that which Jesus repeatedly called adulterous.   In fact, in Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gives us the true picture connected with violation of Luke 16:18, after commending John the Baptist for rebuking the adulterous remarriage of Herod and Herodias, being concerned enough for their souls that he gave up his head.


In Matthew 19:3-9, Christ teaches clearly that divorce is an accommodation to man’s sin that violates God’s original purpose for the intimate unity and permanence of the marriage bond (Gen. 2:24).

Error #4 – in Matthew 19:8, Jesus teaches clearly that civil divorce is a man-made construct under which Moses tried to regulate the dissolution of Hebrew betrothal so that an unholy arbitrage in the bride price paid under ketubah would not result.   With regard to consummated holy matrimony, God may have a “purpose” for marriage, but that “purpose” is fully a COMMANDMENT, because Jesus very clearly and imperatively stated, “therefore what GOD has joined, let NO MAN separate.”


He taught that God’s law allowed divorce only because of “hardness of heart” (Matt. 19:8).

Re-assertion of Errors #2 and #4 discussed above.   Jesus did not say, “God allowed”, He said “Moses allowed.”


Legal divorce was a concession for the faithful partner

Re-assertion of Error #3 above.   Jesus was clearly stating in 19:6 that man is given no power or authority to dissolve a covenant in which God Himself is an irrevocable participant, nor to unjoin the one-flesh entity He has joined.


….due to the sexual sin or abandonment by the sinning partner, so that the faithful partner was no longer bound to the marriage (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:12-15).

Error #5 – both Matt. 5:32 and Matt. 19:9 (full text) clearly state that anyone / everyone who marries any divorced person commits continuous, ongoing adultery. Since marriages cannot possibly be only half-adulterous, it follows that there cannot therefore be any provision for either partner to remarry so long as both spouses remain alive.  

Error #6 – Dr. MacArthur is being intellectually dishonest in his claim that 1 Cor. 7:12-15 releases the “faithful partner” from the marriage bond.   Any lay person going online and consulting a Greek-English interlinear tool can see that the word dedoulōtai δεδούλωται (Strongs 1402) means “enslavement / subjection”, not “marriage bond”.   The true word for marriage bond, dedetai δέδεται (Strongs 1210) is used, however, in verse 39 where Paul makes clear that nothing but physical death breaks that bond, echoed also in Rom. 7:2.   For the founder and president of a theological seminary, Dr. MacArthur’s sloppy hermeneutics is inexcusable.


Although Jesus did say that divorce is permitted in some situations, we must remember that His primary point in this discourse is to correct the Jews’ idea that they could divorce one another “for any cause at all” (Matt. 19:3), and to show them the gravity of pursuing a sinful divorce. Therefore, the believer should never consider divorce except in specific circumstances (see next section), and even in those circumstances it should only be pursued reluctantly because there is no other recourse.

Error #7 – there is never “no other recourse” for problems in the holy matrimony covenant of our youth.   In fact, 1 Cor. 6:1-8 forbids Christ’s disciples to take matters before a pagan judge instead of the church. Also, 1 Cor. 7:10-11 provides for separation without dissolution or remarriage for the most dire of cases that might arise in holy matrimony.   That said, an unlawful civil marriage where one of the spouses has a living, estranged prior spouse must be dissolved civilly in a step of repentance since Jesus defined adultery as marrying a divorced person, and nobody living on in the state of adultery has any inheritance in the kingdom of God.



The Grounds for Divorce

The only New Testament grounds for divorce are sexual sin or desertion by an unbeliever. The first is found in Jesus’ use of the Greek word porneia (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). This is a general term that encompasses sexual sin such as adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, and incest.

Error #8 – There is no stated grounds to dissolve holy matrimony ever mentioned in scripture for desertion.   To the contrary, Jesus clearly stated in Matt. 19:6 that men have no power or authority to dissolve consummated holy matrimony.   The only sexual sin where Jesus permitted divorce was in the case of fornication (porneia) – rendered prostitution or whoredom in all lexicons and translations prior to 1850 – that occurred during contractual Hebrew betrothal and only up to the wedding night.  

Error #9 – Porneia is not a general term that encompasses adultery, bestiality or incest according to the older, more reliable lexicons where it was consistently rendered as prostitution. The Roman term “fornication” literally comes from the fornix – the arches under which prostitutes carried on their trade, and a porne was a temple prostitute during Christ’s time on earth. In fact, both Jesus and Paul consistently referred to porneia (fornication) and moicheia (adultery) separately in several lists of grave sins, and also referred to sodomy separately.


When one partner violates the unity and intimacy of a marriage by sexual sin—and forsakes his or her covenant obligation—the faithful partner is placed in an extremely difficult situation. After all means are exhausted to bring the sinning partner to repentance, the Bible permits release for the faithful partner through divorce (Matt. 5:32; 1 Cor. 7:15).

Re-assertion of errors refuted above, with “extremely difficult situation” duly acknowledged, as Christ acknowledged it.   Discipleship and purity carries a cost – that of laying down our lives for the kingdom of God.


The second reason for permitting a divorce is in cases where an unbelieving mate does not desire to live with his or her believing spouse (1 Cor. 7:12-15). Because “God has called us to peace” (v. 15), divorce is allowed and may be preferable in such situations. When an unbeliever desires to leave, trying to keep him or her in the marriage may only create greater tension and conflict. Also, if the unbeliever leaves the marital relationship permanently but is not willing to file for divorce, perhaps because of lifestyle, irresponsibility, or to avoid monetary obligations, then the believer is in an impossible situation of having legal and moral obligations that he or she cannot fulfill.

Error #10 – the “peace” the disciple is called to is not a lack of conflict with the departing spouse, but the inner tranquility of a life in Christ for the obedient spouse who continues in the unbroken covenant with God.   The assumption that civil divorce is “necessary” to avoid conflict itself conflicts with many other scriptures, notably 1 Cor. 6:1-8.

Error #11 – while the believing, abandoned spouse is indeed left in a difficult situation, there is no impossible situation in Christ.   Indeed, Jesus discussed this situation in Matt. 19:10-12 when He talked about the three types of “eunuchs”, with the third type being the one who wasn’t born that way, nor physically injured that way, but becomes a eunuch voluntarily for the sake of the kingdom of God.


Because “the brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases” (1 Cor. 7:15) and is therefore no longer obligated to remain married, the believer may file for divorce without fearing the displeasure of God.

Re-assertion of Error #6, discussed above.   The very reason the brother or sister is not “under bondage” is their salvation / sanctification itself, not any man-made attempt to dissolve what Jesus said cannot be dissolved except by death.    Of course we risk the active displeasure of God and all fellowship with Him when we disobey His explicit commandments.

The Possibility of Remarriage

Remarriage is permitted for the faithful partner only when the divorce was on biblical grounds. In fact, the purpose for a biblical divorce is to make clear that the faithful partner is free to remarry, but only in the Lord (Rom. 7:1-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).

The only purpose for a “biblical divorce” is to repent from an adulterous remarriage while having a living, estranged prior spouse, as repeatedly defined by Jesus (Matt. 5:32b; Matt. 19:9b and Luke 16:18) in order to recover one’s forfeited inheritance in the kingdom of God.

Since divorce is only a concession to man’s sin and is not part of God’s original plan for marriage, all believers should hate divorce as God does.…Those who divorce on any other grounds have sinned against God and their partners, and for them to marry another is an act of “adultery” (Mark 10:11-12). This is why Paul says that a believing woman who sinfully divorces should “remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). If she repents from her sin of unbiblical divorce, the true fruits of that repentance would be to seek reconciliation with her former husband (Matt. 5:23-24). The same is true for a man who divorces unbiblically (1 Cor. 7:11). The only time such a person could remarry another is if the former spouse remarries, proves to be an unbeliever, or dies, in which cases reconciliation would no longer be possible.

Since Christ repeated three separate times using the present indicative verb tense of moicheia (commits continuous adultery), that an otherwise perfectly-innocent person is entering a state of ongoing adultery by marrying any divorced person, it should be abundantly clear that there is no “permission” to remarry while having a prior covenant that is undissolved by death.   It should also be clear that man’s divorce neither unjoins one-flesh, nor removes God’s participation from the original covenant.   Paul says to remain un(re)married or be reconciled because to remarry without being widowed is to forfeit heaven.


The Bible also gives a word of caution to anyone who is considering marriage to a divorcee. If the divorce was not on biblical grounds and there is still a responsibility to reconcile, the person who marries the divorcee is considered an adulterer (Mark 10:12).

The last part of MacArthur’s last statement is ironically true, and it echoes Matt. 19:9b, from which most modern English translations fraudulently omit this critical phrase (see King James Version, Young’s Literal Translation, and Wilbur Pickering’s The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken).   The two other occasions where Christ made this same unconditional, exceptionless statement are Matt. 5:32b and Luke 16:18. This alone should be ample proof of the heresy of MacArthur’s liberal and soul-destroying position.


The Role of the Church

Believers who pursue divorce on unbiblical grounds are subject to church discipline because they openly reject the Word of God. The one who obtains an unbiblical divorce and remarries is guilty of adultery since God did not permit the original divorce (Matt. 5:32; Mark 10:11-12). That person is subject to the steps of church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-17. If a professing Christian violates the marriage covenant and refuses to repent during the process of church discipline, Scripture instructs that he or she should be put out of the church and treated as an unbeliever (v. 17). When the discipline results in such a reclassification of the disobedient spouse as an “outcast” or unbeliever, the faithful partner would be free to divorce according to the provision for divorce as in the case of an unbeliever departing, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Before such a divorce, however, reasonable time should be allowed for the possibility of the unfaithful spouse returning because of the discipline.   The leadership in the local church should also help single believers who have been divorced….

While there are believers who have been divorced, it certainly does not follow that they are “single”, since man’s divorce does not dissolve holy matrimony per Matt. 19:6, Rom. 7:2 and 1 Cor.7:39, as well as a host of other scriptures.   The only “single believer who has been divorced” is the widow or widower who never reconciled with their one-flesh.

….to understand their situation biblically, especially in cases where the appropriate application of biblical teaching does not seem clear.

[This paper by MacArthur appears to be the classical example of Calvinist misapplication of biblical teaching….]

….For example, the church leadership may at times need to decide whether one or both of the former partners could be legitimately considered “believers” at the time of their past divorce, because this will affect the application of biblical principles to their current situation (1 Cor. 7:17-24). Also, because people often transfer to or from other churches and many of those churches do not practice church discipline, it might be necessary for the leadership to decide whether a member’s estranged or former spouse should currently be considered a Christian or treated as an unbeliever because of continued disobedience. Again, in some cases this would affect the application of the biblical principles (1 Cor. 7:15; 2 Cor. 6:14).

In addition to the spiritual state of the spouses being an  entirely irrelevant matter in this context, each believer is irrevocably sealed with the Holy Spirit who can be grieved or quenched.   It is never the domain of church leadership to pass judgment on the state of anyone’s soul beyond what scripture says about their final, unrepented destination.   This is why in 1 Cor. 5:5, Paul instructs the church to hand a man who is  fornicating with his step-mother over to Satan “for the destruction of his flesh so that his spirit may be saved. ”   MacArthur apparently would have made a subjective judgment of salvation based on the man’s  present conduct, of whether the man had truly been born again.  This, even though Paul specifically says in this same passage that we don’t judge those outside the church, but only those within it.


Pre-conversion Divorce

According to 1 Corinthians 7:20-27, there is nothing in salvation that demands a particular social or marital status. The Apostle Paul, therefore, instructs believers to recognize that God providentially allows the circumstances they find themselves in when they come to Christ.

The circumstance of every believer called while having a living, estranged spouse (and therefore an inseverable, God-joined one-flesh partner) is called while married to their living covenant spouse regardless of their civil status under man’s immoral laws.   Salvation does nothing to change this, and in fact, actually imposes a duty of purging immoral relationships such as serial polygamy (carnal civil unions which God did not join), to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation, or pursue forgiveness and celibacy while the true spouse remains alive – 2 Cor. 5:18; Matt.6:14-15, Matt. 18:21-35, 1 Cor. 7:10-11). Sanctification resulting from salvation imposes a duty to obey all of God’s revealed word, and to watch out for the souls of everyone in the believer’s life including that of the counterfeit mate and watching children who might emulate the immorality.

…If they were called while married, then they are not required to seek a divorce (even though divorce may be permitted on biblical grounds). If they were called while divorced, and cannot be reconciled to their former spouse because that spouse is an unbeliever or is remarried, then they are free to either remain single or be remarried to another believer (1 Cor. 7:39; 2 Cor. 6:14).

1 Cor. 7:39  actually states the exact opposite, that only death dissolves the God-joined union and any other “marriage” constitutes ongoing adultery.   2 Cor. 6:14 cannot therefore be retroactively applied to a one-flesh entity that GOD has joined, as Dr. MacArthur suggests. Instead, Paul assures us in 1 Cor.7:14 that the believing spouse who lives in sold-out obedience to Christ sanctifies the unbelieving spouse.

Repentance and Forgiveness

In cases where divorce took place on unbiblical grounds and the guilty partner later repents, the grace of God is operative at the point of repentance. A sign of true repentance will be a desire to implement 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, which would involve a willingness to pursue reconciliation with his or her former spouse, if that is possible. If reconciliation is not possible, however, because the former spouse is an unbeliever or is remarried, then the forgiven believer could pursue another relationship under the careful guidance and counsel of church leadership.

In cases where a believer obtained a divorce on unbiblical grounds and remarried, he or she is guilty of the sin of adultery until that sin is confessed (Mark 10:11-12). God does forgive that sin immediately when repentance takes place, and there is nothing in Scripture to indicate anything other than that. From that point on the believer should continue in his or her current marriage.

Error #12 – In cases where a believer obtained a divorce on unbiblical grounds and remarried, he or she is guilty of the sin of adultery until that sin is fully and physically repented of by exiting the adulterous union.   MacArthur’s claim that there is “nothing” in scripture to indicate anything other than “confession” being sufficient is patently false.   Jesus specifically used a verb tense to indicate this was an ongoing state of sin, which if died in would result in loss of the kingdom of heaven.   All scripture is clear that sin is only forgiven where it is discontinued, not just confessed.   Our nation is under judgment because it is repeating the grave sin of Israel and Judah of God’s priesthood being complicit in rampant immorality exactly as MacArthur is, and the book of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10 point up God’s expectation for repenting, and possibly turning away His advanced wrath.   MacArthur is mocking God by implying that lesbian and homosexual “married” couples can therefore also confess their sodomy and remain in it, while he has no clue that the Lord is returning the mockery in-kind, to get the nation’s attention.   Furthermore, pastors who perform such weddings are taking the Lord’s name in vain (misusing His name to perform a vain act). They are therefore guilty of corrupting those souls over whom they claim God forsakes His first covenant to covenant with adultery, or that He replicates the one-flesh entity of holy matrimony – neither act being within His holy character.   Lastly, living on in a state of separation from the only person God’s hand has made a covenant spouse one-flesh with is living on in a state of permanent unforgiveness and lack of reconciliation.   Jesus stated several times that unless we forgive, we will not be forgiven, also thereby forfeiting our inheritance in the kingdom of God.   It is ridiculous to presume that a one-flesh spouse is the only possible exemption in all of the kingdom of God from this basic law of God.


For a fuller treatment of divorce and remarriage, see The Biblical Position on Divorce & Remarriage from Grace Community Church’s Elders’ Perspective Series, from which this paper was adapted.

For a truthful and biblically-faithful treatment of divorce and remarriage which applies a disciplined and sound hermeneutical approach to the difficult scriptures and to the common abuses of them in the evangelical world, see our 7-part “Stop Abusing Scripture” series on “standerinfamilycourt’s” blog:

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall.



But Mr. (or Mrs.) “New Creation” HASN’T Passed Away – Stop Abusing 2 Cor. 5:17: The “Debunk” Series – Part 7

RevAllWet10by Standerinfamilycourt

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer.   Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…
2 Corinthians 5:16-18

This is our final installment of the “Debunk / Stop Abusing” Series.   Hopefully we’ve taught you, dear reader, how to systematically examine any scripture and discern when someone is twisting it for their own misguided purposes.    Most Christians who misapply God’s word are parroting someone else, and don’t actually know any better.   Fewer and fewer of today’s evangelicals even read the bible for themselves on a regular basis, much less study it deeply, so they are prone to absorbing popular heresies.   To be sure, there are abused scriptures that deal with endless topics besides marriage and divorce (some of which are also heaven-or-hell matters), so this is an invaluable skill to become proficient in.

In sharp contrast to the contemporary caricature of a “new creation in Christ”,  here’s a portrait actually more like what Paul had in mind as he penned this portion of his second epistle to the church at Corinth:

And there was a man called by the name of Zaccheus; he was a chief tax collector and he was rich.  Zaccheus was trying to see who Jesus was, and was unable because of the crowd, for he was small in stature.   So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see Him, for He was about to pass through that way.   When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”   And he hurried and came down and received Him gladly.   When they saw it, they all began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”   Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.”   And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  –  Luke 19:2-10

So…let’s see if our new life in Christ transforms a sinful relationship with somebody else’s one-flesh spouse into a sanctified one, and excuses us from reconciling with or making restitution to those we have wronged before our conversion. What is a one-flesh spouse?   Does becoming a new creation in Christ make one-flesh two again, contrary to what Jesus declared–since man’s civil paper does not?    We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

The Principle of CONTENT
As we did with our core truth in Matthew 19:6, we will take 2 Cor. 5:17  back to the original Greek manuscript and literal syntax to strip away any bias about what it actually says on the surface.     We will rely on the Greek interlinear text tools and the literal syntax for our analysis of content, in order to detect any translation bias that may have occurred in your favorite bible version in more contemporary times. One very useful technique for detecting any possible tampering with word translation or manuscript choice versus the version in our hands (in this case, NASB) is to bring up the passage in a mix of versions, being sure to include some versions based on the Antioch manuscripts (such as KJV).   In this case, we are pleased find no material difference between the translations in the two interlinear tools, so we’ll present the more understandable version: 2Cor5_17 For the curious, however, the link to’s version is here.

 The very first thing to notice about this text concerning  “old things” passing away (and everything becoming new) is that it is entirely conditioned on being [remaining / abiding] in Christ.   But what does it actually mean to be in Christ?    Are those “old things” external things or are they internal things?   If we do not fully graft-in to begin with, or if we later pull away,  can we then claim that all things have been made new?    This conditional phrase argues that we cannot!

Once again the dry topic of verb tenses becomes very important to accurately understanding the passage, so we will again have to suffer through that discussion.      There are five verbs in this passage, including two forms of “is” that are only implied, that is, we can’t see their tense (was, is now, is becoming, continuing to be, etc.) including whether the are in the active or passive voice, because they are merged with either a preposition or with an adjective.

ἐν          Χριστῷ,
[is] in   Christ ,

Here, we may need to jump to the COMPARISON principle where we look at similar verses in which Paul and others spoke in the New Testament of being in Christ.   To properly discern whether this is referring to a sort of completed transaction of external cleansing (similar to taking one’s suit to the dry cleaners), or whether it is a continuous abiding makes an enormous difference in the understanding of what Paul was saying, because the latter would shift the transformation from external to internal. καινὴ [he is] a new…      it seems reasonable here to place this verb in the present tense, since it is associated with an adjective, new.

The other three verbs are: “passed away”  παρῆλθεν (parēlthen) , “behold” ἰδοὺ (Idou), and “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).  Did the “old things” pass away suddenly and in a single transaction?   Did they pass away gradually but in the past?    The verb tense used by Paul here is aorist indicative active.    In the indicative mood the aorist tense denotes action that occurred in the past time, often translated like the English simple past tense, but it is a misnomer to thus imply that, in every instance, the action only happened at one point of time.  This can be true, but it is often dependent on other factors such as the meaning of the verb, other words in the context, etc.   (source:
The past tense is strongly supported here, and is consistent with the Young’s Literal Translation rendering.   However, the root verb is parerchomai, meaning to pass by, to come to.   

It’s also helpful to zero in on the literal meaning of “old things” (archaios ἀρχαῖα),  actually meaning ancient things from which we get the word “archaic”.
(We don’t know of anyone who would get saved and call the marriage of their youth “ancient” or “archaic”  –  though we can think of many other “a”-words that get applied in the culture today).    Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines it:  ἀρχαῖος, ἀρχαῖα, ἀρχαῖον “(from ἀρχή beginning, hence) properly, that has been from the beginning, original, primeval, old, ancient, used of men, things, times, conditions.” Accordingly, “old things”  seems to be referring to mindsets, predispositions, proclivities, etc. , not to relationships and commitments, nor to vows.  

Since these things are not of a nature that can pass away in a single transaction, it seems more reasonable to conclude that these old things passed away over a period of time in the past.   This understanding would also be consistent with the other main verb,  “emerged”, become new  γέγονεν  (geogonen).   This verb is in the perfect indicative active tense.   The basic thought of the perfect tense is that the progress of an action has been completed and the results of the action are continuing on,  full effect.   In other words, the progress of the action has reached its culmination and the finished results are now in existence. Unlike the English perfect, which indicates a completed past action, the Greek perfect tense indicates the continuation and present state of a completed past action.   

Once again, we see that this verse cannot be referring to externals, as though one takes a dirty suit to the cleaners and picks it up cleaned and pressed.   This scripture is clearly dealing with internal attitudes and affections, the ongoing fruit of the completed process of having become a disciple.   This is not a transaction, but a completed process.   

Not too much needs to be said about the verb, behold (idou).   It’s in the aorist imperative active voice, as one would expect for a command.    All that remains is a bit of elaboration on the noun, κτίσις  (ktisis)  meaning “created being” (or in this case, newly-created being).    And the Christ that he / she is in?       Χριστός,  Christos – literally “the Anointed One,” the Christ (Hebrew, “Messiah“) from the root word,  xríō, “anoint with olive oil”. Summing up the analysis, this verse is describing the transformation that has taken place inside a person, but only if they are truly in Christ, the old propensities and inward iniquities have given way to the mind and nature of Christ.   This is in keeping with what the Lord described in the Sermon on the Mount, where externals no longer substituted for righteousness, but obedience now is to come from the heart, which is at the heart of the Messianic Covenant.

The Principle of CONTEXT:
It’s always important to look at the surrounding verses to make sure our interpretation is consistent with the larger context. 

As we’ve seen from previous posts in this series, notably 1 Corinthians 7,  the popular understanding can be in severe conflict with the overall message of the chapter, and with the strong, clear statement that ends the chapter.   In 2 Corinthians, chapters 4 and 5, Paul is laboring to fix the disciples’ eyes on the eternal.  He tells the church that even if the gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing because the god of this age has blinded minds.   He says that our treasure is held in jars of clay to show that the all-surpassing power is from God and not from men, speaking of the crushing trials, tribulations and persecutions, dying to self as Jesus died to self so that the life of Christ can come about in others.    Paul reminds that while externally it may seem we are wasting away, inwardly we are being renewed day-by-day, for our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a far greater glory in eternity.    He urges his readers to fix their eyes not on what is seen which is temporary, but on what is unseen which is eternal.  He then speaks of our body, calling it an earthly tent which is being destroyed, but we have a heavenly body awaiting that is not made with human hands.   Until we achieve it, we are going to have an inward longing (groaning).

Importantly, Paul reminds that we have been given the Holy Spirit as a deposit toward that heavenly covering, guaranteeing what is to come.   We live by faith and not by sight, and we will appear before the judgment seat of Christ to receive according the things we’ve done, good or bad, while occupying our earthly bodies.   He speaks of the fear of the Lord which compels us to try and persuade others, and of no longer living for ourselves but for Christ who died for us and was raised to life.    These were the thoughts that preceded the notion that if we are in Christ in this way, we are a new creation, and this is what has driven out the former things from within us.

Very importantly, the very next thing Paul says is that we are charged with a ministry of reconciliation, and given a message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).   We are told that we are Christ’s ambassadors.   That is, we are ambassadors of the Bridegroom who said on three separate occasions, “everyone who marries a divorced person enters into an ongoing state of adultery.”  [Matt. 5:32b; Matt. 19:9b;  Luke 16:18].   It seems that any ambassador carrying around such a civil-only “remarriage” is carrying around excess baggage that impedes from this ambassadorship, and in fact makes it impossible to even head in the direction of the assignment, while at the same time actually misrepresenting the Bridegroom.    Indeed, in one 1990  Barna Group survey of professing believers, 90% of the divorced and remarried admitted that their family destruction came after their conversion, and not before.  

It seems the popular evangelical application of 2 Corinthian 5:17 to absolve an abandoned covenant marriage vow for that which Jesus repeatedly called adultery could not be more out of context with these two chapters.    It seems the ministry of reconciliation should begin with the only person on the face of the earth that God has joined us to as one-flesh, and to the covenant children and grandchildren of that union.

The Principle of CULTURE:
Remarriage apologists are fond of coupling this passage with their (jaundiced) version of 1 Corinthians 7, reflecting today’s culture of the apostate church promoting serial polygamy under the heavy influence of unilateral divorce laws.     (See our two previous discussions of 1 Corinthians 7,  here and here.)

We’d argue that the much better linking is actually with 1 Corinthians 6, because that passage so completely captures the culture Paul was speaking into.   This was a culture where it was illegal to commit adultery with someone’s wife, but prostitution was not only legal but encouraged by the culture.   The city was the home of the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and reportedly over 1,000 temple prostitutes.   Paul was very blunt in stating in verse 16 that our union with Christ should preclude union with anyone we aren’t one-flesh with by God’s supernatural joining, precisely because Christ is being involuntarily made a party to the immorality.    This reasoning makes the contemporary evangelical mishandling of 1 Corinthians 7 the very antithesis of what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 6.  

Indeed, what makes us a new creation in Christ is this union with Him, whereby we no longer live, but crucified with Him,  Christ lives in us; and the life which we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God. Because of this, rather than use the Greek sarx mia as Jesus did when speaking of divine and permanent one-flesh joining, Paul spoke of the natural and carnal hen soma, when referring in 1 Cor. 6:16 to the immoral and transitory transaction of the flesh which is devoid of God’s voluntary participation.    Addressing the saints (the born-again who profess Christ), Paul warns them not to be deceived by what their sex-saturated culture was telling them,  that adultery, fornication, sodomy, idolatry and several other apostate sins, if not repented by ceasing them, will cost them their inheritance in the kingdom of God.    He goes on to commend them “and such were some of you…”  but as a consequence following their becoming a new creation in Christ, these old proclivities had passed away, replaced by the character of Christ – they had been washed, sanctified, and justified.    He could certainly not say that about someone who did not also crucify their immoral partnerships and reconcile their sacred, consecrated relationships out of reverence for their new relationship with Christ.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved.

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with attempts to interpret 2 Corinthians 5:17 as “biblical evidence” that coming to Christ  dissolves a pre-salvation covenant or validates as holy matrimony a remarriage undertaken in adultery (i.e. any situation where there is living, estranged first spouse).   The only instance where this ear-tickling evangelical presumption would actually be the case is where the first spouse was actually the spouse of another, making that first marriage non-covenant.   (This is actually what happened with Ronald and Nancy Reagan due to the fact that the Gipper’s first civil-only marriage with Jane Wyman was a case of legalized adultery that was never recognized in God’s courthouse.)    

Psalm 103
This magnificent psalm is sort of the “trail mix” psalm in the hands of those who wish to believe that God “forgives” and “cleanses” marriages undertaken and divorced while not yet born again, excusing the disciple from reconciling that marriage and freeing them to marry another person (often, the estranged spouse of another).    Verse 3 assures us He pardons all our iniquities   עֲוֹנֵ֑כִי     ă·wō·nê·ḵî   (forsaken wrongdoing).    Verse 5 says He satisfies our years with good things, which they take as “proof” of God’s “blessing” on the remarriage.  Verse 8 tells us the Lord is compassionate and gracious.   Verse 10 says He does not deal with us according to our sins nor rewards us according to our iniquities.  Verse 12 assures us that as far as the east is from the west, He has removed our transgressions פְּשָׁעֵֽינוּ׃  pə·šā·‘ê·nū    (from the root word pasha, meaning revolt or rebellion)  from us.   Verse 14, He is mindful that we are but dust.   The image must be of David gadding about the countryside, picking up and discarding wives and concubines as readily as he changed his sandals, and still being called a “man after God’s own heart”.    However,  that’s a bit of an incomplete picture without the counterbalancing accounts of David’s journey, such as his chastisement to repentance, and his isolation at the end of his life.

At the same time, verses 11, 13 and 17  all say these things are for those who fear him.   Verse 18:  To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.    This was written centuries before there was a Savior, so these precepts included daily animal sacrifice as atonement for willful sin.   Since we no longer have that means of atonement, all we have is abiding in Christ, which entails obeying Him.   Is a first (covenant) marriage wrong-doing, so that it must be forsaken, or is the subsequent one, which Jesus repeatedly called adulterous, the true wrong-doing that must be forsaken?    Which marriage reflects revolt and rebellion against God’s precepts, and indeed reflects the lack of the fear of God? 12524355_1297370276945019_62108117333624254_n

Here are additional verses shedding light on what it is to be in Christ, without which we are the same old carnal person and nothing is made new:

John 3:5-7
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 

John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.

Matthew 5:27-32 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;  but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.   If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.  “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’;  but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit [ongoing] adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits [ongoing] adultery.

Matthew 7:21-23
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.   Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?  May it never be! Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.”  But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.   Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace,  because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,

 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.

. 2 Corinthians 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

Ephesians 4:22-24
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?


The Principle of CONSULTATION:
It is clear from all the commentary on this passage that the transformation spoken of here is of internal constitution, not external choices and circumstances, and certainly not of forsaken covenants joined by God.

Justin Martyr (First Apology; ca 155 A.D.)
As many are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to live accordingly, are instructed to entreat God with fasting…then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we ourselves were…For Christ also said :”‘Unless you be born-again, you cannot see the kingdom of God”.

Tertullian ( ) They who are about to enter baptism ought to pray with repeated prayer, fasts, and bendings of the knee, and vigils all the night through, and with the confession of all bygone sins, that they may express the meaning of the baptism of John.

Didache (ca. 100 A.D.): But before the baptism, let the baptizer fast, and also the baptized, and what ever others can; but thou shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.

Irenaeus , Against Heresies ca. 180 A.D. We are lepers in sin, we are made clean by means of the sacred water and invocation of the Lord, from our old transgression; being spiritually regenerate as new born babes, even as the Lord has declared “except a man be born again through water and the Spirit, he shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. A wealth of additional quotes concerning regeneration in Christ are available for further study at this link:

5:16-21 The renewed man acts upon new principles, by new rules, with new ends, and in new company. The believer is created anew; his heart is not merely set right, but a new heart is given him. He is the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Though the same as a man, he is changed in his character and conduct. These words must and do mean more than an outward reformation. The man who formerly saw no beauty in the Saviour that he should desire him, now loves him above all things. The heart of the unregenerate is filled with enmity against God, and God is justly offended with him. Yet there may be reconciliation. Our offended God has reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ. By the inspiration of God, the Scriptures were written, which are the word of reconciliation; showing that peace has been made by the cross, and how we may be interested therein. Though God cannot lose by the quarrel, nor gain by the peace, yet he beseeches sinners to lay aside their enmity, and accept the salvation he offers. Christ knew no sin. He was made Sin; not a sinner, but Sin, a Sin-offering, a Sacrifice for sin. The end and design of all this was, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him, might be justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Can any lose, labour, or suffer too much for Him, who gave his beloved Son to be the Sacrifice for their sins, that they might be made the righteousness of God in him?

Therefore if any man be in Christ – The phrase to “be in Christ,” evidently means to be united to Christ by faith; or to be in him as the branch is in the vine – that is, so united to the vine, or so in it, as to derive all its nourishment and support from it, and to be sustained entirely by it. John 15:2, “every branch in me.” John 15:4, “abide in me, and I in you.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Εἰ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, if any one be in Christ) so as to live in Christ. If any one of those who now hear us, etc. Observe the mutual relation, we in Christ in this passage, and God in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:19; Christ, therefore, is the Mediator and Reconciler between us and God.—καινὴ κτίσις, a new creature) Not only is the Christian himself something new; but as he knows Christ Himself, not according to the flesh, but according to the power of His life and resurrection, so he contemplates and estimates himself and all things according to that new condition. Concerning this subject, see Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10.—τὰ ἀρχαῖα, old things) This term implies some degree of contempt. See Gregor. Thaum. Paneg. cum annot., p. 122, 240.—παòρῆλθεν, are passed away) Spontaneously, like snow in early spring.—ἰδοὺ, behold) used to point out something before us.

Verse 17.Therefore. If even a human, personal, external knowledge of Christ is henceforth of no significance, it follows that there must have been a total change in all relations towards him. The historic fact of such a changed relationship is indicated clearly in John 20:17. Mary Magdalene was there lovingly taught that a “recognition of Christ after the flesh,” i.e. as merely a human friend, was to be a thing of the past. In Christ; i.e. a Christian. For perfect faith attains to mystic union with Christ. A new creature; rather, a new creation (Galatians 6:15).   The phrase is borrowed from the rabbis who used it to express the condition of a proselyte. But the meaning is not mere Jewish arrogance and exclusiveness, but the deep truth of spiritual regeneration and the new birth (John 3:3; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:23, 24; Colossians 3:3, etc.). Old things; literally, the ancient things, all that belongs to the old Adam. Behold. The word expresses the writer’s vivid realization of the truth he is uttering.  All things. The whole sphere of being, and therewith the whole aim and character of life. The clause illustrates the “new creation.”

2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore — Since all Christ’s true disciples do thus live to him, and not to themselves, and only know him in a spiritual manner; if any man be in Christ — By living faith and the indwelling of his Spirit; if any man have an interest in and union with him; he is a new creature Καινη κτισις, there is a new creation, in the soul of that man. His understanding is enlightened, his judgment corrected, and he has new ideas and conceptions of things. His conscience is informed, awakened, and purged from guilt by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 9:14. His will is subjected to the will of God, his affections drawn from earth to heaven, and his dispositions, words, and actions, his cares, labours, and pursuits, are all changed. Old things are passed away — All old principles and practices; behold — The present, visible, undeniable change! all things are become new — He has new life, namely, a spiritual and divine life; new spiritual senses, new faculties, new desires and designs, hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, passions and appetites. His whole tenor of action and conversation is new, and he lives as it were in a new world. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, angels, men, sinners, saints, and the whole creation — heaven, earth, and all therein, appear in a new light, and stand related to him in a new manner, since he was created anew in Christ Jesus.

New Testament Church Source Another common justification is the statement by Paul regarding all things becoming new in Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is interpreted by some to mean that if a person is in an adulterous relationship (a second “marriage”) when they come to the Lord, “all things are new” and the one they are with is their legitimate wife or husband from this point forward. If marriage were a Christian institution, perhaps this argument could have some validity. However, in the passages pertaining to marriage, there is no mention of faith before God being a factor. If a man and woman “leave and cleave,” God considers them one whether they are Christians or not. The Amplified Bible translation of this passage may help us: “Therefore if any person is [engrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, Amplified Bible) This brings out the truth that the “new creation” refers to the interior of a person, not his exterior circumstances, such as his marital situation. Becoming a Christian is not an opportunity to get a new wife or husband, nor does a couple need to be married again because they were not Christians at their original ceremony. If a couple is in adultery when either or both turn to the Lord, the only way to be free from this sin is to repent and forsake the adulterous relationship. Yes, all things are new in the sense that I am now a new creation in Christ Jesus, but this does not make another person my lawful wife or husband in Christ if they were not they were not before.  

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.  


7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Does a Holy God Do What He HATES? – Stop Abusing Jeremiah 3: The “Debunk” Series – Part 6

 JudgeAllWetby Standerinfamilycourt

They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord….. 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….Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you…       
Jeremiah 3: 1, 8, 14

So did God divorce Israel?   Is He indeed the author and perfecter of marriage dissolution while both one-flesh spouses live?

Whenever Deuteronomy 24 is abused to promote the evangelical serial polygamy we call “biblical” divorce and remarriage, the brash butchering of this prophetic passage typically follows in the very next breath.    (That is, that very next breath invariably rests its apostate case at verse 8.)   If you stop reading right there, it looks for all the world like it was none other than the Most High Himself Who instituted divorce, and in fact sent away the very apple of His eye!  Better yet, just as through Moses, the Lord apparently said through Jeremiah that He could never take her back!   Why, if God even refused to ever forgive Israel, then surely we’re excused from ever forgiving or reconciling with our one-flesh spouse, aren’t we?

We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Since then, we have taken each of the major “go-to” verses for evangelical marriage heresy  (Deut. 24:1-4,  1 Cor. 7:15, and Matt. 19:9) through the same disciplined process to show the glaring lack of evidence for using these to overcome the abundance of straightforward scripture that overwhelmingly supports the indissolubility, except by death, of original holy matrimony .   As the series winds down, we address a couple of the secondary passages the remarriage apologists occasionally fall back on.

The Principle of CONTENT:
As before, we go back to the original text seeking to identify and strip away any modifications that may have occurred in the translation process on its way to becoming part of our contemporary English-language bibles.   Such distortions may have come from manuscript selection and possibly from translation bias.    We compare two online source tools for this purpose:  and, finding a few differences between them.    For this purpose, we will compare and take a deep dive into verses 1 and 8, then come back and compare that analysis with a thorough analysis of verse 14.

Jeremiah 3:1 (Young’s Literal Translation):
Saying, `Lo, one sendeth away his wife, And she hath gone from him, And she hath been to another man, Doth he turn back unto her again? Greatly defiled is not that land? And thou hast committed whoredom with many lovers, And turn again to Me, an affirmation of Jehovah.

S4all_Jer 3_1

Biblehub_Jer 3_1

In this passage we see the typical Hebrew usage of ish”  אּישׁ
and “isha” נָשִׁים 
almost interchangeably for  “man / husband” and “woman / wife”, respectively.    We’ve pointed out before that even a betrothed woman was called (and legally considered to be) a wife under Hebrew custom, and that a writ of divorcement was required from the time of Moses to dissolve a betrothal contract.   In our related discussion of Deut. 24:1-4, in Moses’ time this would have been for a situation where the capital offenses of fornication or adultery had not been committed, but over the next few centuries the application of that law had expanded to those situations, as from time to time, the Jews lost the ability to carry out the stoning described in Deut. 22.    Jeremiah lived some 900 years after Moses, during the time of the exile, when the Persians were again denying this practice of Mosaic law, so the substitution of unilateral divorce would have covered most situations where disposal of a betrothed or consummated wife was desired.   We see the reference to fornication (the premarital sin of whoredom, harlotry or prostitution) in this verse –  “zanah”  זָנָה,  (rather than na’aphנָאַף, or adultery) in Jeremiah’s verse 1 utterance.    He seems to be making the analogy of Israel violating her ketubah in selling herself out to idolatry or false Gods.

Jeremiah 3:8 (Young’s Literal Translation):
And I see when (for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery) I have sent her away, and I give the bill of her divorce unto her, that treacherous Judah her sister hath not feared, and goeth and committeth fornication — she also.

S4all_Jer 3_8

Biblehub_Jer 3_8

In verse 8 we begin to see both terms shalach שָׁלַח   (sending away) and “karath”   כָּרַת (cut off) for the severing of the marriage tie.   We see that Israel is receiving her “divorce paper” before Judah has.    Further, we see that Israel has now been charged with adultery  na’aphנָאַף,  while Judah has been charged with harlotry “zanahזָנָה,    Further discussion of this is deferred to the CONTEXT discussion which follows next.    So, is Yaweh irrevocably divorcing Israel, or does He remember His unconditional covenant after a period of chastening her?     Verse 14 appears to give a clear answer to this:

Jeremiah 3:14 (Young’s Literal Translation):
Turn back, O backsliding sons, An affirmation of Jehovah. For I have ruled over you, And taken you one of a city, and two of a family, And have brought you to Zion…

S4all_Jer 3_14


Biblehub_Jer 3_14

Here Jeremiah tells us that rather than repudiating the apple of His eye, God is affirming the indissolubility of His covenant with her, and urging her to return to Him, to cease her backsliding and be faithful to the One who cares for her.   In verse 14, (as contrasted with verse 1),  we don’t see the word ish”  אּישׁ  used for “husband”, but rather the word “baal” בָּעַל .   Baal (ruler) is also the term by which the Lord called Himself with respect to Israel in the poignant passages of another exilic prophet, Isaiah (Is. 54 and 62), depicting the role of the husband as the head of the wife.    The literal translation, “I have ruled over you”, for this reason is rendered, “I am married unto you” in the King James version, and “I am your husband” in the NIV.


The Principle of CONTEXT:
Jeremiah was the prophet whom God appointed young, who ministered in Judah under the last five kings, from Josiah to Zedekiah.   The northern kingdom, Israel, had fallen to Sennacherib following God’s judgment several years before the southern kingdom, Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzar.   Two other prophets had preceded Jeremiah, whose messages were remarkably parallel to his, namely, Hosea of the northern kingdom, and Isaiah who also ministered in Judea and was slightly older than Jeremiah.   All three predicted that God would discipline His people by removing His hand of protection for a season in order to give them over to the pagan culture which they already worshipped, and all three predicted the restoration of the Hebrew nation under God’s hand.   All three used man’s invented divorce mechanisms as an analogy, then each asked the rhetorical question under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, thereby sharply contrasting God’s character with man’s: “if you seek to return, will God take you back?”

As further prophesied by Jeremiah, God’s “legal separation” with Israel was not a dissolution, but was to last 70 years.    Two other prophets, Ezekiel and Ezra ministered toward the end of the period of exile, the latter man of God bringing forward the cost of restored sovereignty:  the righteous purging of their unlawful spouses and the resulting children, as described in Ezra, chapter 10.   Since these were not one-flesh unions (in the sense that God did not join them), they were orderly civil dissolutions, just as a civil divorce of an adulterous remarriage would be today.

Context is provided by the prophesied future event that was fulfilled when the returned exiles rebuilt the temple 70 years after going into captivity, and were able to rebuild the Jerusalem wall with God’s restored favor shortly after obeying Him in purging the unlawful marriages with which He had not covenanted.    According to Rabbi Eliezer Ben-Yehuda,  “as the civilization of the people reached a higher plateau and, especially under the teaching of the prophets, the Jewish people’s moral and religious consciousness developed, the polygamous marriage system gradually declined. This is noticeable in Israel after the return from the Exile.”
On the surface, the chastening God brought about during the Exile made a fairly lasting impression on the morality of the Jewish patriarchy, but as Malachi later decried, this also elevated the immoral use of the “get” (writ of divorcement) to promote serial monogamy instead, which of course, was a complete departure from the covenant behavior God had graciously demonstrated toward them, and was behavior which Jesus later rebuked.

Just as context was provided by God’s allowance of the Babylonian captivity (the “divorcement” spoken of by the three prophets),  followed by the return from exile and rebuilding the temple (God’s dwelling place, hence covenant restoration, whereby the writ was torn up),  further evidence has been on display in modern times that God did not permanently divorce Israel.    Another prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 when Israel was miraculously restored as a nation, and God thereafter fought off the rabidly-hostile Arab enemies that surrounded her.    Indeed, in the 1990 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was decisively reminded of the Abrahamic Covenant:

And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed….

…when the late Mr. Hussein vainly attempted to invade Israel.


The Principle of CULTURE:
Throughout Israel’s history, God made a succession of covenants with them, most of these were permanent and unconditional, but at least one, the Mosaic Covenant, was largely conditional and was designed from the beginning to be replaced by the Messianic Covenant, with the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus.   Hebrew culture followed those covenants, but to this very day, tends to dwell on the Mosaic Covenant (the only one that was transitory), even though it was been replaced with a Covenant that is infinitely superior and will never be dissolved.    The writ of divorcement was a man-made component of the transitory Mosaic era, as were some 613 external Levitical laws which Jesus simplified to just two internal ones.

The Hebrew culture into which Jeremiah, and the other prophets whom he echoed, spoke was remarkably similar to our culture today.    Each of these, as we’ve shown,  used the Mosaic “bill of divorcement”, not in an approving way, but as a rhetorical analogy with which they each immediately contrasted God’s holy character.  Because the permanent covenants, such as the Abrahamic Covenant, have little appeal to the flesh compared with the Mosaic Covenant, the human tendency (then and now) is to forget the attributes of God’s character that make the superior, everlasting covenants possible.   Because of this, we make our golden calves of unilateral divorce and remarriage today, and we insist that the resulting temporal affluence is a sure sign of God’s “blessing”.     Jesus brought this idea back down to earth 500-600 years after these prophets in a very forceful way in Luke 16:

Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him. 15 And He said to them, You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.

16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it. 17 But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.

19 “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, 21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame. 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham *said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’


The Principle of COMPARISON:
By this fourth basic principle of sound hermeneutics, scripture interprets scripture, with the clearest passages helping to answer any ambiguity remaining after an honest analysis of CONTENT, CONTEXT and CULTURE.   Since  God’s word tells us that all scripture is God-breathed, that is,  equally inspired by the Holy Spirit, then if its seems that one scripture contradicts another, it’s a sign of bias or that the analysis is not complete enough.   In other words, we don’t just run with it as the “Reverend All-Wets” of our day are all too prone to do, but we keep studying until the conflict is resolved.   In this case, it is resolved simply by reading on and catching the rest of what that prophet had to say, sometimes within the same chapter, and certainly within the same book.

Part 1 of our series, on Matthew 19:6 built a strong case for this verse (and its counterpart verse, Mark 10:8-9 from the same historical occasion) being the cornerstone verse for this comparison, but as also shown, there are many others.

Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9  –  established by the divine, instantaneous act the irrevocable reality of the one-flesh relationship, and its permanent inseverability by any act of man.   What came directly out of the mouth of Jesus Christ is in direct conflict with attempts to interpret Jeremiah 3 as “evidence” that God instituted divorce, but not necessarily is it in conflict with dissolving subsequent, non-widowed civil remarriage which actually lacks the characteristic of one-flesh joining by God, as was also the case for the instances of sequential and concurrent polygamy of Moses’ day, and Jeremiah’s.

Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:6-11; Genesis 17:4-8   –  All of the parts of the Abrahamic Covenant form an unconditional promise of God to His people, Israel.   As a central theme, the  Abrahamic Covenant is substantially more important as a lens for interpreting any of the Exilic prophets (including Jeremiah) than the Mosaic Covenant, because the former looks forward to the permanent Messianic Covenant which has now replaced the latter.

Hosea 2:16-17 –  In one of the most amazing illustrations in the bible, the prophet Hosea was instructed by the Lord to marry a known prostitute and have children by her.   After obeying, Hosea grieved (as a covenant marriage stander grieves) as he watched his wife chase after those who could provide luxuries and delicacies for her.    He distanced himself from her emotionally but never lost his care and compassion for her, telling his children “Plead with your mother, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” (2:2).    Yet Hosea went on to speak of a time of discipline followed by redemption and restoration, resulting in Hosea expressing the outcome:  “In that day, you will call me ‘my husband’ [ishi], and no longer will you call me baali [master or possessor].

Hosea 2:19-20 –  The Lord had told Hosea that his marriage would be an extended metaphor for God’s relationship with His people.
I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.

Isaiah 49:24-26; 50:1-2 –   In the latter verses of this passage, the Lord asks (rhetorically) through Isaiah, “Am I the one who abandoned you [ did I issue a bill of divorcement or sell you into slavery] ?   No, it was your own sins that did that.”    Keeping in mind that there were no chapter breaks in the original text, and that Isaiah was prophesying about the Babylonian captivity still more than a century into the future, it’s helpful to look at the verses that immediately precede this, assuring the actual deliverance from that captivity.   God “divorcing” Israel?   Not so much!

In fact, Hosea 3:2-5 is the parallel to this passage and also to Jeremiah 3:14-15, when Hosea rescues his disgraced and demoralized Gomer from the slave block:
So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.  Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.”
 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.

Isaiah 54 – Enlarge the place of your tent;
Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not;
Lengthen your cords
And strengthen your pegs.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left.
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities.

“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame;
And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced;
But you will forget the shame of your youth,
And the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
 “For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the Lord of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth.
 “For the Lord has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit,
Even like a wife of one’s youth when she is rejected,”
Says your God.
 “For a brief moment I forsook you,
But with great compassion I will gather you.

Isaiah 62 – It will no longer be said to you, “Forsaken,”
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, “Desolate”;
But you will be called, “My delight is in her,”  [Hephzi-Bah]
And your land, “Married” [Beulah]
For the Lord delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married.
For as a young man marries a virgin,
So your sons will marry you;
And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
So your God will rejoice over you.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 – Far from a “divorce”,  this subsequent inspired pronouncement through the prophet Jeremiah was the future promise of the Messianic Covenant, a substantially increased and costly commitment to Israel….”My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “

Ezekiel, chapter 16 – this prophet also speaks graphically of Israel’s harlotry and God’s redemption from that disgraced state, of the humbling and forgiveness that follows, another parallel account to the Hosea prophecies that preceded the exile, but this time from within Babylon.

Ezekiel 20:40-44 – “For in mine holy mountain, in the mountain of the height of Israel, saith the Lord GOD, there shall all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, serve me: there will I accept them, and there will I require your offerings, and the firstfruits of your oblations, with all your holy things.   I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.   And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for the which I lifted up mine hand to give it to your fathers.   And there shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been defiled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all your evils that ye have committed.   And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have wrought with you for my name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways, nor according to your corrupt doings, O ye house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

Romans, chapter 11 –  One of the unsavory legacies of the fact that some of the Protestant Reformers may not have themselves been regenerated disciples of Jesus Christ, is the cluster of companion heresies that join with and reinforce the heresy that holy matrimony is dissoluble by men.   As we’ve shown before, one such heresy is “once saved, always saved”,  and the other is known as “replacement theology” (supersessionism) : the idea that Israel somehow forfeited the unconditional Abrahamic Covenant by rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and instead crucifying Him.    Aside from myopically selective embrace of scripture that this theory obviously entails, it also shows an egregious lack of understanding of both the nature of covenant, and of God’s character in covenant.    Paul certainly knew that God had not “divorced” Israel.   In fact, he urged the Gentile converts to make the Jews jealous of their newfound relationship with Christ.


The Principle of CONSULTATION:
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which seeks to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which has dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    For example, in convoluted fashion they’ll say that “scripture cannot contradict itself”,  so since “most scholars agree” (a presumption based on confirmation bias — and a weakened, distorted application of the COMPARISON principle that completely bypasses application of both the CONTEXT and  CULTURE principles) it must be so and conflicting scriptures can therefore be ignored, considered “analogy” or “hyperbole” rather than reconciled with rigor and discipline.

Two free downloadable scholarly books are available, here and here, that will be very helpful in carrying out the CONSULTATION step for almost every scripture we’ll be examining in this series.   Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.        What follows below is intended to be a sampling and not exhaustive.    Once again, it shows that the proponents of the heretical view did not surface for centuries after the first disciples of the apostles were unanimous in the faithful gospel.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Tertullian ( circa 160-220 A.D.)
A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commits any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?    Such is God’s verdict, within narrower limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man to intercourse is pronounced adultery to true, moreover, is it that divorce “was not from the beginning,” that among the Romans it is not until the six hundredth year from the building of the city that this kind of “hard heartedness” is set down as having been committed.  But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without divorcing their partners: to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage will not be lawful.

Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

FB profile 7xtjw   SIFC Note:   All of the above quotes are from  Daniel R. Jennings, “Except for Fornication – Why Evangelicals Must Reevaluate Their Interpretation of Matthew’s Divorce Exception Clause” (2011)
Sean Multimedia (


Martin Luther (circa 1522)
But you ask, “Is there no reason for which there may be separation between man and wife?”  Answer: Christ states here Matt. v. 31-32, and in Matthew xix.9, only this one, which is called adultery, and he quotes it from the law of Moses which punishes adultery with death.  Since now death alone dissolves marriages and releases from obligation, an adulterer is already divorced not by man but by God himself, and not only cut loose from his spouse, but from this life…because now God here divorces, the other party is fully released, so that he or she is not bound to keep the spouse that has proved unfaithful, however he or she may desire it.

“For such ruthless wrath of God is sufficient evidence that they [i.e., the Jewish people] assuredly have erred and gone astray. Even a child can comprehend this. For one dare not regard God as so cruel that he would punish his own people so long, so terrible, so unmercifully … Therefore this work of wrath is proof that the Jews, surely rejected by God, are no longer his people, and neither is he any longer their God” (“On the Jews and Their Lies,” Trans. Martin H. Bertram, in Luther’s Works [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971], p. 265).

Verse 1.They say, etc.; as the margin of Authorized Version correctly states, the Hebrew simply has “saying.” Various ingenious attempts have been made to explain this. Hitzig, for instance, followed by Dr. Payne Smith, thinks that “saying” may be an unusual equivalent for “that is to say,” “for example,” or the like; while the Vulgate and Rashi, followed by De Wette and Rosenmüller, assume an ellipsis, and render, “It is commonly said,” or “I might say.” But far the most natural way is to suppose that “saying” is a fragment of the superscription of the prophecy, the remainder of which has been accidentally placed in ver. 6, and that we should read, “And the word of the Lord came unto me in the days of Josiah the king, saying.” So J. D. Michaelis, Ewald, Graf, Naegelsbach. If a man put away his wife. The argument is founded on the law of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which forbade an Israelite who had divorced his wife to take her again, if in the interval she had been married to another. The Jews had broken a still more sacred tie, not once only, but repeatedly; they worshipped “gods many and lords many;” so that they had no longer any claim on Jehovah in virtue of his “covenant” with his people. Shall he return, etc.? rather, Ought he to return? The force of the term is potential (comp. Authorized Version of Genesis 34:7, “which thing ought not to be done”). Shall not in the next clause is rather would not. Yet return again to me.  So Peshito, Targum, Vulgate, and the view may seem to be confirmed by the invitations in vers. 12, 14, 22. But as it is obviously inconsistent with the argument of the verse, and as the verb may equally well be the infinitive or the imperative, most recent commentators render, “And thinkest thou to return to me?” (literally, and returning to me! implying that the very idea is inconceivable). Probably Jeremiah was aware that many of the Jews were dissatisfied with the religious condition of the nation (comp. ver. 4).

Verse 14.Turn, O backsliding children. There is a play upon words, or rather upon senses, in the original, “Turn, ye turned away ones” (comp. ver. 12). To whom is this addressed? To the Israelites in the narrower sense, for there is nothing to indicate a transition. Long as they have been removed from the paternal hearth, they are still “sons.” For I am married unto you. The same Hebrew phrase occurs in Jeremiah 31:32. Its signification has been a subject of dispute. From the supposed necessities of exegesis in Jeremiah 31:32, some (e.g. Pococke and Gesenins) have translated, “for I have rejected you,” but the connection requires not “for” but “though,” which, however, is an inadmissible rendering; besides, the Hebrew verb in question nowhere has the sense of “reject” elsewhere (yet the Septuagint already has it, virtually at least, in Jeremiah 31:32, q.v.). The literal meaning is for I have been a lord over you, i.e. a husband. Israel is despondent, and fears to return. Jehovah repeats his invitation, assuring Israel that he does not regard the marriage bond as broken. He is still (in spite of ver. 8) the husband, and Israel the bride (comp. Hosea 2; Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 54:6, etc.). One of a city, and two of a family. The promises of God are primarily to communities, but this does not prevent him from devoting the most special care to individuals. “One of a city, and two of a family,” even though there should be but one faithful Lot in a city, and two such in a family (larger than a city, a single tribe containing only a few mishpa-khoth, or clans), yet I will admit these few to the promised blessings.”

They {a} say, If a man shall put away his wife, and she shall go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return to her again? shall not that land {b} be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many {c} lovers; yet {d} return again to me, saith the LORD.

(a) According as it is written, De 24:4.

(b) If he take such a one to wife again.

(c) That is, with idols, and with them whom you have put your confidence in.

(d) And I will not cast you off, but receive you, according to my mercy.

And I saw, when for all the causes by which backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put {k} her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

(k) And gave her into the hands of the Assyrians.

Jeremiah 3:1. They say — That is, men use to say, If a man put away his wife — Or give her a bill of divorce, Deuteronomy 24:1; and she go from him — In consequence thereof; and become another man’s — Engage herself to another; shall he return unto her? — He cannot take her again according to the law, Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Or, rather, will a man do such a thing? If the law were not against it, would any man be inclined to take such a woman again? Certainly not. Such playing fast and loose with the marriage-bond would be a horrid profanation of that ordinance, and would greatly pollute the land. Thus they had reason to expect, that God would refuse ever to take them again to be his people, who had not only been joined to one strange god, but had played the harlot with many lovers. If we had to do with a man like ourselves, after such provocations as we have been guilty of, he would be implacable, and we might despair of his ever being reconciled to us again. But he is God and not man, and therefore he adds, Yet return again to me — Namely, forsaking all those other lovers; which invitation implies a promise, that he would receive them upon their repentance and reformation.

Jeremiah 3:14. Turn, for I am married unto you — I am in covenant with you, and this covenant, notwithstanding all your unfaithfulness, I am ready to renew with you. Hebrew, בעלתי בכם, which Blaney translates, I have been a husband among you; observing, that God hereby “means to remind them that he had fulfilled the covenant on his part, by protecting and blessing them, as he had promised when he engaged to be their God: and therefore, as they had never any reason to complain of him, he urges them to return to their duty, and promises, in that case, to be still kinder to them than before.” I will take you one of a city, &c. — Some interpret these words thus: “I will receive you, though there should be but one from a city willing to return, and two from a province, or tribe.” This prophecy was accomplished in the letter, after the edict of Cyrus, when several of the Israelites returned to Palestine, but only by little and little, and, as it were, one by one. But undoubtedly it was intended to be understood chiefly, in a spiritual sense, of their conversion to Christianity, and their reception into the gospel church, into which they partly have been, and probably hereafter in greater numbers will be admitted, “not all at a time, or in a national capacity, but severally, as individuals, here and there one.” See Isaiah 27:12.


(1) The parable of the guilty wife who is condemned in spite of all her denials is carried out to its logical results.

They say.—Better, So to speak, as introducing a new application of the figure. The direct reference is to Deuteronomy 24:4, which forbade the return to the past husband as an abomination, a law which the recent discovery of the Book of the Law (2Kings 22:10-11) had probably brought into prominence. But there is also an obvious allusion to the like imagery in Hosea. There the prophet had done, literally or in parable, what the law had forbidden (Hosea 2:16; Hosea 3:3), and so had held out the possibility of return and the hope of pardon. Jeremiah has to play a sterner part. and to make the apostate adulteress at least feel that she had sinned too deeply to have any claims to forgiveness. It might seem as if Jehovah could not now return to the love of His espousals, and make her what she once had been.

Yet return again to me, saith the Lord.—The words sound in the English like a gracious invitation, and—in spite of the authority of many interpreters who take it as an indignant exclamation, and return to me! an invitation given in irony, and so equivalent to rejection, as though that return were out of the question—it must, I think, be so taken. The prophet has, as we have seen, the history of Hosea in his mind, where there had been such a call to return (Hosea 2:19; Hosea 3:3), and actually refers to it and repeats it in Jeremiah 3:7; Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:14. It surely implies a want of insight into the character of Jeremiah to suppose that he ever came before men as proclaiming an irrevocable condemnation, excluding the possibility of repentance.

(8) And I saw, when for all the causes.—Better, perhaps (following a conjectural emendation, which gives a much better sense), And she saw that for all the causes. The technical fulness of the words suggests the thought that they were actually the customary formula with which every writing of divorcement began, recapitulating the offences which were alleged by the husband against the wife. The actual repudiation consisted, of course, in the bitter exile and loss of national life, which Hosea (Hosea 2:1-13) had predicted under a like figure. Judah had witnessed the sin and the punishment, and yet was following in the same path.

(14) Turn, O backsliding children.—In his desire to individualise his call to repentance, the prophet drops his parable, or rather combines the sign and the thing signified, with the same assonance as before—turn back, ye children who have turned away.

I am married unto you.—The tender pity of Jehovah leads Him to offer pardon even to the adulterous wife. Jeremiah had learned, in all their fulness, the lessons of Hosea 1-3.

One of a city, and two of a family.—The latter word is the wider in its range of the two—a clan, or tribe, that might embrace many cities. The limitation to the “one” and the “two” is after the manner of Isaiah’s reference (Isaiah 1:9) to the “remnant” that should be saved, and reminds of the “ten righteous men” who might have saved the cities of the plain (Genesis 18:32).

 Dr. David W. Jones and Dr. John K. Tarwater (2005)  –  In this article, we have sought to call attention to various scriptural clues that we believe point to the indissoluble nature of covenants in which God is a participant. We have noted that the language used to describe the nature of biblical covenants, the manner in which biblical covenants are established, and the way in which God deals with violations of biblical covenants all point to the enduring nature of these covenants. We are convinced that this evidence, coupled with the absence from Scripture of any dissolved covenant in which God is a participant, provides evidence that points to the permanence of biblical covenants.

If the materials marshaled in this introductory study are accurate, we believe that their potential for influencing our understanding of the institution of marriage is great. While there is certainly more work to be done, such as proving the covenantal nature of marriage (cf. Gen 2:24; Prov 2:16-17; Mal 2:10-16), proving that God is a part of nuptials (Gen 2:23-24; Matt 19:6), and exegetically handling the so-called “exception clauses” in Matthew’s Gospel (cf. Matt 5:32; 19:9), it is our hope that this study will contribute to the church’s understanding of marriage and divorce, as well as the nature of biblical covenants.

Myron Horst, Biblical Research Reports
In Jeremiah 3 God states that He gave Israel a certificate of divorce. However at no point did that annul or end the covenant that He had made with the ten northern tribes of Israel even though Israel had married other gods. Jeremiah 3:1 says “They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD.” In spite of the command by Moses in Deut. 24:1-4 that a divorced woman could not return to her first husband, in Jer. 3:1 God says to Israel, “Yet return again to me.”

God infers that the instruction given in Deut. 24:1-4 on divorce and remarriage is not a command that He gave to Moses. God says in Jer. 3:1 “They say” not “I said” in referring to Deut. 24:1-4. He then goes on to ignore the command that a divorced woman may not return to her first husband by saying “yet return again to me.”

Jesus also implied that divorce and remarriage in Deut. 24:1-4 was something that Moses permitted because the people demanded it, but it was not a permission that God gave. Jesus said that from the beginning it was not so. In Matt. 19:8 Jesus said, ” Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Jesus at no point indicated that Deut. 24:1-4 was a command that God gave to Moses.  Hardness of heart is refusing to believe what God has said and is sin.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:  Hardness of heart separates us from covenant.  It never dissolves the covenant because of God’s ownership and participation.   However, marriage is for this life only, and human life is finite.   Hardened hearts always simply run out of time on the earth.   The family court gavel is a purely human contrivance, and a presumptuous one at that, to vainly imagine that it would ever speak for the Most High.

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.
Matthew 19:8

 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.   But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.   For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,  while it is said,

Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”
Hebrews 3:12-15

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!


The Granddaddy of Them All – Stop Abusing Matthew 19:9: The “Debunk” Series – Part 5

RevAllWet9by Standerinfamilycourt

Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers.   Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.     –  2 Timothy 2:14-15


The human sense of justice absolutely demands that adultery be punished, and punished urgently.   How can a just God possibly NOT release someone from an unfaithful spouse?    And how can a just God “punish” the innocent party by decreeing that they cannot have another spouse unless the first spouse dies?    The Pharisees were incensed, and the twelve disciples were absolutely livid to hear this from Jesus!

 The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.”  But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.    For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
– Matthew 19:10-12

Three different kinds of “eunuchs” did Jesus compare, the first two, analogies, with the third type the one Jesus was intending to emphasize.    What made the disciples ask again (incredulously) if Jesus really meant what He had just said?

He *said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to [a]divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever [b]divorces his wife, except for [c]I[immorality – NASB], and marries another woman [d]commits adultery[e].”

New American Standard Bible Footnotes:

[a.] Matthew 19:8 Or send away
[b.] Matthew 19:9 Or sends away
Matthew 19:9 Literally,  fornication

[d.] Matthew 19:9 Some early mss read makes her commit adultery
[e.] Matthew 19:9 Some early mss add and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery

It’s not hard at all to jump over footnotes [d] and [e] and assume that just because those little side bars have been relegated to the bottom of the page that the “early manuscripts” must somehow be inferior or faulty.    That would be a deeply erroneous assumption, however.    Many other contemporary English translations (such as NIV) don’t even bother to tell us what they’ve omitted, or even that they’ve lopped off such a key ending to verse 9 as “he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”      What’s up with that?

Furthermore, if Jesus literally referred to the specific sin of fornication, as footnote [c] advises, then on what basis has the translation team seen fit to put the far more generic word “immorality” in His mouth instead?    Are we incapable of understanding for ourselves what fornication means?   (Apparently less so than this bible translation team!)

We began this series of blogs by first establishing Jesus Christ’s core truth in Matthew 19:6 about the lifelong indissolubility of the covenant marriage of our youth, and rigorously applying each of the five basic principles of sound hermeneutics to that scripture passage:  Content, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation.    If you missed that installment, please start there.

Having done that, we will now do the same with each of the most egregiously mishandled passages that apostate theologians and church leaders seek to water down or refute that unpalatable truth with.    You may see these same scholars dutifully applying these principles to other biblical topics,  but when it comes to this one, they’ve never heard of “Herman”.      We will tackle these in subjective order of damage to the church and society, doing the worst of them first, the ones that trap people in a life that the bible makes clear will send them to hell if they don’t repent and sever the illicit “marriages”.

So, here’s the  most egregious case in all of scripture where bible scholars refuse to agree on what the content even is, yet God’s hireling shepherds today don’t hesitate to make it the cornerstone of the basis on which they counsel,  and are willing to perform weddings  –  in the face of what Paul tells us twice is a heaven-or-hell issue.   If we can’t even agree on what the content of this passage is, how can disciplined interpretation have been mastered in any of the other principles?

Why don’t we pause for a moment, and hit the “re-wind” button on these “helpful” bible society edits and get back to the full, unabridged content of Matthew 19:9 ?

   And I say to you, whoever [sends away] his wife, except for fornication, and marries another woman commits adultery, and causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who has been sent away commits adultery.

[ Caution:  correctly transcribing and translating the entire verse of Matthew 19:9 can be hazardous to Rev. All-Wet’s exception clause. ]

We’ve posited our opinion that Deuteronomy 24:4 is the most abused verse in the Old Testament.    Without a doubt, Matthew 19:9 is the most mangled and misapplied verse in the New Testament.    Unlike the blissfully ignorant and  out-of-context  interpretations  we commonly see of 1 Corinthians 7,  the revisionism of Matthew 19:9 involves outright intentional scripture-tampering that goes back a few hundred years (see Bengel’s Gnomen and Pulpit Commentary, under CONSULTATION, below) and seems to be serving as the model for a cascade of revisions that support other immoral life choices, in addition to man’s divorce and adulterous remarriage.   We will follow the same disciplined approach of applying the basic five principles of sound hermeneutics to prove the accurate handling of Matthew 19:9.

The Principle of CONTENT
Because of all that Matthew 19:9 has suffered over centuries of willful tampering, it is vital to revert back to the original Greek text and literal syntax.

Legō                 de   hymin   hoti   hos an                            apolysē             tēn   gunaika               autou    ei mē   epi   porneia…..

Λέγω                δὲ   ὑμῖν     ὅτι     ὃς   ἂν                           ἀπολύσῃ             τὴν   γυναῖκα                 αὐτοῦ   ἐὶ μὴ   ἐπὶ   πορνείᾳ….

I am saying     yet to you that   who ever should be from-loosing the  woman [wife]  of him   if   no on prostitution…..

(….first thing to notice here is this verse has nothing to do with secular government regulation or recognition of marriage, which is purely a post-Reformation construct.   This inconvenient historical fact does not stop contemporary lexicons, bible dictionaries, version publishers and commentators from equating “putting away”  with “civil domestic litigation” by assumption, as though the “institution” of civil unilateral divorce was handed down from On High!)


….poiei    autēn       moicheuthēnai

….ποιεῖ   αὐτὴν       μοιχευθῆναι

is making her         to be adultering


…kai    gamēsē                            allēn                         moichatai

…καὶ    γαμήσῃ                           ἄλλην                       μοιχᾶται

….and   shall be marrying     another         is committing adultery,

kai      ho                              apolelymenēn              gamēsas            moichatai

καὶ       ὁ                                ἀπολελυμένην            γαμήσας           μοιχᾶται›

and he who   one having been from-loosed   marries       is committing

(….the second thing to notice that when all the omitted pieces that the various manuscripts indicate were originally part of Matthew 19:9 are added back, it causes the reading to be virtually identical with Matthew 5:32, and completely consistent with both Mark 10:11-12 as well as Luke 16:18. )

The propensity of so-called scholars to re-engineer this unpalatable verse also makes it crucial to take a VERY close look at all the verb tenses,  because preposterous claims have been made down through the centuries (and today) about the duration and permanence of the adulterous state Jesus warned about.   In the phrase, “whoever should be dismissing his wife and marrying another…”,  both actions are in the aorist subjunctive active tense, approximating a present tense possibility, while the next verb, “commits adultery” is in the present indicative tense showing an ongoing action, rather than a one-time completed act, as many (even scholarly) abusers of Matthew 19 are fond of claiming while hoping Greek verb tenses are far too dry a topic for most of us to bother researching.

In the next phrase, “causes her to commit adultery..”,  the verb “is making / causing” is in the present indicative active, once again indicating an ongoing, continuous state of activity, while the verb “to commit adultery / to be adulterating” is in the aorist infinitive passive.

In the final phrase, “and he who marries one who has been put away, commits adultery“, there are three verbs.   The first, “marries” [aorist participle active],  the second verb, been put away [perfect participle passive-indicating past action], and the third verb, commits adultery [present indicative – ongoing, continuous action].    In each case where “commits adultery” is stated, it is never a one-time act, but an ongoing one requiring some intervention in order to cease, such as death or repentance.    This link is one of the most helpful this blogger has found in guiding the correct understanding of Greek verb tenses.

Note, too, that certain translation liberties have been taken in contemporary English bible translations to imply that the gender of the “from-loosed” person, whom one may not marry is female, when the actual words out of Jesus’ mouth (at least in the Greek) are gender-neutral in the text.     There is a less-than-honest reason for this!   The revisionist translators would like to limit the women who are allegedly ineligible for remarriage to those,  or more specifically, the actual one put away for “adultery” (or “sexual immorality”,  as therevisionists prefer).   On the contrary, the syntax clearly points to the one-flesh restriction, that of marrying any living person’s God-joined covenant spouse under any circumstances.   For this reason, the Online Greek Interlinear Tool from is more faithful and accurate than its interlinear tool counterpart in

Any discussion of Matthew 19:9 with remarriage defenders inevitably entails a fierce etymology war over the meaning of “fornication” (Greek porneia, πορνείᾳ).   Whereas Matt. 19:6 is the “hill to die on” for those of us who take Jesus and Paul at their word on the indissolubility by men of the covenant of holy matrimony, it’s obvious that the counterpart “hill”, for those who would take issue with the truth of indissolubility, is instead Matt. 19:9, based on their fiercely-defended broad rendering of the meaning of fornication.   Two recommended authors, Daniel R. Jennings and Sharon L. Fitzhenry have written extremely well-researched books that do a deep-dive into this.   The object of the etymology debate is to attempt to validate the stepwise re-translation of porneia in bible dictionaries and lexicons written since the mid 1800’s, first as “fornication” (whereas formerly, porneia had been specifically rendered as prostitution or whoredom), then as generic “sexual immorality” in order to sweep in adultery, homosexual practice, and more recently, a pornography habit as a basis for God purportedly  “allowing” civil divorce and remarriage.   (See Jennings, pages 63-68).   It is on this basis, for example, that we suddenly see the distinct term “moicheia”  evaporate from contemporary English translations of Galatians 5:19,  merged with porneia and renamed “sexual immorality”.


The rendering of porneia as “fornication” was reasonable enough, since that word derives from “fornix”, or the architectural arches under which the Roman prostitutes plied their trade.    What came to be deliberately obfuscated in this process, however, is the prior understanding that porneia / fornication was not a sin of the married, but rather of the unmarried.   One of the two authors mentioned above debated a seminary theologian on Facebook last summer in a far-ranging exchange that went on for many days.

For now, we note that both Jesus and Paul repeatedly spoke of fornication, adultery, and sodomy as separate sins, in Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21, as well as Matthew 19:9.    Paul did likewise in
1 Corinthian 6:9-10  and Galatians 5:19-21.

The Principle of CONTEXT
The narrowest context of the exchange in Matthew 19, is the carnal attempt by the Pharisees to apply Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to dissolve a one-flesh covenant marriage, contrary to God’s commandment, and possibly entrap Jesus with the intent of discrediting His ministry after the rebuke He gave in the Sermon on the Mount of the Pharisaical practice of serial polygamy, Matt. 5:27-32.  Leading up to the definitive words that begin in verse 6 and culminate in verse 12, which reaffirmed the total indissolubility of covenant holy matrimony, and which shut the door on the prior acceptability of all deviations, including polygamy and divorce, is His confrontation by the Pharisees, following three or four important events that had preceded:

(1) The Roman occupation had removed the ability of the Jews to carry out the Mosaic law for stoning that applied to porneia  and moicheia under Deuteronomy 22.    This upped the ante on civil divorce as a substitute means of disposing of unwanted wives.

(2) Jesus had just publicly lauded His cousin John the Baptist, who had recently been beheaded by Heriod after rebuking his adulterous mutual divorce and remarriage to Herodias, saying “return your brother’s wife — it is not lawful for you to have her.”

(3) A recent attempt by the Pharisees to entrap him had failed when He was brought the woman taken in adultery — related to (1) above.

(4) Jesus had previously delivered the Sermon on the Mount, where He had informed his audience that He was raising the moral standard on a host of Mosaic laws, not the least of which was marriage.   He began by warning them that to lust after another man’s wife, and not be content with one’s own wife would send them to hell if they acted on it.   (There was really no indication that this wasn’t the case all along, even under Moses, but under the New Covenant, there would no longer be atonement available through animal sacrifices, so obedience to Him must begin to come from the heart.)  
Furthermore, He was redefining adultery, no longer to be based solely on an act of the woman, but now it would be based on either gender marrying somebody else’s one-flesh spouse while that person was still living.  This was the first of three recorded occasions where He repeated the identical message without any exceptions that pertained to the 3rd party involved.

For the Pharisees, there was also no mistaking, due to the Hebrew betrothal custom and (1) above that when Jesus spoke in Matthew 5:32 of “except for a report  of unchastity” [logou  porneias],  He was not speaking of a consummated wife by any stretch of the imagination.   This could only be applied to the betrothed legal wife who was the subject of an unconsummated  ketubah.    Speaking as God, He was, in effect slamming the door on “Plan B” which at various earlier points in their history following Moses’ death, they accustomed themselves to resorting to when periodically deprived of the power to carry out stoning.    All of the above created the incendiary backdrop for another Pharisaical attempt to trap and incriminate Jesus, hoping Herod would be motivated to do to Jesus what he had just done to John the Baptist.

Most contemporary Protestant commentaries fixate on the running dispute between the Hillel and Shammai camps of the Pharisees, while presuming in a weakly-supported manner that Jesus sided with the Shammai’s  because of the “exception” He mentioned in  Matthew 5.   This is not only an inept analysis, it is also a total red herring!    Full context shows that Jesus flatly rebuked both schools, and Moses along with them!   Jesus brushed aside their dispute and moved the whole conversation to a place of impact in the kingdom of God, as can be seen in the private discussion with His disciples in the house afterward, verses 10-12:

The disciples said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.   But He said to them, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given.  For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.   He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”

Sometimes the context that immediately follows the passage being interpreted is just as important as the context that preceded it.   In this instance, if Jesus were merely agreeing with the “conservative” Shammais, verses 10-12, the discussion of becoming a eunuch for the kingdom of God would have no context, nor would the incredulous statement of dismay by the disciples.    But the parallel account in Mark 10 strengthens it even further because Mark, who was not there but spent years ministering with Peter among the Roman Gentiles, was impressed enough with the strength and firmness of what Jesus said that day to drop the gender distinction, indicating that was only relevant in the patriarchal Hebrew culture:

In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;  and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”


The Principle of CULTURE:
Much has already been covered in this series concerning the cultural considerations in interpreting Matthew 19:6 as rendering holy matrimony altogether indissoluble by any act of men.   The central element is without question the tradition of the Hebrew betrothal, and well as the politics around the on-again, off-again stoning law established by Moses.    Other elements that factor in include the long history of polygamyespecially among the great patriarchs of Israel, the divorce practices learned from among the Egyptians and other pagans prior to and during the Exodus that corrupted the Hebrews and multiplied their adulteries.   The final element is the ritual animal sacrifice that atoned for personal iniquity on a daily basis, which ended shortly after the Mosaic covenant gave way to the Messianic covenant which shifted men’s moral responsibility to maintaining a pure heart in taking up their personal cross and following Him.    Not to love Jesus more than any possession or family relationship was now deemed to be idolatry, which was another for which one forfeited their inheritance in the kingdom of God.

When Jesus had His confrontation with the Pharisees in Matthew 19,  if going back to Deuteronomy 24 in agreement with them was appropriate to the kingdom of God, He would have done so.   However under the Messianic Covenant, where His bride was to be purified, as so vividly described by Paul in Ephesians 5, it was necessary to go all the way back to the Garden, and repudiate this transitory law of Moses that only endeavored to “manage” sin.

Before moving on to discuss COMPARISON (scripture interpreting scripture), it’s worth noting that Jesus, while He was immediately addressing a Hebrew male audience when He made His Matthew 19 response to the challenge of the Pharisees, was also speaking into a Greco-Roman culture, since the Romans were occupying Judea at the time.   In modern times, traditional marriage champion Ryan Anderson said, “..the law is a teacher”, which is essentially a cultural statement.   Not only had the Romans stripped the Jews of their traditional Mosaic penalty of stoning for adulterous wives or fornicating fiancees, they had also enacted a law that held husbands legally responsible if prostitution was carried out by their wives, (while maintaining a vey liberal divorce law).    This certainly compelled a husband of an adulterous wife to separate from her, at minimum to avoid prosecution by the Romans.    (See Jennings, pages 74-78, and Fitzhenry, page 43-44; Lefkowitz & Fant,  Women’s Life in Greece and Rome, 2005.)  The controversy Jesus brought into this separation scenario was His declaration that these circumstances nevertheless did not dissolve the covenant, nor sever the one-flesh state, therefore any resulting remarriage constituted ongoing adultery.   Only God could dissolve covenant and unjoin one-flesh according to Matt. 19:6 / Mark 10:7-9.

The Principle of COMPARISON:
Scripture must always be interpreted in light of all other scripture on the same topic, and accomplished in such a way that there is no contradiction.    All canonized scripture is equally-inspired.  The Holy Spirit cannot contradict Himself.    Where there appears to be an inconsistency, disciplined investigation must continue until the source of the error is proven, and until scripture again aligns.   All of the relevant Old and New Testament scripture passages must be considered, and appropriate rigor demands that none be ignored as “analogy”, or dismissed as “hyperbole”.

Genesis 2:21-24  –  Matthew 19:6 is verbatim Genesis 2:24, but verses 21-23 give us even richer context.   The covenant wife of a man’s youth is “flesh of his flesh” and “bone of his bones” precisely because of God’s supernatural role in every holy matrimony joining.   God did not take a slab of ribs out of Adam, nor did He send Adam into a second sleep to supply a replacement when Eve did not turn out to be perfect.   There was no provision whatsoever for severing their one-flesh relationship except death.   That’s precisely why Jesus took the Pharisees back to the Garden, and why it wasn’t even necessary to say in the Pharisees’ hearing (because they already knew) the private elaboration He saved for His disciples, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her;  and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

Exodus 20:14, 17  – the Ten Commandments were in effect a ketubah, the written evidence of an enduring covenant between Elohim and His chosen people.    In light of how Jesus redefined man’s notion of adultery, the seventh and tenth commandments also echo our understanding of Matthew 19:6.

Deuteronomy 22:13-22  – Under Mosaic law, the penalty for either adultery by a fully-consummated wife (verse 22), or fornication by a betrothed wife (verses 13-21) under a ketubah, was stoning, not dissolution of the marriage by dismissal.   This is fully consistent with the truth that death was required to unjoin one-flesh, which Moses fully understood.

Deuteronomy 22:23-29 – This passage demonstrates a situation where justice required that an unbetrothed virgin who was raped was made legally equivalent to a consummated wife, necessary because would now never be offered a ketubah, therefore was robbed of her opportunity to become one-flesh with a future husband.   Not only was her rapist required to marry her, but he could not divorce her all his days.   This was necessary because of the possibility that her rapist was already married, so without this provision, she might otherwise not be made equal with the one-flesh wife, but instead subject to the law in Deuteronomy 24:1-4.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4 –   Although the Pharisaical controversy with Jesus (and also the text of Malachi 2) shows that the system had broken down at some point, but under Moses, “divorce” constituted release from the ketubah, and was reserved for situations where supernaturally God-joined one-flesh did not yet exist, or could never exist (and not situations involving sexual immorality because that was defined in Deuteronomy 22).   Examples included:  “some indecency” or “some nakedness” such as an undisclosed disease in the bride that resulted in ongoing ritual uncleanness – such as leprosy or bleeding;  an unhappy concubine who had been captured in war;  subsequent spouses in polygamy;  too-close consanguinity, and the like.    The reason the husband could not take such a divorced wife back was because the marriage could never be lawful either before or after it occurred.   The obvious analogy with today is the non-covenant wife of remarriage adultery  who must be relinquished permanently in order for both spouses to have a chance to enter heaven.   

Jeremiah 3:1-14 –  This is the passage where the prophet draws an analogy between the covenant violation of adultery and the covenant violation of worshipping other gods (idolatry).   Because it seems to imply in verse 8 that God “divorced” Israel,  this is another widely-abused passage, both in terms of claims that God instituted and / or allows divorce,  and to justify replacement theology, our series will address this passage as well.   There is much to get into with word translation and context that we will cover at that time.   For now,  suffice it to say that the book of Revelation, as well as the march of 20th century history clearly demonstrates that God’s covenant marriage bond with Israel and Judah were violated but certainly not dissolved, and verse 14 is quite explicit in its corroboration of our understanding of indissolubility described in Matthew 19:6,
“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion….” 

Hosea 1, 2 – In another prophetic analogy similar to Jeremiah, this prophet was told by God to marry a known prostitute.   The one-flesh joining occurred, despite her past, due to their vows before God.  Her return to prostitution after taking those vows did not dissolve their covenant, despite his anguished declaration (2:2),
For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband...”  nor did he have her stoned under Mosaic law, as he could have.   Instead, he buys her back from off the slave auction block, saying (2:14, 16, 19-20),

“…Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness
And speak kindly to her…….It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord,   “That you will call Me Ishi  [husband]
And will no longer call Me Baali [master]….I will betroth you to Me forever;  Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the Lord.”

It is as if God set the extreme story of Hosea to show that no act of men dissolves the marriage covenant of our youth, nor unjoins one-flesh.

Ezra, chapters 9 and 10 –  Over 100 priests were found to have entered into prohibited marriages (perhaps even polygamously) to pagan women with whom they had many children.   The Lord commanded that they be sent away in order to purify the people and have the nation restored.   When a nation, and especially with the involvement of its spiritual leaders, becomes so evil as to trample the sanctity of life and marriage, God begins to demand drastic cleansing measures.  Some cite this passage as evidence that God allows divorce, especially if the spouse of one’s youth is not a believer.   The problem with that is Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7: 12-13 to the contrary.   That instruction is based on the foundational fact that only  God can unjoin one-flesh.   However, in the instance of a prohibited marriage, it is not holy matrimony and God does not perform a one-flesh joining even if there are children born of the union.

Malachi 2:10-17 –  The Amplified Version brings in some important context that is not otherwise evident in the prophet’s rebuke of the adulterous priest(s) who were indeed guilty of remarriage adultery, of sending away an innocent one-flesh wife of their youth in order to “marry” a pagan woman, the identical situation that is so pervasive today.   God makes clear in verse 14 that He does not covenant with this second marriage, nor did he join them as one-flesh.   He is graphic about the human attempt to tear away,  or violently sever the one-flesh that Jesus says in Matthew 19:6 that only God can sever.   It is possible, as well, that Malachi is referring to false accusation that may have resulted in the wrongful stoning of an innocent covenant wife when Malachi speaks of “covering your garment with violence”,  and Jesus might have been alluding to the abuse of stoning when He spoke of hard hearts.   The term “shalach” used in 2:16 is literally “sending / putting away”,  but as we see in Deuteronomy,  the “get” (bill of divorcement) was reserved for other purposes than to dispose of a consummated one-flesh wife.
It is clear in this passage, that when God says He hates divorce (sending away),  He is speaking specifically of only the one-flesh spouse of our youth.

(Before turning to our comparison of New Testament passages, we pause to note what we’ve seen from scripture interpreting scripture,  the Pharisees who challenged Jesus were violating  God’s law from the beginning, as Jesus points out to them in Matthew 19:8.   Even in the Old Testament, there was never any true provision for sending away or abandoning a one-flesh spouse of one’s youth, consistently with all three “truth nuggets” gleaned above from  Matthew 19:6.   This is further supported by the fact that in all of the books of the Old Testament, we see a certain amount of polygamy, but we do not see one instance of “shalach” of a one-flesh consummated wife among those of any of the named figures of bible history except Vashti, the wife of the pagan King Xerxes in the book of Esther, until we come to the New Testament, where we see Herod directly rebuked by the Holy Spirit as an adulterer.)

Matthew 1:24-25 –   Mary was a betrothed wife under ketubah during the Roman occupation of Palestine, during which stoning for adultery or fornication was deprived of the Jews to carry out, so his option according to the post-Mosaic rabbinical tradition was “shalach“, which he purposed to do quietly, not wanting to disgrace her.   When the angel of the Lord commanded him to take her as his wife rather than issue her a “get” sending her away, he obeyed but kept her a virgin until Jesus was born.   As a result, though the ceremony took place, it is possible the one-flesh joining was delayed by God in this instance.   But why did God choose a betrothed mother and not an unattached virgin?    Perhaps it was so that we would have a well-known example through the ages to understand the importance of Hebrew betrothal to Jesus’ role as our unconditionally faithful Bridegroom.   Jesus subsequently gained several brothers whose biological father was Joseph.

Matthew 5:27-32 –  the key theme of the Sermon on the Mount was that Jesus was ushering in a new covenant, where no longer would there be animal sacrifices and external atonement for sin, nor the law to grudgingly fall short of, but obedience was to flow from the heart out of love and gratitude for His taking our place, and suffering the punishment we deserved.   Therefore, the Mosaic law was being superseded, especially the 613 sundry Pharisaical rules and the bulk of the Mosaic laws, in favor of a much higher standard:  love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.    No more eye for an eye , tooth for a tooth.  No more taking our own revenge or loving only those who love us.   We were no longer to allow sin to form even in our hearts.   Jesus redefined adultery as lustful thoughts, and murder as hateful, angry thoughts.   Against this backdrop, how is it even possible to seek to terminate a one-flesh God-joining for any reason?   How could such hate be committed against one’s own children?    A word of clarity is necessary concerning verse 32:

ἐγὼ δὲ   λέγω  ὑμῖν     ὅτι     πᾶς   ὁ       ἀπολύων                            τὴν
I however say to you that everyone “from-loosing”[dismissing] the

γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ  παρεκτὸς         λόγου       πορνείας
wife     of him      except for     a report of prostitution / whoredom

ποιεῖ   αὐτὴν      μοιχευθῆναι                        καὶ      ὃς         ἐὰν
causes   her      to commit adultery              and   whoever if

ἀπολελυμένην                                 γαμήσῃ               μοιχᾶται
her having been divorced        shall marry     commits adultery.

Why did Jesus say it was entering into a state of adultery  for a man to marry a woman who had been put away?    Was it not because she was still joined as one-flesh to her true husband, a condition that only God, not men, could unjoin?    Why does putting her away cause her to commit adultery?   Is it not for the very same reason Jesus stated in Matthew 19:6, that they would never again be two, once joined by God?     Note, too, that contemporary English translations make an unsupported word substitution for “porneia” (rendering it as “sexual immorality”)  when the original usage was much more specific than that.   Lastly, it should be noted Jesus referred to  “porneia”  (whoredom) and “moicheia” (adultery) as two separate and distinct sexual sins, not only here, but also in  Matthew 15:19 and Mark 7:21, as well as Matthew 19:9.    Paul did likewise in
1 Corinthian 6:9-10  and Galatians 5:19-21.    All of the above is consistent with the truth Jesus stated in Matthew 19:6, that man has no power to dissolve holy matrimony for any reason, by any act short of dying, and cannot unjoin what God has joined.   We can see that construing Matthew 5:32 as creating an adultery exception permitting one to divorce and remarry  causes the verse to contradict all other marriage scriptures except (on the surface) Matthew 19:9.

Matthew 14:3-4; Mark 6:17-18  –  These are the two  accounts of John the Baptist openly rebuking the adulterous divorces and remarriage of Herod and Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip.    On what basis was John justified in making that charge if either civil divorce or adultery dissolved holy matrimony?    Note that even though they were both pagans, as presumably both of their true spouses were, God still irrevocably joined them as one-flesh to their respective true spouses.   Jesus highly commended John the Baptist for taking the stand that he did.

Matthew 19:8 –  “…Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so….”     Jesus is reiterating exactly what He said two verses earlier, that flesh-of-a-man’s-flesh and bone-of-his-bones cannot be unjoined by man,  a foundational truth from the Creation account, Genesis 2:21-23.

Matthew 19: 10-12 –  After Jesus offended the Pharisees’ carnal line of questioning by slamming the door shut on divorce and remarriage as being something tolerable in the kingdom of God, His incredulous and stunned disciples confronted Him privately in the house, where He delivered the hard word in Matthew 19:9 / Mark 10:10-12.   We know that Jesus was not stating an exception for adultery because this was the accepted position of the school of Shammai, and would have triggered no controversy whatsoever with the twelve.   Their response, “it is better not to marry”  (if there’s no way holy matrimony can be dissolved by men) is once again perfectly consistent with our understanding of Matthew 19:6.     Jesus then spoke of three types of eunuchs:  those born that way, those who have been emasculated, and those separated from a one-flesh spouse who may not remarry for the sake of the kingdom of God, which directly follows from His straightforward message in Matthew 19:6.

Mark 10: 1-12 – This is the parallel account of the same event as Matthew 19: 1-12, but addressed to a mixed-gender Gentile audience.    The key verse is 10:11-12,  “And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”     John Mark, nephew of Barnabas was not present for this event,  but he was Peter’s companion and ministry partner, thereby learning of it from Peter who was present.   Whatever Jesus said in that house following the exchange with the Pharisees was obviously made so strong an impression on Peter that his young disciple felt it applied equally to both genders, overcoming the traditional patriarchal bias of the Mosaic law, and dispensing with any exception whatsoever.  

Luke 16:16-31 –  This is one of the two passages where Jesus is commending John the Baptist, martyr and rebuker of remarriage adultery, just before He delivers an exceptionless rebuke of divorce and remarriage, stating for the third time that to marry a person who has been put away by a spouse is entering into an ongoing state of adultery.    On what basis?   On the basis that they are attempting to marry someone who is still joined as one-flesh to their true spouse, and violating an indissoluble covenant according to what He said in Matthew 19:6.    Immediately following this, Jesus goes into a vivid description of hell, describing the rich man who lived for self and received his reward in full during his life on earth while others suffered under his feet.   Coincidence or design, is Jesus’ account?

Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39  –  Two pronouncements of Paul, echoing each other, that only death dissolves the covenant of holy matrimony and frees a previously married person to marry another.    On what basis was Paul saying this, if not Matthew 19:6, and the other exceptionless instances where Jesus is calling marriage to a divorced person adultery?


1 Corinthians 7:10-16 –  This chapter addresses various groups in the church body, including “the married”,  reiterating that separation and divorce is not an option, but if separation occurs, the spouses are to remain celibate or they are to reconcile.   They are not to seek separation due to a difference in faith,  For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband.”   This is as much an allusion to the one-flesh state that exists between them as it is to godly daily influence.   The instruction not to obstruct a spouse from departing who cannot abide the believing spouse’s discipleship has little to do with other causes of marital rupture, and the reference to the believing spouse not being bound refers to their freedom to follow Christ rather than a dissolution of the marriage bond.    All of this is perfectly consistent with Matthew 19:6.   (The pervasive abuse of verse 15 will be the subject of another blog in the series.)

1 Corinthians 7: 26-27 –  Another commonly-abused scripture in the same passage is used to justify remaining in a civil marriage that Jesus called adulterous.    Paul instructed those in the Corinthian church, in light of the persecution they were suffering, to remain as they were “called”,  meaning the state they were in when converted to Christ, also referring to slavery a few verses above.   However, verse 25 specifically addresses this to the virgins, and is once again referring to the kiddushin betrothal.    Therefore, his references to “wife” are mixed.    In the case of an indissoluble covenant with the wife of one’s youth, one is always “called” in the married state and required to cease and repudiate any accompanying state of sin.     The foundation for saying that one is called in the married state, not to a spouse of serial polygamy but to the covenant one-flesh spouse is, of course, Matthew 19:6 (also Luke 16:18  and Mark 10:11-12).

Eph 5:28-32 –   This passage is one of the clearest possible elaborations of the one-flesh relationship that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:6.   Paul goes so far to say that however a man treats his one-flesh companion, he is treating his own body.   From there Paul reiterates the symbolism of holy matrimony as depicting Christ’s relationship with His body, the church.

[“Standerinfamilycourt”  has endeavored to include in the COMPARISON step all of the scriptures commonly used (misused, actually) to negate or undermine the unpalatable message from Jesus in Matthew 19:9 “rightly-divided”, however if such a scripture has been overlooked,  the reader is encouraged to use the Comments section of this blog to bring it to our attention.]

The Principle of CONSULTATION
Whom is it most appropriate to consult on the authority of scripture which condemns man’s attempts to dissolve holy matrimony and to “sanctify” marriage to another while still having a living one-flesh spouse?     Due to the carnality of man which tends to escalate over time, that is a very important question which requires a strong knowledge of church history to reliably answer.    Hopefully, we’ve made it clear with indisputable evidence up to this point exactly where Jesus and the Apostles (including Paul) stood.   They discipled the next generation of followers of The Way, who in turn discipled the successive generations of the ante-Nicene church fathers.   It makes sense therefore to start the consultation with the writings of those who knew the Apostles (for example, Luke and Mark), and with those whom the next generation  discipled.

We need to be a bit skeptical while consulting theologian commentators from the time  of the Reformation forward when it comes to this topic.    Some will be biased in defense of the heretical Westminster Confession of Faith, which dominated mainline Protestant Churches from the 17th century, and others will be swayed by the tampering with word translations that began to occur in the lexicons published after the latter half of the 19th century.    On this basis, an equal number of later scholars will refute and discredit the many writings of the disciples of the Apostles, literally lapsing into “Reverend All-Wet” mode, and only superficially applying the  principles of disciplined hermeneutics  that we’ve just stepped through together.    For example, in convoluted fashion they’ll say that “scripture cannot contradict itself”,  so since “most scholars agree” (a presumption based on confirmation bias — and a weakened, distorted application of the COMPARISON principle that completely bypasses application of both the CONTEXT and  CULTURE principles) …that porneia “should always be” translated as “sexual immorality”,  all of the many scriptures that refute this must therefore be interpreted as not universally authoritative, and the church fathers should be dismissed as “flawed” asceticists.      Our Church Fathers and Church Wolves series will also be historically helpful.

Here’s what several of the early church fathers and other bible commentators had to say on this topic of whether there were ever any “biblical grounds” for divorce and remarriage:

Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D)
And, “Whoever shall marry her who is divorced from another husband, commits adultery.”   And, “There are some who have been made eunuchs of men, and some who were born eunuchs, and some who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake; but all cannot receive this saying.”  So that all who by human law, are twice married, are in the eye of our Master sinners, and those who look upon a woman to lust after her.

Hermas (circa 160 A.D.)
And I said to him, “Sir, if any one has a wife who trusts in the Lord, and if he detect her in adultery, does the man sin if he continues to live with her?”  And he said to me, “As long as he remains ignorant of her sin, the husband commits no transgression in living with her.  But if the husband knows that his wife has gone astray, and if the woman does not repent, but persists in her sin, and the husband continues to live with her, he also is guilty of her crime, and a sharer in her adultery.”  And I said to him, “What then, sir, is the husband to do if she continues in her vicious practices?”  And he said, “The husband should put her away and remain by himself.  But if he put her away and marries another, he also commits adultery.”

Theophilus (circa 170-190 A.D.)
“And he that marries”, says [the Gospel] , “her that is divorced from her husband commits adultery; and whoever puts away his wife**, saving for the cause of fornication, cause her to commit adultery.”   Because Solomon says: “Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?  Or can one walk across hot coals and his feet not be burned?  So he that goes into a married woman will not be innocent.”      (**Recall that “wife” in the Gospel also referred to a betrothed legal wife who was the only type of “wife” who could commit fornication rather than adultery.)

Athenagoras (177 A.D.)
For we bestow our attention; not on the study of words, but on the exhibition and teaching of actions, that a person should either remain as he was born, or be content with one marriage; for a second marriage is only a specious adultery.   “For whoever puts away his wife,” says He, “and marries another commits adultery;” not permitting a man to send her away whose virginity he has brought to an end, nor to marry again.

Clement of Alexandria (circa 215 A.D.)
Now that the scripture counsels marriage, and allows no release from the union, is expressly contained in the law, “You shall not put away your wife except for the cause of fornication,” and it regards as adultery the marriage of those separated while the other is alive.   The Church cannot marry another, having obtained a bridegroom;  each of us individually has a right to marry the woman he wishes according to the law; I mean here first marriage.

Tertullian ( circa 160-220 A.D.)
A divorced woman cannot even marry legitimately; and if she commits any such act without the name of marriage, does it not fall under the category of adultery, in that adultery is crime in the way of marriage?    Such is God’s verdict, within narrower limits than men’s, that universally, whether through marriage or promiscuously, the admission of a second man to intercourse is pronounced adultery to true, moreover, is it that divorce “was not from the beginning,” that among the Romans it is not until the six hundredth year from the building of the city that this kind of “hard heartedness” is set down as having been committed.  But they indulge in promiscuous adulteries, even without divorcing their partners: to us, even if we do divorce them, even marriage will not be lawful.

Council of Arles, 314 A.D.
Of those who discover their wives in adultery and are young Christians and are forbidden to marry, it was determined that they be most strongly advised not to take other wives while their own live, though they be adulterous.

Gregory Nanzianzen (circa 325-389 A.D.)
For I think the word here seems to deprecate second marriage.  For, if there were two Christs, there may be two husbands or two wives; but if Christ is One, one Head of the Church, let there also be one flesh, let the second be rejected…now the [civil] Law grants divorce for every cause, but Christ not for every cause; but He allows only separation from the whore; and in all other things He commands patience.

Ambrose of Milan (333-397 A.D.)
Therefore, the right to marry is given you, lest ye fall into a snare and sin with a strange woman.  Ye are bound to your wife; do not seek release because you are not permitted to marry another while your wife lives.


Innocent I  (417 A.D.)
It is manifest that when persons who have been divorced marry again both parties are adulterers.   And moreover, although the former marriage is supposed to be broken, yet if they marry again they themselves are adulterers, but the parties whom they marry are equally with them guilty of adultery; as we read in the gospel:
He who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery; and likewise, He who marries her that is put away from her husband commits adultery.

Jerome (circa 340-420 A.D.)
The apostle has cut away every plea and has clearly declared that, if a woman marries again while her husband is living, she is an adulteress.   You must not speak to me of the violence of a ravisher,  a mother’s pleading, a father’s bidding, the influence of relatives, the insolence and the intrigues of servants, household losses.   A husband may be an adulterer,  a sodomite, he may be stained with every crime and may have been left by his wife for his sins; yet he is still her husband as long as he lives; she may not marry another.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 A.D.)
It cannot be correctly affirmed either that the husband who puts away his wife because of immorality and marries another does not commit adultery.   For there is adultery, also, on the part of those who marry others after the repudiation of their former wives because of immorality…If everyone who marries another woman after the dismissal of his wife commits adultery, this includes one who puts away his wife without cause of immorality and the one who puts away his wife for this reason.

Peter Lombard (prior to 1160 A.D.)
The marriage bond still exists between those who, even if departing from one another, having joined themselves to others.

Thomas Aquinas (circa 1225-1274 A.D.)
Nothing happening after a marriage can dissolve it: wherefore adultery does not make a marriage cease to be valid.  For according to Augustine, “as long as they live they are bound by the marriage tie, which neither divorce nor union with another can destroy.

Isaac Williams (1802-1865)
‘What therefore God has joined let not man put asunder.’   Here our Lord sets aside the letter of Holy Scripture, in one case, in the passage in Deuteronomy, (which He speaks of as the command of Moses,) on account of the higher law of Christian holiness and perfection…and therefore this passage in the book of Genesis not only is spoken, as St Paul says it is, of the Sacramental union betwixt Christ and His Church, but also does signify that marriage is itself of Divine sanction, and the union formed by God, and necessarily indissoluble as such…for if God has joined, man cannot put asunder.

(See Jennings, pages 81-99)

And I say unto you,…. To his disciples, when they were with him alone in the house, and asked him more particularly about the subject, concerning which he had been discoursing with the Pharisees, as Mark observes, Mark 10:10 when he said to them much the same things, he had delivered before in Matthew 5:32

whosoever shall put away in his wife; separate her from his person, house and bed, and dismiss her as his wife, no more to be considered in that relation to him,

except it be for fornication; or whoredom, for defiling his bed: for this is not to be understood of fornication committed before, but of uncleanness after marriage, which destroys their being one flesh:

and shall marry another woman, committeth adultery; Marks adds, “against her”; which may be understood either of the woman he marries, which not being lawfully done, she lives in adultery with the husband of another woman; or of his former wife, and who is still his wife, and to whose injury he has married another; and he not only commits adultery himself, but, as in Matthew 5:32 “causeth her to commit adultery also”, by being the occasion of marrying another man, when she is still his lawful wife:

and whoso marrieth her which is put away, for any other cause than adultery,

doth commit adultery also; since he cohabits with the wife of another man; see Gill on Matthew 5:32

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

(h) Therefore in these days the laws that were made against adulterers were not regarded: for they would have no need of divorce, if the marriage had been severed by punishment of death.

We met with the like determination of our Lord’s upon this question Matthew 5:32, only there it was (instead of committeth adultery) causeth her to commit adultery, that is, in case she married again. Here our Lord saith the like of the husband: we have the same, Mark 10:11 Luke 16:18. The reason is this: Because nothing but adultery dissolves the knot and band of marriage, though they be thus illegally separated, yet according to the law of God, they are still man and wife. Some have upon these words made a question whether it be lawful for the husband or the wife separated for adultery to marry again while each other liveth. As to the party offending, it may be a question; but as to the innocent person offended, it is no question, for the adultery of the person offending hath dissolved the knot of marriage by the Divine law. It is true that the knot cannot be dissolved without the freedom of both persons each from another, but yet it seemeth against reason that both persons should have the like liberty to a second marriage. For,

1. The adulteress is by God’s law a dead woman, and so in no capacity to a second marriage.

2. It is unreasonable that she should make an advantage of her own sin and error.

3. This might be the occasion of adultery, to give a wicked person a legal liberty to satisfy an extravagant lust.

But for the innocent person, it is as unreasonable that he or she should be punished for the sin of another. But what our Saviour saith here, and in the other parallel texts, is undoubtedly to be understood of husbands and wives put away not for adultery, but for other light and trivial causes, for which by the law of God no divorce is allowed.

Matthew 19:9. Μὴ, not[860]) The word occurs with the same force in 1 John 5:16.—καὶ γαμήση, and shall marry) The criminality of the divorce is especially aggravated by a second marriage.

[860] Lachm. rends παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας with BD Orig. 3,647c, 648ac, 649b; “exceptâ causâ fornicationis” in c. CZ read μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ, and so Tischend. Rec. Text reads the same, prefixing εἰ. Vulg. “nisi ob fornicationem,” which favours Rec. Text. “Nisi ob causam fornicationis” in ab seems a blending of the two readings, εἰ μὴ and λόγου.—ED.

Bengel reads ὃς ἄν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ, μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ, whosoever shall put away his wife NOT for fornication; E. M. has εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνωίᾳ, IF NOT (i e. except) for fornication. The meaning is the same. In his Apparatus Bengel writes, in loc—

μὴ) Comp. et al. edd. Aug. 1, 4, Bas. 1, Byz. Cypr. Gehl. Med. Mosc. Steph. omn. Wo. 2, et sedecim et viginti alii: nec obstat Cant. Colb. 8, L. Par. 6, Arab. Syr. εἱ μὴ. Er et al. edd. cum pauculis MSS.”—(I. B.)

Verse 9.And I say unto you. Our Lord here enunciates the law which was to obtain in his kingdom, which, indeed, was simply the reintroduction and enforcement of the primitive and natural ordinance. Except it be for fornication; εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ: nisi ob fornicationem (Vulgate). This is the received reading. Tregelles, Tischendort; Westcott and Hort omit εἰ. The parallel passage in St. Mark (where Christ is stated to have made the remark to his disciples “in the house”) omits the clause altogether. Lachmann, following some few manuscripts, has introduced παρεκτὸς λόγου πορνείας, “saving for the cause of fornication,” from Matthew 5:32. The interpretation of this verse has given occasion to acute controversy. There are some questions that have to be considered in expounding this matter.

(1) What is here meant by πορνεία? Does it bear its usual meaning, or is it equivalent to μοιχεία, “adultery”? These who affirm that the sin of married persons is never expressed by the word porneia, hold that it here signifies ante-nuptial unchastity, which would make the marriage void ab initio; post-nuptial transgression would be punished by death, not by divorce. In this view, our Lord would say that no divorce is allowable except where the wife is proved to have been unchaste before marriage. In such a case, the union being void from the first, the man is free to marry again. But there are difficulties in this interpretation. Why, at the end of the verse, is it called adultery to marry the divorced woman, if she was never really and lawfully married? Again, it is not correct to say that porneia denotes solely the sin of unmarried people. All illicit connection is described by this term, and it cannot be limited to one particular kind of transgression. In Ecclus. 23:23 it is used expressly of the sin of an adulteress. We may also remark that metaphorically idolatry is often called by this name, whereas, since Israel is supposed to be married to the Lord, the breaking of this bend by the worship of false gods might more strictly be named adultery. And yet again, there is no proof that the discovery of previous immorality in a wife did ipso facto vitiate the marriage (see Hosea 1:2, etc.). The passages that are thought to bear on this matter are Deuteronomy 22:13-21 and Deuteronomy 24:1-4. In the former there is no question of divorce, – the offender is to be stoned; in the second passage the ground of divorce is “some uncleanness,” or some unseemly thing, whether immorality or personal defect is meant cannot be decided, the rival schools taking different sides. But it is quite certain that adultery is not intended, and ante-nuptial unchastity is not even hinted. The interpretation, therefore, given above cannot be maintained.

(2) Omitting for the moment the limiting clause, may we say that the general teaching of Christ makes for the indissolubility of the marriage bond? The majority of the Fathers from Hermas and Justin Martyr downwards affirm this. Those who admit that divorce is permissible in the case of the wife’s adultery are unanimous in asserting that, by Christ’s ordinance, remarriage is prohibited to the husband during the culprit’s life; so that, practically, if divorce a mensa et toro is allowed, divorce a vinculo is refused. All Christ’s utterances on the subject, saving the apparently restrictive clause (Matthew 5:32) and here, absolutely and plainly forbid divorce, on the ground of law and nature. The words in Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18 are given without any limitation whatever. St. Paul draws from such his conclusion of the indissolubility of the marriage tie, as may be seen in 1 Corinthians 7:10, 11, 39; Romans 7:2, 3. There could never have been a doubt about this subject had it not been for the difficulty in interpreting the parenthetical clause.

(3) Are we, then, to suppose that Christ, by those words, modifies his general statement, and allows absolute divorce in the case of a wife’s misconduct? Such is the view taken by many theologians, and practically endorsed by the civil law of many countries. Neither the Roman nor the Anglican Churches support this laxity. Ecclesiastical and civil laws are here antagonistic. It is said that Christ allows the wronged party to marry again. If so, if the oneness of the parties is wholly destroyed by the sin of the woman, why is it not permitted to a man to marry a divorced woman? This cannot be called adultery unless she is still one flesh with her husband, although separated. We must argue from this that divorce in such a case does not destroy the vinculum matrimonii, the marriage bond. and if not under this circumstance, surely under no other; for any other ground must be always less serious than adultery. If the clause in question enunciated an exception to the absolute rule elsewhere given, Christ would seem to stultify himself, to give two opposite decisions, and to introduce uncertainty in a most important verdict. The principle on which he based his dictum would be overthrown, and his hearers might have accused him of inconsistency. The solution offered for this difficulty is this – that Christ is contemplating merely what we call judicial separation; he considers that no trivial cause justifies this, in fact, nothing but fornication, and that this modified divorce does not free the man so that he may marry again; he is bound by the Law as long as his wife lives. Our Lord seems to have introduced the exceptional clause in order to answer what were virtually two questions of the Pharisees, viz. whether it was lawful to “put away a wife for every cause,” and whether, when a man had legally divorced his wife, he might marry again. To the former Christ replies that separation was allowable only in the case of fornication; in response to the second, he rules that even in that case remarriage was wholly barred. And whosoever marrieth her which is put away (ἀπολελυμένην, without the article); her, when she is put away (Revised Version); or, a divorced woman. The clause is wholly omitted by א and some other manuscripts, and some modern editors, as Westcott and Hort. But it has very high authority in its favour. Alford renders, “her, when divorced,” and restricts the application to a woman unlawfully divorced, not extending it to one separated for porneia. But the language is too indefinite to admit of this interpretation as certain (see Luke 16:18, and the note on Matthew 5:32, where the popular view is expressed). The clause, pondered without regard to foregone conclusions, surely contains an argument for the indissolubility of the marriage tie, as we have said above. Marriage with a divorced wife can be rightly termed adultery only in consideration of the continuance of the vinculum. Doth commit adultery. The binding nature of marriage does not depend on the will or the acts of the persons, but on its primal character and institution. By the repeal of the Mosaic relaxation and the restoration of marriage to its original principle, Christ not only enforces the high dignity of this ordinance, but obviates many opportunities of wickedness, such, for instance, as collusion between husband and wife with a view to obtain freedom for marriage with others.

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.   If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two…..

 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?  Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:38-48

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