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
[c.}
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
adultery

(….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 the revisionists 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 scripture4all.com is more faithful and accurate than its interlinear tool counterpart in biblehub.com.

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 Him...so 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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One thought on “The Granddaddy of Them All – Stop Abusing Matthew 19:9: The “Debunk” Series – Part 5”

  1. I have been divorced since 1977. I have never remarried. I have had numerous struggles with living without a wife. I am 72 years old, and just now appreciating that I never remarried.
    I have seen my friends remarry, just to see many end up divorced again—even my Christian friends. Those who have remarried—with children have the worst to suffer. Their children have turn to drugs, multiple marriages, and other even ending up in jail. I surly do not want anyone to tell me that the ramifications of divorce doesn’t harm anyone. I have seen firsthand—even with my own daughter what can happen after divorce.
    Even though I have had many heartache in my life because of my own ignorance, and divorce—–If I had it to do over again, I would still stay single.
    If any one is reading this and contemplating divorce—-don’t do it—-it is not worth it—–it hurts everyone—especially the children. If you are already divorced—-stayed unmarried.

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