For the past several weeks we have been covering the subject of sex from a Biblical perspective. This week we want to talk about Divorce and Remarriage.
First of all, no matter what view one takes on the issue of divorce, it is important to remember
Malachi 2:16: God says, “I hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel.”
According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. Two people, a man and a woman are United together
“So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).
God realizes, though, that, since marriages involve two sinful human beings, divorces are going to occur. In the Old Testament, He laid down some laws in order to protect the rights of divorcées, especially women (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Jesus pointed out that these laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because such laws were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8).
The controversy over whether divorce and remarriage is allowed according to the Bible revolves primarily around Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. The phrase “except for marital unfaithfulness” is the only thing in Scripture that possibly gives God’s permission for divorce and remarriage. Many interpreters understand this “exception clause” as referring to “marital unfaithfulness” during the “betrothal” period. In Jewish custom, a man and a woman were considered married even while they were still engaged or “betrothed.” According to this view, immorality during this “betrothal” period would then be the only valid reason for a divorce.
However, the Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” is a word which can mean any form of sexual immorality. It can mean fornication, prostitution, adultery, etc. Jesus is possibly saying that divorce is permissible if sexual immorality is committed. Sexual relations are an integral part of the marital bond:
“the two will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Ephesians 5:31).
Therefore, any breaking of that bond by sexual relations outside of marriage might be a permissible reason for divorce. If so, Jesus also has remarriage in mind in this passage. The phrase “and marries another” (Matthew 19:9) indicates that divorce and remarriage are allowed in an instance of the exception clause, whatever it is interpreted to be. To be continued next week in your SPREADING THE LIGHT BULLETIN. Do not miss it.
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