Welcome to Midway Church of Christ                                 

Times of Services
Bible Classes
Meet Our Preacher
Meeting Schedule
Daily Bible Verse
History of Midway

Frank Jamerson


   Recently, I was given an article from a brother who has taken the position that there is no Scriptural reason for divorcing and remarrying today. He said divorcing for fornication is right, but not remarrying because only Matthew 19:8,9 gives, or may seem to give, permission for remarriage. Jesus said: “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorcees his wife, except for sexual immorality (fornication), and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”


   Notice some other uses of “except,” or “unless” in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus said “unless (except) your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5:21). What if their righteousness did exceed? Doesn’t that imply they would inherit the kingdom? He said a man cannot plunder a strong man’s house, “unless (except) he first binds the strong man” (Mt. 12:29). Doesn’t that imply that if he does bind the strong man, he can plunder his house? Jesus also said, “unless (except) you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:8). Does that not imply that if you are converted and become as little children, you will inherit the kingdom?


   Now, when Jesus said, “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” (Mt. 19:9), does that not imply that if he puts her away for that cause, and marries another he has not committed adultery? The writer argued that fornication refers to sexual immorality before marriage, and “nowhere in the New Testament is porneia used of adultery.” This is not true. Twice in 1 Corinthians 5:1, the man who had his father’s wife is said to be guilty of fornication (porneia). The church was told not to have company with “sexually immoral people” (fornicators) (verse 9). The word porneia clearly applies to married people who are sexually immoral. Furthermore, it is pure assumption to argue that the actions of the “wife” in this context (Mt. 19) refers to what she did before marriage. In fact, the context is talking about the action of those “God has joined together” (vs. 5,6). Jesus was talking about actions of people who were married.


   The writer used the Law of Moses (Dt. 24:1-4) to argue that the divorced woman was “defiled” if she remarried. This is a difficult passage, but Law of Moses taught that an adulteress was to be put to death, not given a divorce so she could remarry (Dt. 22:22). Furthermore, the woman put away for “some uncleanness,” could marry another man. That would not fit the teaching of Jesus in Mt. 19:9. He said the man who marries the put away woman commits adultery. Furthermore, if the second husband “detests her” (no reason given), she was not forbidden to marry another – except the first husband who put her away. She was “defiled,” so far as the first husband was concerned, even if her second husband died (Dt. 24:3,4). That is not what Jesus taught in Matthew 19. What Moses “permitted” was “because of the hardness of your hearts, but from the beginning it was not so” (v. 8), and it is not so under the New Covenant. There is only one reason for putting away and remarrying – adultery. Putting away an adulterer/adulteress was not, and is not, evidence of a hard heart. God Himself, spiritually, did that (Jer. 3:8).


   Granted only Matthew records the exception for divorce, but the entirety of God’s word is truth (Ps. 119:160). Matthew does not mention faith or repentance in his account of the great commission (Mt. 28:18-20). Mark did not mention repentance (Mk. 16:16). Luke did not mention faith or baptism (Lk. 24:46,47). We accept all it says, not just when it appears in every account.


   When Matthew mentions a man’s wife (Mt. 19:9), he was not talking about one who is engaged, but one who is  married. The brother contended that fornication never refers to adultery. If that were true, a married person could never divorce an unfaithful spouse, because a married person cannot commit fornication (according to his argument).  Jesus said the man who puts away his wife for fornication may marry another and not be guilty of adultery, but the one who marries the put away fornicator commits adultery. There is one situation in which a married person may (not has to) put his/her companion and marry another without committing adultery – that is putting him/her away for fornication.






                       Copyright Midway Church of Christ 2014    This page last modified July 03, 2014