Marriage and Divorce Equality

It is no surprise that while the US Supreme Court is debating same sex marriage my post Hypocrisy and Gay Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage, from nearly a year ago, has been attracting readers. Kurt Willems has also pointed readers to an old post of his making a similar point in an even more attention-grabbing way: Sign My Petition for a Constitutional Amendment to Ban Divorce!

Same Sex DivorceI’m not sure what to add now, except that I agree with Joel Watts that

individual morality is not an issue the State should decide… If two consenting adults wish to engage in a commitment to one another … then so be it.

Meanwhile a friend of mine who was in a same sex marriage is hurting because she and her wife have ended their relationship. I hope she can find divorce equality if she needs it.

77 thoughts on “Marriage and Divorce Equality

  1. Hi Peter. May I join the debate? I might comment later on the SSM discussion, but for now I would like to extend the commentary on divorce. Thus far, the discussion on divorce and remarriage has not extended into Jesus’ comment on conditions that are acceptable for divorce. “Except for porneia” is typically translated as fornication, immorality or unfaithfulness. I have 2 observations. I have little time to embellish my argument here, so please read around my shorthand.
    1. In context these amount to adultery or other actions that are likely to result in the woman being stoned. Hence no need for divorce(?)
    2. These are conditions that break the covenant between the man and his wife. The word porneia might validly be intended to mean broken covenant. I read Mtt 5:32 to say: the divorce paper has no power except that it might confirm what has already taken place in the spirit. So, what constitutes broken covenant?

  2. Mike, thank you for your comments. I thought I had discussed that passage and the porneia clause in detail before, but I can’t find it now. Perhaps it was only in comments, here or on another blog. I don’t have time to go into details now. But I would tentatively agree with your idea that porneia is understood as breaking the marriage covenant. Meanwhile Jesus did not uphold the death penalty for adultery, which was most likely not generally enforced in his time.

  3. This is a doctrine I’ve studied for many years, and I’ve been blessed with solid teaching on MDR from the pulpit, godly men who’ve rightly divided the word of truth.

    The books I’ve found most scriptural are written by David Pawson, Joe Fogle, and Raymond McMahon. Pastor McMahon has a YouTube channel, “Jesus Is Our Shepherd,” that everyone should hear.

    Also very helpful is the work of Dr. Leslie McFall. A true scholar, his research is excellent and timely. Please see the unpublished articles section on his website. It’s not an exception clause in Matthew, it’s an exclusion clause.

  4. Kathleen, thank you for your comment and your reading recommendations.

    I had a quick glance at the preface to Leslie McFall’s paper THE BIBLICAL TEACHING ON DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE (PDF). I see three serious errors already in the preface:

    1. McFall teaches that Jesus invalidated divorce certificates. But these certificates, as Jesus himself pointed out in Matthew 5:31, were commanded in the law of Moses. To say that Jesus invalidated them is to deny that law and contradict verses 17-20 of the same chapter. McFall cannot make one part of the Sermon on the Mount contradict another. Yes, Jesus taught a better way than certificates of divorce, but he never invalidated them.

    2. McFall is quite wrong to claim that “The divorce certificate, therefore, certifies that you have an unforgiving spirit.” Yes, that could perhaps be said of the party who initiates a divorce, although it is not necessarily true of a person who has been deserted by a spouse who is living with someone else and unwilling to return. But, both in Jewish law and in many modern cases, there is another party involved in a divorce, the one who does not initiate the divorce and has potentially contested it. This party may be completely innocent. Or they may have sinned and given some grounds for divorce. But the divorce certificate has nothing at all to say about their spirit, and it is quite wrong and offensive to suggest that it does.

    3. McFall appeals to “the principle of forgiveness” to forbid divorce. However, he rejects this principle when he refers to a divorced wife, or any woman who has had sex with two men, as “a dangerous and a polluting force … an abomination”. Is there no forgiveness for her? McFall seems to say no. Jesus said the opposite, to the woman caught in adultery: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.” (John 8:11).

  5. McFall is beautifully right because He bases His understanding on Jesus’ clear definition of both marriage and adultery.

    In Matthew 19, Jesus said the two become one-flesh, cemented together in a lifelong covenant by God, and man is not to separate what God has joined. The church knew this for centuries. It wasn’t until the 19th century that things started to change.

    Deut 24 — Certificates of divorce were ‘permitted’ by Moses, not ‘commanded’ in the law, Jesus corrected the Pharisees, and that for hardness of heart. But Jesus went past Deut 24, back to the beginning. “Have ye not read?” He asked them. Of course they had, but they didn’t get it. Was there divorce in the garden of Eden? Hardly.

    Divorce may be recognized by the state, but not by God, otherwise when a man or woman remarried it wouldn’t be considered adultery by God, yet Jesus defined remarriage as adultery.

    Jesus is God. He defines what sin is; we don’t. He doesn’t want His sheep to stumble in darkness. Anyone/whosoever/anybody who puts away his or her spouse and marries another is living in adultery, Jesus said. Why? Because the covenant couple are still married in His eyes.

    Marriage is a lifelong covenant with 3 people, not a contract of two that the state can dissolve. God doesn’t have a divorce court. That’s what the Pharisees could not comprehend because they didn’t have His word abiding in them. They were hung up on the washing of pots and cups, straining those little gnats, and swallowing camels on divorce and remarriage, and the other weightier matters.

    Yes, there is forgiveness for adultery, but there must be genuine repentance. All sexual immorality must be forsaken: couples living together unmarried, couples living together in an adulterous remarriage, or couples living together in a same-sex marriage. It’s all sin that must be repented of and God will and does forgive.

    I’ve heard and read all of the arguments. None of them can hold a candle to Jesus’ teaching on it, which He opened my eyes to over thirty years ago, then He led me to specific teachers He has set in the body of Christ who know Jesus on this. But we live in an evil and adulterous generation, and so not many are walking in His truth.

    So, I encourage everyone who struggles with His spirit and life words on the permanency of marriage to fast, pray, and keep asking Him for light. He is faithful and just to deliver His own from all error and unrighteousness.

  6. Mr. Kirk, I beg to disagree, the Torah never commanded divorce any more than it commanded one to voluntarily swear an oath. It commanded one to issue a certificate by way of concession only (as expounded by Jesus). But Jesus raised the moral bar.

    There are two ways to invalidate the divorce certificate. One is to abolish the concept of marriage, thereby making divorce irrelevant. The other is to go in the opposite direction and raise the moral bar to its “true” standard. It is the latter undertaking, not the former, which invalidated the divorce certificate. The son of the Most High never abolished the original intent of the Law, which is the point of Mat 5:17-18.

  7. Robert, if the Law offered a concession, to abolish that concession is to abolish the Law, which Jesus did not do. Yes, he said it was better not to make use of this concession, but he did not invalidate what the Law declared valid.

    Are you suggesting that Deuteronomy 24 was not an original part of the Law which God gave to Moses, but a human addition?

  8. A divine concession does not equal a “human addition”. Take another OT example. Divine provision of quail to the Israelites after they complained in Numbers 11 (and sending a plague afterwards) was also a concession. Concessions have consequences, and bad ones at that.

    Jesus conveyed that the divorce paper leads one to commit adultery and you say he did not invalidate it? Well, if you are saying he validated it as adultery I might agree with you.

  9. Robert, are you saying that the divine concession allowed adultery, as a temporary exception to the Commandment? Or that Jesus redefined adultery and so changed the Commandment? At what point did remarriage after divorce become adultery? At the moment that Jesus spoke the words, even though most people could not have heard those words until long afterwards? Or are you saying that the new definition applies only to Christians, and the old one only to Jews? That approach might be more promising, but still leads to a kind of legalism which is diametrically opposed to Jesus’ teaching of grace.

  10. Mr Kirk, those are good questions. But you omit the most fundamental question, which is at what point did lusting after another man’s wife become adultery? Something to ponder on, I guess.

    Does his teaching about lust lead to legalism? Is it diametrically opposed to Jesus’ teaching of grace? I don’t think so.

  11. Robert, that is indeed an interesting question. I would say this kind of lust was always adultery, but was never punishable as such because it could never be proved. But I don’t think Jesus’ teaching on lust leads to legalism, because it is about what one does in one’s “heart”, not about obeying rules and regulations for outward behavior.

  12. So I take it you think there was a demarcation in his teaching about adultery. Some would say yes “legally”, but no “spiritually (of the heart)”. And inward circumcision is of the “heart” and the mark of a real “Jew”.

  13. Robert, to put this very simplistically in a short comment: I see two different standards here.

    One is the standard of the law, which Jesus does not abolish, according to which adultery is only the physical act and there is a concession for adultery. To fail to meet these standards is to transgress the law, a sin for which the wages are death, although there is forgiveness in Christ.

    The second standard which Jesus proclaims, according to which even lust is adultery and there is no concession for divorce, is not a new law or an amendment to the old one. It could not be as there is no objective standard for enforcing it. But it is the standard by which Jesus expects his people to live. They will not be condemned for failing to do so, as there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, but failure is not pleasing to God.

    I hope that helps, at least for you to understand what I am saying.

  14. Your first paragraph seems to imply that Jesus’ concern about the divorce certificate – straight after addressing the issue of lust – is saying nothing different than what the law says. If so, I disagree. Although I might have misunderstood you.

  15. The reason I say this is because the letter of the Law never prohibited a put-away wife from remarrying; Jesus did in Mat 5:32 by also implicating the wife’s second husband in the same crime of adultery.

  16. Robert, it still sounds like you are claiming that Jesus proclaimed a new law to replace the old one, a suggestion he specifically refuted in verses 17-19. Jesus didn’t prohibit anything, but he did ask his followers to have higher standards than just keeping the letter of the Law, verse 20. Lust, Jesus teaches, is not against the Law, but it is not good and not compatible with following Jesus. Similarly, he teaches, divorce followed by remarriage is not against the Law, but it is not the best way which Jesus expects from his followers.

    OK, you can ask about how Jesus uses the word “adultery” (vv.28,32). I would suggest that in this chapter he is repeatedly using hyperbole for deliberate effect, like suggesting that people go to hell for saying “Fool” (v.22) and that they should pluck out their eye or cut off their hand (vv.29-30). Similarly in the double use of the adultery word. He is not saying that these things are literally to be included in the commandment against adultery, but that in God’s sight they amount to the same thing.

  17. You might get a better sense of what I mean if you look at his very next teaching concerning oaths and vows. That flies directly in the face of what the letter of the Law specifically permitted – Num 30:2 and Deut 23:21-23. And you say Jesus prohibited nothing? Well, I would say that if all that rhetoric about hell and judgment does not put the fear of God in us then our religion is nothing more than one giant leap of faith…

  18. Robert, the section on oaths and vows agrees precisely with what I have been saying: the Law, which has not been abolished, allows vows but they must be performed, but Jesus says it is better still not to make vows at all. No threat of hell or judgment there, just good practical advice.

  19. And by whom or what is one to swear a vow, if Jesus did not abolish?

    I was referring to those threats of judgment concerning hatred and adultery. One can draw a similar conclusion of overall judgment from the end of his sermon.

  20. Robert, I am beginning to think you are being deliberately obtuse here. Don’t you get my point? Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount, in my view, are not decrees, commandments or prohibitions, or changes to the Law. They are practical advice for his followers. They are more like the book of Proverbs than the book of Leviticus. He is not making vows illegal, but he is advising his people not to make them. You can disagree if you like, but please do me the courtesy of trying to understand my position on this.

  21. Sure, I get your point. I get your position quite clearly. I think it’s one giant leap of faith…into the unknown.

  22. John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”

    John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

    Yes, I think they are commandments.

  23. Besides what Jesus said about his own commandments, the word “commandment” occurs some 11 times in Proverbs and the word “law” some 4 times. And the Psalms contain numerous references with these kind of terms. “Practical advice” does not do any part of the Bible justice – that’s the kind of phrase to do with the affairs of the world.

  24. Mr. Kirk, in the fear of God I proclaim that lust is not only against the law, but lust is under the umbrella of covetousness. “Thou shalt not covet…thy neighbor’s wife” (Exodus 20:17 KJV). Lusting after your neighbor’s wife is a grievous sin that is strictly forbidden in the Ten Commandants.

    I don’t mean to offend or insult you in any way, but, although you may not realize it, your confusion on what Jesus taught on MDR and your unscriptural ideas about law and grace are quite apparent in your exchange with Mr. Kan.

    Jesus defined adultery in three ways, which can be seen as a progression: (1) the lustful look in Mat 5:27-29 (and we should pluck out our eyes if we are guilty of this), (2) the act itself (John 8:4) and (3) remarriage, the fruit of coveting another man’s wife (Mat 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18).

    Anyone who argues with Jesus on His holy definition of adultery has been holden with the cords of his sins, Prov 5:22, and only the truth can set him free.

    Divorces only happen when the stubborn wills of men and women take preeminence over the will of God. It’s unforgiving self-seeking, which is against everything Jesus taught.

    As Christians, we don’t want to be on the side of the legalistic, graceless, hardhearted Pharisees who thought it was okay to divorce and remarry. Not if we’ve been born again. They didn’t know God. They had hearts of stone. They were dishing out leaven. Their poisonous teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage is alive and well in the 21st century.

    If you’ve been influenced by the pharisaical false doctrine of David Instone-Brewer, please prayerfully restudy the Bible with fasting, and read Dr. McFall’s critique on “Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities,” asking God to open your eyes. Also google “Why I Repented of a Marriage that God Called Adulterous” and read all of the e-books and articles on the website:

    http://www.marriagedivorce.com/

  25. Well, Kathleen, for me as a man there is a distinction between lusting after a woman and coveting her. But it is not one which I want to explain in public, especially in response to a woman. Suffice it to say that I don’t think Jesus was referring only to actually wanting to take a woman from her husband, or even only to wanting to have intercourse with her. But I agree that both are wrong.

    I am not arguing with Jesus about anything. I am simply disagreeing with Robert’s interpretation of Jesus’ words, and perhaps also with your interpretation. I hope you are not blasphemously considering your fallible interpretation to be the word of God.

    As a Christian I don’t want to be on the side of the legalistic, graceless, hardhearted so-called Christians who deny the possibility of repentance and a new start to those who have been in an unfortunate marriage, which has come to an end very often through no fault of their own. These false Christians don’t know God. They have hearts of stone. They are dishing out leaven. And they are still promoting their poisonous teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage. On this issue I would prefer to have the compassion shown by the Pharisees, which of course was taken from the words which God spoke through Moses.

  26. Jesus *is* the Word of God and He said that remarriage is adultery. I hope you aren’t accusing Jesus of legalism and blasphemy. The law came through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, much higher truth that you reject by putting yourself back under Deuteronomy, when Jesus bypassed it by saying, “But I say unto you…” What did the Father say? “Hear ye Him.” But you only have ears for Moses. That’s scary! You’ve just bound yourself to the entire 613 Mitzvot (have fun with keeping all that: http://www.jewfaq.org/613.htm) and removed yourself from salvation by the gospel of grace. Not a good move, Mr. Kirk. The Galatians did the same thing and Paul rebuked them, telling them they had fallen from grace.

    I know those who’ve been in unfortunate marriages and they soft hearts of flesh, continuing to love and forgive their spouses, regardless of fault. That’s what Jesus and His forgiveness does in the heart if a genuine believer – we’re able to forgive others, especially our spouses, because we have been forgiven by Him. Jesus said unless we forgive those who have sinned against us, we won’t be forgiven.

    Jesus said *whosoever* marries the so-called innocent party – the virtuous Proverbs 31 wife who has done nothing wrong but is divorced by a man who wants to marry his much younger secretary – is guilty of adultery. You will have to argue with the Son of God on that one, because He said it, not me. And we all will be judged by all of His words, John 12:44-50.

    There is no forgiveness of sin without biblical repentance, without completely forsaking the habitual sin. If you get drunk every day, you must stop drinking. If you shoot heroin daily, you must buying and injecting dope. If you steal money from your neighbor, you don’t just say “I’m sorry,” but you return the money you stole. If a man is living in adultery with his neighbor’s wife, he must end the adulterous marriage with the woman that isn’t his. And this has been happening worldwide for decades – couples living in adulterous marriages are repenting, ending the sinful unions.

    So, repentance is not only possible, but the angels in heaven are rejoicing as His sheep are repenting of adultery. Hallelujah!

  27. Kathleen, this is getting too personal. Your last comment was getting that way, and I regret encouraging you by responding in the same vein. I am happy for you to disagree with me on the issues here. But I will not allow anyone on this blog to state that named people who call themselves Christians are not saved, and that includes myself. So I think we need to end this conversation here.

    I do just want to say one thing, that I find your call for people who are happily married (even for the second time), perhaps with young children, to abandon their spouses and families to be completely evil and repulsive to the word of God. It is blasphemous for you to suggest that anyone other than demons rejoice at this. Fortunately in Christ there is forgiveness for this sin, so I am not suggesting that you are not saved.

  28. Too personal? The call to repentance *is* personal. John the Baptist lost his head for preaching against adulterous marriage, please remember that. He died for telling others to repent of this sin.

    Where did I say named individuals were not saved? Nowhere.

    What about married gay and lesbian couples with children? Is it completely evil and repulsive to the Word of God for them to dissolve their ungodly marriages? Not at all. But it is blasphemous for you to suggest that anyone other than demons rejoice at these evil unions, with or without children. And it’s the angels in heaven and the saints on earth who rejoice when they repent, just as they do when couples in adulterous marriages repent, whether they have children or not. It brings glory to God to put an end to the evil wickedness of adultery.

    “When there’s something in the Bible that churches don’t like, they call it ‘legalism.’” (Leonard Ravenhill)

    We don’t change the Bible; the Bible changes us. No matter how hard false teachers try, the eternal words and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ on marriage cannot be changed to fit into their perverse definition.

    Repentance from habitual sexual sin (or any sin) is not merely feeling sorry, it’s not simply a change in mind or attitude, but it’s wholeheartedly agreeing with God on exactly what sexual sin is and then departing from that sin. Repentance is a radical change in behavior. God’s definition of adultery and homosexuality must be received into one’s mind and heart, with a total rejection of the false definitions of those sins (according to the world and the apostate church), and then changing one’s behavior accordingly.

    John Piper has said, “The wonder of marriage is woven into the wonder of the gospel of the cross of Christ, and the message of the cross is foolishness to the natural man, and so the meaning of marriage is foolishness to the natural man” (1 Cor. 2:14).

    So true! This is why both adultery and homosexually have been embraced in both the world and the apostate church: God’s definition of marriage as lifelong is foolishness to them.

  29. Ms. Snyder, the argument concerning John the Baptist and his accusation against Herod is not relevant to this debate, since he had his brother’s wife. This was in blatant opposition to Torah as a man could not have his brother’s wife. This debate properly concerns remarriage following divorce as a general practice, which Jesus condemned as a separate issue.

  30. Mr. Kan, it’s my understanding that Herod Antipas divorced his wife Phasaelis to marry Herodias, his half-brother Philip’s wife and also his niece. That family tree was a real mess. So their marriage was unlawful on several levels. But it was an adulterous remarriage that involved two previous divorces, not just one. Even Wiki has it right and that’s saying something. John condemned their adultery, and that’s why Herodias hated him. Kill the messenger. And they did.

  31. Ms. Snyder, the proclamations of Jesus were a few notches more provocative than those of his forerunner. Like the water turned into the best wine towards the end of the feast, God saved his most profound teachings for the one he called “my beloved son”. No one, including this “Elijah”, came close to matching the radical claims made by Jesus. Even the religious elite would have nodded in agreement with John about marital relations. Quite a different story though with Jesus, for whom lust was adultery and the divorce certificate was little more than a “license” amounting to the same thing.

  32. Kate, in response to your comment on May 17th, you wrote:

    You’ve … removed yourself from salvation by the gospel of grace. Not a good move, Mr. Kirk.

    That is a statement that a named person, me, is not saved. And that is what I will not allow.

    Kate and Robert, this discussion has now gone a long way from the original subject of the post. So please can we stop it here. If you want to continue to discuss legalistic niceties between the two of you, please do it elsewhere.

  33. Mr. Kan, I heartily ‘amen’ your last post.

    Mr. Kirk, you misquoted me by over editing what I said, losing the thought. You have confessed here in these posts that you are following the law of Moses on divorce by adhering to Deuteronomy; therefore, you have removed yourself from grace. I was simply echoing Paul in Galatians. It’s a dangerous thing to do, he said.

    Jesus isn’t a legalist. And you and I don’t get the last word. He does. He is the Word, and it’s His words that will either save and liberate us now through faith and obedience, or, if we refuse to repent and believe, His words will judge and condemn us in the last day, John 12:44-50

    “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

  34. Kate, do you deny that “You” is the subject of your words “removed yourself from salvation by the gospel of grace”? Do you deny that you were addressing these words to me by name? Do you retract and apologize for any suggestion that I personally am not saved? Any further comment from you which does not start by stating that, clearly and unequivocally, will be deleted, and I will block you from commenting further here.

    Did Jesus remove himself from grace by upholding the law of Moses, in Matthew 5:17-19? That is for you to ponder, not to answer.

  35. Mr. Kirk, just to clarify my theological hue, I never claimed that Jesus contradicted himself and unwittingly abolished the Law.

    Of course I affirm that the least commandment was not annulled because, as a matter of legal fact, there is *no* commandment in the Torah that requires one to send away his wife as though the relationship is now considered as good as dead. Similarly, there is *no* commandment in the Torah that requires one to swear an oath so as to bound himself to fulfill his word. But Jesus raised the bar.

    However, your theological hue of Matthew 5:17-19 causes you to assign the savior’s precious teachings to the category of “practical advice”. That description is hardly fitting for the one who is revealed as the eternal Word. What Jesus meant in these verses is that if one had already made an oath at the time they heard his teaching, they were still obligated to fulfill their vows and make good on their word in proper time. Jesus was not releasing them from their oaths. But he was telling them that, from now on, “make no oath at all” and “let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil”. So it’s like, fulfill your previous oath but don’t think about making another one. He didn’t lower the bar; he raised it. And that he did for our good.

    And you say, “it is better still not to make vows at all.” Paraphrasing doesn’t always make the right impact. I’m shunning any idea of practical advice and sticking with the commandments of Jesus.

    And, no, I’m not being obtuse or denying you courtesy. Disagreement is not discourtesy.

  36. Robert, my main issue in this thread is not with you, although I don’t completely agree with you. Perhaps “practical advice” was too weak, but I want to get away from any idea of Jesus abolishing the law.

    Agreed, Jesus is saying better not to make vows, but he would surely agree that if you do, the Law about vows still applies, that you are required to fulfill them. Similarly, Jesus says it is better not to get divorced. But surely he would also say that if you do get divorced, the Law about divorce still applies, namely that the proper paperwork is required and that you can remarry someone else but not the original spouse. He certainly does not say that one should abandon a spouse married according to the Law.

  37. Mr. Kirk, how I wish you were right. But Jesus tells me in Mat 5:32 not to marry a wife divorced from her husband. There are no “winners” here in his ground-breaking teaching about adultery. As I said, I’m sticking with the commandments of Jesus.

  38. Robert, I take your point that it might be better not to marry such a woman. That is not the same thing as saying that if you have properly and legally married her you must desert her, as has been suggested earlier in this thread.

  39. Mr. Kirk, of course I don’t deny what I twice said. But you don’t understand what I said. So, for the third time, and please read carefully…

    I was reacting to what you’ve said on this thread: That you are adhering to the law of Moses, thereby removing yourself from the gospel of grace, as the Holy Spirit spoke through Paul. Please reread your confession of faith in your posts. You have rejected the spirit and life words of Jesus on divorce and embraced Moses’ words on divorce, as did the hardhearted Pharisees. Hence, you have rejected Jesus’ grace and truth for Moses’ law. By doing this, you’re obligated to keep the entire 613 Mitzvot. Some try to do this…for example, they prohibit the wearing of pants on women based on Deut. 22:5; however, living by Deut. 24:1-4 is no different. Jesus fulfilled the law and went way beyond it, teaching its true meaning. He left Deuteronomy in the dust in Matthew 5-7 and 19. It’s no longer an eye for an eye; now it’s time to turn the other cheek. Jesus ushered in a New Covenant. “Ye have heard that it hath been said… But I say unto you…” Jesus has spoken. He said His sheep hear His voice and follow Him, not Moses (John 10:4, 5, 27).

    So, I simply acknowledged what you said and added the warning from Paul. Was Paul telling the Galatians they were not saved? No, he was sternly warning them not to be led astray by the Judaizers into a false gospel because, if they were, they would fall from grace. A close reading of Galatians should make this clear.

    I have nothing to retract and apologize for because I have no idea if you are saved or not. I never made that judgment. The wheat and tares grow together until the harvest, and when gathered, Jesus will tell the reapers who’s who.

    You wrote: “But surely he [Jesus] would also say that if you do get divorced, the Law about divorce still applies, namely that the proper paperwork is required and that you can remarry someone else but not the original spouse. He certainly does not say that one should abandon a spouse married according to the Law.”

    Jesus authoritatively said the opposite four times in the Gospels. Surely He stated that adultery is being committed against the original spouse when a man divorces and remarries, or when he marries the put-away spouse of another man. The second wife is an adulterous, not a lawfully married spouse (Rom. 7:3; 1 Cor. 7:11, 39), no matter how “properly” or “legally” the man has married her. It’s not a holy covenant of sacred matrimony because Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, says so. God does NOT make the two one flesh.

    It’s my prayer that you continue to diligently search the Scriptures and read the books and websites I recommended.

    May God bless you with ears to hear!

    Luke 6:46

  40. Kate, please, just realize he got offended and apologize. It’s not only about intention, it’s about perception…I would likely have taken offense too by your doom-and-gloom tone…

  41. Mr. Kan, I never said Peter isn’t saved because I have no way of knowing that, so I can’t apologize for what I didn’t say or do.

    However, Mr. Kirk, if I have offended you in any way and not spoken the truth in love, I am sorry.

    But gloom and doom? That’s not me. OTOH, Jesus spoke more about hell than anyone else in the Bible, so I guess he was gloomy and definitely doomy, so I think I’m in good company 😉

  42. Robert, thank you for your helpful intervention.

    Kate, I will reluctantly accept your apology, as you did leave open the possibility that I could be saved apart from Christ by following the commandments. It is my position that that salvation by works is impossible, but you seem to think it is possible and so that my damnation is not assured. Also you are perhaps leaving room for me to repent, as Paul surely was to the Galatians, but you didn’t make this explicit. This is not a matter of offense but of the rules I make for those commenting on this blog. But I can’t say I see the love in your “spoken the truth in love”.

    Now please can we stop this conversation here before we go round in more circles and cause more mutual offense.

  43. Just a comment that is relevant to this post about same-sex marriage and divorce equality. Everyone talks about equality in this day and age and everyone thinks they have a right to be married. And, yes, everyone does have a right to be married and, indeed, to be happy and to prosper. But we cannot presume that we can achieve prosperity and be blessed, if we step outside the ordained boundaries that God has put in place. We can’t go past the fact that Jesus confronted the issue of divorce head-on and openly challenged the moral legality of the divorce certificate.
    The disagreement is really about how repentance ought to be carried out in the individual. Some say we should just say “sorry”, while others say we cannot live or abide in sin. Practically speaking, there are actually merits on both sides of the argument. I’ll leave it at that.

  44. Robert, that’s an interesting way of looking at it. But if indeed “everyone does have a right to be married and, indeed, to be happy and to prosper”, does anyone have the right to take away those rights from another person, by marrying that person and then abandoning them, leaving them permanently unable to remarry and find happiness? Should the innocent party be punished for the sin of the unfaithful one?

  45. I know this is a somewhat semantic point, but I am not sure the innocent party here is being punished. They are most certainly suffering. I fully agree that is something to be mitigated and if possible countered. This is perhaps what is meant by sins of the fathers visiting to the third and forth generation. The sins of one can impact way beyond thosde directly and immediately involved.

    to be honest I see no need for the concession to permit divorce unless remarriage is also countenanced in at least some circumstances with due repentance and reflection. And I can countenance both, up to a point. In that respect some of those commenting are at least consistent in being unable to countenance either.

  46. Yes, Colin, perhaps this is a side effect rather than a punishment. But then in this case the side effect is not a natural consequence but a decree of the Judge, on Robert’s understanding, so it can certainly be perceived as a punishment. For the distinction, think about this analogy. If a rape victim was unable to have children because of the violence of the assault, that would be a very unfortunate consequence but not a punishment. However, if a judge declared that a rape victim should not be allowed to have children and must be sterilised, that would certainly be perceived as a punishment and the judge would rightly be condemned as a monster – and all the more so if, by apparent analogy with Matthew 5:32, no punishment is given to the male perpetrator. So yes, other commenters may be consistent, but they make God out to be a monster.

    In fact to me the clear intent of Matthew 5:32, including the clause about sexual immorality, is to teach that a marriage is ended not by a bit of paper but by adultery. That means that when the man takes another wife, he is committing adultery, but the marriage is then over and his ex-wife is free to marry again.

  47. In the NT, it’s not so much a concession to divorce as it is a “Plan B”. Listen to what Paul says to the wife who is married but is not so happy: “… if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband…” (1 Cor 7:11) Of course this might be problematic for the husband who has been abandoned. He might be afflicted as well, and his character and patience is being tested.

    But if being married makes one miserable, “Plan B” will not only give you some much needed space, it is also a divine permission. However, plotting a path to seek another spouse is no ironclad guarantee that one will find greater happiness, let alone marital bliss. Although that doesn’t stop people from trying.

  48. Mr. Kirk, Mat 5:32 says that the husband *causes* his wife to commit adultery. You are not reading it grammatically. Jesus doesn’t take sides here.

    No, she is not free. I am not permitted to marry her. Read the second half of Mat 5:32.

    Here’s the MSG version of the exception clause:

    “If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself…”

    Please don’t try to rewrite the text and change the meaning.

  49. Robert, you are now rewriting the text, at least in quotation, by adding “she has already made herself that by”, and by changing “sexual immorality” to “sexual promiscuity”. The text does not say who is responsible for this, nor does it suggest that many different couplings are taking place, my understanding of “promiscuity”. Sadly, The Message, while it has many good aspects, also makes some serious exegetical errors. Also the text does not say “*causes* his wife to commit adultery” but more like “*causes* his wife to have adultery committed against her”, a passive verb at the end making it clear that the guilty party would not be the divorced wife but the men involved. One recent translation actually renders this something like “makes her a victim of adultery”, which gets the point well.

    As for 1 Corinthians 7:11, the clause you quote applies to a woman who chooses to separate from her husband. In verse 15 Paul gives his teaching for those abandoned by their spouses, that they are literally “not enslaved”, surely implying that they are free to marry again.

  50. Robert, I should add that I entirely agree with you that divorce and remarriage is Plan B in God’s sight. And it is of course no guarantee of happiness – but it does bring happiness to many. The relevant point is that it does seem to have God’s permission.

  51. I’ve been watching this thread with interest since my earlier comment. I have no wish to fuel the heat of the debate, but perhaps we might consider some of Jesus’ words in the interaction, and their implications on our understanding. Jesus used the phrase “except for… porneia” (Matt 5, 19).

    Leaving the interpretation of “porneia” aside for a moment, the suggestion is that something changes when “porneia” happens. It is my understanding from the text that, until “porneia” happens, the covenant is intact and any attempt to change that with a certificate of divorce is powerless. However, once “porneia” happens, the covenant is broken and the innocent party is free. Matt 19 is clearer in this regard as it speaks of the position of the husband who is NOT free to marry if “porneia” has NOT happened. The corollary is that the husband IS free to marry if “porneia” HAS happened, otherwise why mention it?

    It is my personal belief that the understanding here is that the certificate of divorce has no power other than to formally acknowledge that “porneia” has destroyed the covenant. I also believe that, following “porneia”, divorce is not inevitable and covenant can be restored.

    The outstanding question now is, what on earth is porneia? I have my opinions, which again I have no time to develop here, but let me suggest that I think that the bald, headline translations of “sexual immorality” or “fornication” are insufficient to expound the heart of what Jesus is saying. I believe there are far more ugly, sinister and destructive acts that break covenant and that Strong’s figurative definition of “idolatry” or “unfaithfulness” is a better foundation.

    Let me close with a thought that may well re-ignite the fire of a debate that I will probably not have time to step back into…

    If my unfaithfulness leads me into an adulterous liaison, has porneia happened? I believe it has. If I repeatedly beat and abuse my spouse, has porneia happened? You decide!

  52. Mike, thank you. I agree with you. Whatever exactly porneia might mean (and it is certainly used in figurative senses in Revelation 17-18), it seems that Paul extended Jesus’ exception to cover desertion by an unbelieving spouse, 1 Corinthians 7:15.

  53. I am off on holiday tomorrow. But one of my NIVAC commentaries (no time to check which Gosepl, probably Matthew) suggests that “porneia” could be anything which effectively compromises the marriage covenant. Such as neglect, abuse (physical or mental) , desertion etc. Happy to hear other views and why.

    PS – fair response ot my previous comment Peter.

  54. Colin, I’m not surprised this idea has some commentary support.

    Mike, thanks to you. It is good to have someone I know in the flesh reading and commenting here on occasions.

  55. Mr. Kirk, no I didn’t say divorce/remarriage is Plan B. Please re-read my comment. Paul says to remain single or be reconciled. This gives much needed space if necessary. Staying single is my Plan B.

    1 Cor 7:11 describes abandonment, though in a way not as bad as going off and finding another partner. I will respond more later.

  56. Appreciate all the comments. I can identify with the sentiments. But Matt 5:32 is seriously confronting. The husband:

    “…makes her commit adultery…” (NASB)
    “…causes her to commit adultery…” (NRSV)
    “…makes her the victim of adultery…” (NIV)
    “…responsible for making her an adulteress…” (MSG)

    Agreed, there is no doubt that the husband is guilty. He was the one who filed for divorce. What a mistake it is though to miss the second charge of adultery in the same verse:

    “…and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (NIV)

    What…! Regardless of a husband having put-away, I still don’t think I can marry this poor wife because I don’t want to be charged with adultery. Jesus doesn’t take sides here. He gives no confirmation that the covenant can be annulled – and all of this in response to the divorce certificate. Interestingly, Matt 5:32 is not alone. Luke 16:18 echoes Matt 5:32 by also charging all parties involved with adultery.

    What we are left with is Matt 19:9 – the only gospel verse that seems to vindicate the innocent divorced spouse. (I’ve got doubts about McFall’s argument that it is an “exclusion” clause rather than an exception clause. All translations indicate that porneia is a legitimate exception.) I see an intimate connection between Matthew’s account of Jesus in chapter 19, permitting divorce due to porneia, and his earlier inspired observation about Joseph being a “righteous” man. This righteous Joseph, seeing that his “wife” Mary was pregnant, was justified in his intention to quietly send her away. Indeed, this was after he considered their betrothal to be untenable (albeit in the absence of divine revelation at the time). It is my belief that the purpose of exception clause in Matt 19:9 is to protect a spouse from having to agree to a deceptively fraudulent contract, especially in the case of prior sexual sin.

    Any other interpretation of Matt 19:9 should not destroy the heart of what Jesus conveyed in Matt 5:32.

  57. Robert, thanks for the clarification concerning Plan B. I disagree with you on that one.

    Indeed we must read the whole of Matthew 5:31-32. Thank you for quoting NIV “…makes her the victim of adultery…” which I think gets the nuance of the Greek better here. But the condition “except for porneia” should surely be taken as applying to the whole verse. I would take this as meaning that if a man has divorced his wife and remarried, which is evidence of porneia, at least then the first marriage is taken as ended and another man can marry the woman. This interpretation is completely compatible with 19:9 and the understanding that porneia ends the marriage.

    I would be interested in your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 7:15.

  58. That is not grammatically correct.

    When “porneia” has occurred, the statement says that a man who divorces his wife *does not* cause her to commit adultery – for the condition of “porneia” implies that the wife was already guilty of “porneia” in the first place. The exception clause in 5:32 serves to acknowledge the only case (the wife’s infidelity) when the underlying charge would not be true – simply because it would be inherently wrong. A man does not cause his wife’s adultery when, as a matter of fact, she had already made herself that way. If the exception clause were to be missing, a man would be *wrongly accused* of causing his wife’s adultery in the case of her prior fornication.

  59. Robert Kan is the only one on this thread speaking for God.

    This is a topic that was forever settled way back in the first century when Jesus spoke and Paul confirmed what He spoke.

    It’s one wife for life!

    And it’s not up for debate.

  60. Kate, if you don’t want to debate here, stop doing so. And stop making ad hominem comments about who is speaking for God. This is your final warning.

    Robert, there is nothing in Matthew 5:32 to suggest that it has to be the wife who is guilty of porneia. Are you suggesting that adultery is not a sin for a woman who has previously been guilty of fornication? No, surely the point is that if a man is guilty of porneia and divorces his wife because of that, the wife and her new husband are innocent. I see the second clause as essentially an explanation of the first one. I accept that the grammar is debatable, but I see no grounds for your suggestion that my interpretation is objectively “not correct”.

  61. Peter, you are offended by me because I believe the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other reason. You can threaten me, block me, curse me — whatever. But I stand on the words of Jesus and will do so for all eternity.

    “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them” (Psalms 119:165 KJV).

  62. I agree it is possible to interpret Mtt 5 as Robert suggests. Mtt 19 however is clearer in demonstrating the husband’s freedom in the event of porneia. It might be helpful to examine the texts from the perspective of two distinct arguments, covenant and contract, as suggested earlier by Kathleen. The divorce contract does not nullify the marriage covenant. If a woman carries such a contract or certificate, she is still bound by covenant and therefore remarriage is adultery. It would appear, based on Matt 5&19, that porneia does nullify the covenant, therefore, with or without a certificate of divorce, the innocent spouse is free to marry. So where does that leave the guilty spouse? I believe he is now the object of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness, should he choose such. If the gospel of grace doesn’t work for him it works for no-one. Repentance should rightly include making restoration where possible. That might mean seeking forgiveness from the injured spouse for an act of porneia that led to the destruction of the marriage. But if the covenant is thus broken and repentance is real I find it difficult to conceive that the transgressor is still locked in and unable to marry again. If he is no longer bound by covenant he is free to marry without continually being guilty of adultery; humbled by failure and lifted by grace. I know none of this is ideal, but sin always destroys the ideal and grace restores. I don’t view that grace lightly. It is not licence to repeatedly sin. But grace and forgiveness must be accessible to all.

  63. No, I am not suggesting “adultery is not a sin for a woman who has previously been guilty of fornication.” I claim that adultery is always sin. It’s just that a husband *does not* make her a victim of adultery if she was previously adulterous; she made herself that way. That’s the grammatical function of the exception clause here – when it holds true.

    However, Mat 5:32 is delivered in such a way that certainly does imply that only the wife can be guilty of porneia, but *only for illustrative purposes*. Jesus portrays the man as the one who sends away. This was in response to the divorce concession of Deuteronomy, which also has the man as the one who sends away. Therefore the porneia clause in 5:32 only applies to the wife, for illustrative purposes, in the same way that only the husband is said to be sending away. (Jesus doesn’t make a symmetrical statement here about what happens when a wife sends away; he did that in Mark 10:11-12.)

    So a man sends his wife away, making her a victim of adultery (assuming she is innocent of prior infidelity herself). And the final clause of 5:32 prohibits me from marrying her, though she is innocent. Jesus gave no special favors to the innocent party. A covenant that was originally legitimate remains so and deserves a second chance. Yes, even the offending spouse deserves a second chance with his/her covenantal spouse.

    (I can answer 1 Corinthians 7:15 later if you still want, but I see no point if we are not on the same page about Jesus.)

  64. Mike, I agree with you, and I have seen how you have put this general approach into practice.

    Robert, if you are understanding porneia as premarital sex, which is not adultery, then we are not talking about a wife previously being adulterous. Perhaps you mean that the marriage never truly existed if there was sex before it, and so there can be no question of adultery. But then, I wonder, do true marriages exist any more?

    In any case, you can’t make the two halves of the verse contradict one another. If a woman divorced in a case of porneia does not become a victim of adultery, then marrying her cannot be adultery. So logic requires that the porneia exception applies to the whole verse.

    I still want to know how you understand 1 Corinthians 7:15, as on my understanding it contradicts your interpretation of the teaching of Jesus.

  65. No, I am not saying it’s a premarital deception in 5:32 – just general porneia.

    I see what you mean by “logic”. Mine is not illogical, just different from yours in this case.

    Matt 5:32, in a similar way to Luke 16:18, describes two consecutive scenarios of adultery. The charge of adultery is made twice. One is attributed to the first husband who puts away (making it look legitimate via the divorce proceeding). The other is attributed to the second husband who marries a put-away wife. Both husbands commit adultery. That is ground breaking teaching as I see it – two successive charges of adultery against both of the men.

    Thanks

  66. 1 Cor 7:15 conveys that when an unbeliever departs, the believing partner is no longer “enslaved” or in “bondage”.

    Bondage (“douloo”) carries the idea of slavery, that is, to enslave or make servile.

    Bound (“deo”) carries the idea of binding, that is, to bind or tie together.

    Only the second word was used by Paul to affirm the permanency of the marital covenant (Rom 7:2, 1 Cor 7:39). Therefore 1 Cor 7:15 is saying something different.

    Paul, being the great encourager he was, begins a process of thought where he reveals that the abandoned wife is no longer in “slavery” to her departed spouse and can now freely serve the Lord without hindrance. Hence, one is given the proper conclusion that “God hath called us to peace”. She is indeed a “slave” to Christ. The word “doulos” (slave or bondservant) occurs four times in 1 Cor 7:21-23. In this regard, there is no evidence for permitting remarriage. That was not Paul’s concern for writing verse 12 through to 24.

  67. Mr. Mike McMahon,

    Many say there are problems with porneia ending the marriage covenant.

    First, Jesus said God made them one flesh, not to be separated by man (Mt 19:6). Where people miss it here is they think He is saying it’s possible to do so. But Jesus is telling us it’s impossible to separate the two, as Eve came from Adam’s rib and therefore husband & wife become one flesh. Mix red and blue clay together. You get purple. Now try to separate them back into red and blue. You can’t. Some things are impossible to undo. A marriage covenant is one of them (unless a spouse dies).

    Second, it’s not God’s heart, as revealed in both the OT and NT. Fornication is to be forgiven seventy times seven. God forgives us of spiritual fornication. See Hosea and Malachi and Jeremiah. “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” (Jeremiah 3:1). Notice God said, “they say” and not “I say.” Very important. When God’s people play the harlot, He says, “Return to Me.” So, Jesus would never teach that fornication is not to be forgiven.

    Third, it’s illogical. The so-called exception clause can’t be for adultery because adultery can’t be *both* the sin and the justification for not living in sin at the same time. If divorce and remarriage is adultery according to Jesus *and* adultery were the grounds for divorce and remarriage according to Jesus, then remarriage automatically becomes non-adulterous because adultery has been committed. In other words, immediately upon consummation the adulterous marriage becomes grounds for the first marriage covenant to be dissolved! Jesus did not teach such absurdity.

    Fourth, it puts a higher premium on fornication. Porneia suddenly becomes the “sin of choice” for unhappy spouses. A faithful wife is divorced by her husband and Jesus said if he remarries then he is in adultery, and if another man marries Mrs. Proverbs 31 then he commits adultery as well. But if there has been fornication? No problem, remarriage is fine. So, if a man wants out of his marriage, he can go down to the local bar, pick up a loose woman, commit fornication, and he’s instantly free to remarry! More absurdity.

    For an in-depth study, please see Daniel Jennings 135-page paper, “Except For Fornication: Why Evangelicals Must Reevaluate Their Interpretation of Matthew’s Divorce Exception Clause”

    http://www.danielrjennings.org/except_for_fornication_version_1.pdf

  68. Kate, I will leave your comment addressed to my friend Mike for him to reply to or not as he chooses.

    Robert, thank you for your thoughts on 1 Corinthians 7:15. I think I understand the distinction you are making between douloo and deo, despite your confusing use of “bondage”, the noun from “bind”, in relation to the former, when you should really have given its meaning as “enslave”. But surely if an abandoned wife is no longer in slavery to her former husband and there are no hindrances to her serving the Lord, that implies that she is free to remarry. There is nothing to say explicitly that she cannot. So the best claim you can make is that this verse has nothing to say about remarriage. But I would go further and say that freedom from slavery to the man implies permission to remarry.

  69. Mr. Kirk, I have not confused the words. I said that “bondage” is “to enslave”, please re-read my comment. “Bondage” in a human sense implies slavery and has negative connotations. “Bind” and “bound”, on the other hand, are from the same family of words and have nothing to do with “bondage”.

    One needs to see that Paul only used “bound” (deo) as applying to the marriage covenant as I pointed out above. That is a major game-changer, and proves that 1 Corinthians 7:15 is addressing something else. If one wants an explicit basis for teaching whether someone is free to marry, one needs to refer to Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39, where this is directly dealt with. In others words, 1 Corinthians 7:15 cannot be construed to imply something that is incompatible with what Paul teaches elsewhere.

  70. Robert, the word “bondage” is surely from the same word group as “bind” and “bond”. Its literal meaning is to be bound or tied up with bonds e.g. ropes etc. It is still used in that sense mostly concerning sexual practices. “Slavery” is clearly a metaphorical extension of the meaning.

    Yes, Paul uses deo three times of marriage, and not very often in other contexts. He prefers douloo, especially in Romans. He doesn’t use this directly concerning marriage except in 1 Corinthians 7, but the use in Romans 7:6 is interesting as it parallels what Paul writes about marriage: just as a widow was married to one man and is now married to another (v.3), so also we used to serve (douloo) under the Law but now serve in the new life. But my real argument here is that the terminology is used rather little and not in a strictly technical way. As the verse in question is the only one where Paul uses douloo in relation to marriage, we simply cannot be sure of what he meant by it.

  71. It is apparent that 1 Corinthians 7:15 is not referring to the marital bond, which is that of “one flesh” as interpreted by Jesus in Matthew 19. Paul talks about this bond in terms of law and death in Romans 7:2 and 1 Corinthians 7:39.

    And quite clearly, the Bible does not teach that a spouse is to be a “slave” to his/her other half. Therefore in 1 Corinthians 7:15 Paul was using hyperbole to drive home an encouraging point as we see in this later verse:

    1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

  72. Hi Kate. Your argument pushes my explanation further than I intend. But let me take your idea another step. If a man murders his wife, is he free to marry? He is no longer bound by that covenant, but his guilt is clear. Likewise, if a man purposely destroys the covenant as you suggest, it is broken, but his guilt remains… and then , murder or porneia, forgiveness is available, though neither is an acceptable choice! Now, I know I’m unlikely to convince you of my position, so I respectfully withdraw from this debate.
    Peter, thank you for creating this platform. I read the posts often, with great interest. The church here continues to flourish, with a steady flow of salvations as people encounter Jesus each week. Love to Lorenza.

  73. Mr. McMahon, I’ll have a go at answering your question.

    If a man murders his wife, he is free to marry as death frees him to marry. But since he knows from the outset that any potential wife will not choose him if he reveals how she died, he also knows that he will have to lie about the situation if he wants to win her over. If the deception were to be discovered later on, it would suddenly emerge that he had no intention of meeting the “marital expectations”. In fact, the marriage was fundamentally based on false and misleading information. The contract was never righteously entered into, and she might well declare it to be morally invalid. Therefore in determining that the relationship was based on deception from the *outset*, divorce would be considered justifiable, as though the “marriage” never happened. She was just deceived into believing so all this time.

    To take another argument, it’s like if a woman married a man who turned out to be a divorcee, but didn’t say a thing in order to “seal” the contract. And to suggest that he can tell her the truth *now* only because vows have been exchanged, well, that’s quite absurd, in my opinion.

  74. Mike, thank you. I’m glad things are going well. We are also in a thriving church here in Virginia. Greetings to your family also.

    Robert, if a man murders his wife I guess he is no longer bound by the marriage law, but by the principle of James 2:10-11 (in fact this is James’ precise example) he is guilty of breaking the whole law and so under that law has no right to do anything except be put to death. But in Christ things are different.

    But I am interested by the principle you espouse that if a “marriage was fundamentally based on false and misleading information” it is invalid and “divorce would be considered justifiable”. That is the background of many, although of course not all, divorces that happen today. Indeed the Roman Catholic church uses this principle to dissolve many marriages as never valid, while claiming not to allow divorce. So here you are opening up a massive hole in your argument against divorce.

  75. It is of no coincidence that, of the three synoptic gospels, only Matthew notes the righteousness of Joseph in his divorce intention (while relating the story of the virgin birth, though this is not in Mark). It is of no coincidence that he is also the only writer to have recorded Jesus as giving the porneia clause.

    “Porneia” interpreted as “unfaithfulness” interpreted as “emotional neglect” interpreted as “irreconcilable differences” is an unscriptural teaching. Honestly, I don’t think my “hole” is that big, but I do think it is scriptural.

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