A Biblical Cause for divorce?
by Douglas Ecklund
A BIBLICAL CAUSE FOR DIVORCE?
Matthew 5: 32 - 9
The following Biblical passages under consideration have been offered by some as grounds for divorce:
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Matthew 5:32
This passage is explained by some as saying that if one of the marriage partners, in this case the wife, commits fornication, divorce is therefore sanctioned. Divorce therefore is legal and biblically allowed only when there is fornication by one of the marriage partners.
Was The Lord Jesus really saying that it was all right to divorce under these circumstances?
My understanding of the passages does not uphold this view. I understand the passage as not providing substantiation for divorce, but rather, embellishing on the fact that divorce causes adultery.
I understand The Lord Jesus to be saying that if the wife who has committed fornication by having sexual relations with someone other than her husband is divorced; she can not be made to commit adultery by marrying someone else because she has already committed adultery.
Under any other circumstances a wife that is divorced by her husband and then marries someone else is caused to commit adultery. Also whosoever she marries commits adultery with her.
Fornication is not an exemption that allows the dissolution of a marriage but rather, unless adultery was preexistent, remarriage after divorce causes adultery.
There is no ground for Biblical divorce; only death dissolves the marriage bond.
And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery:
A cursory reading of this passage would lend to the interpretation that the husband who divorces his wife on the grounds of fornication would not commit adultery by remarriage. It would appear as though these circumstances would afford an approved divorce.
This however is not the case, as the phrase (and shall marry another) applies to both the husband, and the wife. The husband that (shall marry another) shall commit adultery because divorce does not dissolve marriage.
The divorced wife that performed fornication while married, if she (shall marry another), can not commit adultery solely by this new marriage since she has already committed adultery. And whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. Matthew 19:9
The next husband that marries the divorced wife is also caused to commit adultery. Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commits adultery against her. Mark 10:11
And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeh adultery.
In these verses both the divorcing husband and wife are charged with adultery. There is no mention of an exception. Clearly if there was a mitigating factor, it has no mention here.
Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. Luke 16:18
Again there is no exception allowed in this passage to relieve the charge of adultery; whether husband or wife, if they divorce their spouse and marry another, they commit adultery.
Also, the new marriage partner of either husband or wife is likewise charged with committing adultery.
The only allowed Biblical sanction for remarriage is death:
Know ye not, brethren,(for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
The exhortation for us, is to take a higher view of marriage.
What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
The author of this site includes this page because Douglas Eckland lays out a reasoned and considered perspective on the Bible passages he cites. It seems to be his main thrust to call people toward taking the marriage vows as sacred. He prays that people will, "...take a higher view of marriage."