The Adulterous Divorce

Matthew 5:31–32 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

God designed marriage to be with one partner of the opposite sex, for life. Divorce is never to be the quick solution to any problem.

If we take Jesus’ exemption clause out of his statement temporarily, it makes it easier to understand what he is saying.

But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife makes her commit adultery…

The women in Jesus’ culture would have certainly aimed to get remarried as soon as possible so they could be supported. If a man divorces his wife, he becomes the cause of her adulterous relationship in her next marriage. This is heavy. And this is one of the reasons why marriage is intended for life.

The exception clause that I removed now gets inserted again.

except on the ground of sexual immorality…

The husband makes his wife commit adultery when he divorces her. Except when she has committed sexual immorality against her husband in their marriage. In that case, he is free to divorce her as she has made herself commit adultery by her actions. The husband bears no guilt of adultery if and when she remarries.

This post is not intended to be a thorough doctrinal treaty on the subject of divorce and remarriage. If there are some reading this blog who are considering divorce, I hope that you think twice after reading the words of Jesus. If the alternative to your marriage is remaining single all the days of your life, maybe staying in the marriage and getting counsel is the best option for you. There once was a rich man who approached Jesus wanting to follow him. Jesus knew the man loved the world and his riches. Jesus asked him to give up all that he had, and then come and follow him. The man went away sad unwilling to part with his possessions. The disciples marveled at this interaction and exclaimed “who then can be saved?” Jesus said that it was impossible with man, but with God; all things were possible.

It was impossible for the worldly man to give up his possessions for the sake of Christ. But it was possible for God to awaken the man to forsake all for Jesus. Likewise, it might seem impossible for your husband/wife to forsake the world to walk along side you for life. But it is possible for God to quicken their soul to follow and hold you all the days of their life. With God, all things are possible!

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4 Replies to “The Adulterous Divorce”

  1. I am divorced and remarried. My first husband decided while I was newly pregnant with out first child that he was “no longer happy” and He divorced me. I spoke with a pastor about this very passage. He said (and I’m not sure if the Greek agrees), that in this time and circumstance, it would be very difficult for a woman to remarry and she would likely have to enter into a life of prostitution to make ends meet. It’s a difficult topic. I remarried before my ex and we’ve both been married to our new spouses Longer than the three years we were married to each other.

    1. Rachel,

      Thank you for your response. I know that this is a difficult topic, and am sorry you have suffered by the hand of your first husband. I do hope that your heart was grieved by the request of your first husband, and your desire was to keep the covenantal relationship with him even though he wanted the contrary.

      The words of Jesus are hard in Matthew 5. He knows intimately better than anyone else what it feels like to have an unfaithful and rebellious spouse. Often times you and I can be unfaithful to Jesus by the way we crave idols in the heart. The good news of the gospel is that God, out of love, treated His Son Jesus as if he was an adulterous woman wed to multiple lovers. He died for ALL who place their faith in Christ alone for redemption. Jesus loves to cleanse marriage beds and make them pure and justified in His sight. Press on sister in love and faithfulness to your husband and your King!

      1. Oh yes, I was very grieved! It was totally unexpected even though we didn’t have a “perfect marriage.” I waited and waited for him to file for divorce (while seeking counsel from our pastor and others and trying counseling to which my then husband only said he would attend the one time to say that he had “tried”). Since all our finances/debt were in my name due to his poor credit and we had just bought a brand new vehicle, I was forced to file for a legal separation so that I wouldn’t be stuck will all the debt. It was messy and more expensive to do it that way, but I wasn’t willing to be the one to file for divorce. After that was done, he finally filed for divorce. The divorce couldn’t be finalized until our son was born though. In no fault states, there was no reason to fight it. I had to rely on his acting as a non-believer in it all. It didn’t help that I had moved 600 miles away from family after we were married and moved home before my son was born. My ex apologized (not so much for the divorce, but for what he put me through) but never sought reconciliation. Due to his acting as an unbeliever, I felt I could remarry if that ever happened. I married again when my son was 3 and have been blessed for the last ten years to be in a godly marriage.

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