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.

Understanding And Applying the Text

Many ignore this passage today. It is not popular. A church may vote a preacher out of the church for preaching this text. He could find himself out of a job. Why do so many, who call themselves Christian, despise this text? It is because we are sinners. As sinners, we serve ourselves not God.

As I have stated before Christ added nothing to the Law. He takes nothing from it. But here, Christ points out a false assumption. That assumption is this. “Whatever the Law does not prohibit is OK.” It may not be contrary to the law. But that does not make it right.

The Law made a provision for divorce. The Law made this allowance because of men’s weakness. The Mosiac Law required a husband to give the wife a “bill of divorce.” (Deuteronomy 24:1)

This freed women from their husbands. And the husband acknowledges he did not divorce her because of any crime. The only reason was she did not please him. Thus the error. If we follow the formality the presumption is “nothing is wrong.”

Christ points out this fallacy. Because something is not unlawful does not mean it is right in God’s sight. Christ does give an exception. If a woman violates the marriage vow through adultery, divorce is justified. She broke the marital tie.

But wait! Christ said if the wife commits adultery. He does not say anything about the husband committing adultery. So the wife cannot divorce the husband if he is an adulterer. That reasoning commits the fallacy I just mentioned. It also ignores the cultural and civil law of the day. In first-century Judaism men initiated divorce. Women did not.

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