Studies │ Remarriage after Divorce



Marriage Basics

Divorce and Remarriage

People often call me for legal help in obtaining  a divorce. In my law practice, I am most concerned with acting according to the great love of Jesus Christ. I want to follow Jesus in all that I do, including my law practice. So, when it comes to helping people file for divorce, I must decline, because Jesus taught that no man should separate what God has joined together in marriage. Let me explain what Jesus teaches about divorce and remarriage. If you are contemplating filing for divorce for any reason, then this study of the Word of God may help you understand God’s perspective on divorce and remarriage.

As God, Jesus hates divorce.1See Malachi 2:14-16. God spoke to Israel about its sinful behavior using the symbolism of marriage. God declared to Israel: you have dealt treacherously (“בָּגַדְתָּה”) with the “wife of your youth,” even though she is “your companion” (חֲבֶרְתְּךָ) and your wife by covenant (“וְאֵשֶׁת בְּרִיתֶךָ”) God used the marriage covenant, created by God in Genesis, to demonstrate that Israel had dealt treacherously, as an adulterer deals with the wife of his youth. In response, God disregarded the sacrifices of His people Israel. Though they would weep, groan and morn, they still dealt treacherously and God disregarded their offerings. This passage emphasizes the spiritual nature of marriage, and how it illustrates the spiritual relationship between Israel and God. During His ministry in the flesh, Jesus taught about God’s design for marriage and the issues involved in divorce. In Matthew 19:1-9, page 1534, Jesus provided basic teaching about divorce and remarriage. We will look first at that passage, and then compare 1 Corinthians 7:1-16, pages 1788-1789, for further instruction. So, let us begin our study with Matthew 19.


Part One

Lawful Divorce? 


Matthew 19:3, Page 1534

“Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?'”

1.1 Question One: Can a Man Divorce His Wife for Any Reason at All?

In Matthew 19:1-9, page 1534, the Pharisees, a group of religious men who studied the Old Testament, came to Jesus, asking questions and testing Him.2This Greek word for testing (“πειράζοντες“–present active participle, masculine nominative plural, indicates they came for the purpose of testing him) means that opponents of Jesus sought to trap Him by His words. They presented a question to Jesus, for the sole purpose of seeking a basis to accuse Him of error under the Law of Moses, which they studied often. This same word, in the same form, also occurs in other passages. In Matthew 16:1, page 1529, for example, the Pharisees and Sadducees sought a sign from heaven, testing Jesus. Likewise, in Mark 8:11, page 1572, the Pharisees came and argued with Jesus, again seeking a sign from heaven. In a similar passage about divorce, Mark 10:1, page 1577, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce, testing him again. See also Luke 11:16, page 1621, where some people in a crowd sought a sign from heaven because Jesus cast out a demon and so they were testing him. The Pharisees questioned Jesus  specifically about the Old Testament Law of Moses. The questions here make all the difference. Any interpretation of this passage that does not account for their questions misses the point of the passage about divorce and remarriage. So, the first question is quite simple: can a man divorce his wife for any reason at all? In other words, does a man really need a reason to divorce his wife, and, if so, what reasons will God allow for divorcing a wife?

Matthew 19:4, Page 1534

“And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE,'”

 1.2 Answer: God Created Them Male and Female.

Notice how Jesus loved to answer a question: He quoted the Bible as His answer. Notice too the small phrase: “Have you not read.” By this simple phrase, Jesus was showing the Pharisees that they should have read and understood the meaning of the Old Testament passage Jesus cited to answer their question. As the Pharisees sought to test Jesus, so Jesus used the opportunity to provide careful teaching to everyone, including everyone who would read this passage later (like us). Jesus cited Genesis 1:27, page 2, to lay the foundation for His answer. 3In Hebrew, God emphasized that He created man (“אֶת-הָאָדָם”), using the generic term for human, and then specified that both male and female humans God made in His image (בְַּלְמוֹ). Jesus went back to the creation of man and woman in the Garden of Eden, as described in Genesis 1:27, page 2. So, based upon the fact that God made humans as “male” and “female,” Jesus relied upon the difference and purpose in the creation of humans. Jesus based His answer upon the facts of creation. By citing the the words “male” and “female,” Jesus intended to convey that God created humans as male and female (separate genders). They were different in appearance and function. They were heterosexual. He intentionally created two sexes, not just one. They form a mating pair, and a life pair. God intended one gender to be in a relationship with the other gender, as we will see in the next verse. The special relationship God created for a male and female was “marriage.” Again, let me emphasize that Jesus used God’s plan of creation to start His teaching about divorce and remarriage. According to Jesus, you cannot understand marriage without first understanding the creation of humans as male and female in Genesis.

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. See Malachi 2:14-16. God spoke to Israel about its sinful behavior using the symbolism of marriage. God declared to Israel: you have dealt treacherously (“בָּגַדְתָּה”) with the “wife of your youth,” even though she is “your companion” (חֲבֶרְתְּךָ) and your wife by covenant (“וְאֵשֶׁת בְּרִיתֶךָ”) God used the marriage covenant, created by God in Genesis, to demonstrate that Israel had dealt treacherously, as an adulterer deals with the wife of his youth. In response, God disregarded the sacrifices of His people Israel. Though they would weep, groan and morn, they still dealt treacherously and God disregarded their offerings. This passage emphasizes the spiritual nature of marriage, and how it illustrates the spiritual relationship between Israel and God.
2. This Greek word for testing (“πειράζοντες“–present active participle, masculine nominative plural, indicates they came for the purpose of testing him) means that opponents of Jesus sought to trap Him by His words. They presented a question to Jesus, for the sole purpose of seeking a basis to accuse Him of error under the Law of Moses, which they studied often. This same word, in the same form, also occurs in other passages. In Matthew 16:1, page 1529, for example, the Pharisees and Sadducees sought a sign from heaven, testing Jesus. Likewise, in Mark 8:11, page 1572, the Pharisees came and argued with Jesus, again seeking a sign from heaven. In a similar passage about divorce, Mark 10:1, page 1577, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about divorce, testing him again. See also Luke 11:16, page 1621, where some people in a crowd sought a sign from heaven because Jesus cast out a demon and so they were testing him.
3. In Hebrew, God emphasized that He created man (“אֶת-הָאָדָם”), using the generic term for human, and then specified that both male and female humans God made in His image (בְַּלְמוֹ).