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Studies │ Remarriage after Divorce

 


Part Two 

Sinful Divorce 


 

Jesus had answered the Pharisees first question by proving that God did not permit divorce for any reason at all. Jesus implied that all divorce is sinful in God’s eyes. This answer prompted the Pharisees to confront Jesus with a further question about divorce, this time based upon their view of the Law of Moses.  

Matthew 19:7, Page 1534

“”They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?'”

2.1. Question: Why Did Moses Command Divorce? 

The Pharisees did not like the first answer to their general question regarding divorce. So, they now turn to quoting the Bible. They claim subtly that Jesus was contradicting Moses on divorce. According to the Pharisees, Moses commanded divorce. They cite Deuteronomy 24:1-4, page 325. In that passage, Moses provided instruction about a man divorcing his wife because he found indecency in the wife. 1The Hebrew term for “indecency” (“עֶרְוַת דָּבָר”) literally means a repulsive thing, referring normally to her nakedness (consider the story of Ham looking upon the nakedness of his father in Genesis 9:22, page 13; see also Leviticus 18:1-17, page 191-192 for the general prohibitions about uncovering the nakedness of certain individuals, speaking of indecent sexual activity). We may glean from the other uses of the term that the “indecency” includes improper sexual relations outside the marriage. Symbolically, it spoke of the wife’s shameful or sexually disgraceful act. Notice the little word “then” in Matthew 19:7, page 1534. 2The Greek word for “then” (“οὖν”) functions to link this question to the previous answer of Jesus. In this passage, you cannot understand the teaching of Jesus, except you first understand the questions posed by the Pharisees. The Pharisees ground a particular axe here about divorce. Jesus used the questions from the Pharisees to elucidate His commands regarding divorce and remarriage. The Pharisees also claimed that Moses gave the “command” to divorce indecent wives. 3The Greek word for “command” (“ἐνετείλατο”) chosen by the Pharisees missed the context of Deuteronomy 23:1-4. In that passage, Moses did issue a command, but it concerned “indecency,” and also the remarriage of the divorced woman. The first husband was prohibited from remarrying the woman he once divorced, if she had married another man after the divorce. Jesus will explain the background to this passage in Deuteronomy in the next verse.

 

Matthew 19:8, Page 1534

“He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way.'”

2.2  Answer: Moses Permitted Divorce, But Never Commanded Divorce

The Pharisees understood that Jesus had just told them that God never permits divorce for any reason. So, they ask Jesus a new question about the Law of Moses. According the Pharisees, Moses commanded divorce. So, they now cite the Bible back to Jesus, except the Pharisees do not quote the Bible accurately or understand the truth of the Bible. First, Jesus answered that the Mosaic Law permitted 4The Greek term for “permitted (“ἐπέτρεψεν”) means to allow, permit, let. Think concession to sinfulness with this word. divorce. Notice that Jesus here distinguished between: (1) what God commands to avoid sin; and (2) what God allows because of sin. In this case, God allowed the people of Israel to divorce because they had a hard, sinful heart. God understood the hard, sinful heart of the people of Israel, just like people today, and provided a law about divorce and remarriage. The only reason God permitted divorce was because of the sinful hearts of the people of Israel. God always called divorce sinful. God never commanded divorce, but allowed hard-hearted sinners to divorce. Divorce has always been sinful in God’s eyes. If you are contemplating filing for divorce, 5By the phrase “filing for divorce,” I want to emphasize the act of initiating the divorce, but also included in the phrase is the divorce in its totality, specifically including the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. In other words, the phrase includes the complete “divorce” as a civil action in court, as the United States of America legal systems recognize the civil law process. then you must recognize that your hard, unforgiving heart prompts your decision to divorce. 6Every group of elders in a local assembly should carefully consider imposing church discipline upon every believer who files for divorce. Hardness of heart threatens to destroy the marriage and imperil the welfare of the children of the marriage. The principles of Galatians 6:1-5, page 1826 and Matthew 8:15-20, page 1533, should be applied to help the believer refrain from seeking or completing the divorce. Furthermore, the elders should minister to the suffering couple the Word of God regarding repentance (2 Corinthians 7:5-13, page 1811) and forgiveness (Luke 17:1-4, page 1634 and Luke 15:11-32, page 1635). So, in every case, without exception, filing for divorce will always be a sinful act, according to the Lord Jesus Christ. 

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The Hebrew term for “indecency” (“עֶרְוַת דָּבָר”) literally means a repulsive thing, referring normally to her nakedness (consider the story of Ham looking upon the nakedness of his father in Genesis 9:22, page 13; see also Leviticus 18:1-17, page 191-192 for the general prohibitions about uncovering the nakedness of certain individuals, speaking of indecent sexual activity). We may glean from the other uses of the term that the “indecency” includes improper sexual relations outside the marriage.
2. The Greek word for “then” (“οὖν”) functions to link this question to the previous answer of Jesus. In this passage, you cannot understand the teaching of Jesus, except you first understand the questions posed by the Pharisees. The Pharisees ground a particular axe here about divorce. Jesus used the questions from the Pharisees to elucidate His commands regarding divorce and remarriage.
3. The Greek word for “command” (“ἐνετείλατο”) chosen by the Pharisees missed the context of Deuteronomy 23:1-4. In that passage, Moses did issue a command, but it concerned “indecency,” and also the remarriage of the divorced woman. The first husband was prohibited from remarrying the woman he once divorced, if she had married another man after the divorce. Jesus will explain the background to this passage in Deuteronomy in the next verse.
4. The Greek term for “permitted (“ἐπέτρεψεν”) means to allow, permit, let. Think concession to sinfulness with this word.
5. By the phrase “filing for divorce,” I want to emphasize the act of initiating the divorce, but also included in the phrase is the divorce in its totality, specifically including the final judgment of dissolution of marriage. In other words, the phrase includes the complete “divorce” as a civil action in court, as the United States of America legal systems recognize the civil law process.
6. Every group of elders in a local assembly should carefully consider imposing church discipline upon every believer who files for divorce. Hardness of heart threatens to destroy the marriage and imperil the welfare of the children of the marriage. The principles of Galatians 6:1-5, page 1826 and Matthew 8:15-20, page 1533, should be applied to help the believer refrain from seeking or completing the divorce. Furthermore, the elders should minister to the suffering couple the Word of God regarding repentance (2 Corinthians 7:5-13, page 1811) and forgiveness (Luke 17:1-4, page 1634 and Luke 15:11-32, page 1635).