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Studies │ Remarriage after Divorce

  2.3   Answer: Hardness of Heart Always Motivates Divorce

Jesus linked “hardness of heart” with the sinful desire to divorce. Jesus always knows the hearts of people, and how sin devastates the heart. It changes the heart for the worse. In this case, Jesus spoke about the “hardness of heart” involved in every divorce.1The Greek phrase “hardness of heart” (“σκληροκαρδίαν”) emphasized the particular “hardness of heart” at issue in divorce with the definite article. The root word for “hardness” illustrates the sinful stubbornness of the unrepentant heart (Romans 2:5, page 1760).  In a similar sense, the “stiff-necked” (“Σκληροτράχηλοι”) and uncircumcised of heart are always resisting the Holy Spirit and follow the sinful patterns of their fathers (Acts 7:51, Page 1713). This spiritual “hardness” or “stiffness” refers to a sinful quality of the heart, unwilling to repent of their own sinful response to the evil actions of the spouse. Notice that when one spouse sins, particularly with immorality, the hurt and anguish sinks into the innocent spouse’s heart, and may begin to fester in unforgiveness. Until the innocent spouse now repents, and forgives the immoral spouse, the innocent spouse lives with a hard heart, that may prompt filing for divorce. The sin of immorality does not destroy a marriage, but rather the hard-heart of unforgivenss lies behind divorce.

Today, I hear many pastors “command” divorce. They teach that you must “get out of the marriage.” This false teaching completely misses the points Jesus made about divorce. Despite the popular teachings today that allow divorce for many reasons, Jesus provided a very clear answer that man should not separate what God has joined together in marriage. One of the most frequently cited passages, allegedly allowing sinless divorce, is Matthew 19:9, page 1534, regarding immorality. According to the false teaching that God “commands” divorce, some people teach that “immorality” in the marriage frees the believer from the marriage and allows them to remarry. We shall see how Jesus handled that matter in the next verse.

 


Part Three 

Adultery After Divorce 


Jesus has shown that all divorce begins with a sinful heart. The sinful heart has become hard, so hard that it no longer allows God’s forgiveness to operate in their own heart. Now, Jesus adds further teaching about the problem of immorality in the marriage. 

Matthew 19:9, Page 1534

“”And I say to you, whoever divorces  his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.'”

 3.1 Adultery Can Follow Divorce

For many people, they cannot imagine that adultery can really follow divorce. 2The Greek root term for “adultery” occurs in many contexts. For example, Romans 7:3, page 1767, shows that a woman who “is joined” (“γένηται”) to another man after the death of her husband does not become an “adulteress” (“μοιχαλίδα”); likewise, see Matthew 12:39, page 1521; Matthew 16:34, page 1529;  (sign of Jonah the Prophet). In 2 Peter 2:14, page 1902, Peter described false prophets as “having eyes full of adultery (“μοιχαλίδος”) that never cease from sin.” In that context, both spiritual and sexual sin seems in view.  Notice too that Jesus taught she was free from the law of divorce in that verse. In James 4:4, page 1891, we learn that friendship with the world makes us “adulteresses” (“μοιχαλίδες”). Similarly, in Mark 8:32, page 1574, Jesus spoke of everyone who is ashamed of Him and His words are part of an adulterous (“μοιχαλίδι“) and sinful generation. Those folks believe that if you are now divorced, then you cannot commit adultery, because adultery assumes you are still married. Yet, Jesus said adultery can follow divorce. Here is how it happens.

In Matthew 5:32, page 1508, Jesus taught that the husband who divorces his wife makes 3The Greek term here for “makes” (“ποιεῖ“–present active indicative) indicates the husband is responsible for her adultery. The Greek syntax here (” ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχευθῆναι“) has the present active indicative followed by the aorist passive infinitive (“μοιχευθῆναι”), apparently implying the result of the divorce throws the Innocent Spouse into the pool abounding with “adultery.” In essence, the Innocent Spouse has adultery put upon her (aorist passive voice–implying completed, total action in this case–passive voice probably indicates she had this problem foisted upon her), because her husband filed for divorce. As seen in 1 Corinthians 7, when some of the unmarried burn with passion, immorality becomes a problem, and it is better for them to marry. his wife commit adultery, unless she has already committed sexual immorality during the marriage. Notice also that Jesus covered the man who marries another woman after divorcing his wife who did not commit sexual immorality during the marriage. That man commits adultery by marrying another woman. 4The Greek term here for adultery (“μοιχᾶται”–present middle indicative–shows that adultery can be self-inflicted, middle voice, and so it further bolsters the argument that the preceding participle ἀπολελυμένην may best be translated as middle voice (instead of passive voice), indicating the wife filed for divorce in this last clause. Also, this same term “committing adultery” (“μοιχᾶται”) occurs in Matthew 19:9, page 1534, Mark 10:11-12, page 1577, and in each case it references the spouse who files for divorce commits adultery by marrying another person. In Matthew 15:19, page 1528, Jesus placed the source of adulteries in the heart, from which  come evil thoughts; compare Mark 7:22, page 1570, Greek Text. Likewise, in Luke 16:18, page 1633, Jesus declared that everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery (“μοιχεύει”–present act indicative) and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery (“μοιχεύει”). In this usage, the “divorced” person appears to be still married to the original spouse, because she/he can commit adultery with others, even after the “divorce.”  In Romans 2:22, page 1761, the term for adultery (“μοιχεύειν”) occurs in the construction “ λέγων μὴ μοιχεύειν μοιχεύεις;”  This construction shows the use of the infinitive coupled with μὴ  to describe a forbidden sexual act. Likewise, in James 2:22, page 1761, the command not to commit adultery (“Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς”–aorist active subjunctive–all -encompassing command to abstain from adultery), relates directly to the charge that you do commit adultery (“μοιχεύεις”); a very similar construction “Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς” occurs regarding the rich young ruler in Mark 10:19, page 1578, and Luke 18:20, pages 1636-1637. Compare the similar command in Matthew 5:27, page 1507, “You shall not commit adultery” (“Οὐ μοιχεύσεις”–same construction in Matthew 19:18, page 1535; Romans 13:9, page 1776.) In John 8:4, page 1670, accusers bring a woman caught in the very act of adultery (“μοιχευομένη”–present passive participle. The passive voice here indicates that she was a part of the sin, but the other actor remains undetermined). In Revelation 2:22, page 1916, we read the Lord will throw Jezebel upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery (“τοὺς μοιχεύοντας”–present active participle, notice the masculine indicating the male actors)  with her, into great tribulation. In Luke 8:11, page 1636, the Pharisee praised God he was not like adulterers (“μοιχοί”); similarly, the same Greek term “μοιχοί” is used in 1 Corinthians 6:9, page 1788, to describe different people who would not inherit the kingdom of God. Thanks be to Jesus Christ that “such were some of you,” but now those “adulterers” have been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. This verse provides strong support for permissible remarriage after divorce that occurred before salvation. 1 Corinthians 6:11, page 1788, believers who committed adultery before salvation are no longer “adulterers,” because of the phrase “such were some of you” (“καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε“–imperfect active indicative, showing a continuous past state of adultery, now changed by the wonderful activity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in their lives). Therefore, if you divorced or remarried improperly before salvation, you are no longer an “adulterer” because salvation has changed you. Finally, in Hebrews 13:4, page 1886, the judgement of God awaits all people who commit sexual immorality (“πόρνους” ) and adulterers (“μοιχοὺς“)–notice the simple nouns to describe these people, as opposed to the participles in the other passages.   Depending upon the translation of the ambiguous Greek forms and structure in the original text of the verse, a very strong case can be made here that Jesus revealed that the husband who divorces his wife, except for the cause of her sexual immorality, bears spiritual responsibility for the adultery. Likewise, if a man marries a woman who divorced her husband, he now commits adultery. So, if a person has been divorced, how can anyone commit adultery after divorce? Adultery applies to an ongoing-marriage. So, was the divorce not really a divorce in the eyes of Jesus because the woman who divorced her husband can still be a party to adultery?

According to Jesus, in Matthew 19:8, page 1534, if a man divorces his wife, because he has a hard heart, and his wife has not committed “immorality” during the marriage, then he commits adultery when he marries another woman. So, in effect, the man began the divorce with a hard, sinful heart–let us call that Hard-Hearted Sin  (divorce itself). If the man marries another woman after committing Hard-Hearted Sin, he now commits adultery by marrying another woman–let us call that  Adultery Sin (remarriage after divorce without preceding sexual immorality). The only way a man committing Heard-Hearted Sin can remarry without adding Adultery Sin will be if the wife committed “immorality” during the marriage. Notice that the man is still guilty of Hard-Hearted Sin because of the divorce in the first place. Can the man committing Hard-Hearted Sin remarry without committing Adultery Sin? Yes, under only one circumstance. A man may avoid Adultery Sin if the wife has committed “immorality” during the marriage. But, the man still commits Hard-Hearted Sin by divorcing his wife. Notice that Jesus has consistently focused upon just the person filing for divorce, not the party being divorced. We need to keep in mind that Jesus taught two important points in the Matthew 19 passage regarding the continuity of marriage. First, God joined the man and together for a permanent bond. Second, apparently man can “separate” what God joined together, because Jesus warned against the same and then provided further teaching on divorce and remarriage. So, we see that “sexual immorality” during the marriage does not justify a divorce, but God permitted Moses to issue divorce decrees for the hardness of heart of the people who refused to honor God’s union of man and woman, but rather insisted upon having a hard, unforgiving heart toward the spouse engaging in sexual immorality. It also apparently severs the marital bond, at least from the limited standpoint of allowing the Hard-Hearted Spouse who filed for divorce to remarry, because of the spouse’s sexual immorality.

References │ Page Numbers Below Footnotes   [ + ]

1. The Greek phrase “hardness of heart” (“σκληροκαρδίαν”) emphasized the particular “hardness of heart” at issue in divorce with the definite article. The root word for “hardness” illustrates the sinful stubbornness of the unrepentant heart (Romans 2:5, page 1760).  In a similar sense, the “stiff-necked” (“Σκληροτράχηλοι”) and uncircumcised of heart are always resisting the Holy Spirit and follow the sinful patterns of their fathers (Acts 7:51, Page 1713).
2. The Greek root term for “adultery” occurs in many contexts. For example, Romans 7:3, page 1767, shows that a woman who “is joined” (“γένηται”) to another man after the death of her husband does not become an “adulteress” (“μοιχαλίδα”); likewise, see Matthew 12:39, page 1521; Matthew 16:34, page 1529;  (sign of Jonah the Prophet). In 2 Peter 2:14, page 1902, Peter described false prophets as “having eyes full of adultery (“μοιχαλίδος”) that never cease from sin.” In that context, both spiritual and sexual sin seems in view.  Notice too that Jesus taught she was free from the law of divorce in that verse. In James 4:4, page 1891, we learn that friendship with the world makes us “adulteresses” (“μοιχαλίδες”). Similarly, in Mark 8:32, page 1574, Jesus spoke of everyone who is ashamed of Him and His words are part of an adulterous (“μοιχαλίδι“) and sinful generation.
3. The Greek term here for “makes” (“ποιεῖ“–present active indicative) indicates the husband is responsible for her adultery. The Greek syntax here (” ποιεῖ αὐτὴν μοιχευθῆναι“) has the present active indicative followed by the aorist passive infinitive (“μοιχευθῆναι”), apparently implying the result of the divorce throws the Innocent Spouse into the pool abounding with “adultery.” In essence, the Innocent Spouse has adultery put upon her (aorist passive voice–implying completed, total action in this case–passive voice probably indicates she had this problem foisted upon her), because her husband filed for divorce. As seen in 1 Corinthians 7, when some of the unmarried burn with passion, immorality becomes a problem, and it is better for them to marry.
4. The Greek term here for adultery (“μοιχᾶται”–present middle indicative–shows that adultery can be self-inflicted, middle voice, and so it further bolsters the argument that the preceding participle ἀπολελυμένην may best be translated as middle voice (instead of passive voice), indicating the wife filed for divorce in this last clause. Also, this same term “committing adultery” (“μοιχᾶται”) occurs in Matthew 19:9, page 1534, Mark 10:11-12, page 1577, and in each case it references the spouse who files for divorce commits adultery by marrying another person. In Matthew 15:19, page 1528, Jesus placed the source of adulteries in the heart, from which  come evil thoughts; compare Mark 7:22, page 1570, Greek Text. Likewise, in Luke 16:18, page 1633, Jesus declared that everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery (“μοιχεύει”–present act indicative) and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery (“μοιχεύει”). In this usage, the “divorced” person appears to be still married to the original spouse, because she/he can commit adultery with others, even after the “divorce.”  In Romans 2:22, page 1761, the term for adultery (“μοιχεύειν”) occurs in the construction “ λέγων μὴ μοιχεύειν μοιχεύεις;”  This construction shows the use of the infinitive coupled with μὴ  to describe a forbidden sexual act. Likewise, in James 2:22, page 1761, the command not to commit adultery (“Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς”–aorist active subjunctive–all -encompassing command to abstain from adultery), relates directly to the charge that you do commit adultery (“μοιχεύεις”); a very similar construction “Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς” occurs regarding the rich young ruler in Mark 10:19, page 1578, and Luke 18:20, pages 1636-1637. Compare the similar command in Matthew 5:27, page 1507, “You shall not commit adultery” (“Οὐ μοιχεύσεις”–same construction in Matthew 19:18, page 1535; Romans 13:9, page 1776.) In John 8:4, page 1670, accusers bring a woman caught in the very act of adultery (“μοιχευομένη”–present passive participle. The passive voice here indicates that she was a part of the sin, but the other actor remains undetermined). In Revelation 2:22, page 1916, we read the Lord will throw Jezebel upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery (“τοὺς μοιχεύοντας”–present active participle, notice the masculine indicating the male actors)  with her, into great tribulation. In Luke 8:11, page 1636, the Pharisee praised God he was not like adulterers (“μοιχοί”); similarly, the same Greek term “μοιχοί” is used in 1 Corinthians 6:9, page 1788, to describe different people who would not inherit the kingdom of God. Thanks be to Jesus Christ that “such were some of you,” but now those “adulterers” have been washed and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. This verse provides strong support for permissible remarriage after divorce that occurred before salvation. 1 Corinthians 6:11, page 1788, believers who committed adultery before salvation are no longer “adulterers,” because of the phrase “such were some of you” (“καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε“–imperfect active indicative, showing a continuous past state of adultery, now changed by the wonderful activity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in their lives). Therefore, if you divorced or remarried improperly before salvation, you are no longer an “adulterer” because salvation has changed you. Finally, in Hebrews 13:4, page 1886, the judgement of God awaits all people who commit sexual immorality (“πόρνους” ) and adulterers (“μοιχοὺς“)–notice the simple nouns to describe these people, as opposed to the participles in the other passages.