Divorce and Remarriage

While the Bible affirms how marriage is to be a permanent relationship between a man and woman, it also recognizes due to one's "hardness of heart" that sometimes it ends prematurely in divorce (Matthew 19:8). In our country, the divorce rate affects not only those who sever the ties of marriage, but the children of that relationship, and society in general. It's no wonder that God Himself said, "For I hate putting away,' saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, 'and him that covereth his garment with violence,' saith Jehovah of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously" (Malachi 2:16, ASV).

When this issue came up in a discussion between Jesus and the Pharisees, Jesus responded, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery" (Matthew 19:9). Today, a divorce can be obtained for almost any reason, but from a Biblical perspective, due to the nature of this sin, God allows only one exception to the marriage covenant that permits remarriage, which is fornication. Fornication in the Greek of the New Testament is the term porneia, which is used to refer to any sexual activity outside the marriage relationship. When the husband or wife is sexually unfaithful to his or her mate, taking what was to be unique to one's marriage relationship and engaging in such with someone else, Jesus said the person innocent of fornication has the right to remarry. Jesus also brought this out in the Sermon on the Mount; "But I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery" (Matthew 5:32).

In both these passages, Jesus is affirming the same truth, that marriage is to be a lifelong commitment. However, in the case of fornication in the relationship, the one innocent of committing fornication may marry another. As Jesus puts it, if you put away your mate and marry another, you are guilty of adultery, except if you are putting him or her away because of their having committed adultery. The one guilty of fornication does not have a Biblical right to remarry, as no clause of exemption is provided for the guilty party.

Some may say this sounds harsh and difficult. In reality, Jesus is simply affirming that marriage is to be taken seriously before two people become "one flesh." This was God's original purpose when marriage was instituted in the Garden of Eden by the joining of Adam and Eve. "Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh? So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19:4-6).

Those who desire to please God should not reflect the sinful trends of the world in one's life, especially when it comes to morality and marriage. Society may think divorce and remarriage, no matter the number of times, to be of no consequence, but we must emphasize marriage is to be for life, for the sake of society, our children, and ourselves.

Robert Johnson, Longview TX