The book you've been waiting for!  Click here to order a copy!

Site search Web search

powered by FreeFind

navbar OAIM Home Page

Navigation Bar

Divorce and Remarriage

"But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." (Matthew 5:32)

As a matter of habit in examining any specific verse of the Bible, we must always consider the context in which the verse was given and to whom it was spoken or written. This particular verse comes from the "Sermon on the Mount" that covers chapters 5, 6 and 7 of Matthew where Jesus is addressing a general audience. Within this group we have a mixture of religious and irreligious people consisting of the disciples, Jews and Gentiles.

The Pharisees and scribes were also within this group, and Jesus was addressing them specifically but His words were intended to be heard by all who were within hearing range to bring conviction on everyone who would hear what He was saying. The Pharisees were hated by the general population because the common people were seeing what Jesus did not hesitate to say aloud in Matthew 23:15 ("Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are."). The Pharisees, through their strict adherence to the law, were the very ones who prevented those seeking the kingdom of God from entering in. This was because the Pharisees taught the letter of the law (measuring people's spirituality by whether or not they kept each and every detail of the Law) and attempted to impose their own standards upon the populace. In reality, however, they themselves did not keep the laws in the same fashion they required of others. The Pharisees had an uncanny way of stepping around the laws and exempting themselves from the laws while attempting to enforce the letter of the law upon others. They never saw themselves as "sinners" but were quick to point out the sins of others, oblivious to seeing those same sins in their own behavior.

The Sermon on the Mount was not a discourse of comfort or intended as a model for the Christian life. If any Christian reads the Sermon on the Mount and is not convicted of their own sins, then one has to question if they really have understood the depth of their sins and the depth of the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross. The purpose of the sermon was and still is one of conviction of the sins of mankind and their need for a Savior and the eternal grace of God.

Things have not changed in the past two thousand years. We still have Pharisees (so named because of their behavior, not necessarily because of their official title) who use this portion of scripture to condemn others yet still do not see themselves as guilty of these words spoken of by Jesus. The purpose of this article is to give understanding on the subject of divorce and marriage from the standpoint of letter of the law as Jesus had presented it. The purpose of the Sermon on the Mount is still the same today as it was then, and that is to see our total sinfulness, which is necessary before we can see the need for the sacrifice of Christ. Understanding our sinfulness and our utter dependence on the work of Christ, we can then understand how awesome the love, grace, and forgiveness of God is. With this explanation of the Sermon on the Mount, we will now address these portions of scripture from that standpoint.

What Exactly Was Jesus Saying About Divorce?

Is Jesus saying once a person has been divorced that marriage is never allowed again? Is Jesus saying to marry a divorced woman is for both to be committing adultery? Is this saying that a divorced woman must choose between disobeying God and willingly sinning or remaining celibate the remainder of her life?

This is exactly how many people interpret the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:32, 19:9 and Luke 16:18. Let's take a look at these particular verses one at a time and see if this is what Jesus is saying. (All the following reference verses are from the NIV.)
Matthew 5:32

"But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery." (Matthew 5:32)

Notice here that Jesus says "anyone who divorces his wife". This statement would of course be addressed to the men who either had already divorced their wives or who might divorce them in the future. What Jesus is saying is that divorce is not allowed with the exception of if she were to be found to be unfaithful in the marriage. This is given by permission and not as a command or something that must be done. It leaves the option of divorce to the one who has remained faithful as to whether they choose to divorce the one who was unfaithful. While God does grant them that right, they also have the right to remain married if they so choose.


(This article is being edited and will be posted as the editing progresses. Thank you for your patience.)

©1998-2008 by OAIM
No portion of this site may be reproduced except for personal purposes without written permission from OAIM.






OAIM Main Page The history of OAIM Doctrinal Statement Site Map Staff