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CAN YOU EXPLAIN MATTHEW 19:3-9

 

            First of all, it is so important, for those who are not married, to make sure that you know whom you are marrying.  These Pharisees Jesus is addressing, they were neither honest nor sincere and they were not seeking information.  They had divorced for just about any reason and it was their aim and determination to entangle the Lord in serious difficulties, inconsistencies, and/or contradiction.  Their question grew out of the current controversy between two schools of thought over what constituted proper grounds for divorce based on Deut. 24:1-2.  One side believed that man could not release his wife unless he had found something indecent in her.  Another side taught that a man could divorce for any cause.  But, it was the Pharisees who wanted to create a conflict between the two schools.

            Now, further compounding the situation was the fact that at least under some circumstances Moses permitted a man to divorce his wife.  If Christ had said that there were no proper grounds for divorce, he would have placed himself in contradiction to the Law.  Furthermore, Herod Antipas, the man who had murdered John the Baptizer, governed the area where he was now working.  Herod had taken his brother's wife and had been rebuked by John on this account.

            And so, in Matt. 19:4-6, the Lord replied in a way they did not expect by taking them back to the garden of Eden.  God made one man and one woman to merge for life.  It was only after man departed from God’s will that multiple wives and divorce came into human experience.  Because God had made them male and female, a man shall leave his parents' home and cleave to his wife.  This means that they bind or glue themselves close to each other than to his father or mother.  And, what God joined, let not man put asunder meaning, since God did the joining, it is only God who can disjoin the marriage.  Man’s laws cannot change this fact.

            In Vs. 7, we learn that Moses merely granted (by inspiration) the privilege to the Jewish man the right to give his wife a writing of divorcement provided he found in her some uncleanness (Deut. 24:1-2).  This freed the woman to seek another marriage and gave the man the right to remarry.  But, the Pharisees had worded their question in a devious manner, implying that Moses had required them to put away their wives.  Well, the Law had required was the provision of a bill of divorcement if the man found some uncleanness in his wife, but the law did not force a divorce.  The Pharisees had been guilty of careless study.  Brethren also have made the same error in regards to Romans 14 and Matt. 19:9 implying that if there is fornication that they have no choice but to divorce, but that is not true.

            In vs. 8, we find that Moses only permitted divorce, he did not command it.  Because of their hardness of heart this breakup of the home was permitted for the protection of the wives.  Keep in mind that this permission was not a command from God, but something that Moses had allowed.

            In vs. 9, the Lord states perfectly the Father’s will on divorce.  The word “whosoever” applies universally to everyone whether saint or sinner and does not matter if one is baptized or not.  Anyone that puts away his wife or set her free except for fornication is living in sin.  The word fornication is a generic term for any kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.  This does not mean kissing or any other act, which one could think of.  Divorce is solely for sexual intercourse whether is be with a male, female, homosexuality or bestiality because it destroys there being one flesh.

            So, if one divorces for any other cause and marries another, they commit adultery.  It does not matter if one has been baptized, if they are still in the adultery relationship, they are continuing in adultery while in that relationship.  They will not inherit heaven because of it (1 Cor. 6:9).

            Marriage is to be for a lifetime and I believe some have misunderstood “what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.”  There is no such thing as a no fault divorce.  Anytime divorce happens, someone sins.  I mean, you consider he husband and wife and how they are bound to each other and neither the husband or wife has the right for divorce if fornication is not the reason for divorce.  In Eccl. 5:4-5, God had penned, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”  When one gets married, they made a public vow to God and man.  Now, can they divorce for any reason and just live unmarried.  Answer this: Can they do it with God’s blessing?  In 1 Cor. 7:1-5, we learn that God made each of us sexual beings and in a marriage, if fornication has not happened, the married couple still have sexual obligations to each other and to deny them due to a divorce, it is sin. 

            Now, if fornication happens (Matt. 19:9), no man can state that they must be forced to stay together.  God gave a possible reason for divorce and man cannot bind where God has not bound.  Some show that there is no mention of divorce outside the Gospel accounts and therefore, divorce is impossible.  Well, it is true that the new law did not start until Christ died on the Cross.  But, Christ was not teaching an old Law in the Gospel accounts.  In addition, the Gospel accounts are most certainly part of the New Law.

            When dealing with this situation, it is always best to do two things: First, never back down from the truth because a soul is at stake.  Secondly, learn to be very sensitive to others feelings because this is a flesh ripping, delicate situation and whopping someone over the head with the truth does more harm than good.  Paul told us in Col. 4:6 to let our speech by always with grace, seasoned with salt.

Robert Notgrass

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