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Study to Grow



By Doug Bell


Matthew 19:

3 ¶ And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?”

4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female,

5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?

6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”

8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.

9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.


*****


Divorce has become so prevalent in our day that 50% of even Christian Marriages end in divorce. A sad commentary on a people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, and who are supposed to follow His Word in complete Obedience. It may do us good to look at His teachings on marriage & divorce once again.


The question about divorce comes from Deuteronomy 24:1-4. There Moses says,

If a man marries a woman “and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her.....” The Pharisees ask Jesus if that means that a man can divorce his wife, “for any cause?”


There were two main schools of thought about what the word ‘uncleanness’ meant in Jesus day. “The Jewish rabbi Shammai and his school said it meant adultery. Only adultery was a legitimate reason for divorce. The Jewish rabbi Hillel and his school said that uncleanness could refer to any reason why a wife lost favor with her husband. It could be her cantankerous temper, the fact that she talked to a stranger in the street, or that she burned his bread.”1


Notice Jesus answer, First; “From the beginning” God, who instituted marriage said that a real marriage is between “a man and a woman.” Now, that may not be the most political correct thing to say in our present sexually charged climate, BUT, it’s what the Word of God says!


Secondly, Our Lord tells us that the man and woman are to leave their childhood homes and form a new household. After being married, & the couple consummates the marriage, They become “one flesh.” And because of this unique relationship no one ‘should’ try to separate. Note; “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” It doesn’t say that they CANNOT be separated rather they SHOULDN’T! (Separated here meaning divorced).


The Pharisees, not liking Jesus answer (like so many today), ask him another question.

7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?”

Notice carefully Jesus answer to them!

8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.


Did you see that? They ask, Why did Moses COMMAND us to divorce? and then Jesus responded Because of the Hardness of you heart, Moses ALLOWED you to divorce! It was Never God’s intention to have divorce, but because mankind was so sinful, He made an exception.


Finally, Jesus tells us what the one & only exception is for a Biblical based divorce.

9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

“...EXCEPT FOR SEXUAL IMMORALITY...”

“The Greek word Jesus used for "immorality" is the word from which we get our modern word pornography. "Immorality" in this verse is based on the word porneia. The root, porne, means "prostitute." In Matthew 19, Jesus could have used the word molxeia, the word used specifically for adultery, but He chose a broader term. Porneia, when applied to illicit sexual activity among unmarried couples, is often translated "fornication." When applied to illicit sexual activity among those who are married, porneia is often translated "adultery." In either case, porneia is considered immorality.


Generally, the Greek term porneia refers to sexual activity that is immoral, illicit, and sometimes unnatural. For this reason, some scholars interpret the term loosely and apply it to homosexuality, bestiality, incest, and the like.” 2

Understand that divorce doesn’t have to happen. Vs. 6 “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” The book of Hosea shows us that even the worst marriages can be salvaged; IF both parties are willing to put in the time and the effort! Reconciliation is once again the target we are to shoot for. As it has been jokingly said, ‘The grass may look greener on the other side of the fence, but that may simply be, because it’s over a sceptic tank!’

*****


1- https://www.thebibleisinmyblood.wordpress.com/tag/rabbis-shammai-and-hillel-on-divorce/


2- https://www.insight.org/resources/article-library/individual/what-did-jesus-say-about-divorce

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