Did Jesus Approve Divorce in Marriage?


Marriage the scripture says is an honorable thing with the bed undefiled (Hebrews 13:4). There is a false teaching that Jesus approved divorce on the grounds of infidelity. This they conclude from Matthew 5:32 where Jesus Christ said a man can divorce his wife on the grounds of infidelity. “Saving (except) for the cause of fornication”.

False teaching proliferates when a topic is taught without putting the right context into consideration.

Jesus truly said that a man can divorce his wife because of infidelity in agreement with the mosaic law, but he also said Moses only gave the law because of the hardness of their heart (Matthew 19:8). And the marriage pattern of those days is different from the pattern of today.

In the days of Jesus, the marriage pattern was in three phases, which are engagement, espousal, and betrothal.

Engagement can take place very early and even during childhood while still with the parents. Espousal is when the engaged couple becomes grown and they are separated to be with each other but not having any sexual relationship with each other or with any other person. Betrothal is the formalities that precede the marriage proper.

The law that Moses gave in Deuteronomy 24:1 is that when a man takes a wife and marries her and he discovers uncleanness or any act of infidelity in her, she should be divorced.

What the Pharisees taught was that the wife can be divorced for every reason, like inability to take care of the home, cook, or any other frivolous reason (Matthew 19:3).

Jesus said nothing different from what Moses said. He did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17).  He was only kicking against the false teaching of the Pharisees that a man can divorce his wife for any reason.

Jesus was not referring to the marriage pattern of this present day, but the pattern of those days in the stage of espousal and not the marriage proper.

The law was in effect even before he was born. The scripture says when Mary was espoused to Joseph he sought to put her away (divorced her) when he found her pregnant because he never knew Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). He thought Mary had done the abominable act of infidelity during espousal. He sought to put her away secretly because it was an offense punishable by death (Matthew 1:18-19; Deuteronomy 22:20-21).

Jesus Christ was not referring to the real marriage. Notice in Matthew 5:32 that he used the term "fornication" which is the sexual relationship involving unmarried people. He also used the word “wife” because a woman espoused to a man even before marriage at that time was also called a wife (Deuteronomy 24:1).

Never did Jesus approve of divorce because of infidelity in a real marital home. Marriage is a permanent bond. No divorce in any form or for whatever reason is allowed. The only escape from difficulties in marriage is separation, and the partner separated must stay unmarried till the other partner is no more (1 Corinthians 7:10-11, 39).

But how about those who got divorced because of infidelity, thinking Jesus approved it?

Infidelity in marriage remains a grievous offense not only to the partner but to God also. That’s adultery and has always been condemned by God (Matthew 5:27). Anyone who got divorced because of his or her infidelity to the partner has a serious query to answer before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ. He must seek forgiveness from the marriage partner for conscience’s sake.

There is nothing like “remarry”. That's confusing and an act of confusion, and God is not the author of it (1 Corinthians 14:33). Jesus Christ never gave a teaching on that in his earthly days.

Again, there is a root cause of infidelity in a marital home. This is mostly because of the lack of submission of one or both partners. Their bodies the bible says do not belong to them individually. They are one!

No one should divorce his marriage partner. Look for the bone of your bone. Your missing rib.  No man feels comfortable when his rib is in pain or detached from him and put on a plate.

May Lord Jesus Christ keep every home happy and from every temptation of divorce. Amen.

Next Post »