Friday, April 9, 2010

Fighter Verse Friday: Matthew 5:31-32

Matthew 5:31-32

31 It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Matthew 5:31-32

This is my first attempt at controversy. This verse does not give a reason to get a divorce. It gives an exception to when the person it not making their spouse commit adultery.

This verse also does not give an instance in which remarriage is acceptable. It seems to be clear that the person who marries a divorced person is committing adultery.

Marriage is until death. Period. Singles, this does not mean you should be afraid to get married. It means you need to seek first the kingdom of God. Then a spouse will be added to you.

Marrieds, fear God, seek wisdom, love your spouse. (If you have an extreme circumstance I would love to pray for you. If you have a hypothetical I will gladly engage with love.)

Divorced people, seek God, find fellowship with a group of your gender, don't remarry. (Unless you are released by death.) I think divorced people are very under ministered. Start you own group. (Not for dating purposes!)

Whatever group you fit in God has grace to help your faithfulness. He also has rewards that will make you forget this momentary affliction. This life is a fight. Fight for godliness! And people will see you good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.


  1. Talk about opening a can of worms! I don't think this passage is clear enough personally. Bethelehem Baptist has a good paper by the elders and Pastor John Piper on the rationale behind both conservative positions on divorce: no divorce allowed at all, or divorce for abandonment or unrepentant adultery. Personally I lean toward the latter position.

    But on a similar topic, check out my recent post encouraging Christians not to even consider it as an option barring a clear Biblical warrant: "10 Points to Consider before Contemplating a Divorce".

    I agree divorce is a problem and a scourge in today's church. Thanks for the post.

    In Christ,


  2. Bob,
    Thanks for the comment! I will definitely check out your post again. I will be looking for how you deal with Biblical warrants.

    This post was not meant to be definitive. I wanted to deal with the text itself. I see no warrant for divorce or remarriage in this text. I believe those who use it in such a way are injecting meaning into the text.

    Thanks again for blessing me with your comment.

    In Christ,

  3. I haven't really posted on how I deal with Biblical warrants. What we have here though is this text with seemingly no warrant at all. And we have other texts with an obvious warrant. We can't pit them against each other, so we have to harmonize them and find a unified teaching that best makes sense of them all.

    Because texts such as Matt. 19 stress that when divorce is not permitted the result is adultery, it seems wise to assume that's behind the text here in Matt. 5.

    The certificate was used by Jews to allow divorce over very minor things like burnt toast (literally), but Deut. 25 had stressed uncleanness as the reason for the certificate/divorce.

    The certificate would allow the divorced one to remarry. But here Matt. 5 says that remarriage would be adultery unless the divorce was really based on sexual immorality.

    At least that's my initial assumptions about the passage without studying it in more detail.

    Thanks for getting us thinking about this Matt.

  4. Thank you Bob for keeping me honest.

    I did not know about the certificate. Thanks for teaching me something.

    I do agree with you about the warrants. I don't see an explicit warrant in Matthew 5:31-32. I do see one in Matthew 19. I also see another one in 1 Corinthians 7.

    My heart in this matter has caused me to over step in my interpretation. With further examination I know how I should have dealt with it. While there are Biblical warrants that allow remarriage after divorce, I think we still have tendency to be too hasty in using them.

    If we really believe marriage is a picture of the Gospel then we need to be fighting to save them as hard as God's Gospel love pursues and perseveres us. In other words, just because it is OK does not mean it is the best. May we always fight to keep the Gospel picture of marriage without blemish.

    Thanks for the conversation! May it bless many.

  5. Thanks Matt,

    Here is a link to some of Bethlehem's position papers on divorce and remarriage for further research (by the both of us).