Divorce & Remarriage
Text - Matthew 19:3-19:9
"It has been said, ’Anyone
who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ 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.
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce
his wife for any and every reason?" 4 "Haven’t you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator ’made
them male and female,’ 5 and said, ’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his
wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together,
let man not separate." 7 "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and
send her away?" 8 Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not
this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries
another woman commits adultery." Matthew 19:3-9
I. Understanding The Intent of God’s Word
issue is not whether these statements are to be taken seriously, but precisely what Jesus intended to imply. He meant to oppose
divorce but did he mean to forbid remarriage to the faithful victims of divorce or even repentant participants of divorce?
Who & what Jesus is addressing ...
· Jesus is addressing those whose "hardness of heart" led them to seek other
wives by legal concession. Against their understanding that such legal concession left them righteous and pleasing to God,
Jesus says "you have put her out as a woman married in God’s eyes." The challenge is not against those put out but those
who self-righteously are putting another out in order to take another.
B. The form of Jesus’ expression ...
In using hyperbole, a form of rhetorical exaggeration, Jesus is calling forth a higher righteousness than the letter of the
law rather than constructing a new law based on a literal application of His words. Every statement surrounding this make
such an intent perfectly clear. His point was that the heart will be judged by God, not that anger and name calling should
literally be treated as murder (vv. 21-26), not that lust should literally be treated as adultery or lead one to pluck out
their eye, (vv.27-30), nor that those improperly divorced should be treated as an adulterous.
C. The "exception" as
a given ...
· The exception to "marital unfaithfulness" may refer to the broader principle of violating the bonds of
marriage; not simply a single act of sexual union with another but any unfaithful state of giving oneself to another. The
"exception" is not so much an exception as it is officially confirming the divorce the unfaithful partner has already rendered.
God always hates divorce because he provided marriage as an expression of love. To recognize there are times when God approves
of divorce only recognizes that there are times when He hates its alternatives more; that is, when there is a greater offense
to marriage that must be confronted even at the risk of divorce. The concessions most find fitting of God’s heart include:
· adultery - one’s partner giving himself or herself to another.
· abandonment - departure or total estrangement
by one’s partner.
· abuse - significant and unstoppable threat to one’s basic safety.
of Jesus is to show the inappropriate divorce for what it is, not to condemn or forbid remarriage to faithful victims or repentant
To seek concessions from marriage is categorically wrong, but to accept concessions from marriage is
not categorically wrong.
II. Applying the Intent Of God’s Word
1. The central challenge
in marriage is to guard our hearts from hardness.
2. God’s provision is marital partnership more than the particular
partner. Compatibility is only a relative ideal...and often a deceiving one.
3. Jesus did not intend to establish a
new letter of the law but to restore the spirit of the law; and He intended for those who would advance the Kingdom (His Church)
to advance such principles of righteousness through their fellowship and submission to one another. (Matthew 18:15-20).
While God categorically declares His hate for divorce, He does not categorically judge divorced people... and neither should
we. Where there is faithfulness let there be honor and healing. Where there is unfaithfulness let there be repentance and
5. The proper process of restoration and remarriage can be experienced by all through openness and submission
to others, particularly those who Christ has set apart as pastors / elders / overseers of His Church.
6. Whether in
marriage or divorce, there is always hope... the Lord is a God of hope and healing... forgiveness and restoration.