The Exception Clause for Divorce
The exception clause for divorce is found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. Jesus said, “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”; “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
These verses mean that if a person gets a divorce and then remarries, it is considered adultery unless the exception clause is in effect. The phrase “marital unfaithfulness” is a translation of the Greek word porneia, the word from which we get our modern word “pornography.” The essential meaning of porneia is “sexual perversion.” In Greek literature around the same time as the New Testament, porneia was used to refer to adultery, fornication, prostitution, incest, and idolatry.
If one spouse commits adultery, or any act of sexual perversion, and an ending of marriage results, the “innocent” spouse is free to remarry without being considered adulterous.
Jesus is only giving allowance for divorce and remarriage but He is not declaring divorce and remarriage to be the best or only option there. Repentance, forgiveness, counseling, and restoration are always God’s will for the broken marriage. Ending the marriage should only be viewed as a last resort. The Lord said, “I hate divorce, says the Lord God” (Malachi 2:16).
God’s Plan for the Family
According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. Jesus said, “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5,6). The marriage relationship was instituted by God. And all who enter upon it are therefore “joined,” according to the original plan of God, for life.
Jesus pointed out that divorce laws were given because of the hardness of people’s hearts, not because they were God’s desire (Matthew 19:8). According to Christ’s words, the Old Testament law that made provision for divorce was a concession to meet the imperfect circumstances (Deuteronomy 24:4). However, Christ’s instruction, here, makes it obvious that the provisions of Moses’ law with respect to divorce are not for the New Testament believers (Matthew 19:9).
Even when actual physical adultery is committed, a couple can, through God’s grace, learn to forgive and begin rebuilding their marriage upon the principles of God’s Word. God has forgiven humans so much and they should be willing to forgive one another instead of ending the marriage (Ephesians 4:32).
God Heals Marriages
People, who yield to sin become its captives and slaves (John 8:34; Romans 6:16). But praise the Lord, Christ came to free men from the bondage of evil and to make them free from sin (John 8:36). The Savior declared, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).
God will heal all the broken marriages when the spouses are willing to do cooperate with Him (Ephesians 3:20). As long as they stay connected to Him through daily study of His word and prayer, they will experience healing and restoration (John 15:5). They will be able to say, we “can do all things through Christ which strengthens” us (Philippians 4:13). The phrase “All things” means victory over sexual sins and all other sins that would rob them from happiness and peace.
In His service,
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