February 28, 2010, bad snow all of Feb.

Sermon on the Mount. #11

Divorce and the New Testament

Matthew 5:27, 28

Christ mentioned the divorce and adultery issues in vv. 27, 28.

Then in Matthew 19:3, the Pharisees tempted him with this question: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

The basis for their statement was Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Their probable motive was to get him to take sides in the hot divorce debate of the day, which has plagued fallen man every since.

One side made the husband bound to his wife, regardless of what the wife did, short of being caught in the act of adultery.

The other side was the prevailing idea which permitted divorce for any reason, regardless of whether or not adultery was involved.

Both sides ignored Exodus 21:10, 11:

10 If he take him another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her raiment, and recompense of her virginity. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free, paying no money.

Thus, the woman was the first to be given the right of divorce, for Exodus 21 comes before Deuteronomy 24. The law protected the wife in the marriage.

The context of Exodus 21, is polygamy. It was not unlawful nor uncommon to have more than one wife, so God required the husband who wanted multiple wives to properly provide for each.

We pointed out that the Old Testament laws of divorce protected the innocent party from the hardened and rebellions party in the marriage union.

Matthew 19:9. In his answer, the Lord uses two distinctly different words, fornication & adultery.

Before we consider the different words, let us consider the context which is on down in vv. 10-12. We must always keep in mind to whom Christ is speaking, and the situations he is addressing.

He is speaking to the Disciples, who were Israelites raised with the common Israelite idea of divorce. Evidently, by Christ's day, marriage had become greatly abused. It had lost the joy and contentment that was to be in it from the beginning. Marriage was considered to be something to be endured.

We see the same today in the general perception of marriage. Marriage is mocked in all the media, and despised by the powers that be in DC.


"Democrat health care bills contain a HUGE marriage penalty [$10,000] for American middle class!"

"The House and Senate Health Care bills contain a huge marriage penalty for the American middle class." Allen Quist said today.

Following is the complete statement by Allen Quist on the marriage penalty:

"There is a huge middle class marriage penalty hidden in the House and Senate health care bills. The penalty becomes evident by evaluating questions like the following: How much would two single people, each making $30,000 per year, pay for private health insurance if the Pelosi bill was in effect now? The answer is $1,320 per year for both individuals combined (based on the premium limits and subsidies outlined on the charts below). But how much would they pay for the same level of insurance under the Pelosi bill if they were to marry? Their combined cost would then be about $12,000 a year (the estimated cost for private insurance)...


Shame on those who have said, "The rapture will take place shortly, so no need to worry about these kinds of things." Well, "these things" are upon those who are still waiting for a rapture to remove them from the mess they have made of this once great nation. God's curse is upon this nation because of the escapism mentality.

We hear very little public praise of the joys of marriage as God intended it to be.

Today, marriage seems to be considered something that interferes with one's advancement in her or his career, particularly when children are involved.

At Bettie's 50th college reunion, we met a man and wife who were glad they had no children, for they would have interfered with what they enjoyed doing.

The Jews of Christ's day were accustom to the liberty of turning their wives out the door for any trivial and light offense or dislike. Thus, if they lost this "liberty" to remove their wives as Christ had said in v. 9, they felt they would have to live in unhappy situations with a quarrelsome wife. It would be more than a man ought to have to endure.

The disciples were saying, "If that is the case on married men, then it is best not to even marry,"

How common seems to be this idea today: "If marriage prevents me from doing my own pleasure and will and it saddles me with responsibility, then it is best not to marry."

Bettie has a niece who is anti-marriage because it would hinder her from doing what she wanted to do. That is, go to the mission field. She chose going it alone rather than seeing marriage and a family as the most important mission filed she could possibly have.

A woman can have no greater mission field than investing her life into her children. The girls are to be raised in godliness, so they can pass that on to their children. The boys are to be prepared to conquer the world for Christ, with a godly wife by his side.

Continuing the context:

Matthew 19:11, unmarried is good in certain circumstances — maybe in times of persecution and trial, or in the labor for the gospel.

We will discuss what the possible reason for Christ's statement here in v. 11 when we get to 1 Corinthians 7:29: And this I say, brethren, because the time is short,

We must say that unmarried is not God's general plan for mankind, for he is the one who made them man and wife, with the command to be fruitful and multiply.

Now, observe some things from Matthew 19:9.

We cannot even imagine that the Lord was speaking contrary to the law found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. So we must understanding fornication (KJV) or whoredom (Geneva) in the context of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which uses the term some uncleanness (KJV), filthiness (Geneva). For every cause of v. 3, is defined by fornication or whoredom, and is defined by the attitude toward marriage of Christ's day.

First, if He had meant for the word fornication to be restricted to an immoral act of adultery, he would no doubt have used the word, adultery. But he did not. In fact, the Geneva's whoredom describes the cause for divorce better.

There are a good many usages of the word fornication, and they all can be traced to the Lord's use of the word whoredom in the law and the prophets.

1) In John 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, [even] God. The word includes adultery, yet far more often it is separated from adultery.

2) Matthew 15:19, For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: Fornication is a separate word from adultery, and many times it is used to refer to idol worship, and defilement by idolatry which was incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols.

3) In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, Paul places all the sins which defile or dishonor the body under the general heading of fornication when he said, For this is the will of God, [even] your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

4) In Acts 15, the confrontation was over the false teachers who followed Paul around telling the new converts that they had to keep the law and be circumcised in order to be saved.

Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses.

The controversy was taken to the Apostles at Jerusalem. After hearing the circumstances, they gave this ruling which was to be taken to the new converts from the Gentile:

Acts 15:20, But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood.

It is repeat again in v. 29,

That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

Acts 21:25, As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written [and] concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from [things] offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

The apostles certainly were not telling the new Gentile converts that they could do anything except immoral acts. The issue was over circumcision and obeying the Jewish rites, rituals and carnal ordinances.

The council at Jerusalem still required obedience to God's law-word, not for salvation but for purity of life and avoidance of sin.


We find its proper understanding in Revelation: 2:21, 9:21, 14:8, 17:2, 4, 18:3 and 19:2. In these passages it refers to any kind of unfaithfulness to the law of God, and especially to hardness in sin and refusal to turn back to the Lord, more commonly known as whoredoms in the Old Testament.

Accordingly, the word fornication can include sexual immorality, but basically, it is infidelity against God and his command-word. It is hardness in sin and refusal to repent and turn.

Second, v. 9, adultery.

The word adultery is always used to describe unlawful acts outside of marriage with another's spouse. Note the context:

Matthew 19:9, And I say unto you. Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

As we have already pointed out, the Lord is responding to a question put to Him by the Pharisees, tempting him, v. 3, as they said, for every cause...

What does the Lord say in Matthew 19:9 (Mark 10:12)?

"Those who put away their spouse for any reason other than for that person's hardness in sin and rebellion against God, then remarries another, they commit adultery. The one who marries that spouse who is put away for any other reason than hardness in sin also commits adultery."

Throughout Scripture, the only thing that could legitimately bring about separation was hardness in sin. Hardness in sin left the innocent party free to remarry with no Biblical guilt on his or her part.

Matthew 19:8, as Christ said, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts confirms that divorce was permitted to deal with the problem of sin, rebellion and hardness towards God within the marriage union. Sin broke that union, and divorce was permitted. The sins which required death under the Mosaic law fall under the New Testament general term "fornication," or whoredom. When a person is hardened in his sin that required the Old Testament death penalty and stands against God and the godly, he is counted as dead, and divorce is permitted.

Thus, the only ground for divorce is one partner hardened in sin and standing against God and the godly. Furthermore, if there is godly grounds for divorce, those same grounds permits remarriage. In other words, if there are not grounds for remarriage, there are no grounds for divorce.

Now a third part of our Lord's discourse on divorce, Matthew 5:31, 32.

The first time we saw the context of our Lord's words in Matthew 5 and chapter 19. Both sides of the issue misused Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (some uncleanness, or for every cause) to promote their own agenda, and tried to get the Lord to take sides. Divorce was provided to protect the godly party in a marriage. (I have found that there is never a totally innocent party in a divorce.)

The second dealt with v. 9, fornication, whoredom, which is hardness in sin, and adultery, which is immorality. Biblical grounds for divorce is also Biblical grounds for remarriage.

** Now in this third part, we will deal with 1 Corinthians 7:11-15, Unequally yoked


First, let us keep in mind, Exodus 21:10, 11:

10 If he take him another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her raiment, and recompense of her virginity. 11 And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free, paying no money.

Paul applies Exodus 21:11 in 1 Timothy 5:8, But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.

Paul clearly refers to the fact that the primary responsibility for the family's welfare lies with the husband-father, as he refers back to the first law which clearly defined grounds for separation of the marriage union. The wife was the first to be given the right of divorce, even before Deuteronomy 24.

I realize there are many more New Testament passages covering family law, but the fact remains: all passages dealing with family law must take into consideration that the man who fails to provide for his family has failed in his duty, and is worse than a pagan.

In 1 Corinthians 5:5, the church is required to treat the man who acts like a pagan like a pagan.

Therefore, the woman in Exodus 21:11 is permitted to depart from her husband's house if he is acting like a pagan by refusing to honor God's requirements toward her.

Second, Exodus 21:11, she shall go out... Note the context starting with v. 7: the father sold his daughter with the intention of her being the wife of the master or the master's son.

In the Old Testament, marriage was by dowry; normally three years wages. The dowry went to the wife or her family and was kept out of reach of the husband. The dowry was her security that her husband would do right, and it was left as an inheritance for her children. Thus, in Exodus 21:7, the father received the dowry for his daughter. Otherwise, the father is violating God's law by trafficking in human lives.

In v. 11, the man who paid the dowry for the woman failed to do unto her as was required by the law, so she was free to go, paying no money. In other words, she could depart the household without returning the dowery money to the unfaithful man. In such a case, the separation was his fault, and she had three years of his salary, so she would not be left destitute. This meant that she was not locked into ungodly situation; she has three years worth of money for her maintenance.


In the few years that I have been in the ministry, I have worked with a great many people through the buses and Sunday schools. I have seen men, including so called Christian men, treat their wives and children worse than dirt, but the wives had to stay in the sometimes dangerous situation because they could not afford to depart from the evil husbands.

How many women seek a career out of concern they will not have a husband who is dependable, and they will be left out on the street?

If the dowry were still required today, the abused wife would have the financial security to leave her pagan husband. And the husband would have a monetary motive to hold the family together.

Thus, this law says that the woman who finds herself in a bad, ungodly situation where her husband is not acting Biblically toward her, she is free to get out of it without being charged with sin. All of the law is for the protection of the innocent person. In this case, the man is the sinner, and the law protects her from his sin.

When the traditions of men prevent the woman from removing herself from the pagan situation, the protective purpose of the law is ignored and/or forgotten.

Obviously, what is just for the woman is also just for the man.

Does the Lord require the wife to remain in a pagan situation?
Does the Lord require the husband to remain in a pagan situation?

Paul deals this and other questions concerning marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:10.

[Master Page]