Matthew 19:9 One (And Only One) Exception To God’s Divorce Law

Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, "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." This gives us God’s general rule on divorce and remarriage, and the only exception to that rule.

The force of the exception clause can be seen by comparing to other parallel constructions. Jesus said in John 3:3, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." We all realize this means that unless a man is born again he cannot be saved – there is no other route to getting to heaven. Similarly, Matthew 19:9 is showing there is no scriptural cause for divorce other than fornication (see also Matthew 5:32), there is no other route to a scriptural remarriage after divorce.

If a person divorces their spouse for any reason other than fornication (incompatibility, verbal abuse, drunkenness, desertion, whatever) and remarries, Matthew 19:9 says that person commits adultery. And the second part of Matthew 19:9 says adultery is the result when the person who is put away remarries, regardless of why they were put away.

Suppose such a person is in their second or third marriage, but wants to repent and be right with God. What should they do? They would be in a similar situation to Herod in his marriage to Herodias – whom Josephus says divorced Phillip. John the Baptist told Herod in Mark 6:18, "It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife." Does anybody think John was telling Herod that it was okay for him to stay in his marriage to Herodias? Neither is it okay with God for people to stay in unscriptural marriages today. They must terminate the adulterous marriage, and seek reconciliation with their original spouse (Romans 7:2-3).

Suppose you are scripturally married, but you are part of a church that allows people in unscriptural marriages to be considered faithful members of the congregation. Are you culpable? The Bible says you are in II John verse 11 – "For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds." Congregations like that are just playing games with religion.

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One Response to “Matthew 19:9 One (And Only One) Exception To God’s Divorce Law”

  1. Joe Palmer Says:

    I am a divorced minister. I have been writing about my experiences on my blog. I hope you will read and consider my point of view. I am not so much sharing as you are about doctrinal concerns but about the emotional pain and hurt divorce leaves behind. Divorce is a very harmful event. People today enter into it without considering the results in the future. We as churches often don’t minister to our counsel these people very well

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