What Is Jesus’ Point On Divorce And Remarriage In Matt 5:31-32?

As in the other five “it hath been said … but I say unto you” cases in Matt 5:20-48, verses 31-32 is a contrast between the Old Testament and New Testament laws. Verse 31’s “let him give her a writing of divorcement” is a quote of Deut 24:1 – “let him write her a bill of divorcement.” The Old Testament teaching in Deut 24:1ff was that a man could divorce his wife for reason short of fornication. Jesus’ Matt 5:32 teaching is that fornication is the only scriptural cause.

The same contrast is made in Matt 19:8-9: … Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered (permitted, NKJV) you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery …

If Matt 5:32 and 19:9 are only correct interpretations of Old Testament law, then they would not apply today (being Old Testament law, Gal 5:4) and there would be no divorce exception today, as Rom 7:2-3, I Cor 7:10, etc. give zero exceptions. If Jesus’ MDR law is the same as Moses’ MDR law (what the moral liberals are contending for), then the “uncleanness” in Deut 24:1 would have to be fornication, and the put away fornicator could remarry today (Deut 24:2) – which would contradict Matt 19:9b. Notice the following details which prove neither of these two views is correct …

Moses On MDR ≠ Jesus On MDR

Moses’ MDR Teaching

Deuteronomy 24:1-4, etc. (OT)

Jesus’ MDR Teaching

Matthew 5:32, 19:9, etc. (NT)

divorce for any uncleanness Deut 24:1 divorce only for fornication Matt 5:32a
may let captive wife go if “no delight in her” Deut 21:10-14 for fornication only Matt 5:32a
adulteress put to death Lev 20:10 adulteress divorced Matt 19:9a
divorcee could remarry Deut 24:2 divorcee may not remarry Matt 19:9b
polygamy allowed Exod 21:10, II Sam 12:8, Deut 21:15-17 polygamy disallowed I Cor 7:2
marry wife of dead brother Deut 25:5 no such requirement

This is the contrast of Matthew 5:31-32 (and 19:8-9).

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