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Marriage and Remarriage – Part 2

Mar 8, 2024

On Monday, we went through a few Scriptures showing what God has to say about marriage, as well as what He says about separation, divorce, and the responsibility within marriage to love, forgive, and do whatever can be done to keep that marriage together.

But one of the big questions on people’s minds is the topic of remarriage.     There are all kinds of teachings out there about this issue as well, so we might as well get started and dive right in.

The Exception Clause

Now, you will hear some people talk about an exception clause for divorce. When they mention it, they are referring to Matthew 19. Because of this passage, some say remarriage is permissible under certain conditions. Others think it says that divorce is permissible but not remarriage. Let’s see what the Word of God says.

Matthew 19:8,9

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered 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: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Now, Moses suffered divorce but divorce wasn’t instituted by God. And some think that “fornication” in this passage could be a parenthetical reason for divorce, and that the Matthew 19:9 still says (like Mark 10:11) that remarriage leads to adultery. But there is another explanation for this verse that I found and read about. It’s something called the Exception Clause.

“Consider also that the ‘exception’ clauses to divorce and remarriage are found only in Matthew, who was writing to Jews, and not in any of the other gospels or Paul’s letters that were written to Gentiles (see Mark 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, Rom 7:2, 1Cor 7:39). Why do you think that is? Think: were the Gentiles given any less to immorality than the Jews? (Cf. 2 Cor 12:21, Eph 4:19, 1 Pet 4:3). Think too: because women historically had no other means to provide for themselves, they needed a man to provide for them; thus, when a man divorced his wife, he caused her to commit adultery (Matt 5:32) because she was forced either to remarry or into prostitution. Would not the ‘immorality’ involved with her marrying or consorting with another man thus render of no account the whole thrust of Jesus’ one-flesh argument for the permanence of marriage and that whoever divorces his wife and marries another is committing adultery?”

“What are we to conclude then regarding the exception clause that Jesus gives in Matt 19:9?  Should we understand that it refers to adultery in general and is purely incidental that 1) the word used is not adultery but fornication, and 2) the exception is entirely absent from the other gospels and Paul’s writings? Or, should we understand that the exception clause refers to sexual immorality during the Jewish betrothal period before the man and woman consummate their marriage at the wedding feast to become one flesh—an example of which Matthew has used as central to his purpose of rebutting the Jews’ defamation of Jesus as the son of a harlot—and it is for this reason that 1) Jesus used the word fornication to distinguish His meaning from adultery in keeping with His one-flesh argument for the permanence of marriage and 2) the exception is not found in any of the other gospels or Paul’s letters that were written to Gentiles because they did not observe the same marriage customs as the Jews that would warrant such an exception?  Cf. the laws for the marriage of priests; see Lev 21:7,13-15; Eze 44:21-22; 1Pet 2:9. https://inductivebible.org/?page_id=1893

There are plenty of teachers out there who consider this exception clause to apply to the betrothal period and not after a marriage begins. And, quite possibly, the key to unlocking its meaning is noticing that the word fornication is used here and not the term adultery. So, some people say that this exception clause might not really be an exception clause at all.

Working It Out

I was returning home on a plane flight one time and got into a very interesting conversation with the lady next to me. It was a great witnessing encounter. She let me know that her husband had committed adultery in their marriage. It devastated her. Trust had been broken. They decided to go to counseling and work it out. Great move on their part. Don’t throw the marriage away until all avenues of repentance and reconciliation have been exhausted. As we were talking, I asked her, “When did your husband commit adultery on you?” She said, ‘While I was on business trips.” I looked at her and said, “Aren’t you on a business trip right now?” She stated that she was and that this was her first business trip since he had committed adultery. I asked, “Are you nervous?” She replied, “You better believe I’m nervous.” She had no clue what she would be going home to. She really wanted to work things out, but once that trust is broken, it is hard to regain it.

Staying Together

A friend of mine recently tied the knot. When he called and told me about getting engaged, I said to him, “Mark, don’t ever call me in the future and tell me how great your second marriage is.” The point is he needed to do everything in his power—and his wife as well—to make sure they had one of those long, beautiful, and godly marriages. I let him know that through all of the ups, downs, and all-arounds, sticking together is well worth it, and it will bring glory and honor to God.

Mark 10:8-12

And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.

And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.

And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

When two become one flesh in marriage, let not man put it asunder. Let not man separate what God calls one flesh. Nice, straightforward, and simple teaching here.

1 Corinthians 7:10-13

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

It seems pretty clear that God does not want married couples to get divorced. They need to remain together, both parties need to get saved, and that marriage needs to honor and glorify the Lord.

Till Death Do Us Part

Romans 7:1-3

Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

This also seems very clear. I love those really clear verses that God has for us. Thus, remarriage would be considered adultery unless the spouse had died. Once the spouse passes, then, biblically, the surviving spouse would be allowed to remarry again. Until then, a husband and wife are in an unbreakable covenant before the Lord.

And just to show you that this is true, God explains it again in another place:

1 Corinthians 7:8,9

I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, it is good for them if they abide even as I.

But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

Who can get married? People who are not married, single folks, and a widow or widower, meaning someone whose spouse has passed away. I don’t know about you, but it seems pretty simple and clear to me. If a spouse puts away the other spouse and remarries, then according to the Bible, it is considered adultery. There doesn’t seem to be any way, biblically, that a remarriage can take place while the other spouse is living without it being considered adultery. And all of us know God’s opinion on adultery.

Learning the Truth

Interestingly, during the course of the conversation with Brian at the coffee shop, he said to me, “You sure know your Bible well.” Funny thing was, as we were talking, all I could think to myself was, “I need to know my Bible better!”

Enjoy the journey through the Scriptures. It has the answers all of us are looking for. All we have to do is read and heed. Read and obey. Kind of nice how God made it all so simple. And, remember as you take that journey through your Bible, Who you will see at the destination is going to blow your mind!

Until the nets are full,


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