Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Ten Commandments: Adultery, Part 2

“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.’ ‘Why then,’ they asked, ‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?’ Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.’” (Matthew 19:3-9)

I have received the following question, “Would you please let me know what is biblically authorized divorce(s)?”

The basic sentence in the text without the subordinate clause is this: “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery.” This is a basic truth. In the middle of the sentence, Jesus inserted an exception, “except for marital unfaithfulness.” This exception has to apply to the divorce and the remarriage, or the sentence doesn’t make sense. Adultery takes place with the remarriage, not just with the divorce. But if a man divorced and remarried because his wife was unfaithful, he would not be committing adultery.

Another Scripture that is used as a biblically-authorized divorce is 1 Corinthians 7:10-16:

“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (1 Corinthians 7:10-16)

The key verse is verse 15:

“But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)

This is interpreted that desertion by an unbelieving partner gives freedom for the Christian to remarry without committing adultery. I do not think that that teaching is clear enough when the rest of the passage is teaching to stay together.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They are either bound or not bound. It I can't be both