“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication,
causeth her to commit adultery: and whosever shall marry her that is divorced commiteth adultery.” —Matthew 5:31-32
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:1-9; Genesis 2:22-25
Marriage was made to be permanent. When someone commits to another person in marriage, they’re making a life-long covenant to remain faithful in every way—spiritually, mentally, emotionally, sexually, and so on. Jesus discusses the issue of marriage and divorce and surprises the Jews of His day. “Saving for the cause of fornication,” was the only reason Jesus said someone could divorce (Matthew 5:32).
Today, divorce is not only rampant among the world, it’s rampant among Christians. Irreconcilable differences, frustration, abandonment, alcohol and drug abuse have all become reasons for divorce, even among Christians. Yet, the only reason given by Christ is fornication.
This makes our responsibility as Christians all the more difficult. With all of the attacks a family must endure in our society, it’s not an easy task to keep a marriage together. Temptations are present in every facet of society, for both men and women. At every turn, something is trying to draw spouses apart.
Among all these temptations, we’ve a call to stand firm on the promises of God and keep our marriages together. Divorce wreaks havoc not only on the husband and wife, but especially on the children. The strain of having to choose between a mother and father is unbearable, and children shouldn’t even be asked to make this choice. Therefore, we must take all the necessary precautions outlined in scripture to keep our marriages “divorce-proof.”
Note: Due to the limitations of this lesson, the subject of remarriage is not handled in-depth. One question speaks to this issue, but does not in any way do justice to the subject. Please draw no conclusion about the subject of remarriage solely from this lesson.
- What is the only scriptural basis for divorce? Matthew 5:32; 19:4-9.
Note: In Matthew 5:32, Jesus did not say that divorce is allowed for adultery. The word He used was porneia, which means gross sexual immorality. This tends to indicate a deeper degree of impurity, going beyond simple adultery.
- What’s the best way to avoid a divorce? Ephesians 5:22-33; Proverbs 5:15-23; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8; Philippians 2:3-5.
- Why did the disciples respond as they did to Jesus’ statement regarding marriage and divorce? Matthew 19:10.
Note: The disciples had known nothing but the Mosaic interpretation of marriage and divorce. Commitment for a lifetime always had the divorce option of Deuteronomy 24:1-5. They were very likely astonished at the “new” interpretation of marriage and divorce.
- Why is it important to understand the reasons divorce was permitted under the Mosaical law? Deuteronomy 24:1-5; Matthew 19:1-9; Mark 10:1-10. Do these verses indicate whether or not fornication was an acceptable reason for divorce before the Mosaical law?
Note: Modern-day divorce takes place for the very same reason it did during Moses’ time. Hard-heartedness plagues our society, and marriage is often viewed as a “contract with an escape clause.”
- Does scripture give the same license for both men and women to divorce a spouse if fornication is involved? Matthew 19:8; Mark 10:10-11; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11.
- What implications do the phrases “not under bondage” and “free from that law” have for marriage, divorce, and remarriage? Do they indicate a freedom to remarry or some other type of freedom? 1 Corinthians 7:1-15; Romans 7:1-3.
Everybody knows someone who has been divorced at some point or another. This curse is even ravaging our churches.
As a way of counteracting this plague of Satan, make a list of those you know who are having marital struggles and actively pray for them. If possible, encourage them to seek counseling from a counselor completely devoted to the Word of God.