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Gospel of Matthew – Divorce and Remarriage

Can a Christian divorce a spouse? Under what circumstances may a divorce be pursued? Can a divorced Christian re-marry? Our answer to this depends on how faithfully we have handled the scriptures and applied them to our actions. How do view divorce and remarriage as believers?

Our message finds us back to Matthew as we continue our step-by-step walk through the gospel. We come to Matthew 5:31-32, and will encounter the third of six illustrations Jesus uses to contrast the Pharisee’s perversion of the Law of God – Divorce and Remarriage. Jesus is demonstrating that it is the Pharisees themselves who are relaxing the law and teaching others to do the same, and thus they are abusing God’s people, causing people to sin, and are making hypocrites of themselves. This is the main thrust of these six examples, but Jesus speaks on particular topics each time, so it is our opportunity to speak on those subjects. We will visit Matthew 19:2-10 as well, since it is an expanded version of our passage. What is the proper Biblical position on divorce and remarriage? How do we know? Where do we get to the truth, since there has been a lot of misinformation and bad exegesis going on for centuries. We will examine this topic tomorrow

  • 1. Context!
    •      A. Three ways marriage and divorce can be approached:
      •           i. Pharisee/Jewish view (also today’s ‘no fault’ divorce) – Divorce for any light reason.
        •                a. Lax and lawless
        •                b. Particularly abusive to women
      •           ii. Rigorist view/Permanence view – no divorce for any reason
        •                a. Catholic/Orthodox sacrament, marriage seen as a church institution.
        •                b. Often a Fundamentalist position
      •           iii. Reformed Protestant view – allowances for divorce in 2 Biblically allowable circumstances
        •                a. Puritans – marriage considered a civil institution, no church authority
        •                b. Confessional era – marriage as a familial institution, no church authority
    •      B. Scripture Interprets Scripture
      •           i. Doctrines not formed on one passage
      •           ii. Matthew 19 contains expanded version
      •           iii. All of scripture informs this topic
  • 2. Pharisaical Relaxing of the Law
    •      A. This is the main point
    •      B. Following this law, people sin
  • 3. Why is remarriage for any other reason adultery?
    •      A. “One flesh” as a key concept
    •      B. Adultery breaks union, is an OT crime, general equity is disfellowship
    •      C. God’s Love redeems

Public reading: Genesis 2:18-25; Benediction: Romans 12:2

Matthew 5:31-32

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (ESV)

Matthew 19:2-10

And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” (ESV)

Genesis 2:18-25

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (ESV)

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)