"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" The Treachery Of Divorce (5:31-32) INTRODUCTION 1. We live in an age of easy divorce... a. Many if not all states have "no-fault" divorce laws b. In some cases, all it takes is for one person to decide to have a divorce, and their spouse can do nothing to prevent it 2. What does God think about divorce? a. What was His view of divorce in the Old Testament? b. What does He think of it now? 3. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus addressed the issue of divorce... a. As He taught His disciples concerning the righteousness of the kingdom b. In which He described the effects of divorcing one's spouse [In this lesson, "The Treachery Of Divorce", we shall use Mt 5:31-32 as our text. To understand Jesus' comments in their context, let's first determine what was...] I. THE "TRADITIONAL" INTERPRETATION A. "WHOEVER DIVORCES HIS WIFE, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE" - Mt 5:31 1. This was the "traditional" interpretation of Deut 24:1-4; handed down orally 2. In applying the Law, they had focused on the idea of giving certificates of divorce 3. They concluded divorce was permissible as long as a certificate of divorce was given B. IS THIS WHAT THE LAW ACTUALLY SAID? 1. Please read Deut 24:1-4 carefully... a. Verses 1-3 simply describe a particular situation 1) WHEN a man is displeased with his wife and gives her a certificate a divorce and sends her out of the house... 2) WHEN she has left and becomes another man's wife... 3) IF her second husband detests her and gives her a bill of divorcement and sends her out of his house, or if the second husband dies... b. It is in verse 4 that Moses actually commands what must not be done 1) Which was: "her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination to the Lord" 2) This passage is simply forbidding a man to remarry his wife after she had been married to another - cf. Jer 3:1 2. Note also Paul's understanding of the Law - cf. Ro 7:1-3 a. A woman was bound by the Law to her husband as long he lived b. If she married another while her first husband was still living (implying a certificate of divorce was given), she became an adulteress (i.e., defiled)! [So the scribes and Pharisees had interpreted the Law to permit divorce as long as a certificate of divorce was given to the wife. We have tried to point out that was not the case. What does Jesus say?] II. JESUS' INTERPRETATION AND APPLICATION A. "WHOEVER DIVORCES HIS WIFE FOR ANY REASON EXCEPT SEXUAL IMMORALITY CAUSES HER TO COMMIT ADULTERY" - Mt 5:32 1. The only acceptable grounds for divorcing a wife is SEXUAL IMMORALITY 2. Otherwise, divorcing a wife "causes her to commit adultery" 3. How? By placing her in a position where she is likely to remarry, in which she becomes an adulteress 4. This is what the Law implied in Deut 24:4 and Jer 3:1 a. That is why the first husband couldn't take her back b. Even if her second husband had died! c. Because the wife had become "defiled"! 5. Notice these comments by KEIL & DELITZSCH... "The second marriage of a woman who had been divorced is designated by Moses a defilement of the woman...a moral defilement, i.e., blemishing, desecration of the sexual communion which was sanctified by marriage, IN THE SAME SENSE IN WHICH ADULTERY IS CALLED A DEFILEMENT in
Lev 18:20 and Num 5:13,14..." "Thus the second marriage of a divorced woman was placed implicit upon a par with adultery, and some approach was made towards the teaching of Christ concerning marriage (Mt 5:32)..." "If the second marriage of a divorced woman was a moral defilement, of course the wife could not marry the first again even after the death of her second husband...because the defilement of the wife would be thereby repeated, and even increased, as the moral defilement which the divorced wife acquired through the second marriage was not removed by a divorce from the second husband, nor yet by his death." 6. Jesus simply made clear what the Law itself implied: To divorce a woman for any reason other than sexual immorality would cause her to be defiled (when she remarried)! 7. Therefore, I believe that a careful study of the Law concerning divorce reveals... a. That Jesus' teaching was really in harmony with the Law itself b. But the "traditional interpretation and application" of the Law had missed the mark by placing emphasis upon the mention of giving a certificate of divorce B. "WHOEVER MARRIES A DIVORCED WOMAN COMMITS ADULTERY" 1. Jesus goes on to say that anyone who marries a person who has been divorced (lit., "put away") also commits adultery! 2. Jesus does not use the definite article in reference to one put away, therefore He seems to refer to ANY "put away" person! In other words... a. A person put away for reasons OTHER than adultery cannot remarry 1) Because such would "cause them to commit adultery" 2) Or to put it in O.T. terms: "become defiled" b. Nor can a person "put away" for the reason of adultery remarry 1) For such a person is an "adulteress" or "adulterer" 2) As such, is "defiled" and would thereby cause anyone who married that person to commit adultery! CONCLUSION 1. Jesus later taught more concerning the subject of divorce and remarriage - Mt 19:3-12 a. Defining who has the right to divorce their spouse and remarry b. Indicating that some might need to "make themselves eunuchs" for the sake of the kingdom of heaven 2. But in our text (Mt 5:31-32), Jesus reveals "The Treachery Of Divorce"... a. A man who divorces his wife for any cause other than sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery (by placing her in a situation where she is likely to remarry and become defiled; i.e., an adulteress) b. Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery -- The harmful effect of divorce is seen in that it creates situations where adultery is committed! 3. Perhaps we can better understand why God hates divorce - Mal 2:13-16 a. When we put away our spouses, we treat them treacherously! - Mal 2:14 b. When we divorce our spouses, we cover our garments with violence! - Mal 2:16 4. Making divorce "legal" does not change the facts of the matter... a. The one put away still becomes defiled (commits adultery) if they remarry b. Whoever marries the one put away still commits adultery -- It is still a "treacherous" act! As difficult as Jesus' teaching on the subject of divorce might seem in today's permissive and immoral society, those who respect the authority of Jesus Christ will abide by His teaching. Have you found yourself in an adulterous relationship? There is hope in Jesus Christ (cf. 1Co 6:9-11)! Yet true repentance requires that you stop committing adultery, even if it means becoming a "eunuch" for the sake of the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 19:11-12).