The subject of  marriage, divorce and remarriage is controversial and emotional.  Churches have split over this subject.  Many Christian churches do not address the subject.  Some that do, do not study the scriptures in a scholarly method which requires reading the original manuscripts to learn  what was said by Jesus and the apostles on these matters.

The general format for this presentation is: the ideal, the permitted, and the exceptions.  Biblical sources are few.  Primarily used herein:  Matthew 19:1-12,  I Corinthians 7.

I.    The Attack by Pharisees.
(Mat 19:3 NIV)  Some Pharisees came to Jesus to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?"  The Pharisees were Jews asking a Jewish rabbi (Jesus) about Jewish marriages under Mosaic law.  Jesus is here to implement Christian ideals.

A.    The Pharisees’ purpose here is to:

1.    They came to test Jesus and thus to discredit him.
2.    They are seeking to destroy Jesus.

B.    In Jesus’ time the Jewish way of life was based on two schools of thought; the schools were from two different rabbis, Shammai and Hillel.  Their views on divorce:

1.    Shammai - more conservative rabbi. The only reason for divorce is sexual unfaithfulness.
2.    Hillel - more liberal rabbi. Practically any reason was a permitted to divorce a wife,  i.e., she cut her hair, or did not keep proper house.

C.    The Pharisees were trying to entrap Jesus by asking him which of the above schools of thought he supported, Shammai or Hillel. As the vast majority of the Jews at the time followed Hillel’s more liberal position because divorce could be obtained for seemingly any and all reasons, the Pharisees were trying to discredit Jesus in the eyes of this majority.

It must be noted that the Pharisees already knew Jesus’ stand on this issue from back of his Sermon on the
Mount. See Matt 5:31-32:

(Mat 5:31 NIV)  "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ {32}  But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

This verse seems to follow Shammi’s conservative school of thought and thus the Pharisees knew this would discredit Jesus and show him in an unfavorable light to the more liberal Jews who were the majority at the time. 

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The following are the original words used in the original manuscripts pertaining to divorce:

II.    The two types of Divorce:

A.    To Send Away or Put Away. -  a separation without a legal divorcement.

1.    Shalak - (Heb. Old Testament) - To Throw: out, down, forth, off, out, hurl, pluck, throw. To send away, to drive away, to drive out.
2.    Apoluo (Greek, New Testament) - to free fully, relieve, release, dismiss, depart, forgive, let go, loose, put (send) away, release, set at liberty. To let loose, to set free, to send away, to drive out.

B.    Divorcement. - a legal divorcement usually with a legal paper or writ to show it.

1.    Kriythuwth - (Heb. Old Testament) - A Divorcement. A cutting of the matrimonial bond. A divorce.
2.    Apostasion - (Greek, New Testament) - Separative. Divorce (writing of divorcement).

The NIV as well as King James and others, mistranslated the words used for divorcement and has led to erroneous conclusions.  The mistranslating comes from blending the words.  The original words that meant “to put away” are mistranslated to mean divorcement.  There is a great difference.

III.    Word DIVORCE used only once in Bible.

A.    There is only ONE time in entirety of the Bible that the word “divorce” is used:
  Jer 3:8. It is the only example when SOMEONE DIVORCES SOMEONE.
(Jer 3:8 NIV)  “I gave faithless Israel her certificate of  divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.”

B.    The Hebrew Kriythuwth and the corresponding Greek word, Apostasion are used in Jer3:8.

IV.    More than one wife.

A.    Polygamy was widespread in Biblical times; even David had more than one wife. The
Old Testament not only tells us that men had more than one wife, but that it was common that men would “put them away” on any pretext.  It was considered a more practical means of divorce.
B.    A bill of divorcement, which required not only more work, but also the return of any dowery, was an impractical means of divorce.

V.    What Jesus said:

A.    (Mat 5:32 NIV)[from the sermon on the mount Jesus said:]  “But I tell you that anyone who divorces [‘puts away’, from Greek Apoluo] his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced [‘put away’] woman commits adultery.”
In the original manuscripts, the original Greek word used was  Apoluo which was erroneously translated to mean divorce instead of “put away” by the King James version as well as the more modern translations such as the New International Version (NIV).
B.    Jesus said that anyone who “puts away” [Apoluo] their wives must give them a
certificate of divorcement [Apostasion].  He says that anyone who “puts away” [Apoluo] his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and he remarries, commits adultery;  and anyone who marries one who has been “put away”  and does not give them a
divorcement commits adultery if they remarry.  Why?  Because the sundering has not been legalized when they just been “put away” [Apoluo] rather than legally divorced [Apostasion.]

1.    There was good reason for men to not give a woman a legal divorcement.

a)    It was faster and easier to “put her away”, “drive her out”.
b)    If a man “put her away” instead of giving a legal divorce, the dowery did not have to be returned.  Greedy men avoided legal divorsement for that reason.

VI.    Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees attack in Mat 19:4-6:

A.    (Mat 19:4 NIV)  "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' {5} 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'? {6} So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

These verses are in reply to the Pharisees.  Jesus is talking back to the Pharisees and essentially saying that what all you people talk about is divorce, divorce, divorce.  There are four reasons why one should NOT divorce and in Mat 19:4-6 Jesus gives them.  It should be noted that at this point Jesus is giving the IDEAL reasons for staying married.  Jesus here is trying to talk about marriage instead of divorce which is what the Pharisees is trying to talk about.

1.    God did not think about divorce when he made man and woman in the beginning.
There was only one man and only one woman.  He did not create Adam, Eve and Ethel.  If Adam had “put away” Eve while in the garden of Eden the Bible would have ended on Page 2.
2.    There is a strong bond made between a man and a woman.
3.    They will become one flesh.  One is an indivisible number.  If it is divided, the result is a fraction; less than a whole.
4.    Marriage is the work of God.  Man should not separate something God puts together.  Only God can dictate how one gets a divorce.  God joined them and only He can say how they can separate.

B.    What makes a marriage?  How does one know that marriage has taken place?

The Bible says that marriage is the coming together, by voluntary choice, of two people who enter into a covenant. (Mal 2:14 NIV):  “You ask, "Why?"  It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”

1.    That COVENANT will vary from culture to culture. If the cultural agreements (covenants) of the local culture are fulfilled, then in the sight of God there is a marriage.  Example: The state requires a marriage.  If  the couple does not do as required by the local law then in eyes of God there is no marriage.  Abiding by the local laws indicates that the marriage was entered in to with intention.

a)    Marriage is NOT just the sex act. Sexual intercourse does not constitute becoming married. See Mal. 2.

(1)    If the sex act was marriage, then there would be no such thing as fornication. If  the sex act was marriage, every time some one had sex they would not be fornicating but getting married.
(2)    See Ex 22:16 -17:  "If a man seduces a virgin who is not pledged
to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price, and she shall be his wife. {17}  If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he must still pay the bride-price for virgins.”   The father of the bride could not allow the marriage to take place even though a man slept with his daughter.  The man still had to pay for dishonoring her.   However,  if  marriage was considered to have taken place because sex had occurred between the couple, then the father would not be able to stop the marriage AFTER the fact.

b)    Adultery does NOT dissolve a marriage automatically.  It gives the innocent party a reason for divorce but does not mandate it.

VII.    The Pharisee’s argument to Jesus
(Mat 19:7 NIV)  "Why then," they asked, "did Moses  command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"

A.    They are asking Jesus “Why are you talking about the permanency of  marriage when
Moses was talking about divorce?

The Pharisees support their argument with (Deu 24:1 NIV), If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house...

1.    This is the only place that Moses speaks about divorce.
2.    NOTE: The King James version of Deu 24:1 is mistranslated. The King James version says that if a man finds some sort of uncleanness about his wife “Then” gives her a writ of divorcement.  “Then” is not in the original Hebrew text.  The NIV and other translations have corrected this. (“Then” does not occur actually until in Deu 24:4)
3.    (Deu 24:1-4 NIV)  If a man marries a woman who becomes displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, {2} and if after she leaves his house she becomes the wife of another man, {3} and her second husband dislikes her and writes her a certificate of divorce, gives it to her and sends her from his house, or if he dies, {4} then her first husband, who divorced her, is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. That would be detestable in the eyes of the LORD. Do not bring sin upon the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.
4.    Moses is NOT making a commandment to divorce, he is simply saying IF you divorce and IF you remarry and that marriage dissolves then you CANNOT return to your original spouse.   
5.   And what of the meaning of “uncleanness”[King James]or “indecent”[NIV].
What does this mean?  A liberal definition - anything a man did not like about his wife.  From a conservative view it could only mean adultery.       

a)    In Deu 23:14 the same Hebrew word for “indecent” is used and indicates. anything that is vile and disgusting or wrong.  It does NOT mean adultery.     

   (1)    In Deu 22 God says that the penalty for adultery is death, NOT divorce. If a husband found some sort of “indecency” that was adultery he would not divorce her - he would put her to death.

VIII.   Jesus’ answer to Pharisees.

A.    (Mat 19:8 NIV)  Jesus replied, "Moses  permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.”

1.    Jesus says in Mat 19:8 God permitted you to divorce because you emotionally could not stand living with the spouse that was “indecent”.  In other words you could not stand to stay with the ideal situation and stay married.  So divorce was allowed for reasons other than adultery.  Notice that the Pharisee told Jesus that Moses originally COMMANDED divorce.  Jesus corrects them and says no, “Moses PERMITTED you to divorce.”
2.    Jesus reminds them that it was not that way in the “beginning” meaning that
Adam could not divorce Eve.  If Adam had done that we would not exist.

B.    (Mat 19:9 NIV)  I tell you that anyone who divorces (puts away ([Apoluo ]) his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

1.    Again the word divorce here means “put away” [Apoluo].  It does not mean legal divorce.
2.    If they marry another then they commit adultery.  Why?  Because they are not legally divorced.  He has not given her Apostasion which is a writ (legal) of divorcement.
3.    Why were Pharisees just “putting away” their spouses instead of giving legal divorce?  Because it was convenient and they did not have to give back the dowry.
4.    Jesus said there is no need of a legal divorce [Apostasion] for marital unfaithful- ness.  Why is this an exception?  Because Jesus was talking to the Mosaic Jews and their culture at that time.  In Deu.22 Moses commands that if wife committed adultery she was to be put to death. Jesus was saying that a legal divorcement for marital unfaithfulness was unnecessary because the spouse would be executed.

IX.    Is all of this realistic in today’s society?  Does it make sense?

A.    If it were true that the ONLY reason for divorce was adultery, then:

1.    We jeopardize the integrity of God. In the Bible ONLY God has divorced someone and given them a bill (writ) of divorcement [Apostasion].  See (Jer 3:8)

B.    If there is a distinction between “putting away” and giving a legal divorce then:

1.    God has no regulations about reasons for divorce.  What Jesus is saying is that if one is going to divorce, then it must be a legal divorce not abandonment, “putting away”.  If a legal divorce is not granted, and one remarries, then one is living in sin with adultery.  And, the person married is also living in sin with adultery.
2.    Jesus does not condemn divorce as a sin.  Nowhere in the  Bible does it say that to divorce is a sin.  It is only in the remarriage that the sin takes place and then only
if a legal divorce was not obtained.

a)   We need to stop treating divorced people like second class citizens as if they’ve got the plague.
b)    We know God said in old testament that he hated “putting away” [HEB: Shalak] not divorce because he said that IF you divorce then give her a legal one so that she may remarry.

C.    Now,  what if “putting away” [Apoluo] and divorce [Apostasion] meant the same thing?

1.    This would mean that one could get a divorce but not remarry because of the sin in the remarriage part.  So, as an example,  an abused spouse could get divorced, but she (or he) could not remarry unless there had been adultery.
2.    Adultery does not automatically dissolve the marriage.  It is a reason for dissolu- tion, but does not make divorce mandatory.
3.    The problem comes from the “putting away”.  As an example, what if a Christian missionary goes into a culture that has multiple wives.  Is he supposed to council to keep only the first wife and then get rid of the rest?  No.  No where in scripture does it say this.  As long as all of the wives needs are met he does not have to
give them a writ of divorce.
4.    Two people had met and married but did not have any children.  They divorced for reasons other than adultery (adultery was NOT an issue to their divorce).
They then remarry and each has children in their second marriage. While in these second marriages they are told that their second marriages are not sanctified in the eyes of God - that they have been living in sin because their divorce was not valid in His eyes because there was no adultery involved.  How to remedy the
situation?  Are they now to disrupt the family and home life for the children in their second marriages?  As God is not the author of confusion to his children’s lives, I would say that the answer is NO.  Yet, a purest on this subject would say yes, they are to leave their second spouses because to continue as they are would be living in sin.
5.    What about a spouse that is severely abused by her husband?  If she is forced to divorce her husband in order to save herself from bodily injury or even death, is she thrust into being alone for the rest of her life and never being able to remarry without being in sin because of what some have interpreted the Bible in the wrong way?  I think not.  Again, God does not promote the absurd and the ridiculous.

D.    Cultural differences between the time of Jesus and our current time.

Remember that Jesus spoke to people who were under the law of Moses at that time. What about the Gentiles who did not live according to the law of Moses? See (I Cor 7).

1.    Scriptural Marriage - Meeting the legal demands of the culture in which you live, pertaining to marriage.
2.    Scriptural Divorce - Meeting the legal demands of the culture in which you live, pertaining to divorce.
3.    Types of legal marriage forms of the Roman Empire.

a)    Contubernium - a tent companionship. Where a master decides which slaves will sleep together and thus be together as husband and wife.
b)    Usus - common law marriage.  Where a man lived with a woman for 12 months.  No document or vow.
c)    Coempioinmanum - marriage by sale.  A father sells his daughter to another family. Usually to a higher social family to gain advantage.
d)    Confarratio - Between nobility - Big ceremony type.  This type has filtered down to how we do our marriage today.

4.    In I Cor 7, Paul is preaching to the Gentiles; he was addressing those who were married by one of the above four types of marriages.

a)    In the first century Corinth was an exceptionally corrupt city.  It had bad reputation of sexual sins.  In fact is was an insult to call one a Corinthian.
b)    There were all types of marriages and divorces in Corinth at the time.  So apostle Paul is addressing questions from the Corinthians as to what to do about all of this sexual mess in Corinth.  See (I Cor 7)
c)    Paul says that if one lives in a sexual society it acceptable to be celibate and not be married, but it is better to be married than be tempted into sexual immorality as a celibate person.

(1)    Celibacy is not to be practiced in marriage except under mutual agreement and then for a short time.  (e.g., the Talmud defined “short time” as being one to two weeks.)
(2)    Under Jewish law as set forth in the Talmud either marriage partner was obligated to satisfy each others sexual needs or you were obligated to give the other partner a divorce.

d)    As mentioned in the Bible, a virgin is one who has never been married,  a widow/widower is one who is free by death, the married, and finally, one who is referred to as unmarried is divorced.

(1)    In Greek, Gamos means marriage.  Agamos is unmarried .  You cannot be Agamos unless you have been Gamos as in “untied” follows having been “tied”.  You can’t be un-married unless you have been married.  The term Agamos is used only four times in the New Testament and they are all used in this chapter of I Cor 7. The term Un-married means divorced person. See I Cor 7 verse 32, 34.

(a)    Thus Paul is addressing all categories of marriage relationships: The never married, the married, the widows, and the divorced.

e)    (1 Cor 7:8 NIV)  “Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. {9}  But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

(1)    It is very important to note that the apostle Paul says that it is good for DIVORCED (Agamos - the unmarried) and widows to not get married again.  But if they can’t control their sexual desires, it is best for them (divorced - unmarried and widows) to marry.
Notice that Paul is not in contradiction to Jesus.  He is saying that those who are UN-married, which are legally divorced, can remarry.  Paul is not talking to those who were put a way because they are not legally divorced and thus are still married and are not considered UN-married.

f)    (1 Cor 7:10 NIV)  To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. {11} But if she does, she must remain unmarried [Agamos] or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce [apotheomai - put away] his wife.

(1)    In verses 10 and 11,  Paul is addressing two Christians who are married to each other.
(2)    In verse 11 the word divorced is mistranslated.  The Greek word used is Apotheomai which means to cast away, put away. It has the same meaning that Jesus used with the word Apoluo.
(3)    Paul is saying that a husband should not abandon his wife and leave her.
(4)    Not addressed by Paul is the issue of what happens after a divorce is granted.  What Paul is saying is that divorce is not an option, but if it does happen, then Jesus’ council governs: a legal divorce must be sought.

Reading: (1 Cor 7:12 NIV)  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. {13}  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. {14}  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.
{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. {16}  How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

(a)    God recognizes marriage to unbelievers. It is still sanctified.
(b)    This is addressed to those situations where one spouse is a
Christian and the other is not.

(1)    In verse 15, if the non-Christian decides to terminate a marriage, then it is acceptable.  This relieves the Christian of the marriage. Paul says then that one is free to remarry.  Paul is NOT saying that the couple still must stay together because the  non-Christian needs the Christian.

The Reason For This Article

Christianity is really a religion of attitude.  The old Jewish religion, of the Biblical  Old Testament  is more  of written rules.  We can see some of the old ways of looking for definitive rules, carried over to the Christian way.   In modern times, many theologians still want to decipher the Bible, to the world, in the old ways.  Much of this is due to tradition and their own prejudices.  When the King James version of the Bible was translated in the 1600s there was much gender bias.  The reality was that Jesus was a women's liberator.

Due to misinterpretation of these passages of the Bible, many Christians lived their lives in hopeless despair because they were told to believe that they could never remarry because adultery was not involved in their previous marriage.  It is the hope that one can now understand the true meaning of the scriptures on this subject and live a happy married life with someone better than the last without going through the erroneous guilt and fear that they broke some law of God.  Jesus was a liberator of man also.  He freed man of guilt also.

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