10 His disciples said to Him, “If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.” (Matthew 19:10–12, NKJV)
The disciples understood the words of Jesus. He said there is only one cause for divorce and remarriage (Matt. 19:3, 6, 9). “All cannot accept this saying” because all are not willing to accept it. This is equivalent to Jesus saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matt. 11:14-15). Some are willing to forego sexual relations for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, and will refrain from marriage in order to be holy (Matt. 19:9). Self-denial rather than indulging oneself in sin is the mark of discipleship (Lk. 9:23; 14:26-27). God’s marriage law is rigorous, while men’s are very loose. Marriage must not be entered into lightly, but with reverent attention to its permanency and commitment. God’s marriage law has been given to mankind. All who marry are under the authority of God respecting marriage. When God joins man and woman in marriage, He does so for life. “Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). Do you have ears to hear (accept) the words of Jesus?
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9, NKJV)
After exposing the Pharisees’ attempt to pit what Jesus said of the permanency of marriage (Matt. 19:3-6) against Moses (Matt. 19:7-8), Jesus declared the result of sundering what God has joined together (Matt. 19:6). The person who ends his (or her, Mk. 10:11-12) marriage, except for the cause of fornication (porneia) and marries another person, commits adultery. Likewise, whoever marries one who has been divorced (put away) commits adultery. Jesus says only one person has the right to remarry when marriage ends in divorce; the one who puts away his or her spouse because they committed fornication (Heb. 13:4). This is the one exception God will accept for remarriage after divorce, and then only by the one who put away the fornicator (who introduced sexual defilement into the marriage bed). All other remarriages after divorce result in adultery (Matt. 5:32; Rom. 7:2-3). Remember, “What God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6). Frivolous reasons for divorce will not be tolerated by the One who gave us marriage. Everyone who enters marriage is under the authority of Christ on this matter (Matt. 28:18). Solve your marital problems in godly ways. Divorce only increases pain – now and eternally.
7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:7–8, NKJV)
We should remember the Pharisees questioning Jesus were “testing” (“tempting”) Him in an attempt to discredit himself (Matt. 19:3). So, not content with His compelling answer that it was not lawful to out away their wives for any reason, they attempt to set Jesus against Moses. But, Jesus explained that Moses’ stipulations on divorce were due to the hardness of the people’s hearts, and not that God was satisfied with them putting away their wives. Moses strictly regulated divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4; God permitted putting away their wives under the stated conditions of that passage – not to encourage or endorse divorce – but to rein in their hardheartedness toward marriage and their wives! From the beginning God had wanted men to respect marriage, not sunder it. Here, the Pharisees are an example of what not to do when God’s truth exposes our sin and error. They tried to pit Jesus against the Scriptures (Moses), but Jesus’ original statement stood true. People still try to pit Scripture against Scripture to condone divorce (which God hates, Mal. 2:16) so they can feel justified separating what God joined together (Matt. 19:6). Don’t be like these Pharisees. Hear, believe and obey Jesus (Matt. 17:3-5).
4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6, NKJV)
Jesus laid out three distinct reasons that it is not lawful “for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason” when the Pharisees asked Him whether it was so (Matt. 19:3). (1) The Genesis of Marriage (v. 4). God, not human beings, created marriage. His purpose for marriage, which is between “male and female,” is the final word on the matter. (2) The Condition of Marriage (v. 5-6). Marriage is a “one flesh” relationship. When married, the man and woman are no longer independent; they are joined by God as “one flesh.” As surely as we do not naturally separate flesh from flesh, so neither is it natural to separate husband and wife by divorce. (3) The Prohibition of God (v. 6). God declares we are not to separate (put an expanse between) what He joins together, namely, the husband and wife. We must solidify in our hearts this unchanging edict from God: Marriage is given by God, and is between one man and one woman, for life. (Jesus will give one exception to this rule in verse 9, and that is exactly what it is, an exception to the rule.) It is transgression against God to sunder what He has joined together.
The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Matthew 19:3, NKJV)
Disregard for the permanency of marriage did not begin in our day. Millions and millions now live together without marriage; it is accepted as natural and normal. Millions more marry without the expectation of it lasting “until death we do part.” They marry “as long as our love lasts.” These would fit right in with the Pharisees who scrutinized Jesus on the subject of divorce. But, in His answer, Jesus exposed their low regard for marriage. Not a few who are married are looking for a way out – for some rationale with which to vindicate themselves as they prepare to separate what God joined together (Matt. 19:6). God, who gave marriage, made it a lifelong covenant, with His law obliging each spouse to the other (Rom. 7:2). Jesus will go on to tell these Pharisees that it is not lawful, “for just any reason,” for man to separate what God joins together (Matt. 19:6). God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16)! How strikingly from today’s advice: Don’t marry in the first place. Or, if you do, go ahead and divorce at the first sign of trouble. We do well to define and arrange our marriages according to God’s word. Marriages will thrive when God’s will for marriage is honored and obeyed.
1 Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. (1 Corinthians 7:1–2, NKJV)
The “present distress” of persecution facing the Corinthian Christians made it advisable for them not to marriage (1 Cor. 7:25-33). But, the temptation of sexual immorality was strong then, just as it is today. And so, God gave marriage as the holy fulfillment of human sexual desire. The apostle had just warned Christians to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18). Now, he reminds them that God gave marriage as the one, moral means of their sexual desires. The bed is “undefiled” in marriage (Heb. 13:4). This one flesh uniting of husband and wife meets one of the Lord’s purposes for marriage; the avoidance of sexual sin. Thus, both husband and wife are obliged to serve their mate in this matter (see 1 Cor. 7:3-4). The marriage bed is not an exercise in selfish pleasure. Nor is it a bargaining chip to hold power over one’s spouse. Such selfish treatment of the marriage bed shows shameful disrespect for what God deems to be a holy safeguard against sin. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
31 “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:31–32, NKJV)
Jesus was not teaching the Law of Moses in this passage. In contrast to the legal contingencies and stipulations of the law of Moses concerning divorce stated in Deuteronomy 24:1-4, Jesus spoke to the moral accountability of the person who ends a marriage. When one sends away his spouse from the marriage “for any reason except sexual immorality” (“saving for the cause of fornication,” KJV), he bears responsibility for the adultery she commits through remarriage. And, the one who marries such a person also commits adultery. These immoral realities of divorce and remarriage are rarely discussed and honored. But, they are real, and binding upon all who enter marriage (Matt. 19:3-6; Heb. 13:4). So, choose your mate carefully, and nurture your marriage wisely. Marriage is for life, and God will not accept every frivolous and selfish reason for ending what He has joined together (Matt. 19:6).