The Divorce and Remarriage Jewish Betrothal theory is that the “except it be for fornication” (Mat 19:9) exception given by Jesus was only concern the end of Jewish betrothals or engagements and not concerning ending a marriage with divorce and remarrying.
The follow are some objections to the Jewish Betrothal theory.
1. Can Todays Formal Engagement Be Broken — This position creates a pre-marriage relationship which is adultery to break and marry anyone else. If this is the case with Jewish Betrothal then this may also mean today when a formal engagement is made, broke, and one of the two parties marries someone else they are in adultery.
2. Two Account Of The Same Discussion Can’t Mean Two Different Things — It appears that the Mathew 19 and Mark 10 are two accounts of the same occurrence. With the Jewish Betrothal theory we now have Matt 19:9 teaching on an engagement issue and Mark 10:11 dealing with a marriage issue. It can’t be both, it must be one or the other.
Clearly Mark 10 is dealing with marriage. If Mark 10 and Matthew 19 are the same accounts then Matthew 19 must also be dealing with the very same issue that Mark 10 was dealing with. You can’t take two accounts that are the same and make one mean one thing and the other mean something different.
3. Porneia Translated Immorality Not Fornication — As the KJV has become less used and less relevant the Jewish Betrothal theory has taken on a second object to overcome. Most new translations translate Porneia in Mat 19:9 as immorality (NIV, NASB, NKJV) or unchastity (AMP). Out of 22 modern English translations that Bible Gateway offers only 4 (KJV, ASV, NJ21, DT) translate porneia as fornication.
4. Out Of Context — The context of Matthew 19:9 is found in Mathew 9:3-12. The context of the first question Jesus is asked (vs3) was about marriage not about Jewish Betrothal. The reasoning Jesus uses in his answer (vs4-6) is concerning marriage not Jewish Betrothal. The second question (vs7) that Jesus was asked deals with Deut 24:1-2 which has nothing to do with betrothal. To apply his answer (v8-9) to Jewish Betrothal is to take verse 9 completely out of context.
5. Betrothal Was Also A Gentile Practice — Betrothal was also a practice among the Romans. If it is adultery to remarry after break a betrothal agreement for any other reason than fornication, why would this be left out in Mark’s account to the Gentiles.
The King James Only position is very hard to maintain and the position to translate porneia in Mat 19:9 as fornication is equally difficult to maintain. This has made the Jewish Betrothal theory much more difficult to maintain as the KJV translation is used less.
6. Creates Insurmountable Objections — While the Jewish Betrothal theory is one way to try to bring Mat 19:9 into agreement with Mark 10:2-12 , Luke 16:18, Rom 7:1-3, and 1Cor 7:11,29; it also creates additional difficulties of its own as does McFall’s and Kulikovsky’s positions. I would hold that the difficulties created by either McFall’s or Kulikovsky’s position are easier to overcome than the objections that the Jewish Betrothal theory presents.
Further I would hold that the Jewish Betrothal theory creates insurmountable objections to the degree that it will cause people to reject what the new covenant scriptures on divorce and remarriage in Mark 10:2-12 , Luke 16:18, Rom 7:1-3, and 1Cor 7:11,29. They will instead add the exception clause from Mat 19:9 to all the other scriptures. Both McFall’s and Kulikovsky’s positions bring all new covenant scriptures into agreement and the objections to their positions are fewer and easier to explain.