Nov 16

I would hold that the Bible teaches that in all cases where there is a living lawful1 spouse, it is adultery to remarry.

If allowance for remarriage is given for unfaithfulness, based on the Mat 19:9 exception that is found in the Textus Receptus (TR) and in most translations, then all a person must do is backslide and commit adultery and then you have an excuse for remarriage.

Or the person could just get married to their second spouse and consummate the marriage. This would be considered adultery, and now they can lawfully1 be remarried while they have a living spouse from a lawful1 marriage. Then they would redo their vows just in case the Lord did not accept the first vows because they had not committed adultery yet.

Some hold that Mat 19:9 only provides the right of remarriage for the innocent party. It makes no sense to say innocent-party remarriage is ok because it is not adultery for them,  since they are no longer married in the eyes of the Lord. If the innocent party is no longer married in the eyes of the Lord, then clearly the guilty party is no longer either. The only reason remarriage could be adultery for the guilty party is because they have a lawful1 spouse. It is not possible for the guilty party to have a lawful1 spouse and the innocent party not to have a lawful1 spouse, thus the innocent party having the right to remarriage while the guilty party holds no logic.

So, we are back to the position that Jesus left divorce and remarriage wide open. Well, in Jesus’ time it was already wide open, so we have to explain why the disciples were so surprised and thought perhaps it was better off not to get marriage at all (Mat 10:10).

When I read through all the scriptures in the New Testament concerning remarriage, I just do not see any room at all for remarriage. The following are the scriptures that deal with remarriage in the New Testament.

For Mat 19:9, I have also put in the KJV, the Textus Receptus Greek, and McFall’s version which is translated without the influence of εἰ in the Textus Receptus Greek (εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ) from which the KJV came from.

Mat 19:9 (TR): λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ εἰ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται καὶ ὁ ἀπολελυμένην γαμήσας μοιχᾶταιμοιχᾶται

Mat 19:9 (KJV) And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Mat 19:9 (McFall) Now I say to you that who, for example, may have divorced his wife–he may not have divorced her for fornication–and may have married another woman, he becomes adulterous by marrying her.

Mat 19:9 (NA27): λέγω δὲ ὑμῖν ὅτι ὃς ἂν ἀπολύσῃ τὴν γυναῖκα αὐτοῦ μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ καὶ γαμήσῃ ἄλλην μοιχᾶται

Mar 10:11, 12 (KJV) And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

Luk 16:18 (KJV) Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.

Rom 7:2, 3 (KJV) For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

1Co 7:10, 11 (KJV) And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

1Co 7:39 (KJV) The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

Following are the most popular reasons that people give for remarriage or staying in a second marriage while they already have a lawful1 living spouse:

1. The exception clause of Mat 19:9 in the case of unfaithfulness of the other party.
2. The Pauline permission of 1Cor 7:15 for the case of abandonment.
3. You get a new slate when you are saved.
4. To separate a second marriage is wrong and causes more harm.
5. It is not fair that the innocent party suffers for the sin of the guilty party.
6. The sin is only in the act of remarrying, not in copulating, therefore you can repent for the act of remarriage and stay together.
7. We are all sinners anyway and our sins are forgiven – past, present and future.

I may do a more detailed post some time soon that goes over the above popular reasons.

1The use of lawful is in respect to the new covenant law (the law of liberty, the royal law) and is not referring to the law of Moses or the current marriage laws of any nation.

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16 Responses to “Divorce and Remarriage Excuses”

  1. 1. Robert Madewell Says:

    Thanks for commenting on my blog. Sorry, I didn’t see it until today.

    The fornication clause has always been interesting to me. Mainly because, fornication and adultery are two different things in the bible. Keep in mind that Jesus is talking to the male gender. There is no recourse for a woman to divorce an unfaithful husband. Jesus was talking about a husband divorcing his wife because she fornicated.

    Jesus specifically said fornication. It’s evident in your greek reference that fornication and adultery are two different words even in greek. I know for a fact that it’s the case in hebrew as well. So, what’s the difference between fornication and adultery? Adultery is when a married woman has sex with any man. It’s also adultery when any man has sex with a married woman. Fornication is when an unmarried woman has sex with any man (married or not). Also, when a man (married or not) has sex with an unmarried woman. Do you detect a bit of misogyny here? I do.

    When Jesus said ‘except for fornication’ he wasn’t talking about the wife (a married woman) having sex with some guy other than her husband. In that case it would have been called adultery, not fornication. The husband wouldn’t have to divorce the wife in that case, because she’d be dead (stoned to death). What Jesus meant (IMO) is that the wife was not a virgin at the time of her wedding. In that case, divorce is ok according to Jesus.

    I could be totally wrong, but I don’t think so.

  2. 2. Isaac Peters Says:

    Hello, Bob, i enjoy the honesty with the truth. We are i believe mostly on the same page.

  3. 3. Mike Gill Says:


    I am currently involved in the study of the divorce and re-marriage issue and was encouraged when I came across this article and the work done by Mr. McFall. I have read the translation without the EI addition provided above but it seems to me that the exception for fornication is in the passage. What it seems to say is he may not have divorced her for fornication thereby making his next marriage adulterous.

    In the text of Matt., Mark, Luke, Romans and 1 Cor the woman is bound to her husband and will never be free to marry again as long as the husband is alive. Matt. does not fit with any of the other passages and there is a problem. On the other hand the early church writers of the first three hundred years talk about fornication being grounds for divorce.( I have a book with their quotes on this and other subjects.)

    Please don’t get me wrong. I do not believe in divorce and have been married for 31 years. I am in a debate with others who believe otherwise and have read several books on the subject. (currently, Olan Hicks and Wayne Jackson)

    It is a difficult subject and I would appreciate any imput. Thank you.


  4. 4. Jane [changed by editor] Says:

    I’ve always wondered about this. This is a long story. Bear with me, please. I was married for 25 years to a man that was a carpenter and then became a preacher and then quit because he couldn’t keep a job. We lived in substandard housing his whole career and learned to live without much money or a husband/dad around the house.

    He once told me when I asked him to spend time at home that if he had to choose between God and me, that I would lose. After a period of being homeless when he lost his last preaching job, he began working for Children’s Protective Service, where the average divorce rate is very high, and the burnout rate is about 18 mos. He worked for CPS for 8 years. Our marrige had always been lonely for me in that he is a workaholic, working full-time as minister and going to school full-time.

    This continued in his absences to the garage to do his “woodwork” after he quit being a minister and started to work for CPS. He had a bad relation with his mother and once she died, that was transferred over to me, about the same time he went to work for CPS. During the first two weeks he worked at CPS a young woman named Betty [changed by editor] came to our door and wanted to see “Joe’s [changed by editor] house he talks so much about”. they went to the garage, he didn’t introduce her to me or me to her. They spent about 45 minutes there and then she left without a goodbye or a hello. I was to find out after our divorce that he had had an emotional affair with her the entire time he spent at CPS. He admitted it, finally,too late then.

    He became increasingly angry, abusive (example: kicked the bathroom door down one time when I escaped his yelling in my face over not writing down a check in HIS checkbook. I wasn’t allowed to carry one and had to get his and return it). I told him 5 years before I left that I would be getting an education and that when I left to get my masters’ that would be our trial separation at the end of the 5 years. During this 5 years, I asked him to go to counseling with me, change his job, spend more time with me, etc.

    I was always met with various versions of “It’s not my fault, it’s yours. And, I’m not going to change. If you don’t like it, you can leave.” I accused him of having an emotional affair with Sandy, which he denied and told me that I was just projecting my desires of doing the same on to him. I cried myself to sleep for the last 2 years because I knew my marriage was ending. We didn’t touch hand or foot in bed during those last two years.

    I was called by one of his clients during his first year at CPS that he was more or less fooling around with someone at his office. I didn’t think anything of it, but his anger escalated as did his violence toward me. HE would go to Austin on business meetings and while there go drinking and dancing with the people (including women) although our religion did not approve of either and neither did he (supposedly) for years, spend weekends at motels there during the workshops, although at first he didn’t even want to be seen driving around town with a woman in the same car because someone might think he was having an affair(which I thought was really far-out and bizarre…but he promised he wouldn’t ever be seen in a car with another woman-I think back on this now about how funny this statement was), He began to change his beliefs which I did not realize until much later.

    I won’t go into the details. He changed the rules without my knowing he had and it came as a shock to me when he changed and expected me to not complain when be began breaking his own rules. Concerning our time together apart from his time spent with his workers, he would take me out once a year on our anniversary and have just few dollars to spend and picked out places like Long John Silver to take me to. I once walked into a restaurant with co-workers and there he was surrounded by all his female coworkers eating lunch. He looked angry when I came over to say hello, and he left the restaurant at the end of his meal without coming over to say goodbye or meet my coworkers.

    He blamed me for all our problems in our marriage. I felt dead inside and contemplated suicide, and realized one day that I could just walk out of the door and live in my car with a few stables of food. I wasn’t able to go to my master’s program because of financial problems surrounding plumbing issues and was relieved, hoping that he would be glad for this reprieve. It didn’t change a thing.He would do things like coming home and demanding “I want some sex tonight!” in a snarling manner, and then bite my head off when I tried to make conversation as a warming up of our relation, and then would use my “anger” as an excuse to stay out in the garage until I went to sleep, while blaming me for our not having sex.

    My mother died June 1981 [changed by editor] two months before my father died August 1981 [changed by editor], during which time I totaled out our car on the way home to call my sisters to come back from Ohio [changed by editor] to see him before he died, they had just left to drive back to Ohio [changed by editor]. I somehow miraculously escaping serious injury with only a sprained neck. I went to court alone and walked to college with a brace around my neck because my husband didn’t want to be late to work although he always made a point of going to court with the workers he supervised.

    When I asked the difference, he said that I hadn’t asked him to go to court with me, however, I had asked for a ride to college which he said he couldn’t be late to work so I walked with the brace around my neck the day after my dad died. This was two months after my mother died and one week after my dad died. This is how my husband treated me and became angry when I complained.

    I started a new job in June 1984 [changed by editor] I took to help with financial matters, and I met a young man who the residents at the nursing home loved and he loved them back, never losing his temper regardless of what they did or said. I was fascinated at his patience and how much these old people loved him. He listened to me as well and sought me out for my opinion, admired my mind, etc, which was like a spring rain on parched soil. I was feeling dead inside, and a failure as a wife and the mother of 2 teenage boys [changed by editor] (according to my husband who refused to be the disciplinarian, and took their side whenever there was any teenage rebellion).

    I separated from my husband and didn’t hear from him for 3 whole months. I decided to see if I was as inept and “frigid” as my husband drilled into my head. I had a two-week affair and when I told my husband, he immediately filed for divorce. I asked approximately a dozen times for us to get back together and he told me that he didn’t want to “take you back when you are down and out” but told others that I was the one that didn’t want to be married to him and spent years telling his sob story at work and during workshops he gave (according to what I was told years later by the people who attended them) and making himself a general pain in the you-know-what about it, they were sick of hearing his story over and over.

    During this time he dated younger women, one after another I was told. During this time during a calm period he told me while he was packing his clothes that he was going to Austin to find out if there was “anything there” between him and Betty [changed by editor] who had moved there. I then said, “Why would there be anything ‘there’ if there hadn’t been all along?” He said in amazement, “You know? You’re right.” And, this was the first time he ever was able to admit that he had been having the mental affair that I had accused him of for so many years. I felt vindicated for the first time, but I was still a divorced woman with the scorn of the community.

    Long story. I know that I committed adultery and did so publicly, knowing that it was wrong. My opinion is that my husband left me for another woman years before I did, and refused to work on our marriage and I think “forced me to leave” so that he could have an excuse to be free and not responsible. He did quote several verses, blaming me, to justify the divorce. What is the opinion of others on this? I’m still angry that he refused to work on our marriage when I asked him to for those 7 years, used our children in the warfare and is still putting himself out as the victim while telling others now that I’m “his soul-mate” although he has remarried.

    After 12 years of being single, I remarried. That husband (a hermit he told me much later who can’t get along with anyone unless he’s “high” which he was for 14 years in his prior marriage) asked me to leave approximately 5-10 minutes after the last stick of my furniture was moved 300+ miles to his house. I stayed 2-1/2 years until I too left him. He has since had relations with other women. So, I guess I’m an adulteress all over again, according to some folks’ opinion here?

  5. 5. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Jane,

    You have had a hard life, my heart goes out to you. Life is short and full of troubles. Soon we will all stand before God. God is more than willing to pardon you for all the sins that you have committed and to saved you from any bitterness that you have toward others. It seems like men have caused you nothing but trouble. It would me my understanding of the Bible that you should not seek to get married again. Stay single and live for God. Jesus is coming soon.

  6. 6. Jane Says:

    Thank you, Bob, for your reply. I also forgot to add that he felt like he was free to remarry because of MY adultery, and did so appoximately 2 years after our divorce.

  7. 7. Bob Mutch Says:

    Hi Robert,

    The definition of the English word fornication is different than the Greek word πορνείᾳ (porneia).

    fornication — voluntary sexual intercourse between two unmarried persons or two persons not married to each other.

    πορνείᾳ (porneia) — illicit sexual intercourse a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18

    I would hold that there is no exception to divorce. Just because it gives the terms of what condition you will be in if you divorce doesn’t mean permission was granted to divorce for those reasons. The “exception clause” that is in Matt 5:32a deals with who causes a put away women to commit adultery. The “exception clause” of 19:9a deals with the condition of the man that puts away his wife and remarries.

    You conclusion that the “exception clause” relates to the wife not being a virgin is based on a wrong definition of πορνείᾳ (porneia). I think you are totally wrong.

  8. 8. Dean Wilson Says:

    Hi Bob,

    I agree with you-there is no justification for remarriage except upon the death of a spouse. Marriage and the vows taken seem to be taken much too lightly by many today. I think of all the problems and heartaches that would be solved if a moratorium was placed on remarriage if a spouse is still living. God’s way is truly best.

  9. 9. Peter Says:

    Hi all,
    this is a difficult subject, for at least one reason that i don’t think has been covered in the blog yet, which is that adultery was a capital crime under The Law. (This can be ascertained by the passage in John 8 where the woman is caught in adultery, the very act, and considered worthy of death, there being initially a MOB of witnesses, whittled down to NONE by Jesus clause that only those who had never committed adultery could accuse her! )

    This means that, under The Law, if anyone (male or female) commited adultery, and it could be proven (consider law of jealousy) , they would be executed and the injured party would be a WIDOW/er and free to re-marry!

    The certificate of divorce that The Jews and Jesus refers to is a business/legal/financial matter not a moral matter. In other words, a man who found that his wife was not a virgin when he married her could sue the womans father for fraud, but only if the man formally refused/rejected the wife.

    This set up had become a ‘fast track’ annulment system in Jesus day to solve unhappy marriages (mutch as it has in Catholicism) because IT DIDN’T NEED TWO WITNESSES to prove the other parties unfaithfulness! Therefore a man could ditch his wife relatively easily, without causing her death, and leave BOTH PARTIES perfectly free to marry again (should anyone be willing to marry a woman who wasn’t a virgin).

    The biast against non-virgins was obviously moral, from a religious point of view, but it was also practical, because if the woman proved to be pregnant (as Jesus mother did) it caused a dilemma for the husband, as the child would not be his heir if it were a boy, and would be a costly burden if a girl!

    Obviously, God hates divorce, becuase He is the covenant keeping God, it is a bad image of God for man to divorce, because our ability to be in a committed covenant reflects God’s character/image. when Adam broke the Edenic covenant man died (spiritually) adn became a different being than that which God created (inocent/shameful)

    The question now is what are we, and by we, I tend to mean gentile converts to a Jewish Messiah, to do about divorce. Paul’s writings in 1st Corinthians seems to allow for divorce, yet forbids re-marriage. This allows greater grace than The Law, but stops people damaging their conscience/reverence for covenants by allowing them to imagine that you can leave a covenant and live (i.e. continue being the person you were within the covenant), because you can’t.

  10. 10. Donna Says:

    My husband and I totally agree that God hates divorce and that adultry is the fruit of divorce. When we married, we agreed that divorce would not enter into our minds or speech. It is so sad to see so many in the churches that have second and third spouses due to divorce. I have only know one woman that was biblically legal to have married a third time; she was widowed twice before. I came from parents who divorced. I am blessed that God led me on my path to where I am today, raising three daughters to be blessed also.

  11. 11. dwayne Says:

    Good responses brothers. And for you my sister, I second the brothers reply. Jesus forgives if we repent and turn completely from all sin, and it is better to remain unmarried and to serve Him.

    There will always be excuses to sin because people just love their sin. As for divorce and remarriage there was only one clause given and it was fornication as Yashua puts it. Only given to the man who is head of the woman another part of the bible people like to do away with.

    Paul makes a distinct difference if a man PUTS AWAY his wife or a woman LEAVES her husband. Clearly the man is divorcing and the woman is leaving. Yet he is says tells them to remain unmarried. Just as when paul says as the law sayeth as long as the women liveth she is bound to her husband. This lines up with the laws in the old testament.

    Yet there was a law for stoning for fornication and if proven guilty she was to be stoned and if proven innocent with the sheet which tells you it means fornication she was to be his forever.

    One for adultery if found they both were to be stoned.

    There was a law for divorce which is the same one they refer to when they test Yashua translated uncleanliness in the king james which I believe is also fornication because it say if He goes unto her and finds it.

    And there also was for the spirit of jealously against the wife where she was brought to the priest and drank the water and dust and if prven wrong her thigh would rot and if not then she would be found not guilty and she was to reamin His.

    Many say that the only way for divorce is suppose to me those who are espoused can only divorce but once the marriage is consmated then it is a done deal. But if we refer back to the law it says if a man go unto His wife so the only way to do that is to know her and then find out, which was deep humiliation to the man.

    Of course many women will kick against this with what about the man. Or where do we stand in all this. I say take it up with YHWH. Or eve who was the one who was decieved.

    Just as joseph could have lawfully stoned mary he chose to privaly put her away. Then pointing to again the two laws against fornication in the old testament as they were written. YHWH many times allowed us to have mercy or not in the old testament. We could choose to the hardness of our hearts or to the mercifulness of our hearts.

    Just as we judge against those who believe in transgression of one law is sin as no sin we need to be careful then how we so strongly believe we have it right when we say this transgression of the law is sin.

    There are still laws in force. If there wasn’t it would be a sin fest yet no sin because there is no law. So as long as we have sin there is law.

    Many are so quick to put away all of the old testament laws I say as Christians. And the same I say to those who call themselves Jews or Isrealites or Messianics who do away with all those written in the new testament holding the law of moses above the very one they serve unknowingly that the one they call the messiah and even the Son of God is YHWH. Yashua is YHWH. They just can’t comprehend that. Wow so much missed both ways.

    Knowing the sabbath and the feast days open a whole different understanding on things that have been fullfilled and things that are yet to be fullfilled. Yet if one has no concern with these they are and will miss much. Modern christianity missess so much with the passover because they no not the Holy days even makes them unable to count to 3.

    Sin is sin and when we believe that sin must be conqeured in our lives, one of my hopes is that we could all come in one mind and one accord on what things are sin and what things are not sin so we could walk in like mindedness in the spirit. Otherwise to the world we look all out of order.

  12. 12. TOM Says:

    I also agree with the majority, however I was wondering does that majority hold the same belief as the COG REstoration does? They believe this:
    a couple divorces
    then both marry new spoues
    they divorce their new spouses
    Both get saved

  13. 13. bob Says:

    Hi Tom,

    The COGR doesn’t teach that a couple that has a lawful marriage and divorce and both remarried can’t leave their 2nd marriage and be restored.

    They do how ever teach that a person that has never been married and marries someone that is divorced from a lawful marriage much not only separate but must remain single even though they never have had a lawful marriage.



  14. 14. Jason S. Says:

    John 8:41 tells us what PORNEIA means. Jesus was mocked for being born of pre-marital sexual relations.

    The Catholic NAB translates it as “unlawful.” If that is accurate, then Jesus is saying divorce from an unlawful (incestuous, non-covenant — like Herod and Herodias — etc.) “marriage” is not a sin because it is ending a sinful relationship.

    Whatever porneia may mean is not relevant regardless in reference to remarriage. Remarriage while a covenant spouse lives, no matter *WHAT* he or she may have done, is adultery. To translate it any other way makes Mat 19:9 contradict not only itself, but also the entirety of NEW TESTAMENT teaching on marriage and divorce.

  15. 15. poppy Says:

    I think that things like, divorce and abortion are not approved by the bible. They are not Godly things. But we live in a sinful world. Personal experience of an abusive husband, convicted by the courts, who was supported by his church, while the abused wife, and abused daughters were not supported shows how complicated these theologies are. It is very easy to just read parts of the bible that say do not divorce, and foget to read the parts that say sell all your wealth to support the poor. Once you can turn round to the abused spouse and children, after the abusive spouse drunk/spent/smoked all the money that was needed to feed the children, “here I will sell my car so you and your children can eat”, Once you can tell the abused spouse and children, after the abusive spouse broke all the furniure in a fit of rage, here take my bed. Once you can tell the the abused spouse and children, after the abusive spouse burns all the clothes, here take the shirt from my back. Then I think you can start to talk about theology with them and her children.

    just a thought

  16. 16. Allan Says:

    Thank you for this post.

    Marriage is the universal symbol of Christ’s unfailing devotion to His bride, the Church.

    However, since studies indicate a 50% divorce rate, even in the Church, isn’t this the collective message to the unbelieving world?:

    (A.) Our marriages are no better than yours.
    (B.) Our families are destroyed like yours.
    (C.) Our Christ has failed us.

    In short, “Divorce puts a bullet in the head of the family.”

    -Leading Christian broadcaster, writer and OPC Pastor, Rev. Kevin Swanson

    Hasn’t this become a great scandal even to evangelism and missions?

    I pray that Dr. Baucham’s (SBC) excellent defense of marriage (below) will stem the divorce tsunami flooding every denomination, pew and pulpit.

    Blessings in Christ,


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