Let’s first look into oath in marriage. Christians in the western hemisphere have their traditions. However, these traditions vary around the world. We have to look into this worldwide as the Gospel is intended to be for any and all Christians, around the world. Many countries that don’t require an oath of marriage. Oaths are sometimes one-sided, and not always needed from the female.

Marriage can be the result of the holy war, where the female is taken from her home and forced into the wedding. Marriage can be a result of kidnapping or part of the slave trade, against one party’s wishes. There are arrangement marriages by the parents of the children, either by mutual acceptance of the children or by a purchase dowry from the husband to the parents of the wife. This dowry could be a possibility where the custom of a man asking the father for the daughter’s hand in marriage comes.

The ages also vary from infant to adult. Many women are sold into marriage after birth or while still very young. Once the girl reaches a certain age, an age established by the future husband and the daughter’s father, the daughter is handed, and this was the norm for the Jewish people during the time of Jesus.

Furthermore, there are legal marriages within the Western countries allowed under law today that do include oath such as a marriage between two parties of the same sex. Therefore in this discussion, we will dismiss the oath portion as this can only apply in some cases and is not always justified by God.

For some clarity, this reply will present a few verses. Immediately after the verse or verses, we will dissect them and investigate them to see what the text says specifically. Then we will add and compare and few more verses for even more scrutiny. The texts of Mark and Luke are as follows:

“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,” (Mar 10:11-12 KJV).

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

Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 seem pretty cut and dry. So let us deal with these two verses first. It is clear that if anyone divorces their spouse and the divorcer (the one putting the spouse away) remarries, the divorcer is committing adultery. Luke 16:18 looks similar to Mark 10:11-12. If the reader looks closely, there is additional information related to the divorcee (the one that was put away by the divorcer).

Luke informs us that if anyone marries the divorcee then the “new” husband or wife, not the divorcee, is committing adultery. So at this point, we see sin from the divorcer if he/she remarries. We also see sin from whoever marries the divorced. There is nothing specific about the divorcee committing sin by remarriage. One could infer if the new spouse is committing sin by marrying the divorcee than that sin would transfer to the divorcee. So far we are using only what we have written and not going to add or take away anything from the text, and the text does not say that the divorcee at any point in this text has ever committed sin.

The book of Mark and Luke along with the book of Matthew are the synoptic gospels. So they are very similar in writing, and most likely come from the same speech by Jesus. This text allows one to see yet another parallel passage in Matthew to compare and contrast with Mark and Luke and check for any additional details. There are two verses in Matthew one has to look at:

“It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery,” (Mat 5:31-32 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 KJV).

In Matthew, the verses can seem identical, but there are two additional points made in this text. First, we see sin being incurred by the divorcee if the divorcee is to remarry. “That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery.” So now we no longer to need to infer as Jesus makes it clear that everyone whether the divorcer, the divorcee or the new spouse entering into marriage with the either divorced party is committing adultery and is in sin.

However, there is an exception that Jesus includes that He does not mention in either Mark or Luke. Jesus says, “saving for the cause of fornication,” and “except it be for fornication.” Jesus gives an exception to His rule. If the guilty party commits fornication, then the un-guilty party is not subject to the same circumstances as previously Jesus states. What exactly is meant by “fornication?” Fornication translates from the Greek word μοιχεία, which is an act of sexual intercourse with someone, other than one’s spouse adultery. So if the guilty party commits adultery, then the un-guilty party is no longer under the same guidelines of divorce as before.

Adultery is not always involving sexual relations. According to Strong’s Concordance; “fornication” translated in Greek μοιχεία also entails:

1a) illicit sexual intercourse, adultery, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals, etc. 1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives 1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman 2) the worship of idols 2a) of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols.

We see that “fornication” also includes idolatry and practices relating to idolatry, bestiality, and also homosexuality. Also, if one were to look specifically into the translation of adultery, a similar definition can be found. “Adultery” in the Greek text is μοιχεύω and its meaning is:

1) to commit adultery 1a) to be an adulterer 1b) to commit adultery with, have unlawful intercourse with another’s wife 1c) of the wife: to suffer adultery, be debauched 1d) A Hebrew idiom, the word is used of those who at a woman’s solicitation are drawn away to idolatry, i.e. to the eating of things sacrificed to idols.

Now we see that both “fornication” and “adultery” include both immoral sexual acts but it also includes idolatry. Knowing this, let’s look at the texts from 1 Corinthians:

“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. But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” (1Co 7:10-16 KJV).

Here Paul explains another exception, “…if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.” However, if we take what Jesus has already said before, about fornication in the marriage and what we now know as the definitions of fornication, is this not the same exclusion Jesus spoke of in Matthew? Fornication includes adultery and idolatry.

In conclusion, scripture reads that if anyone who divorces or has been divorced because the spouse is guilty of:

  1. illicit or immoral sexual conduct
  2. adultery
  3. homosexuality
  4. bestiality or
  5. idolatry

then they are free from having committed any sin. The un-guilty party is also free to remarry without committing adultery. Additionally, if the other party is an unbeliever and desires to divorce the believer then the believer is the un-guilty party, has not committed sin and is free to remarry. Alternatively, to put it scripturally, quoting Paul, “a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.”

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  1. Trackback: Divorce and Remarriage Resources | You're Not the Only One

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