What Does the Bible Say About Divorce?
Chad Johnson
November 5, 2010

"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." Matt. 19:9 KJV

Time and space will not permit me to cover this subject like it should be covered. I will try, however, to give you a brief overview of this subject.

The first thing we must understand is who the book of Matthew is written to. Though all believers can get help from it, this book is primarily written to the Jewish nation. It deals with their customs and their place in prophecy and the coming millennial kingdom. That is why, I believe, that here in this verse, Christ is dealing with the Jewish betrothment. The word betroth means a mutual promise or contract between a man and a woman for a future marriage. Under Jewish custom, the betrothal was so binding that you could not get out of it unless you found the other party unfaithful.

A good example of this is found in Matthew, chapter one. Joseph and Mary were espoused, which mean betrothed or engaged. Verse 19 says Joseph, her husband, not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately. They were already called husband and wife, but they were not yet married because they had not yet come together. This would explain why Jesus called them husband and wife in Matthew 19:9. In the previous verse, Jesus tells them that from the beginning of creation putting away was not so. However, because of their hard hearts, Moses allowed it, but Moses was wrong. Our test verse starts out and I say unto you. The words of Christ are to be obeyed above all words.

Another reason why I believe this is in reference to the betrothal period is the definite distinction between fornication and adultery. Fornication is sexual immorality of unmarried people. Adultery is sexual immorality when at least one of those involved is married.

Since the only way to break the betrothal was fornication, this has to be what Jesus is talking about. No where in scripture does the Lord okay divorce to people who have truly made a vow before God and man and have become one flesh. Jesus said what God has joined let not man put asunder.

Paul told us that if the unbelieving depart, let them depart, we are not under bondage. This means we cannot stop someone from leaving and if they do, we are not bound to fulfill our marriage duties to them if they leave. If you broke a betrothal and were the guilty one, you were to remain unmarried and to marry would be adultery. Read Romans 7:2-3 for more insight. I hope this sermon will help us to see God hates putting away.