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It appears that the innocent wife is forbidden to marry, if she is put away,

Not having committed adultery.


What does Matthew 19:9 teach?



  1. There is no problem in today’s society more serious for church leaders.

  2. There are doctrinal errors being taught on this matter.

  3. Some seek to enforce a specific rule when there is more than one acceptable solution.

Problem Areas

  1. God’s marriage law in each covenant and how they relate to each other.

  2. How the teachings of Jesus relate to the teachings of Paul.

  3. The conflict between God’s law on marriage and the civil statutes.

  4. The responsibility of an unbeliever to God’s marriage law.

  5. The demands of genuine repentance.

  6. The effects of baptism upon the alien sinner.

  7. The status of the “guilty” party in a divorce.

  8. The obligation of the “innocent” party when divorce or separation occurs.

  9. What should elders do as responsible shepherds of the flock?

  10. Who can remarry and who cannot?

Does God have ANY rules or regulations about marriage, divorce and remarriage?

  1. If the answer is “NO” then this study is over. You are free to do whatever the law allows.

  2. If the answer is “YES” then there are some situations where restrictions apply.

  3. We may discuss and disagree where that line is drawn, but we agree there is a line.

Special Rules!

  1. This is a sensitive, personal and emotional issue.

  2. It is also a Biblical matter.

  3. Not all questions will be answered right away.

  4. Protect confidentiality and name-calling.

  5. Many of the solutions involved OPINIONS.

    1. Remember, there may be more than one solution to a problem.

    2. The opinions of others are based on the “facts” they have.

    3. You may have information that they do not have.

    4. Your information may be slanted, one-sided, or incorrect.





  4. PERSONAL NOTE: As a teacher in a Bible class, I must teach clearly what the Bible says. In private counseling, where I can hear the particulars, I can be more open to exceptions and unusual circumstances. In public, if I open a door, everybody thinks his or her case fits the exception.

God Hates Divorce – Malachi 2:11-16

  1. Violation of the covenant vows. (14)

  2. Major cause for divorce is “selfish lust”. (15)

  3. Divorce involves treachery. (14, 15, 16)

  4. Divorce destroys the nation’s moral fabric. (11; Psalm 11:3)

  5. It cuts off fellowship with God. (12)


  7. Not all divorces are sinful.

  8. While there are innocent victims, when divorce occurs, someone has sinned.


Close Examination of Scriptures

Matthew 5:32

  1. Put away = divorce

  2. Fornication must be the “cause” of the divorce.

  3. Saving = This is the one and only exception to the rule.

  1. NOTE: Throughout this study I will be using A, B, C, D to represent and illustrate the various situations being discussed.

  1. A and B are married. No fornication has occurred.

  2. A divorces B - When B marries C, A is the cause of the adultery

  3. When B marries C - C is living in adultery.

  1. A and B are married. A commits fornication.

  2. B may put away A because of that fornication.

  3. B may marry C and not be involved in fornication.

Matthew 19:1-12

  1. What does this passage say?
    [1] Whosoever = includes every person on earth

  2. Not just to Christians

[1] John 3:16; Revelation 22:17 (“Whosoever” passages include ALL)
[2] Put away = release, divorce, end the marriage
[3] His wife = his legal and God recognized wife
[4] Except (See Luke 13:3; John 3:3; Matthew 18:3)
[5] And shall marry another

  1. Divorce is one matter.

  2. Marriage following the divorce is another issue.
    [1] Commits adultery - present active = continuous action
    [2] Whoso marries - on the legal level

  3. Here is the diagram:

    1. A is married to B. No fornication has occurred.

    2. A divorces B. A marries C. A commits adultery

    3. D marries B. D commits adultery.


A Closer Look at Matthew 19:1-9

  1. Context - Divorce for “every cause”?

    1. Real question - Do you agree with Shami or Helial?

    2. Shami – conservative – only adultery permits divorce

    3. Helial – liberal – anything that displeases allows for divorce

  1. Jesus Answers (4-6)

    1. Look again at the origin of marriage

    2. b. Look at the law of God

  2. The Concession of Moses (7-8)

    1. Not “commanded” by Moses - Allowed

    2. Divorce is the result of sin - hardness of heart.

    3. Divorce was not part of God’s plan.

  3. The Criteria of Jesus (9)

    1. Three views on divorce:

      1. Engagement view - marriage begins at engagement

        1. Covenant made – family agreements reached

        2. Matthew 1:19 – called husband and wife

      2. Incest view - marriage to a close relative

        1. 1 Corinthians 5:1 - incest is fornication

        2. Leviticus 18:6-8

3) Illicit sex - all kinds of unlawful intercourse

  1. Summary by Roy Deaver – “Thus, the Lord said (in Mt. 19:9): “But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, and shall marry another (woman) - - except for fornication - - keeps on committing adultery; and the man who marries a woman who has been put away keeps on committing adultery.

    1. The passage says: “Whosoever” commits adultery. What “whosoever” commits adultery? There are two “whosoevers” who commit adultery.

      1. The “whosoever” which shall put away his wife and shall marry another woman - - except upon the grounds of fornication upon the part of his companion.

      2. The “whosoever” who has married a woman who has been put away - (any woman who has been put away).

    2. This passage says in principle - -

      1. All persons who shall put away their companions and shall marry another - - except upon the grounds of fornication upon the part of the companion put away - - are person who keep on committing adultery.

      2. All persons who have married a having-been-put-away companion are persons who keep on committing adultery.

    3. This passage says, by implication - - All persons who - - because of fornication upon the part of their companions - - put away their companions and form another marriage are persons who DO NOT commit adultery (or, ARE NOT persons who commit adultery.)


Remarriage - Is it permitted?


Tied to the putting away

Examine again the passages.

  1. Notice the conjunction - - “and” - - ties the two phrases together.

  2. There may be situations where divorce is necessary for safety and protection. While there can not be any remarriage, there can be divorce.

  3. Divorce is not always sinful. If a remarriage follows a divorce, that remarriage may be a sinful condition.

Adultery results from:

  1. One putting away their companion without fornication

  2. AND marries another

  3. There may be sin in the putting away - but there is a state of sin created by the remarriage

Who can marry a second time?

First partner dies.

  1. Romans 7:2-3

  2. 1 Corinthians 7:39

The “innocent party”.

  1. When A divorces B because of B’s fornication, A is free to marry again.

  2. This is the “except” of Jesus’ statements.

  3. A statement of truth always has its counterpart by implication.

  4. To say those who put away their partner for any cause other than fornication and marries another commits adultery implies that those who divorce for the proper cause and marry another do not sin.

Can the “guilty party” remarry?

Define the term – “guilty party”

  1. I mean the one guilty of fornication, which results in the innocent party putting them away.

  2. The question is - - After such a divorce, can the guilty party remarry?

The rule

  1. Only such divorced persons as were loyal to their original marital commitments and who have put away partners who were guilty of sexual infidelity (i.e., fornicators) have the right to contract second marriages.” (Tract “The Remarriage of Divorced Persons” by Rubel Shelley, page 2)

  2. God wants people to honor their marital covenants. He does not want any divorces at all. He forbids the right of remarriage to anyone who is a divorced person under any other circumstances.

  3. All persons who divorce fornicators have the right to remarry.

  4. All other divorced persons do not have the right to remarry.

Think about this - -

  1. If the guilty party can remarry - AND the innocent party can remarry THEN - God does not have any law about this matter at all.

  2. If the innocent party, unjustly put away cannot remarry then the guilty party, justly put away cannot remarry. (Matt. 5:32)


Can a person be divorced for trivial reasons,

And then becomes a Christian, and have the right to remarry?

Salvation does not alter circumstances.

  1. Becoming a Christian forgives past sins.

  2. But it does not change circumstances.

  3. A convict may be baptized, forgiven, be saved, but he is still in jail.

  4. A slave may become a Christian, but he is still a slave. (Philemon)

Think about the wide-open field here.

  1. Can one continue in a homosexual marriage?

  2. Can one remain in a polygamous marriage?

  3. Can one maintain a “live in” marriage?

  4. Here is a letter a missionary in India got in the mail. “And I will also be grateful to you if you will advise me on this matter: I married many wives all with children, there is no possibility to divorce them because of the issue I have with them. Presently I am with six wives and twenty-one children. Zadok Kori Adiga” WHAT WOULD YOU ADVISE?

Some observations.

  1. Jesus appeals to the ideal in marriage - “from the beginning.”

  2. We live in a sinful world - “hardness of heart”.

  3. Jesus permitted divorce on the ground of fornication.

  4. Jesus permitted remarriage of the innocent party.

Some Questions Which Arise

To whom do these limitations on remarriage apply?

  1. God’s laws on marriage apply to all mankind.

  2. Whosoever” (John 3:16)

  3. These commands do not apply to Christians only.

Doesn’t baptism forgive all the sins one has committed prior to his conversion?

  1. Baptism is for the “remission of sins”. (Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16)

  2. In conversion we are “cleansed from all sin”. (1 John 1:7)

  3. While sins are forgiven, circumstances are not changed.

  4. Suppose you owe a payment at the bank. Baptism does not change the obligation to pay the loan payment. A converted prisoner will remain in jail. A converted slave is still a slave.

After a divorce for a trivial cause, one of the parties remarries. Does this free the other person to remarry?

  1. The short answer - - NO.

  2. The only circumstance, which frees anyone to remarry following a divorce, is this: One must put away a fornicator.

  3. If A puts away B for any cause other than fornication - - neither of them will ever have the right to marry another person - - no matter what the other may do following the divorce.

  4. One cannot play the “waiting game” and see who waits longer. Waiting longer is not a Biblical basis for remarriage.



1. Marriage is for life.

2. Divorce is allowed for the cause of fornication only.

3. Only the innocent party may remarry without sin.


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