7 “They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
This section of Matthew deals with Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which establishes the principle of divorce. The point of this passage is that God does not command divorce but permits it. It is a concession on God’s part. This passage allows for divorce for a number of reasons and—for those who remarry—the right to remarriage.
They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”
The Pharisees thought they caught Jesus in a contradiction by indicating that God made provision for divorce (Dt 24:1). This passage does not “command” divorce but only allows for divorce.
He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.
Jesus agreed that Moses permitted divorce but that it was only by concession to breaking the ideal of permanence in marriage. God’s original intention was that marriage be permanent. “Hardness of your hearts” refers to obstinate resistance to God’s design for marriage.
And I say to you,
Jesus gave the principle of marriage for the kingdom.
whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality,
Jesus indicated that a valid cause for divorce was some form of sexual sin. It is important to understand that this exception clause opened the right to remarry if the spouse had committed some form of sexual act outside of marriage. This could include bestiality, homosexuality, adultery, or any other form of sex.
The Greek word for “sexual immorality” refers to sexual sin of any kind. This is not the word for adultery, although it includes adultery.
and marries another, commits adultery;
Someone who divorces and remarries for the wrong reason (other than a sexual sin or, as noted below, desertion) commits adultery.
and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Anyone who marries a person not biblically divorced commits adultery as well. That is, both the one who divorces for the wrong reason and the one who marries this improperly divorced person are guilty of adultery. The binding nature of marriage depends on the institution of marriage and not on the will or acts of individuals.
The believer must first and foremost look to the Word of God when considering the issue of divorce.
When it comes to matters of the heart, some of us want to argue theology, but God expects us to argue the Word of God. We are long on theology and short on Scripture.
Sexual sin is one reason for divorce and remarriage. Desertion is another reason (1 Co 7:15).