Matthew 5: 31 – 32

Behold, the wisdom of Christ:

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. 32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

We all know someone who is divorced. Maybe they married too young, or maybe they married someone who didn’t respect them, or… or why does God even care? Why does God want to get down into the muck and mire of human intercourse and tell us that a bad decision about one of our relationships has to haunt us to infinity and beyond? If someone said these words to you as a divorcee you would reconsider their friendship, but for millions of people these words are okay because they come from God. And for some these words are even more than okay; they are gospel.

But with so many divorcees in the modern world I’m thinking not many people really do take these couple of little nonsenses to heart. I’m thinking that many people just sweep these words under the carpet and never bring them up with their divorced friends, or even with themselves. I’m thinking that there’s not too much evangelizing done around divorce because everyone knows that these words are just so far out of place and anachronistic and beyond rude that what should be considered gospel is better pretended not to be there.

How many stupid things can God say before His divine intelligence is questioned?
That’s actually a serious question, because with this pair of verses on divorce and the previous section on adultery God has shown He can be just as stupid as the rest of us. Probably because that’s who He is… just us writ small.

4 thoughts on “Matthew 5: 31 – 32

  1. vonleonhardt2

    The passage deals mainly with the idea that “it’s alright as long as I divorce her first.” Vv. 32 a. shows there is a reason other than her being adulterous that brings the marriage to an end. Kind of saying a love for money, etc. has become more important than you spouse and your leaving her for cash (this was before joint property laws).

    VV. 32 b has more to do with the parallels but its kind of saying, “If you get her to leave her husband, then marry her” its the same as if you just cheated.

    So the real point of the marriage verses is not to ban divorce a la catholic; it is more to say divorce doesn’t give you carte blanc to be a jerk and break commitments. Especially in the 1st century when divorce meant poverty, saying Jesus would deny any woman an ability to re-marry and feed herself is an unlikely reading given his views on the woman at the well and the woman caught.

    Your reading on this one in particular is to pre-critical. Jesus is speaking to people who could just marry the 2nd woman! There is a lot more in play. Also, being a “sinner” isn’t derogatory in the synoptics; it means Jesus came for you. It’s the non-sinners that are in trouble.

    It is simply part of the “spirit of the Law” aspect of Christianity 101.

    Reply
    1. winstoninabox Post author

      “The passage deals mainly with the idea that “it’s alright as long as I divorce her first.” Vv. 32 a. shows there is a reason other than her being adulterous that brings the marriage to an end. Kind of saying a love for money, etc. has become more important than you spouse and your leaving her for cash (this was before joint property laws).

      VV. 32 b has more to do with the parallels but its kind of saying, “If you get her to leave her husband, then marry her” its the same as if you just cheated.”

      Do you have any evidence for these interpretations because:
      1. They don’t read the ways you describe. They are pretty simple sentences and I can’t construe those meanings out of them. To do so you’re having to twist the wording from what is the obvious meaning. Especially as “*But* I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality” is very clear in its usage of ‘but’.

      2. If those verses were to have your interpretations they would have be written to say that clearly.

      Reply
      1. vonleonhardt2

        1. I don’t see how it’s a twist to say if she ain’t cheating, then you aren’t holding up your end, and if you aren’t holding up your end something even yourself has drawn you away… And being drawn away to something else in marriage is commonly called adultery. Especially
        in non emotional business type marriage of the 1st century where marriage means providing economically etc. That makes everything except her cheating adulterous… Forward and backward that agrees with the text.

        2.there are parallels, and the Bible records them. You are creating a vacuum saying each verse much be read as stands (in English to, I can post up the Greek versions parsed of you want to go that far) . If parallels/ relevant verses don’t effect reading why do Jesus and Satan debate that in the temptation? This argument is like trying to win a case by excluding evidence that doesn’t suit you.

        Reply
  2. winstoninabox Post author

    “2.there are parallels, and the Bible records them. You are creating a vacuum saying each verse much be read as stands (in English to, I can post up the Greek versions parsed of you want to go that far) . If parallels/ relevant verses don’t effect reading why do Jesus and Satan debate that in the temptation? This argument is like trying to win a case by excluding evidence that doesn’t suit you.”

    Evidence only matters if it’s pertinent to the case. You haven’t demonstrated that the meaning of the sentences is anything other that what I said. They are very simple sentences to read and the meaning is quite clear. Let’s look at 2 other well-known translations.

    Here’s the King James:
    31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

    Here’s the American Standard:
    31 It was said also, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:
    32 but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.

    That’s 3 different versions that all say the same thing. Now maybe you know of another version that translates those verses differently, but you haven’t shown that. So there’s no point in bringing in ‘other evidence’ until you’ve established that it isn’t an open and shut case.

    Now this is what you said it said:
    VV. 32 b has more to do with the parallels but its kind of saying, “If you get her to leave her husband, then marry her” its the same as if you just cheated.

    So the 3 pertinent versions are:
    and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery
    and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery
    and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery

    None of those 3 give the sense of “if you get her to leave..” Now maybe you know of another version that translates those verses differently, but you haven’t shown that. So there’s no point in bringing in ‘other evidence’ until you’ve established that it isn’t an open and shut case.

    Don’t forget that the bible didn’t exist at the time of the sermon. So if Jesus felt that the verses needed ‘other evidence’ to be understood, then he would have provided that evidence in the sermon. But since he didn’t, obviously Jesus felt that the verses were perfectly understandably as they were, and by the medium in which they were presented – a sermon that was only going to be heard once.

    BTW, I’m not Catholic (obviously) and don’t care whether they don’t recognize divorce or not.

    Reply

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