By Hoyt Houchen
Question: How does the man cause the woman to commit adultery in Matthew 5.32 when he puts her away? Is Jesus saying one could put one away but if he or she wants to remarry it would have to have been for fornication (Matt. 19:9)? Also in Matthew 19.9 is Jesus saying here that remarrying is adultery only or does He mean the sex act?
Reply: Immorality is rampant in our society. Some symptoms of this ungodly society are drug abuse, pornography, alcoholism, murder, rape, lying, cheating and pre-marital and extra-marital sex (adultery). Holy living is generally ignored and even debased by those who live by the philosophy of hedonism (making pleasure and selfgratification the main goals in life). Marriage, which God ordained for the happiness of man and the procreation of the human race, is trampled under the feet of those who choose to “do their own thing.” The breakdown of the home is evident as we observe the increasing divorce rate. A looseness of morals even prevails within the church. Indeed Satan and his agents are busy.
In view of these observations, we need to give careful and serious consideration to what the word of God teaches and should be determined to follow it without deviation. The questions which are submitted on marriage will be considered in order asked.
(1) Matthew 5:32 reads: “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. ” The wife who is put away for some cause other than fornication would be made an adulteress because she would be tempted to remarry, thus made to sin. In this instance, three would be involved in sin: the husband who put the wife away, the put away wife who remarries and the man who married her.
(2) Jesus plainly teaches in Matthew 19:9 that for one to remarry he must have put away his wife for the cause of fornication. This is the only reason that Jesus gives for divorce and remarriage. Please note that fornication must be the CAUSE for the putting away and not the excuse.
(3) The illicit sex act constitutes adultery and furnishes the ground for the innocent party to do the putting away. The dissolving of the marriage relationship results not from the illicit sex relationship only, as some contend. The sex act committed by one, coupled with the putting away of the fornicator for that reason, results in the dissolution of the marriage. Both are necessary to dissolving the marriage.
The silence of the Scriptures must be respected. Much confusion and controversy on the subject of marriage would be eliminated if attention were focused on whom the Scriptures authorize to marry. According to the Scriptures, who then is free to marry? (1) Single people who are eligible (see 1 Cor. 7:36), (2) those whose marriage partners are dead (Rom. 7:2,3; 1 Cor. 7:39) and (3) those who put away their spouses for the reason of fornication (Matt. 19:9). The Scriptures are silent as to any others who are eligible for marriage. All should be content with what the Bible teaches and avoid speculation. We are safe when we abide by what the Bible does teach and not by what it does not teach.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 4, p. 100
February 16, 1984