What Did Jesus Teach on Divorce?

By David J. Stewart

       The unrepentant Pharisees came to Jesus in Mark 1:1-12, asking Him if it was LAWFUL to divorce? We read in the Bible...

"And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery." —Mark 1:1-12

Carefully notice that Jesus DIDN'T answer, "yes" to their question. Clearly, divorce is not lawful. Jesus directed them to the law of Moses. The Pharisees stated that Moses allowed divorce. Jesus COUNTERS their excuse by telling them that Moses reluctantly permitted divorce, only allowing it because of the wicked HARDNESS of their hearts. It couldn't be any clearer that Jesus was completely against divorce. So in answer to the Pharisee's question, of whether divorce is "lawful" or not, we have already made 3 observations:

  1. Jesus DIDN'T permit divorce.
  2. Moses DIDN'T want to permit divorce either, but the people gave him no choice.
  3. Divorce only happens because of people's rebellion against God.

How ridiculous that so many people today, even professed Christians, are misquoting the Bible in a selfish attempt to justify the sin of divorce. It cannot be accomplished. Try as they may, sin is still sin, and divorce will always be a horrible sin just like abortion, homosexuality, and adultery. 

Most people who file for divorce attempt to claim that Jesus allows for divorce in situations of adultery; but that is not what Jesus taught. What about all the other sins that one's spouse may commit? Does that provide a grounds for divorce? No, not according to the Lord. Jesus taught in Matthew 18:22 to forgive, 70 times 7. Divorce is the sin of hate, unforgiveness and hypocrisy. So many people are woefully ignorant of the Scriptures, just as Jesus said:

Matthew 22:29, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”

God's power can save your marriage, if you will trust God and not quit.

Jesus solidified his stand against divorce in Mark 10:7-9...

"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

Did you read that? Jesus said that a husband and wife become ONE FLESH in the eyes of God! Jesus further stated that NO MAN had better dare tamper with someone else's marriage... What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunderWoe unto the fools who help break up marriages—by recommending divorce, mis-counseling the wife, and contributing to the break-up of a family. Woe unto the scum-of-the-earth lawyers, and the ruthless judges (many of whom are lesbians), and the vile government handout programs that encourage, nurture, and cause divorce. Should it be any wonder that America has the highest divorce rate in the world? 

Should it be any wonder that American women file for divorce at least TWICE the rate of men? Woe unto the United States of America! We are living in a cesspool society of iniquity, where rebel feminists lurk around every corner, even in our churches, just waiting for their chance to destroy another marriage. Jesus condemned divorce, and said it only occurs when someone is hardhearted enough to QUIT their marriage, be unwilling to forgive and break their wedding vows. 

Tragically, divorce is a sin that perpetuates for a lifetime, i.e., causes lasting consequences. Jesus taught that a man leaves his father and mother for the purpose of CLEAVING to his wife. The word "cleave" is the Greek proskollao, and literally means, "to glue upon, glue to." In other words, a marriage is bonded together like superglue. Whether you want to accept it or not, in God's eyes every married couple is GLUED together as one. Looking at the sin of divorce from this perspective, it is clearer to understand why God hates divorce...

"For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away..."
—Malachi 2:16

"Putting away" is a Biblical term often used for divorce, such as in Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18... "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery." Divorce is a sin that God HATES!!! That's what Malachi 2:16 states, and just a few Scriptures later in Malachi 3:6 we read that God's NEVER changes... "I am the LORD, I change not..."

It must be noted that in Mark 10:1-12, Jesus NEVER once mentioned the so-called "exception" to divorce―fornication, which many people allege Mathew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 allows. Not so! If this were the case, then surely Jesus would have addressed the issue in Mark 10:1-12, and the Pharisees would have brought it up, but they didn't. Jesus NEVER allowed any exception to the sin of divorce, which is clearly evidenced by His statement in Mark 10:9, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Marriage is not an agreement, it is a lifetime commitment sealed by a sacred wedding VOW... "For better; for worse; 'til death do us part." 

For anyone to teach that Jesus permits divorce in the case of fornication is to say that Jesus also approves of breaking lifetime commitments and sacred wedding vows made. This is not the Lord of the Bible. Jesus is not a hypocrite like those filing for divorce today—who think they are more righteous than their spouse and have a right to condemn their spouse in court. James 2:10 testifies against every person who has ever filed for divorce... "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Divorce is a sin rooted in self-righteousness. There were no disclaimers in you wedding vows. You made a promise on your wedding day, plain and simple. There was nothing in your wedding vows stating that you didn't have to honor your vows if your spouse didn't. Marriage is a lifetime commitment, and Jesus Christ would NEVER give anyone permission to renege on their wedding vows. 

Furthermore, Jesus taught forgiveness—not just 7 times if our brother asks for forgiveness; but 7 times 70!!! That's 490 times! (i.e., infinite forgiveness). This is what Matthew 18:22 teaches. How much more should we forgive our own spouse? Yet, many people today refuse to forgive their spouse even once, and hypocritically claim that they have a right to divorce for the cause of "fornication." Did not Jesus teach forgiveness for those who seek it? Yes, He certain did! To say that one has a God-given right to divorce because of adultery is to ignore the mercy and forgiveness of God.

So What Did Jesus Mean Concerning the Sin of Fornication?

Jesus taught that it's a sin for a man to divorce his wife and marry another. This is adultery. The same holds true for a woman who divorces her husband and marries another man. It is evil. Divorce is a sin. The exception to the rule is when a man's wife abandons him to run off with another. In such a case of fornication on the part of the departing spouse, the husband is placed into a no-win-situation. What is a husband supposed to do if his wife abandons him? What is a wife supposed to do if her husband runs off with another?

The Christian who's spouse has abandoned them for someone else (and is remarried) has two options:

  1. Remain celibate
  2. Remarry

This is the only context in which Jesus permits divorce and remarriage, i.e., if one's spouse mercilessly abandons and runs off in fornication with someone else. The Bible teaches that it is a treacherous thing to abandon one's spouse...

Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD. —Jeremiah 3:20

Jesus WASN'T teaching that it's ok for a wife to divorce her husband because he sins. That's absurd!

A woman recently told me that she divorced her husband because he looked at porno and went with a prostitute. I seem to recall a story in the Bible about an adulterous woman, caught in the very act of adultery, and an angry mob wanted to stone her to death. A lot of self-righteous wives today would fit in well with that angry mob. I'm not condoning any sin, I'm just saying that EVERYONE sins and what gives anyone the right to file for divorce? According to James 2:10 we are all very horrible sinners... “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” Think about that.

If Jesus permits divorce in the case of fornication, then what about murder, stealing and others sins/crimes? Does a wife have a right to divorce her husband if he unlawfully kills someone? What about a spouse who is sentenced to life in prison? Is it ok to divorce and “move on” as so many people selfishly do nowadays? No, God hates all divorce!

The Biblical term “putteth away” or “put away” (Greek: apoluo) means to send away, loose, let go. It is QUITTING, giving up, throwing away, disowning one's spouse, as you would toss a piece of trash into the garbage. It means telling your spouse, “I don't love you anymore.” Those are the cruelest words you'll ever say to someone. If you don't love your spouse now, it's only because you never did to begin with. The world's fake “love” is synthetic, shallow and conditional. God's love is unconditional.

We are not supposed to throw away our spouse and give up on them when they sin. We are not to "put away" our spouse. Jesus taught us to forgive. There is NO forgiveness in divorce—it is cruel, malicious, selfish, self-righteous, and it's consequences last a lifetime. God will weigh each situation, knowing every minute detail, and no one will be able to hide behind their self-righteousness on Judgment Day. The sin of divorce is rooted in self-righteousness!!!

We are living in an evil and adulterous generation that persistently searches for excuses to justify their wickedness. Woe unto the pastors, pastor's wives and so-called "Christians" today who subtly encourage, nurture and promote divorce. It is wickedness!!!

"Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so." —Matthew 19:8

Divorce is a Sin!

Divorce is a Merciless Act of Unforgiveness; God Said He Will Likewise Show No Mercy!

Ye Must Be Born Again!