Necessary Conclusions From Matthew 5:32
By Jeff Belknap
Matthew 5:32, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit ADULTERY: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth ADULTERY.”
Some irrefutable truths which this passage teaches:
1) Man has the capability to “put away” his wife for a cause other than fornication, just as he has the capacity to commit any other sin.
2) Since man’s sinful act of putting away in this case is indisputably unapproved, the Lord’s reference to “put away” includes divorces in which the two parties are still divinely obligated to one another (Romans 7:2-3).
3) To wrongfully “put away” is designated in scripture by the selfsame verb of action that denotes putting away for fornication. Thus, the procedure which any particular society recognizes as divorce is the process whereby both authorized and unapproved divorces are finalized.
4) When man perpetrates a wrongful putting away against his innocent wife, it “causeth her to commit adultery.” Why? The “one flesh” relationship is no more (Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:2-9; I Corinthians 7:2-5, 10-11).
5) Since the man’s sinful putting away is the factor that “causeth her to commit adultery,” it is evident that the wife who the Lord said “is divorced” in this instance was “innocent” of fornication at the time she was put away (cf. Matthew 19:9b; Luke 16:18b).
6) God recognizes the act which man perpetrates against his innocent mate, even when the action is taken against His will and in contempt of the divine obligation. Jesus calls that action “put away” and identifies the recipient of that action as “divorced.” (Who will deny the Lord’s words and say that she “is” not “divorced?”) cf. Romans 3:4
7) The Lord made a distinction between the one who puts away his marriage companion and the one who “is put away,” differentiating them in two separate, complete phrases connected by the word “and.” Obviously, they are not the same! Those who argue that it makes no difference who puts away whom are not “rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
8) The divine pronouncement of “adultery” is clearly applied to the put away person who the Lord says “is divorced” when they remarry (Matthew 5:32b). The inference is clear – this remarriage refers to another while their obligated (bound) mate “liveth” (Romans 7:2-3).
9) Because scripture teaches that the one who wrongfully divorces his mate “causes her to commit adultery,” the necessary conclusion is that if a put away person is to avoid adultery, she must “remain unmarried” or “be reconciled” to her obligated partner (I Corinthians 7:10-11; cf. Matthew 19:11-12), for “so long as he liveth” (Romans 7:2-3).
10) To contend that a person who “is (already) divorced” (separated) can later “put away” for the cause of post-divorce fornication is to advocate a second putting asunder of what is already separated. Nowhere in scripture is such a concept revealed.