Recently, I posted this bit which was initially a response to a comment that I had received. I would like to continue with that thought process now. The rest of the argument from the original comment and from what I can tell, the emphatic part, was from Matthew 19:9.
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery” (Emphasis Mine)
It doesn’t just stop there either. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said this of divorce:
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery”
A certificate of divorcement is from Deuteronomy 24. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly raised the bar and not just on the subjects of divorce and adultery. He set the standards of law so high, it became nearly impossible to ever be legal. The question is was he actually creating new standards for us to follow with regard to the law or was he simply showing us how impossible it is for us as humans to meet that standard? Jesus clearly demonstrates exactly how easy it is to do that which is displeasing to God. It’s pretty crystal clear to me that Jesus was telling us that legalism will never get you into the presence of God because it is nearly impossible to be legal.
Author’s Note: I have never actually seen the Sermon on the Mount in this light before but epiphany is a wondrous thing.
For the purposes of this post however, I wanted to stay on the subject of adultery. The term is used in many ways and in many forms throughout the Bible. I want to specifically focus on what I felt the commenter was saying to me in reference to divorce and the eventuality that I would, under the law, commit adultery. Not only that, according to law, I have that to look forward to as well as having made an adulterer of my ex-wife and anyone who should marry her. That’s a shit load of weight to carry on your shoulder.
So let us take a look at this.
“Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness”….
Is this saying that the wife has to be unfaithful or can a man divorce his wife because he has been being unfaithful? Would that count? After all, it was because of marital unfaithfulness. Then, just for the sake of argument, let’s take away the references to gender. After all, the Hebrew for man and woman sound a lot alike and the term man is used quite often to refer to mankind as a whole. Could this verse be meant for each gender? I, of course, am stressing how it would apply today, not how it applied during the time it was written.
Not to be outdone by any simple reversals of the roles, I found this gem in the Sermon on the Mount as well:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”
In reality, there’s probably not a single person on the face of the earth who cannot divorce based on marital unfaithfulness based on the above words of Jesus. I’m pretty sure that I can confidently step out on a limb and say that everyone has done it at one point or another in their marriage. I will offer a public apology to anyone who comes in here and claims that they have not looked upon another and thought, “what if?” (Provided of course that I can be convinced that it’s true)
So what is my point? I don’t feel that one should enter into a discussion or make implications such as this armed only with a single scripture, even if it does, by word, support the claim being made by the writer. The result of this type of thinking is found in what is a more commonly known act of adultery within the Christian circles. In this case some teachers of the law and some Pharisees used the act supported by a single piece of the law as a trap and in the end, found themselves embarrassed for their efforts.
Instead of trying to convince and convict, it might just be possible that in many cases, our only purpose is to listen