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Recap: Jesus was born under the Law of Moses (Galatians 4:4). He died under the Law of Moses (Hebrews 9:15-17). His New Covenant came into effect after His death on the cross.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus declared that His teaching did not oppose or destroy the Law of Moses and the Prophets (Matthew 5:18,19). "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law [of Moses], or the prophets... Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and SHALL TEACH MEN SO, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-19). Jesus was speaking of the Law of Moses. Not only should one live the Law of Moses but he must teach it. Note: until the Law was changed. The Law was NOT changed during Jesus' lifetime on earth.

To teach contrary to the Law of Moses meant the punishment of death (Deuteronomy 13:5). Jesus taught submission to the Law and obeyed Himself the Law of Moses perfectly; i.e., He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered," (Hebrews 5:8). Even, to the death on the cross


True story. The elder preacher listened sympathetically to the young man who we will call Bill. Bill was in tears as he related the disastrous turn of events in his recent marriage. She had decided that she didn't love him like she had thought. In fact, unknown to Bill at the time, his young wife had been privately engaged to another who had moved out of town. He had now returned and she had decided that she preferred him and had made a mistake in marrying Bill. Of course the elder preacher could not have known this and it didn't matter to him anyway. He believed it a sin to divorce, period. His only advise to the young man was, "I'd go to prison before I'd let her have her divorce."

How would you have advised Bill? The advice given was ludicrous. People do not go to jail in divorces in modern days. The court orders a divorce and decides who is to get what and who is to pay. All states in America allow no fault divorces.i To get a no fault divorce, one spouse must simply state a reason for the divorce that is recognized by the state.

JESUS IS RECORDED AS SPEAKING ABOUT MARRIAGE ONLY TWO TIMES. The sermon on the mount is one of the passages appealed to when divorce is discussed in Protestantism. There are at least four current teachings. (1) One view considers divorce a sin for any cause. Remarriage compounds the sin. (2) A second view concludes there may be valid reasons for divorce, but finds no biblical basis for allowing someone to remarry (even if adultery has been committed). (3) A third view is that the Bible allows divorce for adultery only (some also will include desertion and various interpretations for "fornication") with the subsequent right to remarry. (4) A fourth view believes that divorce and remarriage can occur in the case of adultery and desertion, physical abuse, alcoholism, cruelty, and serious neurotic conditions, among other things.

In the sermon on the mount, the KJV has Jesus saying, “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” (Matthew 5:32).

        In Matthew 19:9 the “man” that puts away his wife without Scriptural grounds AND remarries is the one that commits adultery. This is understandable. But in Matthew 5:32 (above text) notice that the King James Version has the innocent party committing adultery because of her husband's sin. "Whosoever shall put away his wife causeth her to commit adultery." The elder preacher was sincere in his solution of jail because he believed that when Bill was divorced by his wife, Bill would be cursed with committing adultery.

        Other translations for Matthew 5:32. American Standard Version "maketh her an adulteress"; Complete Jewish Bible, World English Bible, and Revised Standard Version, "makes her an adulteress"; Hebrew Names Version, "makes her an adulteress"; the Message, "making her an adulteress." According to these translations, the divorcee has not committed anything. She is the object. The divorce has made her an "adulteress." The translations that imitate the KJV have the divorcee doing (committing) something; this makes her the subject of an "active verb."

        But in what way would an innocent party commit adultery by being divorced by her husband? If the putting away, without Scriptural reasons, makes the woman commit adultery, she gets it both ways. She sins if she's guilty and she sins if she's not. Not only must an innocent suffer from the hardhearted spouse but must suffer from others, such as leaders of the churches. In fact, she has "violated" one of the Ten Commandments simply by being divorced.

        Problems. The following clause adds that anyone that marries the one divorced commits adultery as well: "and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." Some "theologians" try and move the adulterous "action" of the "innocent" divorcee to be connected to a remarrying. Then leaders add, "And the state of committing adultery will continue and continue as long as she stays married and/or is having sexual relations." In order to be redeemed the person must divorce the second husband [one human solution is, she can sleep in a separate room]. She can then either be celibate the rest of her life OR re-remarry the first husband. Of course if Jesus actually taught this latter one, He would not only be destroying Moses' Law, which He denied doing (Matthew 5:17), but He would have been whitewashing and legitimatizing an abomination to God. For a wife cannot return to her former husband if she has remarried (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

        Any solution that changes a text is a sin. However, shifting any phrase around alters the text and we place ourselves in the position of adding to or diminishing God's Word (Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; 2 Peter 1:20). No one has that authority. It is clear from the English text that the woman commits adultery as the result of being divorced whether she remarries or not.

        Nature of God. Meanwhile, we seemingly have a contradiction of this view with the nature of God of the Bible. The Bible tells us that God is Just and does not condemn innocent people. For example, "Justice and judgment [are] the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face" (Psalm 89:14). "The soul that sins shall die." Sin is not even inherited (Ezekiel 18:20,21). Marriage is a joint enterprise that require that two people with freedom of choice to work together. The divorcer is breaking his commitment, vows, and duties to God. Is Jesus saying that God is joining in with the treachery (Malachi 2:16)? According to the KJV translators, Jesus sounds as if He is.

The problem with these "solutions" is they are man-made. These "solutions" are not in the text. Human reasoning has formulated convenient solutions that "burden" heavily the disciples of Christ but are a convenient "manual" formula for policing. They actually make void what Jesus actually said by encouraging disciples to seek their advice on how to get around the predicament that thas been created and taught.


He explains what He is preaching in the sermon on the mount:

" Think not that I am come to destroy the law [of Moses, gw], or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:17-20).

Gaylon West

"Throw Out the Lifeline"

[book: Marriage Made From Heaven, by Gaylon West]

You may also be interested in these previous articles:

"God's Marriage Laws Through the Ages"

"God's Clothes Line: Jesus and the Pharisees"

"Did Jesus Teach the Commands of Moses?"

See also "MARRIAGE ON THE MOUNTAIN":            

i Accessed 7/7/2014