Was Jesus Writing
A New Rule
Or Confirming An Existing One?
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus made some very interesting remarks about divorce:
It has been said, whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32
And by these remarks He threw everyone into a tailspin. Or at least it seems that way judging from the many diverse – and bizarre – interpretations imposed on the text.
Not A New Rule
Many people treat His statement like a completely new and inflexible rule that was intended to draw an indelible line in the sand, and anyone crossing the line is eternally doomed. But this can’t be the correct understanding.
Jesus was clarifying an Old Testament statute not writing a new one and the clarification represents no modification on the original ruling which, by the way, was quite liberal. You can read about the Old Testament teaching here. For now consider the following:
- Any understanding of what Jesus said in the New Testament starts with what was said in the Old – the context in which divorce was first introduced.
- Suggesting Matthew 5 disallows divorce and/or remarriage totally ignores the Old Testament or at least reshapes it beyond recognition.
- If you honestly accept the context of the Old Testament, in which divorce was freely allowed, you cannot then think Jesus was fabricating restrictions that disallowed both divorce and remarriage, a complete reversal.
- What Jesus essentially said – if adultery doesn’t occur before divorce it occurs after – changes nothing. That outcome is equally true in both the Old and New Testaments.
There aren’t enough word studies and grammatical arguments to erase these facts and whatever studies one produces are trumped by context every time anyway.
What Is Adultery
For the record, traditional definitions of adultery and fornication, which Jesus did not agree with, are: [Read more…] about Jesus And Divorce, Matthew 5