Interpreting Divorce

Short Study, Mark 10:1-12, Matthew 19, and many more Scriptures.
Aug 1, 2010/Feb. 2013

This one is for you to THINK on.  See the Video for my 10 minute Teaching on Divorce!

Check your hermeneutic.  Your framework of interpreting the Bible.

You must process the passages below for you to interpret them for a Biblical Answer.
How you interpret?  System of interpretation?
Weight to OT?  More power for higher bar for spirit filled church today?  Concessions God makes like divorce for our sins after original intent in Genesis?  Understanding slave and captive wives in OT?

And Exegesis?  Drawing out?  Defining?  Passages, phrases, words?  Defining “naked cause” (“sexual indecency”)?  Understanding Pharisees questions in Matthew divorce “for any cause”?  Defining “desertion”?

Trying to understand God’s perspective on marriage and divorce in the OT… the old dispensation… to the 1st Century mindset that brought the question to Jesus… .and then how Jesus altered, or raised the bar… while continuing to allow an exception… and then how Paul further clarified the exception to include more.



OT texts.  To Jesus words.   To Paul’s.  And your Grace Theology.


I.  Jesus appeared as hard liner, no divorce.    Mark 10:1-12

And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” 4They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce and to send her away.” 5And Jesus said to them, “Because of yourhardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ 7 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
10And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

II. But an exception in Matthew 19

“Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

It records Jesus answering the “any cause” which  seems to be referencing Deut. 24:1-4 “naked matter (cause)”  and   “any cause”  exception for “porneia” in Matthew 19:1-12

Consider the absolute astonishment of the disciples… if you can’t divorce here “for any cause”… the disciples conclude to never marry then has to be best.


III.  Genesis 2:24. 

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.


IV.  Exodus 21:7-11 a kind of Desertion?  ESV translation.

7“When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. 8If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. 9If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.


Important to consider if Paul might build from his base Jewish concept of not providing “food, clothing, and marital rights” in 1 Corinthians 7 concerning conjugal rights and desertion?


V.  Wow… Rights of an “unloved” slave wife?  Slaves had rights?

Deuteronomy 21:10-15

10“When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, 11and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, 12and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.


VI.  Deuteronomy 22:22 Adultery, capital punishment.

22 “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel.”


God gives Israel a certificate of divorce for unfaithfulness, Jeremiah below.

Joseph doesn’t want this for Mary so he determines to put her away quietly.


VII.  Deuteronomy 24:1-4.   “Naked matter”.

1“When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found a naked matter (“cause”, some “indecency”) in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, 2and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, 4then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.”


Or a man might not want to press capital offense charges, maybe like Joseph.  Mary was pregnant… either she was “sexually immoral” / a “naked cause” or adultery was natural conclusion until angel spoke to him.


VIII.  Example Lesson, Hosea told to take an unfaithful wife, Gomer.

No divorce, no stoning here.

Hosea 1:2     2When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.”

Hosea 3:1     1And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”


IX.   625 BC to  Temple Destruction 586 BC.

Jeremiah 3:6-8 God sends Israel away with a certificate of divorce without “executing her”.

“Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? 7And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce.


X.  Coming back from Babylon… while back in the land… they disobeyed still the OT mandates.  They married unbelieving non-Israelites.

Ezra 10:2-3

2And Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, of the sons of Elam, addressed Ezra: “We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land, but even now there is hope for Israel in spite of this. 3Therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all these wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God, and let it be done according to the Law.

Ezra 10:16-17

16Then the returned exiles did so. Ezra the priest selected men, heads of fathers’ houses, according to their fathers’ houses, each of them designated by name. On the first day of the tenth month they sat down to examine the matter; 17and by the first day of the first month they had come to the end of all the men who had married foreign women.

Commanded to divorce in Babylonian return.


Paul will bring the fuller revelation and declare in 1 Corinthians 7 that if the “unbelieving spouse” is willing to stay with you, you are not to divorce them, see below.


XI.  Around  400 BC.  God is again frustrated with His people… what for…

Malachi 2:13-16

13And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. 14But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Malachi God disdains divorce.


XII.  Hillelite rabbis:  By First Century Jewish thought the “naked matter” from Deut. 24, see above, “matter” or “Cause” and interpreted into “Divorce her ‘for any cause’”.


XIII.  This is What Jesus directly addresses in Matthew 19:3.

Shammaite rabbis interpreted it:  as for “immorality”.


XIV.  Jesus reiterates and goes back to Deut. 24:1-4… Matthew 19 divorce for indecency, a shameful thing…a “naked matter”… written in Greek word ‘porneia’ or sexual immorality and if marries another without reason commits adultery Greek ‘moichatai’, (Matt. 5:31-32).


XV.  Paul comes back in 1 Corin.7:5 don’t deprive of conjugal rights.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

1 Corin. 7:10, wife don’t separate… but if she does (as if for obvious things for obvious reasons) stay unmarried and seek reconciliation.
10To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11(but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), andthe husband should not divorce his wife.
12To the rest I say (I, not the Lord) that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. 15But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. 16For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

1 Corin. 7:12ff, stay with unbeliever if the unbeliever is willing.


Opposite of Ezra 9 and 10, yet understood as a fuller more complete revelation of God’s will.


XVI.  Remarry?  1 Cor. 7:15  If unbelieving partner separates… deserts…  then “not enslaved”.  What does that mean?  Not bound?

Not bound in marriage I think.  For if he left, what else could it mean… she is not enslaved to follow but can remain unmarried and not chase him.  She (he) is free to marry again.  In first Century to think a single mother has good chance in life is unrealistic.  It probably means can remarry.

Is he addressing maybe Exodus 21:7-11, is it in his mind, basic needs not met… and calling it “desertion”?

What about today.. basic needs of food, clothing, and conjugal rights?  How liberal will you interpret this?  If someone isn’t providing this can you leave, separate?


XVI.  Modern day and complications, how far can you stretch “desertion”?    Drugs, abuse verbal – sexual – physical, insanity, criminal, prison, child safety?

Abuse, I think is fair to say is extreme neglect, it’s worse than neglect, it’s harm?  But how liberal will you be with things like verbal abuse?  Just trying to get your way?
XVII.  Ultimate goal.  Matt. 18 forgive 70 x 7 times.

If even a Christian commits adultery, in Heaven we will be reconciled.  Can you do it here?

Ultimately, God seeks healing, reconciliation, forgiveness, is this possible in your pursuit of this answer?

The Greater Good is Not Worship Excellence

The Greater Good of TMCC.

Real Fellowship:  Prior to worship, during worship.

Prayer and Praise:  Really knowing each other.

Bible Exposition:  Knowing our source.

Not a Big Show.  We can have more fellowship and true relationships when we don’t Focus on a Show.
We don’t have a “Youth Group”… but we do have a boys small group.
We don’t have a lot of 20 somethings… but we do have Thursday Small Group at Taylor/Brooke’s.
We don’t have a huge band… but we do have good praise music.
We don’t have a Retiree Group, but we do have mixed involvement in my small group, the women’s retreat, worship time.
The Greater Good is in what we do have.

The Amazing Hour Experience that you can have at some other local worship locations…
With an Amazing Worship Band, Great Décor, Topical Sermon, “In-Out” Movie Theater Philosophy, and all the sub groups of ministries., does have its liabilities.  It costs a lot of money, people are hired more often based on a qualifier of ‘performance’, Preaching is from the surface of Scripture, it creates a false sense of what “Church” is and what “Worship” is, typically is “Personality” driven expansion with Video Venues verses Preacher/Leadership Multiplication, and most resources spent on the system itself in salaries, facilities, operations.
Are we seriously conning ourselves that out of say 3,000 in membership… there are NONE others that can effectively communicate God’s word and be planted in a location?  What gives with all this me centered video venue multiplication???

Excellence is highlighted… while community is inadvertently slighted.

Church isn’t about Excellence… Church is God’s people.

The Greater Good… is giving up the “high excellence” and “amenities” you Want… and getting in Community… that which you Need!


Books of the Bible Preached Verse by Verse

TMCC Sermons
In 3 yrs. we have covered 1st Writings of: Gospels, Minor Prophets, & Paul in Scripture.
Gospel of Mark, NT                 February 2010 – February 2011
Hosea, OT                                  March 2011 – June 2011
1 and 2 Thessalonians, NT   June 2011 – October 2011
Joel, OT                                      October 2011
Galatians, NT                           November 2011 – January 2012
Amos, OT                                  January 2012 – February 2012
1 Corinthians, NT                   February 2012 – December 2012
Jonah, OT                                 January 2013
Micah, OT                                 February 2013