The widely held view that both divorce and remarriage are permissible on the grounds of sexual unfaithfulness or desertion, as I hope to have shown, is not consistent with the whole counsel of God and especially the teaching of Jesus and Paul. This view needs to be seriously questioned, though it has been a part of a long evangelical Christian tradition. We must decide what is the truth concerning Jesus and Paul’s teaching on divorce in the light of Scripture alone, not what we feel is right, as difficult this may be for many of us.

Firstly it is inconsistent with what Jesus and Paul taught about love and faithfulness. Secondly, the prevailing view that the exception for divorce as recorded by Matthew justifies divorce and remarriage is based on a number of assumptions, none of which can be satisfactorily upheld. This view effectively undermines the sanctity of marriage by making love and faithfulness conditional.

The exception for divorce in Matthew only applied to the Jewish circumstance of betrothal unfaithfulness where a woman has been sexually unfaithful before marriage. This explains why the other writers of the New Testament scriptures do not include this exception.

Understandably to live by the truth and standard that I believe Jesus taught about marriage is not easy, but is possible by the grace and power that God willingly supplies (2 Peter 1:2-4). Having been divorced myself I can truly empathise with those who have, unwilling, been divorced – the hurt, the rejection, the loneliness and the anger. Yet when we truly know God’s love we can love the seemingly unlovable – because God loves us. Therefore to remain faithful and possibly be single is not unreasonable or a burden too great to bear for what God has asked of us, He also gives the grace and strength to do.

Peter Miles

May 2020

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