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Does Jesus leave a loophole for divorce in Matthew 19:9?

Full Question

I believe the Bible when it says he who divorces and marries another commits adultery, as we see in Mark 10:1-12 and Luke 16:18. But isn’t Jesus leaving a loophole when he says in Matthew 19:9 “except for unchastity”?

Answer

What may appear as a loophole is a consequence of misinterpretation or mistranslation. The King James Version and others translate the passage into English words that appear to say fornication, unchastity, or adultery are exceptions that allow a divorce.

The constant teaching of the Church has been that a valid sacramental marriage can not be broken, even if one party sins. As Matthew 19:6 says, “Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Biblical scholars, such as J. Bonsirven, have pointed out that the Greek word that is pivotal here is “porneia,” which means unlawful sexual intercourse. The Gospel does not use the Greek word “moicheia,” which is the ordinary Greek word for adultery.

The intent appears to be to distinguish a true marriage from concubinage. What is being said is that if a man and a woman are in fact married, the bond is inseparable. But if they are not married, just “living together,” then there is no lawful marriage and there can be a separation or annulment. The wording of the New American Bible for Matthew 19:9 is a translation that gives us this sense.










12 comments

  1. C R Lord, Author Reply

    I must ask you; Do you believe that God joins together heathen marriages since they neither desire to seek him or know his will? I don’t. I was married as an unbeliever and my marriage was of my own choosing and God was not welcome when I got married except as a convenience to the Pastor that married me. I was a drug pushing hippie at the time marrying a drug using woman I had know only 14 days. Neither of us was in any condition to seek God.

    I struggled with that after I got saved because I sought to lead my wife to Christ and restore our marriage which she ended on false charges while I was away from home in prison in another state. Prior to that she was guilty of adultery often while I was trying to make a living for us.

    I prayed about this for four years, and I had counsel from leaders who said I could get married again and those who disagreed with them. I had nothing but confusion on this issue until I went to a church service one night. The Christian woman I wanted to marry and I were in the back of the church speaking to a friend who we shared our confusion with. Finally I told her; “I will no longer seek to get my answer from men. I will get my answer from God.” Then we went in to the service.

    A missionary visiting from Korea was visiting that night and speaking. After the sermon he gave an altar call, and I went forward to the second row of seats and sat down putting my head in my arms and praying about our situation. The missionary eventually got to where I was sitting and he put his hand on my shoulder to pray, and then he removed his hand without praying and said; “You won’t get your answer from men. You will get it from God.” I knew that God was going to give me the right answer and got up and left the church with my future wife.

    We began to pray for evidence from God that he would give us the answer and it came in many ways. We were poor and unable to afford the least thing for the wedding, but God miraculously provided through many different ways that would take too long to tell of. From the wedding dress to my suit and down to the smallest detail including a honeymoon cabin we could never have afforded without his intervention.

    Then God gave us seven children who have all come to know Christ as their Savior, and three of them are married and raising their children for Christ. In addition, we served nearly ten years in drug and alcohol rehabilitation ministries and I was able to author and publish a book. God has used me to author and create a ministry site and minister in many places all across this nation. I have been blessed to lead others to Christ, pray for people in Christ’s name to be healed and they were instantly healed and I have cast out demons in the name of Jesus Christ.

    I have been walking with the Lord and he with me for over 40 years and our marriage is strong and Christ-centered. I abhor divorce among Christians but understand that God joined us together unlike the first marriage which had nothing to do with God in any way now that I look back on it. Our marriage is holy and godly and we give all the glory, honor and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed us and kept us all these years. This January 7th will be 36 years since the Lord brought us together in Bible college.

    1. Roger Reply

      S ones like God joined you together with your wife and blessed you

  2. Joseph P Reply

    Just ask Jesus for forgiveness, and you have nothing to prove to us. Who are we to judge you. Peace be with you brother

  3. Charles Onwuli Reply

    Yes i don’t think the first union was indeed a marriage. For you both did not enter the union freely but under the influence of drugs hence the natural seperation. Though am not a Councellor but what u have now for 36 years is the real marriage. Pls have it blessed and continue to work on it. Bless u brother

  4. larry Reply

    Your wrong . You’ve twisted the scripture to fit your tradition and life style, as you have for centuries. Pope not mention in bible call No Man father(except your Father in heaven), that is ibthe bible. Purgatory, no where mentioned in scripture again. But you needed to change and add to the word and give your followers a deceptive hope. Once you die, you face judgment and it is Final, no praying out no paying out,it is finished! Your fate is sealed. Again thats in scripture. The word is God breathe and written so the ordinary citizens or plain folk, can understand and study on there on,and be approved a worker RIGHTLY dividing the TRUTH . 2 Tim. 2:15. Your teaching man’s creeds and ordinances,a d mixing them in with Gods commands,and telling people they can’t understand it it’s too complicated.Shame on you! We’re told false teachers, it would be better to not be born.

    1. A. R Reply

      You realize that St. Peter one of Jesus desciple was considered. A pope because “And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church , and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. Matthew 16:18-19 and what you are doing against bible is judging because it says “Do not judge others, so God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others” Matthew 7:1 so please respect us Catholics that we respect your beliefs

  5. Gregory Duhon Reply

    “If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.”

    Larry why wouldn’t you obey God?

  6. michelle tavakolu Reply

    Mr Lord , one reason – under influence of alcohol, drugs or prescription meds (some affecting mind -=hallucigentics etc.) Make holy matrimony null. Also if both are not of mature enough age or maturity to really know what they are entering into, one of the partners is an atheist, or non-Christian without them intention life-long commitment (ex. For green card or citizenship of country future life , polygamy,) You are not bound because the intent of both was null amount other factors . The Catholic Churches are not decisions of men. Jesus said to Saint Peter head of His Catholic (Universal) Cholurch” what you bind on earth is bound in heaven, what you unbound on earth ., is unbound in heaven”.

  7. Charles King Reply

    Well said and well done Mr. Lord. Obviously there are many interpretations of scripture. (as seen here in the various posts!) As a Christian I try to remember and follow the example, word and teachings of our Lord and Savior, the Son of God Jesus Christ. But only God is perfect. So consequently whenever there is question, conflict or even anger in my day I inevitably come back to these two quotes from Jesus, John 8:7 and John 13:34-35. No one here has the right to judge you, no one here has the right tell you what to do. God knows who we are inside, outside and completely. You’re a good man doing good things. That’s all.

  8. roel Reply

    Larry is pagan

  9. Patricia Reply

    The NAB is a thought for thought translation and not a word for translation. Marriage is the subject, not living together.

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