Adultery Does Not Give Permission to Divorce

By David J. Stewart

Matthew 19:8, “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

       One of the saddest commentaries of our time is that so many pastors and preachers misinterpret the Bible concerning divorce. Some of my favorite preachers and even mentors are utterly wrong when they teach that God permits divorce in cases of adultery. Not so! Oh, the sinfulness of those who divorce for any reason!

Jesus said in Matthew 19:9, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” By careful examination of Matthew 19:9 it is clear that Jesus was not permitting divorce in the case of fornication. Notice the words, “and shall marry another.” The emphasis here is upon remarriage and not divorce. It is never acceptable to file for divorce. It is a horrible sin. According to Jeremiah 3:20 and Malachi 2:16 God HATES the sin of divorce or as the Bible calls it in the Old Testament, “putting away.” Jeremiah 3:20, “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD.” Malachi 2:16, “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.” God never changes. The same God Who hated divorce in the Old Testament still hates divorce today!

The only acceptable time to REMARRY (not divorce) is when one's spouse runs off with another in adultery. This is what Jesus is saying in Matthew 19:9. In other words, Jesus is saying, “It is wrong to divorce your spouse. It is wrong to divorce and get remarried. However, if your spouse abandons you for another, committing fornication, and does not seek forgiveness and reconciliation, then it would be acceptable for you to marry someone else.”

Solid evidence of this Biblical truth is found in Matthew 18:21,22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” It is wrong not to forgive one's spouse if they seek forgiveness for committing the sin of adultery. For anyone to teach that divorce is permissible in cases of adultery is to completely IGNORE the Words of our Lord found in Matthew 18:21,22 concerning forgiveness.  We are commanded to forgive, not just seven times, but seven times seventy, i.e., unlimited forgiveness. In filing for divorce from one's spouse, a person is expressing their unwillingness to forgive.

Only God knows how many people have gone into the sin of adultery, and then sought forgiveness from their spouse with tears of sorrow and regret, just to be condemned and abandoned by that self-righteous spouse, who listened to some misguided pastor or pastor's wife who perverted the Scriptures concerning divorce. There is not one single verse in the Bible that permits divorce! What if one's spouse commits murder or embezzlement or forgery or theft, et cetera? Would that give one Biblical permission to divorce? Not at all. So why then would Jesus permit divorce for the particular sin of adultery? That would make no sense. Jesus taught unlimited forgiveness, which divorce is not.

The Bible is clear that a wife is not to divorce her husband, but if she does depart, then she is commanded to REMAIN SINGLE for the rest of her life. 1st Corinthians 7:10,11, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” It is wicked sin for a wife to divorce her husband and then remarry. Likewise, for the husband. God commands the wife not to depart from her husband. This is God's perfect will. If she does depart, then it is God's acceptable will, not His perfect will, for the wife to remain unmarried.

May everyone who reads this article take to heart the Words of our Savior in Matthew 19:8, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Divorce is never God's perfect will, nor even His permissive will. Divorce is a sin!