Class Notes: 4/6/2014

Mark 10:2-3 The doctrine of divorce part 3


In our study of Mark we are in Mark 10:2-3; where the Pharisees tested Jesus by asking him a question about divorce. So we have taken up the doctrine of divorce and when we stopped last time we had started a list of five things that dissolve a marriage and give the right of remarriage.

a. Any thing by way of divorce and remarriage before salvation. All pre-salvation sins are blotted out as of faith in Christ, Isa 43:25, 44:22; Psa 103:12; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14.

b. Adultery, Matt 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11-12. But adultery does not mean that the marriage must breakup under the principle of "forgive as Christ has forgiven." Eph 4:32;

c. Desertion, 1 Cor 7:15.
d. The victim of a divorce gimmick, Deut 24:2.
e. The death of a spouse, Rom 7:2-3; 1Cor 7:39;

In cases where divorce occurs without the right of remarriage, the death or remarriage of the divorced spouse who is guilty party gives the right of remarriage.

Our Lord commented on Deut 24:1-4; in Matt 5:31-32; "Now it has been said, `Whoever divorces his wife, he must give her a certificate of divorce';

v32 but I say to you that any one who divorces his wife, except for the cause (or reason) of adultery, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

The word translated "unchastity" in the NASV is the Greek word "pornia" that is a general term for every kind of unlawful sexual activity. In the Old Testament adultery was a criminal offense punishable by death. Jesus changes adultery to a civil offense punishable by legal divorce.

He gives new meaning to the phrase "a matter of shame" of Deut 24:1. The phrase now refers only to adultery. All reasons for divorce that were used the Old Testament are rescinded, including the divorce gimmicks that were being practiced.

The adulterous marriage originates from divorce and remarriage. But the innocent party in an adultery divorce has the right of remarriage so in their case there is no adultery involved in remarriage.

If the guilty party in a divorce remarries, they commit adultery and their new spouse is also committing adultery. This is one of the reasons why John the Baptizer told Herod that he was living in sin.

The Scripture authorizes remarriage for the innocent victim of the divorce gimmick, of an adultery divorce, and in the case of desertion. Outside of these areas the Scripture is silent.

When the Bible is silent on other legitimate reasons for divorce it's silence simply means that there is no right to remarry.

Any life threatening situation is certainly a legitimate reason for divorce. Examples of this would include:
(a) Brutality and injury to spouse and or children.
(b) Substance abuse such as drug abuse and alcoholism.
(c) Sexual abuse of spouse and or children.
(d) Homicidal and suicidal tendencies on the part of a spouse.
(e) Criminal activity by a spouse against the family.

Why is the Scripture silent? While any abusive activity or life threatening situation is a legitimate reason for divorce, it is not a legitimate reason for remarriage. This is similar to our concept of legal separation.

The law protects an abused wife and children, and part of that protection is divorce. However, the purpose of divorce is the protection of life not the basis of remarriage.

There is one exception: if the guilty party dies or remarries, the innocent party is free to remarry. But great caution should be used because the innocent victim has very likely become damaged and that damage must first be repaired by spiritual growth.

Our Lord's second commentary on Deut 24:1-4 is found in Matt 19:3-9;

In this case the Pharisees who taught that you could divorce your wife if you found someone better were attacking Jesus. Matt 19:3; "So the Pharisees came to Him, testing Him and saying, `Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any or every reason?'

v4 Then He answered and said to them, `Have you not read (Gen 1:27; and Gen 5:2;), that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,' and said (Gen 2:24;), `

Matt 19:5; For this cause a man shall leave father and mother, and be united to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?

v6 Consequently, they are no more two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no man tear apart.'

v7 They replied to Him, `Then why did Moses command to give her a certificate and divorce her?'

Matt 19:8; He said to them, `Because of your hardness of heart (scar tissue of soul), Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning (the Garden of Eden) it was not so.

v9 In fact I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for the cause of adultery, and marries another person commits adultery."

In verse 4, Jesus goes back to the first marriage that failed in perfect environment. The first marriage was the precedent for all marriage in the Old Testament.

Divorce tears the union of "one flesh" apart. A divorced person, even for legitimate reasons, has torn flesh and is not marriage material. Therefore, even when authorized, remarriage demands the elapse of time for the healing of "torn flesh".

The wounds will never heal until the innocent party in a divorce case has attained spiritual maturity and is using the problem solving devices and has maximum doctrine in the soul.

Scar tissue of the soul is caused by both moral or immoral degeneracy. Either type of degeneracy can destroy a marriage. The divine institution of marriage demands the ultimate in compatibility in marriage, a compatibility that only comes from virtue.

Jesus is saying that it was the will of God that marriage be irrevocable except for the cause of adultery as a civil matter, adultery is a legitimate basis for divorce.

Our Lord's third commentary on Deut 24:1-4; is found in our passage in Mark 10:2-12.

v2 "Now the Pharisees approached Him, testing Him, and began to interrogate Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife.

v3 Then He answered and said to them, `What did Moses command you?'

Mark 10:4; And they replied, `Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.'

v5 But Jesus said to them, `Confronted with your hardness of heart he wrote this commandment.

v6 But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.

Mark 10:7; For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother,

v8 and the two shall become one flesh; therefore, no longer two, but one flesh.

v9 Therefore what God has joined in marriage, let no man separate.'

v10 When they were in the house again, the disciples began questioning Him about this subject.

v11 Then He said to them, `Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman, commits adultery against her (the second wife);

v12 and if she herself (the opposite side of the coin with the woman involved in the divorce gimmick) divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.'"

In the case of verse eleven the second wife is the innocent victim. The man allegedly loves his second wife but commits adultery against her.

The woman in verse eleven is an innocent victim; the woman in verse twelve is not.

Jesus also defines this in Luke 16:18; "Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and he who marries a woman who is divorced from a husband commits adultery."

At the time the Bible was written it was generally men who initiated divorce.

We see from this that there are two kinds of adulterous marriages.
(1) The situation in which a person divorces his or her spouse in order to marry another person.

There are three subcategories, each of which includes the Herod syndrome. The Herod syndrome is defined as the person who is motivation to divorce so they can marry someone else.

In case 1 husband number one is married to wife number one, and he "falls in love" with another woman. Husband number one will sacrifice his wife to marry what will be wife number two. The second marriage is an adulterous marriage. Wife number one, who is the victim, has the right of remarriage.

In case 2 wife number one "falls in love" with another man, and will sacrifice husband number one to marry husband number two. This is also an adulterous marriage, and the husband has the right of remarriage.

In case 3 a married man "falls in love" with a married woman, who is not his wife Husband number one and wife number two have fallen in love with each other. They both use the divorce gimmick to get rid of their first spouse and marry each other. After the two divorces, you have two innocent parties with the right of remarriage, and two adulterous marriages.

(2) A legitimately divorced person, who does not have the right of marriage, marries anyway. For example, a woman has the right to divorce a man who is abusive but neither has the right of remarriage. But often each will remarry another person anyway, thus creating an adulterous marriage.

Whatever the Bible says legitimately dissolves a marriage, gives the right of remarriage. And if the Bible does not say it is a legitimate basis for divorce, then there is no right of remarriage but if they get remarried anyway, then they have created an adulterous marriage.

According to the Bible a marriage can be dissolved in three ways.
(a) The death of a spouse, Rom 7:2-3; 1Cor 7:39;
(b) Biblically authorized divorce: adultery, Matt 5:32, Mark 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; and desertion, 1Cor 7:15.
(c) The innocent victim in an adultery case, a desertion case, or a divorce gimmick case, Deut 24:1-4; Luke 16:18; Matt 5:32, Matt 19:9; Mark 10:11-12.

The innocent party has the right of remarriage in an adultery case, desertion case, or divorce gimmick case. But the right of remarriage does not belong to an innocent victim in an assault case, attempted murder case, a sexual molestation case, drug abuse, etc. The innocent party has no right of remarriage unless their former spouse dies or remarries.

In Luke 16:18; our Lord is simply defining an adulterous marriage.

Some may say this teaches that there is no right of divorce or remarriage. But that is definitely not what the passage is teaching. This passage is simply defining an adulterous marriage.

Jesus does not qualify the meaning by using the phrase "except for adultery," because He is dealing with a different category within the subject of divorce. He is talking about the prohibition of adulterous marriages. He is not saying that divorce is prohibited.

Even though an adulterous marriage may be recognized by the state God does not recognize it because the people involved are living in adultery.

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