Does this verse indicate that a man who divorces his wife isn’t committing adultry as long as he doesn’t marry a woman who was married previously?
Good question. Are you asking the question from a Bible study perspective, or are you looking to answer a question posed by another person? it’s really important to not just give a ‘by the book’ answer if someone is struggling personally… it can sound very hypocritical. I hope that I do not come across like this…
The whole chapter needs to be read to be in context (which I’m sure you are doing). This is Jesus teaching on the sermon on the mount.
The law says do not murder, I say he who is angry commits murder. verse 21-26
The law says do not commit adultery, I say he who lusts after a woman commits adultery with her in his heart. verse 27-30
And the next topic is also in the same two part format: The law says, but I said to you.
Jesus quotes the Mosaic law Deuteronomy 24:1
31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
I think the reason that Jesus teaches these two verses, was that the religious leaders of the time had twisted the original law (that was good) into a technicality as an easy way for men to divorce their wives on a whim. We need to remember that in this culture it was male dominated and very easy for men to divorce, and impossible for women to divorce their husbands; Jesus came along and goes ‘uh uh, not so fast; you’re missing the point’.
I’m glad I’m not a Christian marriage counselor, it would be very difficult and these circumstances are always very complicated!
Marriage is a huge topic and there is some starting thoughts on forming a personal conviction on divorce and remarriage in the article below.
There’s a huge library of marriage related questions there as well which may be of interest? https://www.gotquestions.org/questions_marriage.html.
Also, the Gospel Coalition has a really good page…
Did that answer your specific question? I hope that’s a helpful starting point for further study and to come to your own conclusions and convictions.
@Luna No, Jesus is actually elevating His teaching above the requirements of the law. While the law allowed divorce in cases of indecency (Deut 24:1).
The Hebrew phrase עֶרְוַת דָּבָר (ʿervat davar) involves a genitive of specification, something characterized by עֶרְוָה (ʿervah). עֶרְוָה means “nakedness,” and by extension means “shame, sexual impropriety, sexual organs, indecency”
My understanding is that in Jewish culture they were allowing divorce too lightly and Jesus was saying it was not appropriate to divorce without legitimate grounds for doing so. For example, if your spouse cheated on you. Jesus is saying it is not okay to put away your spouse for just any reason because you would be causing them to commit adultery.
Also, Jesus saying that it is adultery to marry someone who has been divorced without good cause.
Matthew 5:31-32 - “It was said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife must give her a legal document.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Good article on this topic:
Within the church we see various responses to tough marital struggles. Some may counsel for divorce too hastily, advising couples to forgo the difficult peaks and valleys that are part of any marriage and, in essence, ignoring the high value the Bible places on the marriage commitment. Meanwhile others may respond with legalism, pressuring fellow Christians to stay in marriages that are clearly destructive and unsafe.
There are no cookie-cutter answers to some of these difficult questions. The tension remains: Marriage is a lifelong commitment that is only broken for the most severe reasons. When a Christian is wrestling with a marriage that may be irreparable, sometimes the best we can do is seek God’s guidance in Scripture, talk with trusted friends who know the situation well, and pray together for the Spirit’s guidance.
That’s a really good article… This resonated with me:
Let’s strive to be a Christian community that treats marriage with respect and honors it as a lifelong commitment, but let’s also reach out to protect the vulnerable and mistreated. Only as we stay engaged with the whole Word of God can we navigate this tension.
@matthew.western it was a question I had since I wasn’t sure if it was solely about the woman divorcing and remarrying or if it was a universal statement. I’ve had people ask before thinking the male could remarry as long as it’s a female who hasn’t been divorced, but the famale couldn’t. So I was curious.
Ah ok, and I guess in our culture this immediately raises a fairness issue between genders…?
A question could be asked of this verse ‘why are men off the hook, and women aren’t ?’ …
It is a great question…
It’s a question that I’ve been led back to. Since I do wonder if a woman can divorce her husband for sexual immorality.
This is not specific to your verse but it does address 1 Corinthians 7.
I found this quite by accident. David Instone-Brewer wrote a book review on the Unseen Realm. I thought it was a fair review so I googled David Instone-Brewer and found that he has done some serious research on divorce. He did this out of necessity because as a Baptist Minister he was faced with the problem of Christians who had divorced and wanted to re-marry but they belonged denominations that forbid remarriage on Biblical grounds. So he took this on as a project and based his conclusion on what was the standard for the day in marriage/devoice contracts.
As a basis of this study I collected all the available marriage and divorce documents in Greek, Latin and Aramaic from the 4th C BCE to the 4th C CE and published them as a web site. I have also consulted other documents as far as the 8th C BCE and the 7th C CE in these languages and in Neo-Babylonian, Demotic and Hebrew. Although these earlier and later documents are useful as background, they do not provide such precise parallels to the vocabulary and concepts which are found in 1 Corinthians 7.
It is one of those text based websites that are hard to read but do take the time I think you will see not much has changed. Here is the link.
As an after thought I added this link because it is the companion piece to the first link.
Here is part of his conclusion.
Virtually every facet of Paul’s teaching about marriage and divorce in 1Cor.7 can be illustrated by parallels in the Jewish and non-Jewish marriage and divorce papyri. Paul is helping non-Jewish believers to cope with the Graeco-Roman custom of groundless divorce-by-separation. He reminds them that Jesus taught against a similar type of divorce within Judaism, and reminds them of their binding obligations within a marriage contract to provide emotional and material support for each other. He tells them that if their partner dies, or if they are divorced against their will, they are no longer bound by this contract and can remarry.
As always hope this helps and interested in any comments.