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July 25, 2011 / Daniel

Three Views on Divorce and Remarriage

In this video, Erwin Lutzer explains his position on the subject of divorce and remarriage.  He holds the third view.

Here is a summary of the three main views on this subject.

1)  Divorce is rarely permissible.  Remarriage is never permissible (John Piper).

  • Porneia “fornication” has a very narrow meaning.  It refers to sexual infidelity during the engagement period (Matthew 1:19).    It also refers to incestuous and homosexual relationships (1 Cor. 5:1).
  • Mark and Luke do not mention an exception clause.    Therefore, there are no real exceptions.  Matthew’s exception refers only to the betrothal period.   The only reason Matthew mentions an exception clause to exonerate Joseph (Matt. 1:19).
  • Matthew 5:32 is a strict prohibition against all remarriages.
  • 1 Cor. 7:10-11 says, “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband  (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.”

2)  Divorce is permissible in cases of sexual infidelity and desertion.  Remarriage is never permissible.

  •  Porneia “fornication” has a broader meaning.  It refers to sexual immorality in general.  It includes adultery.   In Ezekiel 23:43 and Sirach 23:23,  the word porneia is used as a synonym for adultery.
  • This position agrees with the first position’s assessment of remarriage.

3) Divorce is permissible in cases of sexual infidelity and desertion.  Remarriage is permissible in such cases (John MacArthur).

  • This position agrees with the second position’s assessment of the word porneia.
  • Adultery was a capital offense under the OT Law.  Therefore, Jesus gives an exception for adultery, because the Jewish people no longer had the authority to execute criminals due to Roman occupation.
  • Matthew 5:32 is a prohibition against some remarriages.   Remarriage is permissible when the divorce was legitimate.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:15 says,  “But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.”   Compare this with 1 Corinthians 7:39.  “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.”  This suggests that desertion of an unbelieving spouse is comparable to the death of a spouse.
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