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I am requesting prayers for the salvation of my marriage.  My husband of 8 years is going to divorce me because he says we are in an "adulterous marriage" or ďadulterous relationshipĒ.  He is unsure what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:31,32 "Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality (fornication)[e] causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery; this last part is the clincher.  What does it mean? Who is Jesus talking about?  It looks like the innocent wife is an adulteress and her new husband is also committing adultery.  
My husband says fornication does not mean adultery included. He says if Jesus meant adultery why didnít he say adultery? In considering the last part of the verse, my husband says if the traditional view is correct in regard to MDR then why does the innocent party by implication commit adultery when she remarries.
He was a widower when we married and my first husband was unfaithful. We are both church of Christ. My current husband believed the "exception clause" when he said his vows to marry me but now after 5 years of studying online he is sure we are living in sin. He says, according to Luke 16:18b and the man who marries the divorced woman commits adultery. He says we are in perpetual adultery and will both go to hell if we stay together. He does not want to divorce. He does not want to live alone and celibate the rest of his life but he says he must be obedient to God in this manner.  He disregards that God hates divorce. He says that God only hates the first divorce not the second divorce.  I say where does it say these things in the Bible.  He says I am still married "in God's eyes" to my first husband who is now married to the woman he was committing adultery with over 20 years ago.
I donít think anything but Jesus himself telling him he is wrong and will be committing the sin of divorce will change his mind. But I am still praying and hoping.  
I just donít believe that God meant for any man or woman to live alone and celibate the rest of their lives.
I don't believe out of all the bad things satan puts us through that remarriage is perpetual unforgiving sin. And the only sin out there that is a constant suffering to require the divorced people to be celibate the rest if our lives. Did Jesus die for every sin ( if it is a sin) but divorce and remarriage ?
I donít believe divorce to repent is the correct option.  Committing a sin to erase a sin is just not what Jesus would say to do.  I canít even make myself believe the same way he does. Any input you could give me I will appreciate.
Please explain "and the man that marries the divorced woman commits adultery".  Why would Jesus/God put something in the Bible that would cause such controversy for hundreds of years? I say that if Jesus did not say to divorce then it is a sin and that my husbands new "permanence view" is doctrine of demons.
Thank you

Hi Julie, thanks for writing.

First, thank you both for wanting to follow Christ. It is a good thing that your husband wants to do what he thinks is correct, so let's give credit where credit is due.

There are a number of points I think we need to consider. Perhaps the most important is that God knows if you're married. He doesn't pretend that you aren't. You are married and you should stay that way. In the context of Moses' allowance for divorce, it is not true that every Jewish couple who divorced were committing adultery ever after. Further, adultery is simply sexual behavior, but it includes the idea of breaking the marital promise of faithfulness. Once we have abandoned our spouses, the promise is broken and there is no expectation between the couple that it isn't. Adultery is not something that you commit every time someone has sex with the person to whom they are married.

With regard to your question, we have to look at the situation. Jesus was talking to two groups of men - specifically men - who held different ideas about "putting away" one's wife. One group thought that sexual impurity was the only reason to jettison your wife. The other group thought that anything that was unpleasing about her would allow a husband to divorce his wife. As a result, this group of men may have thought that they could "legally" divorce their wives for any reason if the had found a more pleasing candidate. Maybe the new one was prettier, or richer, or smelled better. In any case, these men would divorce their wives and marry the new one to please themselves. They ttheght they were righteous in doing this because the law allowed them.

The answer Jesus gives them is that neither group was correct because God didn't really want divorce at all. God allowed divorce for sexual impurity as a concession. Jesus ruled out divorce "for any reason," as an option. Because this reason is not allowed, both those who divorced their wives for that purpose and the women who married them were guilty of adultery. So why is the woman guilty?

There are a couple reasons possible. Perhaps the woman enticed the man to dump his wife and marry her. This would give the new wife security and respect in the community. Or, this may be reference to the fact that the divorce for "any reason" isn't legal, participants in it are parties to the violation of the promise. In other words, by marrying the new wife, the man involves her in his unrighteous behavior.

But it is the breaking of the promise, not the sex that causes the problem.

Adultery in the sense of divorce is a one-time event and it involves the breaking of the promise more so than sexual behavior. God does not assign guilt to innocent people. If previous martiages were ended appropriately, neither of you have a problem, and you should stay married.  

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Hoyt Roberson


I can answer just about any doctrinal, relational, or Scriptural question from a "traditional" church of Christ perspective, and from perspectives of somewhat more progressive congregations. If you want an answer from a particular perspective, let me know that up front, and I'll respond in that vein. If you want to peg me on the liberal-conservative spectrum, I would suggest a bit left of center. Depending on the question though, I might be far left, or perhaps rather toward the right.


I have fifty years as a member of Churches of Christ. Over those five decades, I have taught teen classes, adult classes, served as a deacon and congregational administrator, Lay Leader at two military congregations, and finally as a shepherd of a 500 member congregation. Most of the congregations I have been a member of have been "mainline" congregations, but I am quite familiar with more conservative and more liberal congregations and views as well. I read and subscribe to various books and periodicals for churches of Christ, and have discussed a variety of topics with representatives of our various groups both in person, and via mail. One of my Masters degrees is from Pepperdine, so let that guide your understanding of my formal training.

Christian Association for Psychological Studies, American Association of Christian Counselors, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.


I hold a Masters of Ministry degree from Pepperdine University, as well as a Masters of Counseling degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from the University of Phoenix.

Awards and Honors
The greatest temporal honor I have had is to be an elder for ten years. The next greatest temporal honor is having been asked to preach for our current congregation.

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