When Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went to the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2Large crowds followed him, and he cured them there. 3Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” 4He answered, “Have you not read that the one who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 7They said to him, “Why then did Moses command us to give a certificate of dismissal and to divorce her?” 8He said to them, “It was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.9And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery.” 10His disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11But he said to them, “Not everyone can accept this teaching, but only those to whom it is given. 12For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” (Matthew 19:1-12, NRSV)
So is it ok to get a divorce? I struggle with this because when I do premarital counseling my hope is this couple will make it for the long haul, but marriage isn’t about love it is about commitment and sometimes that commitment isn’t there. I also struggle with this because I know several divorced and remarried couples that are very happy and committed to each other. So what is the answer?
Well according to this passage and all of its parallel passages in the gospels, Jesus says that if you divorce and remarry you are committing adultery. In this passage, Matthew adds the except for unchastity, which isn’t in the parallels. I have a friend from before seminary who had long conversations with me on these passages because she was in the process of getting a divorce then. And because of these passages, she decided not to remarry or even pursue a relationship that might lead to that. She, in a sense, made a “eunuch” of herself for the sake of others. She did not want to make another person an adulterer because of her sin. And for that I applaud her. Not many could do this as Jesus says. But I also tell those I know who are divorced and remarried to own the sin of adultery. We are all sinners and divorced and remarried people can publicly name that sin without shame.
So can we get divorced? Yes and no. But in and through everything that happens in your life God still loves you!