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. (Matt. 5:32)
In recent years, the institution of marriage has come under greater attack both from outside and from within the church. For example, a false view of divorce that is gaining popularity within evangelicalism is that divorce is permissible on the grounds of physical, mental or emotional abuse or neglect. In other words, if a woman constantly berates her husband, cuts him down, constantly tells him how fat and worthless and lazy he is, after enduring this emotionally abusive treatment for an extensive period of time, he would have grounds to divorce his wife. The argument that this constitutes grounds for divorce goes like this: Jesus permitted divorce on the grounds of adultery (Matt 5:32; 19:9). However, adultery at its core is not just about sex. It’s about a deep-rooted selfishness. It’s about deception. It’s about breaking trust. It’s about engaging in behavior that is mentally, emotionally, and psychologically harmful to your spouse. Adultery breaks the marital covenant of trust and does harm to the spouse, and the Bible says that is grounds to legally end the marriage. Thus, there are other behaviors, other than sexual intercourse, that also break the marriage covenant and harm a spouse that constitute grounds for divorce.
While on the surface this all sounds like it makes sense, it is illogical and unbiblical because it is an argument of equivocation. An argument of equivocation occurs when the definition of an important word is changed in the middle of an argument. In this case, adultery is equal to breaking trust, selfishness, deception, and emotional/mental abuse. However, while breaking trust, selfishness, deception, and emotional/mental abuse all result from adultery, adultery is not breaking trust, selfishness, deception, and emotional/mental abuse. In other words, lying to your spouse is not act of adultery. Saying something incredibly damaging to your spouse is not an act of adultery. The word Jesus uses for “sexual immorality” is the Greek word porneia which means ‘physical sexual contact with another person.’ Thus, Jesus literally says, “Everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of [physical sexual contact with another person], makes her commit adultery.” Physical, mental or emotional abuse or neglect are not grounds for divorce.
Daily Thoughts is a daily short post to encourage and help you grow in your faith. If you would like to receive these direct to your in-box, please subscribe.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies