Does Matthew 5:31,32 Authorize Those Put Away for Their Fornication to Remarry?
Matthew 5:31,32: “Furthermore it has been said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except fornication causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.”
The necessary implication in these verses which Jesus assumes is that if a husband puts away his wife for a cause other than fornication, his divorced wife will most likely marry again. According to what Jesus says in Matthew 19:9 when she gets remarried, she will be in a constant state of committing adultery (the force of the Greek present tense). In Matthew 5:32, Jesus is emphasizing another aspect of the severity of the husband’s decision to put away his wife for reason(s) other than fornication, namely, HE keeps on causing her to commit adultery (the force of the Greek present tense). The first husband has become an accomplice in his divorced and remarried wife’s sin of adultery because he “opened the door” to the possibility of her contracting an adulterous marriage by divorcing her for unscriptural reason(s). The only options both had (prior to her remarrying) were to remain unmarried or be reconciled/remarried to one another (1 Corinthians 7:10-11); yet he opened the door for her to remarry and she remarried – BOTH are guilty (as well as the 3rd party who married him and the 4th party who married her).
Surprisingly there are some who take the “except for fornication” in Matthew 5:32 as meaning that if the husband put away his wife because of her fornication, then she would be free to remarry another without breaking the law of Christ. Such a position, however, has Jesus contradicting himself in Matthew 19:9. Jesus’ marriage, divorce, and remarriage rule: he who divorces and marries another commits adultery (as does the one who was divorced and marries another; and the one who marries the one divorced); he also causes the one he divorced to commit adultery (assuming the person he divorces remarries another). Jesus’ exception to the marriage, divorce, and remarriage rule: if your spouse commits fornication (and you do not) and you divorce your spouse because of his/her fornication, not only do you not commit adultery by getting remarried (assuming you marry someone who is scripturally a candidate for marriage), but you are not held accountable/liable if the person you divorce remarries and, therefore, contracts an adulterous marriage.
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