Matthew 5:32 Question: Jesus on Divorce


Hello, everyone! I am a new convert to the Catholic Church and this is my first substantive post. Here is my Question. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the following, as recorded in Matthew 5:32:

“But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife ***** causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

The “*****” is translated variously as

  1. unless the marriage is unlawful (NAB)
  2. saving for the cause of fornication (KJV)
  3. except for marital unfaithfulness (NIV)

I have read that the meaning of the Greek word “porneia” is the issue here. I’m partial to the NAB translation myself, but my question is what is the most accurate meaning of “porneia”, and why should one accept one meaning over the others?

Thank you in advance for any responses.

Mrs. Mac


There are numerous threads going on with this particular topic. I’ve posted some of them for starters but you can type the word “porneia” into the Search Forums window to find more. Hopefully you’ll find your answers and jump into some of those discussions. :slight_smile:

Is there divorce in the Bible?

Traditions and Man - Divorce and Remarriage


Your preference for “unlawful marriage” is the right and catholic idea…anyone can put their own meaning on any verse, but only the Catholic teaching authority (the magisterium) has the charism from God to accurately teach the faith and interpret the Bible one way or another. So when you listen to the Catholic magisterium you allow Jesus’s words to have their intended meaning and the full authority of the Word of God. His words then become a real and living thing in your life. Otherwise you pick and choose the interpretation you agree with or prefer for other (moral) reasons and you become the final authority instead of the Church.

Pornea - would be a defilling impediment to marriage in the first place such as incest making the marriage unlawful. To reduce it to infidelity within a lawful marriage controverts Jesus’ meaning and the way the Church has always interpreted it based on this verse in the other gospels.


Thank you both for your responses. I finally got through those two threads (whew!) and found the information I was looking for.:thumbsup:


Mrs. Mac

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