Matthew 5:32

In the Catholic Bible Matthew 5:32 says “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawfull) causes her to commit adultery,…” NAB. In the Protestant NIV bible it replaces"(unless the marriage is unlawfull)" with “except for marital unfaithfullness”. Why the difference?

[quote=Sean73]In the Catholic Bible Matthew 5:32 says “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawfull) causes her to commit adultery,…” NAB. In the Protestant NIV bible it replaces"(unless the marriage is unlawfull)" with “except for marital unfaithfullness”. Why the difference?
[/quote]

Because of the widespread Protestant acceptance of divorce.

– Mark L. Chance.

[quote=Sean73]In the Catholic Bible Matthew 5:32 says “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawfull) causes her to commit adultery,…” NAB. In the Protestant NIV bible it replaces"(unless the marriage is unlawfull)" with “except for marital unfaithfullness”. Why the difference?
[/quote]

The 1970 Catholic Bible said, “lewd conduct is a separate case” – closer to the Protestant version.

You must understand that even the 1970 Catholic guess AND the Protestant guess respecting the precise meaning of the words do not justify divorce for adultery.

In effect, THIS is what Jesus’ words would mean, under the 1970 Catholic guess/Protestant guess…

But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless of course she has already committed, or is now committing, adultery, in which case what I’m about to say doesn’t make sense in those cases) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Otherwise, the final seven words don’t quite make full sense…if someone married a divorced woman who supposedly validly divorced her husband because of HIS adultery, then why should that RE-marriage be adulterous?

[quote=Sean73]In the Catholic Bible Matthew 5:32 says “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawfull) causes her to commit adultery,…” NAB. In the Protestant NIV bible it replaces"(unless the marriage is unlawfull)" with “except for marital unfaithfullness”. Why the difference?
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A marriage was unlawful under Jewish law if the man and the woman were too closely related. That is what Jesus was referring to and the NAB faithfully translates it to be. What Jesus was saying is that there are no valid reasons for divorcing a spouse, except being too closely related. After all, the couple would know they were too closely related to marry in the first place, and so not marry. The NIV version is a poor translation intended to water down Christ’s infallible teaching, sad to say.

I had heard that “unlawful” meant what it means today, “common law marriage”/living together. If a couple is not REALLY married officially, then they cannot REALLY get divorced. I learned that in a class in my sophomore year of university & that’s always made sense to me.

[quote=BibleReader]Otherwise, the final seven words don’t quite make full sense…if someone married a divorced woman who supposedly validly divorced her husband because of HIS adultery, then why should that RE-marriage be adulterous?
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Adultery is not valid grounds for ending a marriage.

– Mark L. Chance.

[quote=Della]A marriage was unlawful under Jewish law if the man and the woman were too closely related. That is what Jesus was referring to and the NAB faithfully translates it to be. What Jesus was saying is that there are no valid reasons for divorcing a spouse, except being too closely related. After all, the couple would know they were too closely related to marry in the first place, and so not marry. The NIV version is a poor translation intended to water down Christ’s infallible teaching, sad to say.
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What Della said. :thumbsup:

The old catechisms used to explain it as “marriage within forbidden degrees of consanguinity” —in other words, incest. This was not only against Jewish law, but was a scandal to many Gentiles as well.

The Greek word in the exception clause, porneia, means any illicit sexual intercourse.

I have my own theory why it is present in this exception clause which appears only in Matthew’s gospel, in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9; the parallel passages in Mark and Luke contain no exception clause.

The only other place in Matthew’s gospel where divorce is mentioned, and the key to understand the proper application of the exception clause, is Matthew 1:18-19:“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”

It is my understanding that in Jewish eyes, the betrothal meant Jospeh and Mary were considered legally married but before they had “become one flesh”, i.e., before their marriage had been consumated. Since Matthew describes Joseph as"being a just man" and as having “resolved to divorce her,” it seems Matthew inserted the exception to divorce to cover Joseph’s special situation. Otherwise, how could Matthew condsider Joseph to be “a just man,” if the divorce he had resolved to obtain was contrary to God’s will as proclaimed by Jesus?

If I am correct in my interpretation of Matthew, this would mean a man may divorce his wife (or a woman her husband) only if, after the wedding but before the consumation of their marriage, it is discovered that his wife (or her husband) has been unchaste and already “become one flesh” with someone else.

Along these same lines, it is my understanding that the Catholic Church does allow for divorce and remarriage in the case of a valid but unconsumated marriage.

Jesus says that divorce and remarriage is never ok for any reason. As most people know, King Henry the 8th formed the Anglican Church so that he culd remarry. Other than him, however, the vast majority of Protestants have said that remarriage was never allowed. It is only in the past 50 years that Protestants have started to allow divorce and remarriage.

There are four New Testament passages that talk about divorce:

Matthew 5:31-32
Matthew 19:7-9
Mark 10:2-12
Luke 16:18

The Matthew passages say that whosoever divorces his wife “except for the cause of fornication” (sexual immorality in newer translations) causes her to commit adultery.

To allow remarriage, people make this arguement: “Fornication means unmarried sex or incest. Obviously married people cannot fornicate, so Jesus must have meant divorce when he said fornication.” This is simply not true, however. The two words in this sentence are PORNEIA which means fornication, and MOICHEUO which means adultery. Every time adultery is talked about in the new testament, MOICHEUO is used. There is no reason that Matthew would have changed the word for adultery for this one passage.

Given this, what does Jesus mean? There are two possibilities.

The first is actually very unfortunate. There is evidence that very early Christians who wanted to remarry actually altered Matthew’s gospel. It is entirely possible that the manuscripts of Matthew which survived and which the Church put into the Bible were the altered ones. (This does NOT mean that Matthew is not inspired. What Matthew wrote down ORIGINALLY was ABSOLUTELY inspired. Mistakes made over the centuries in copying the manuscripts and even flat out changes by wrongdoing people are still possible. Thankfully, there are only a very few cases which are even suspected of having been changed, and they don’t effect any actual teaching.) This idea is backed up by the fact that some very old manuscripts of Matthew have been found that do NOT have the exception, but simply say that anyone who remarries commits adultery.

If the first possibility is not true and Jesus actually said this, there is a very clear meaning behind Jesus’ words. The idea is the very same that the church teaches today about annulments. Basically, if a person commitied fornication before the marriage took place, then the marriage could be declared invalid, as if it never really happened (this is what an annulment is). Remember that fornication can refer to incest, unwed sex, or a few other immoral things. It amounts to a man or woman finding out after the marriage that their spouse was doing nasty things beforehand. This matters because a key part of a marriage is that there must be an intent to be commited. If a person was fooling around beforehand, the person obviously never intended to be commited in the first place, so one of the key parts of the marriage was not present and it is invalid. Remember that Matthew wrote his gospel to the Jews. Therefore, he was very concerned with Jewish concerns, and bridging the gap between Jews and Christianity. Because the gentiles became a major part of the Church, a lot of their bad habits did too. Incest and a lot of other sexually immoral acts were a part of this. Matthew very well then could have been sure to include this fact in his gospel to ease the fears the Jews may have had about the gentiles. This doesn’t mean Matthew made it up; the teaching came from Jesus, but probably it wasn’t important enough to Luke or Mark to include it in their gospels.

The straightforward evidence against divorce is also very clear in the Bible. The Mark and Luke passages make no exceptions whatsoever: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and everyone who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”

The most important statement against remarriage comes twice: once in Matthew, and once in Mark. They say the same thing:

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

[quote=Todd Easton]The Greek word in the exception clause, porneia, means any illicit sexual intercourse.

I have my own theory why it is present in this exception clause which appears only in Matthew’s gospel, in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9; the parallel passages in Mark and Luke contain no exception clause.

The only other place in Matthew’s gospel where divorce is mentioned, and the key to understand the proper application of the exception clause, is Matthew 1:18-19:“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.”

It is my understanding that in Jewish eyes, the betrothal meant Jospeh and Mary were considered legally married but before they had “become one flesh”, i.e., before their marriage had been consumated. Since Matthew describes Joseph as"being a just man" and as having “resolved to divorce her,” it seems Matthew inserted the exception to divorce to cover Joseph’s special situation. Otherwise, how could Matthew condsider Joseph to be “a just man,” if the divorce he had resolved to obtain was contrary to God’s will as proclaimed by Jesus?

The traditional understanding of why Matthew considered divorcing Mary quietly was because learning that she had become espoused to the Holy Spirit and conceived the Messiah, he no longer had any claim on her and in his eyes believed he would be taking another man’s (God’s) wife. So, his “justness” was in realizing that Mary belonged totally to God. But, the angel told him not to fear to take Mary as his wife and also confirmed for him that her child truly was the Son of God, meaning that she would need him as her provider and protector in the world.

If I am correct in my interpretation of Matthew, this would mean a man may divorce his wife (or a woman her husband) only if, after the wedding but before the consumation of their marriage, it is discovered that his wife (or her husband) has been unchaste and already “become one flesh” with someone else.

If all this occurred before the wedding in a Christian marriage arrangement there would be no need for divorce because no marriage had taken place.

Along these same lines, it is my understanding that the Catholic Church does allow for divorce and remarriage in the case of a valid but unconsumated marriage.

No, not divorce but annulment. If a spouse decides that s/he does not want to consumate the marriage, no real marriage has taken place because the one spouse never intended to keep his/her wedding vows. However, couples may marry with the intention of never consumating the marriage by mutual consent. Such a marriage is called a Josephite marriage, named after the relationship between St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
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ftp://radio.catholic.com/calive/2005/ca050623.rm

Jimmy Akin talks about it about halfway through this program.

[quote=Todd Easton]The Greek word in the exception clause, porneia, means any illicit sexual intercourse.

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This may help:

**The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon **

Strong’s Number: 4202
Original Word Word Origin:
porneiva from (4203)
Transliterated Word: Porneia
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech:
por-ni’-ah
Noun Feminine

** Definition**

  1. illicit sexual intercourse
    a. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
    b. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
    c. sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,
  2. metaph. the worship of idols
    of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols

King James Word Usage - Total: 26
**
KJV Verse Count**
Matthew 3
Mark 1
John 1
Acts 3
Romans 1
1 Corinthians 4
2 Corinthians 1
Galatians 1
Ephesians 1
Colossians 1
1 Thessalonians 1
Revelation 7

[quote=Sean73]In the Catholic Bible Matthew 5:32 says “But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawfull) causes her to commit adultery,…” NAB. In the Protestant NIV bible it replaces"(unless the marriage is unlawfull)" with “except for marital unfaithfullness”. Why the difference?
[/quote]

Because of textual variation:

there are four fairly extensive variants of the verse as a whole recorded in the second edition of the United Bible Societies Greek NT;

and uncertainty over the precise meaning of the words porneia - Father Max Zerwick’s note on the passage in his “Grammatical Analysis of the Greek NT” is unusually long, and is devoted entirely to the meaning of the word - and moicheia. The similar passage in Matthew 19 has caused similar headaches. ##

I very much recommend listening to the Jimmy Akin audio, he explains it well.

[quote=Della]Along these same lines, it is my understanding that the Catholic Church does allow for divorce and remarriage in the case of a valid but unconsumated marriage.

No, not divorce but annulment. If a spouse decides that s/he does not want to consumate the marriage, no real marriage has taken place because the one spouse never intended to keep his/her wedding vows. However, couples may marry with the intention of never consumating the marriage by mutual consent. Such a marriage is called a Josephite marriage, named after the relationship between St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
[/quote]

What I had in mind when I said ‘divorce’ was the dissolution of the marriage bond of a valid yet non-consummated marriage, as described in Canon 1142 of the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 1142 A non-consummated marriage between baptised persons or between a baptised party and an unbaptised party can be dissolved by the Roman Pontiff for a just reason, at the request of both parties or of either party, even if the other is unwilling.

A declaration of nullity (an annulment) applies to an invalid marriage which is different from the dissolution of a valid yet non-consummated marriage which is possible for a just reason. Of course, following the words of Jesus, the Church teaches that a valid and consummated marriage can only be dissolved by the death of one of the spouses.

[quote=mlchance]Adultery is not valid grounds for ending a marriage.

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

I know that, Mark.

I was showing that the PROTESTANT interp – that adultery does justify divorce – DOESN’T make sense.

Todd Easton’s post,#8 has given me a new and I think better view on “porneia” in 5:32. I appreciate the insight. Thank you, Todd.

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