Protestants, how is divorce and remarriage not adultery?


From today’s readings:

Mark 10:
2: And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
3: He answered them, "What did Moses command you?"
4: They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away."
5: But Jesus said to them, "For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
6: But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.' 7:For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
8: and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.
9: What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
10: And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
11: And he said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her;
12: and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

So how do Protestants allow divorce and remarriage? I know many (most?) do from many discussions I’ve had over the years.


It is important to understand the background of this passage. The men talking to Jesus were attempting to set a trap for him. They were basically aqsking him, “Jesus, where do you set the bar on divorce? Are you a liberal or conservative?” The liberal elements of the Scribes and Pharisees believed you could divorce your wife for any reason at all even for burning your dinner. The conservatives believed you could only divorce for sexual impurity. Jesus answers by saying that any divorce misses God’s ideal standard. Any divorce is a sin.

Now, if you take other situations, such as the woman at the well in John 4, Jesus is not dealing on a theological level as he did in today’s Gospel. In John 4 he deals on a pastoral level with the woman who had several husbands. While divorce is a sin, Jesus does not condemn her. Instead he tells her of her need for living water, the need for salvation. Jesus confrontws her with the sin, but does not stop there. He goes on to the need for cleansing.

St. Paul says that if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave (divorce) then the believer is free in that situation.

It is my belief as an Anglican that they are very limited situations in which divorce may be permitted such as what St. Paul names, and if the believer remarries he or she is not committing adultery. Again, we have to remember the context of the Gospel today. No divorce is good. Divorce never is recommended or desired. But there are rare instances where it may be permissible and in those cases we must act pastorally to those involved. Divorce is not the unpardonable sin.

You do have those Protestants who allow divorce for whatever reason and do not consider remarriage adultery. This is most unfortunate and a terrble denial of the clear teaching of Scripture and the Church.



Well my church teaching, is DIVORCE A NO!!! unless someone commited an adultery and is not reconcilable for both parties. We have counsellor working hard to patch trouble couple over their marriage problems, however if both parties still insist their own ways to file for divorce, then they should be responsible for their act and be answerable to God themselves.


As a former Protestant, the frequent justification I heard was the “exception” Jesus mentions with the phrase “except for marital unfaithfulness” (Matt 19:9) which the churches I belonged to interpreted as adultery, so it was considered that if a person’s spouse had committed adultery, it ended the marriage in God’s eyes and left the spouses free to remarry. I’ve read in Catholic commentaries that the word translated as “adultery” in that passage (Porneia) actually refers to uncleanness, referring to people who were too closely blood related to be validly married.


The RCC, under the name of annullment, allows divorce as well. :cool:

How is that not adultery? :rolleyes:


sarcasm is not required.
I suggest you look at various threads on here regarding annulments and what exactly they are and do.
May I also suggest that you look at what a marriage is in the Catholic Church
Once you understand these two things then you will see that the Church does not allow divorces;)


Does it (always) give an annullment? If protestant churches choose the scripture as the authority, then they have no authority to accept or decline any divorces. If I were a Baptist and I got a divorce that offended the Baptist’s, I would just go down the street to the Congregational Church. I think the real issue here is accountability. If I leave the Baptist for the Congregational, what can the Baptist say about it? They can say nothing, because there is no central authority in protestantism. To counter your point, the fact that annullments exist at all (no matter how easliy obtained) is an example of authority that can’t exist in protestantism.



If there is love (God’s kind of love called “Agapao” in Greek) and forgiveness, there is no divorce.


Maybe i would say if they are Love they would have both divorce and annulment and if everyone are spiritual enough to lift their marriage up to God and not choose their own path into marriage:D


If you’re not too busy rolling your eyes you might want to address the question. Later we can discuss the difference between annulment and divorce.



FYI, annulment <> divorce.


The passage from Matthew is more detailed, and when we encounter parallel passages of Scripture it is always better to be willing to err on the side of liberty:

Matthew 5:31-32
"It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 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.

The word translated “sexual immorality” is porneia and was usually translated “fornication” and refers, generally to any illicit sexual activity. In this context the reference is to marital infidelity; adultery.

The reference to marriage with a divorced woman being adultery should not be taken as an absolute in reference to gender. The context would seem to indicate that what it means is that the woman, in the passage is the offender and she may not marry again, though the innocent husband may.

Also, in 1 Corinthians 7:14, Paul writes in reference to unbelievers and unbelievers married:

But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

The reference to being “bound” is to the marital bond, the implication being that when an unbelieving spouse abandons a believer, the believer is free of obligation.

These then are the only two cases where divorce is licit for Christians, on the one hand infidelity, and on the other abandonment by the unbelieving spouse. In the latter case, it is often assumed that any abandonment by a spouse (whether he claims to be a believer or not) is manifest evidence of a false confession of faith in Christ. Elsewhere, Paul says that anyone who refuses to take care of or abandons his family is “worse than a heathen”.


Exactly. This is why such things are common ground for annulment. There was never a valid marriage in such cases to begin with, and this is made officially known.


This is such a desperate attempt at a smear, it’s almost funny. First of all you have just proved you have no idea what annulment even means.

Do you think a “shotgun wedding” is a valid ceremony?



That’s Thayer from his lexicon, btw.


Who is that guy you just cited, and what authority does he have?

EDIT: oops, Never mind. spoke too soon



Thayer was a pretty well known Greek scholar. He’s pretty reliable.

I’m not using him as a kind of “silver bullet” though.

The idea that “porneia” refers to illicit bonds of consanguinity is, frankly, silly. It assumes that there was some huge problem with incest in first century Israel such that Our Lord made it an exception for divorce.


Yeah, I’m not going to jump to conclusions or anything. I don’t know enough about these verses to really say much.

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