It Takes Two to Marry, But Only One to Divorce

Matthew 19:3, “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, ‘Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?'”

“Matthew 3-9. It is often assumed that these and similar verses (Matt. 5:32; Luke 16:18) teach that the one who is divorced should not remarry. In the situations that Jesus dealt with, however, he addressed divorce for reasons other than unfaithfulness, such as incompatibility or unhappiness. The person who was put away was innocent but often acquired the false stigma of being guilty of moral misconduct. Jesus apparently accepted that such a person might remarry because he stated in Matthew 5:32 that the spouse who unjustly initiated the divorce caused the innocent one to commit adultery (i.e., when they marry someone else). For this reason, Jesus insisted that the Old Testament provision (Deut. 24:1-4) be adhered to; someone who unjustly dismissed an innocent mate ought to clear that person of guilt by providing a bill of divorcement. Divorce papers issued by a judge in today’s society should not be equated with the Old Testament bill of divorcement. Jesus concerned himself only with the innocent party and not with the one who was merely able to secure a legal divorce.” ESV Hebrew-Greek Study Bible Notes