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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Who Said Anything About Adultery?

Many people believe that Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 gives permission to divorce if a partner has committed adultery. However, I do not believe that is what Jesus said at all. If you are just joining this discussion, I encourage you to start at the beginning:

Context of Matthew 5
Context of Parallel Passages
Did Matthew Add Words to Jesus?
Why our discipleship for someone considering divorce and someone already divorced must be different.

Judging by comments on the blog already, I have not made an adequate case that the “exceptions” in Matthew are largely misunderstood by the church. I do not believe the previous evidence makes it an open and shut case either, but believe it should at least drive us to the text to look carefully. (At this point, the direction I’ve received from my father begins to merge with a helpful article I read from John Piper…to form a duo that should frighten any contrarian!) :)

Watch words carefully.

A Paraphrase of the Typical Understanding of the Passages
but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of adultery, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery—Matthew 5:32
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for cheating on him, and marries another woman commits adultery.
NASB Translation (with key Greek transliterations inserted)
but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity (porneia), makes her commit adultery (moichao); and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery (moichao).—Matthew 5:32
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality (porneia), and marries another woman commits adultery (moicheuo).—Matthew 19:9
Matthew carefully chose his words (and the Spirit oversaw them) as he translated to the Greek. Before we dig deeper into the word meanings (which we will), it is important to realize that Matthew was obviously aware of the word for adultery (moicheuo), yet chose not to use it in the “exceptions.” Some would argue that Matthew merely saw them as synonyms. However, Matthew 15:19 says,
"For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries (moicheuo), fornications (porneia), thefts, false witness, slanders.
In this passage, Matthew (translating Jesus’ teaching to Greek) lists seven different sins. Are we to assume that Matthew listed five separate sins and two synonyms?

Matthew did not list “moicheuo” in his exception. He chose a different word, and we’ll look closer at those words next.


  • At 5:35 PM, Anonymous peppo said…

    Are false witness and slander actually so distinct?

  • At 9:11 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    they sure are...

    pseudomarturia--false testimony, false witness, lie

    blasphemia--slander, speech injurious to a person's name, blasphemy

    one is lying and the other is blasphemy

  • At 9:02 AM, Anonymous peppo said…

    I mean, I understand that they have different entries in the lexicon, but is false testimony not speech damaging to a persons' name? Is slander not also a lie?

    I don't see Jesus words as indicating separate and mutually exclusive categories of sin in this verse. After all, you've been arguing to this point that lust, at least one kind of evil thought, is the same as adultery. Or can someone murder without evil thoughts?

    If porneia is, as I believe, the general term encompassing every kind of illicit sexual activity, then wouldn't sexual intercourse with someone ofther than a spouse be both adultery and porneia?

  • At 12:32 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    if blasphemies and lies are all the same, why the two commandments?

    yes all sin can be categorized under the category of rebellion, but there is great distinction in the sub-groupings.

    if you choose to see porneia simply as "all sexual sin--adultery fitting under the category" what is the puropose of their juxtaposition? are you really denying that matthew must have had different things in mind to use the two words side by side? remember, he's translating Jesus...so if he was just conveying an idea, what's the point of the redundancy?

  • At 1:17 PM, Anonymous peppo said…

    "if blasphemies and lies are all the same, why the two commandments?"

    Do you mean in the Ten Commandments or in what Jesus says here?

    Maybe I should ask you this: are you saying its possible for a married person to commit "porneia" and not be guilty of adultery?

  • At 1:32 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    perhaps it would be best to wait until we've looked at porneia closely as well.

    it seems that maybe you are jumping the gun and missing my point.

    for it is actually my point that no married man can commit porneia without it being moicheuo. but an unmarried person can certainly commit porneia without it being moicheuo.

  • At 2:02 PM, Anonymous peppo said…

    All right, then. I'll be patient.


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