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Switch to Forum Live View Biblical Contradiction? - The "exception clause"
5 years ago  ::  May 19, 2013 - 2:48AM #1
Posts: 472

The so called “exception clause  is found in Mathew 19:9 “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Here we have a man given the right to remarry when he finds out that his wife was unfaithful and committed adultery

This  contradicts   the passage of Luke 16:18 “Whosoever put away his wife and marry another commits adultery, and whoever marries her that is put away by her husband commits adultery”

Here it says that the divorced (innocent) wife will  be involved in an adulterous relationship if she remarries despite  the fact that her husband has divorced her and committed adultery.

In summary the  contradiction is that the husband is given permission to remarry after his wife’s adulterous behavior( Mathew 19:9) but the wife is not given permission to remarry after her husbands adulterous behavior (Luke 16:18)


The only way that I can see to avoid this contradiction is to interpret the Greek word Porneia  used  in the exception clause of Mathew 19:9  to strictly mean fornication. "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication and shall marry another, committeth adultery" (King James/American Standard) With this interpretation fornication would mean sex between unmarried persons  as in the case of Joseph wanting to put away (divorce) Mary whom he was betrothed (engaged to) when he first found out that she  was pregnant. . Therefore the exception clause in Mathew 19:9 would be referring to the betrothal period only and not to those already married and would therefore have given Joseph the right to marry someone else  if he indeed had  left Mary as he initially intended to do.

However strict  this interpretation is , (not applying the exception clause to those already married)  it does eliminiate the above contradiction as well as being  consistent with other new Testament verses that also seem to say no remarriage to those who are in or who have been in a covenant marriage.  Mathew 19:4-6 , Mark 10:6-12, Romans 7:1-3, I Corinthian 7:10,11, I Corinthians 7:39


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5 years ago  ::  May 19, 2013 - 5:02PM #2
Posts: 53,304

If we insist on approaching these sensitive Matters in a Lawyerly Fashion, well heck ... One can ALWAYS find some way AROUND The Laws, yes ... ???

So ... Divorced Persons re-marry, thus they are now Adulterers, and so a Divorce is then JUSTIFIED ... !!!  See ... ???

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5 years ago  ::  May 21, 2013 - 1:43AM #3
Posts: 472

May 19, 2013 -- 5:02PM, teilhard wrote:

If we insist on approaching these sensitive Matters in a Lawyerly Fashion, well heck ... One can ALWAYS find some way AROUND The Laws, yes ... ???

So ... Divorced Persons re-marry, thus they are now Adulterers, and so a Divorce is then JUSTIFIED ... !!!  See ... ???


Hi  teihard thanks for the response

First  some further thoughts on Luke 16:18.


Luke 16:18 “Whosoever put away his wife and marry another commits adultery, and whoever marries her that is put away by her husband commits adultery”

Since  adultery can only occur if it involves married persons than the man who divorced and married another must  be considered in God’s eyes to be still  married to the women he divorced from , otherwise it wouldn’t be termed   adultery.   So I can only surmise from the passage that this divorce and remarriage are not valid in God’s eyes . Therefore, to leave these remarriages is more akin to  repenting of an adulterous relationship then it is to divorcing from a second marriage . Since this passage   tells us that the innocent party would also be committing adultery if she remarries (after the husbands  adultery )  then it must be that  prior adulterous behavior of the husband did not break the original  marriage bond.


We know in Malachi chapter 2 that God scolds the man who left the wife of his youth termed here as his  covenant wife .

13 Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. 14 You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.  Malachi 2

.It  doesn’t say . . But does it imply it here that the unfaithful man should return to his covenant wife.?


How about John the Baptist 

19 John also publicly criticized Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee, for marrying Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for many other wrongs he had done. 20 So Herod put John in prison.{Luke3}

 "So ... Divorced Persons re-marry, thus they are now Adulterers, (Herod and Herodias) and so a Divorce is then JUSTIFIED ..???"

John seems to be saying  that the adulterous couple (Herod and Herodias) should divorce ------
"For John had been saying to Herod, It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.” Mark 6:18

(teihard , sorry if I happen to misinterpret the  point of your sentence but I think thats what you meant )





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5 years ago  ::  May 24, 2013 - 9:32PM #4
Posts: 472


The  Reason Why the Exception Clause is only found in Mathew

The exception clause is  not found in Mark 10 , yet  Mark describes a very similar or possibly the same encounter as Mathew 19 when the Pharisees challenged Jesus on whether divorce/(remarriage) was permissible.

Both times Jesus tells them that Moses permitted it because of their hard-heartedness and both times he brings them back to the creation  story in Genesis

 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh  - Genesis 2:24, Mathew 19:5, Mark 10:7
and then Jesus adds

 6"So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” - Mark 10:9, Mathew 19:6

The reason no exception clause is found in  the book of Mark  is because  it was written generally to Gentile believers whereas Mathew was primarily written to Jewish believers.  The  Gentile believers would not be familiar with the Jewish betrothal  custom where the man and woman engaged were referred to as husband and wife and needed a divorce to sever the engagement even  before they were married and living together.

And so like us today, if someone was teaching back then to the Gentile believers (Mark's Gospel) on divorce they would NOT have said  that you are allowed to get a divorce if  your fiancée  is unfaithful (exception clause), since that  would have made no sense  and would have  only caused confusion to the audience, since the Gentile believers  back then as well as Gentile believers in our time  have no requirement to get a divorce for breaking an engagement .


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5 years ago  ::  May 27, 2013 - 4:32AM #5
Posts: 472

Exception Clause in Mathew 5

The exception clause is found in one other passage – Mathew 5  in the Sermon on the Mount

   32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality(porneia), makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery..- Mathew 5

( no exception clause- divorce for reasons other then sexual immorality )
If the divorcing occurs between two married persons , then the person doing the divorcing  is assigned the blame  for causing the divorced mate  to commit adultery, since there is a good chance that the divorced innocent party would eventually remarry as is intimated by the second part of the sentence

The 2 interpretations of the exception clause ( and the word Porneia ) :

a. ( exception clause -  meaning divorcing because of sexual immorality -( porneia, adultery )
The person doing the divorcing is not responsible for causing the divorced person to commit  adultery since the person being divorced  had already committed adultery

b. ( exception clause - meaning  divorcing because of sexual immorality-( porneia , fornication )
If the divorcing occurs  during the engagement period then there is no adultery since the two were never married

For reasons  previously stated I believe that (b) exception clause meaning fornication during the betrothal period is the correct interpretation


Unlike Mathew 19 , this passage does not address the matter of whether the person doing the divorcing may remarry


Divorce facts:   In America, there is one divorce every 13 seconds (ie 46,523 divorce per week).  50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce


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5 years ago  ::  May 29, 2013 - 6:24AM #6
Posts: 472

In conclusion if one accepts this posters hypothesis

- the "exception clause" is not meant for those already married
- adultery by a marriage partner does not break the covenant marriage bond

Then Jesus's words ring all the more true: 



Taking these premesis  together with Pauls opening and closing remarks  in I Corinthians chapter  7 ,

Opening remarks
10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife

 closing remarks
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord

makes it very hard to accept  the so called "abandonment" reason for  justifying remarriage.  This theory is  derived from Paul's remarks in this same chapter verse 15  when he speaks on the responsibilities of a believer married to a nonbeliever who want's to leave the marriage  ( But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace.) To interpret this passage as insinuating that remarriage is okay (which goes beyond Paul's simple instruction of letting the unbeliever leave if they want to ) is clearly contradictory to Paul's words in verses 10,11 and 39 quoted above , again which are all found in the same chapter of I Corinthians , as well as a total contradiction of Jesus's words in Mathew 19:5,6

Perhaps  the marriage vows  “till death do us part” is something that God truly  means us to observe .


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5 years ago  ::  Jun 08, 2013 - 5:14AM #7
Posts: 472

Jesus shows us  what ultimate love is when went to cross and suffered  for us  the church  his Bride  that we might have a new covenant marriage with him forever.

To give an illustration  of how much God loved  rebellious Israel  - ( the wayward wife)   God spoke to the prophet  Hosea and  tells him to marry Gomer who then leaves him, then God tells Hosea :
 Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, Hosea 3:1

In Ephesians God  tells husbands to  love their  wives as Christ loved the church
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her Ephesians 5

What an awesome responsibility!
What a magnificent  way to give glory to God !



addendum ( 2 resources on this viewpoint)

"Remarriage is Adultery unless..."  by David Pawson

"Except for Fornication" -Why Evangelicals Must Reevaluated Their Interpretation of Mathew's Divorce Exception Clause      by Daniel R. Jennings



Malachi 2:16

“For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”



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