THE EXCEPTION CLAUSE
IN MATTHEW 19 EXPLAINED
Mat 19:3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
Note that the Pharisees came to Jesus tempting him. They no doubt knew what Jesus would answer them knowing that He taught love and forgiveness. So they came armed with the words of Moses, and asked Him is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? There is one very important point that I want you to note here and that is the question was not about divorce and remarriage but divorce. No doubt of course they thought that a right to divorce was also a right to remarry, but as you will see it is important to note that they did ask about divorce and though Jesus later speaks of divorce and remarriage this discussion is mostly about divorce not remarriage, this is a subject which is largely overlooked and misunderstood.
Mat 19:4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
Mat 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
Mat 19:6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
Jesus answered them not with the law as the Pharisees would have liked but instead He brought them all the way back to the beginning, to the very first married couple Adam and Eve. Jesus draws our attention to them because He wants us to understand that this marriage is the blueprint for all marriages. This is the way God made the first marriage and this is how He intended marriage to be. So how does He describe this marriage? He says, have you not read? Or are you ignorant of the fact that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, He made them so, to be together.
Gen 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
Gen 2:19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
Gen 2:20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
Gen 2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
Gen 2:22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
Gen 2:23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
Gen 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
God said that it was not good for man to be alone and so just as there were partners for all the animals God made an help meet for Adam. God quite literally made a woman from Adam and she was flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, and he said this is how it is to be, that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and become one flesh with her. As Jesus said Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Do you hear Jesusí words? They are no more two but one and what God himself has joined together let not man put asunder. Note that so far Jesus answered them according to their question, (is it lawful to put away). He did not then explain why you can not be divorced and remarried but that one should not put away because God had made them one.
Mat 19:7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
Once again note that we stick to the subject of divorce. They said that Moses did command to give a writing of divorce and put her away, but this was not so. Moses did no such thing. Some blame Moses for this as if he did it on his own but this is not the case. Moses was a much greater man of God than you or me, and quite frankly I think this is a terrible insult to him. He may not have been perfect. None of us are, but I would hate to think of the punishment he would have received for allowing divorce and remarriage against God's will. He was punished severely for losing his temper when dealing with millions of stiff-necked people by himself. What would God do to him if he allowed divorce against God's will? So why did he? God allowed it because those stiff-necked people had to have some sort of order amongst them. We do not govern this country on Christian laws of forgiveness and turn the other cheek. A country needs laws for those who do not wish to obey God, tough laws that demand an eye for an eye so to speak, (though ours are not tough enough at times). We cannot rely on peoples' good will to do the right thing because people choose to do the wrong thing and there must be consequences for our actions and some sort of law and order.
1Ti 1:8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;
1Ti 1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
1Ti 1:10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;
Eze 20:24 Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols.
Eze 20:25 Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live;
The law was written for a lawless, disobedient people to keep some sort of order amongst them. God gave those laws, not Moses. They were handed to the people by Moses. Jesus then says that they were given because of their hardheartedness.
Mat 19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
If there were not these concessions the husband may end up killing his wife in his anger. If Jesus said that it was for their hardheartedness that they were allowed to put away their wives under the law then surely we should not be allowed to do so today should we? Those who say yes would bring us back under the law, and promote hardheartedness. Note also that we are still speaking of divorce only at this stage, and Jesus says no we cannot, there has been no mention of remarriage at all as yet until this next verse.
Mat 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.
Here we have one of the most debated and misunderstood verses in the Bible. Everyone wants to know (or doesn't want to know) what does the exception clause in Matthew 19 mean? So far Jesus has consistently maintained that divorce is wrong. Although vs 9 is an exception he also at the same time confirms and strenghthens what he has just said in vs 8. (It is possible just have some patience). He strengthens what he just said in vs 8 by saying "and I say unto you" or in other words (furthermore) as in (I have more to add). So how can this exception be both an exception for divorce and at the same time strengthen his stand against divorce? The answer lies in the meaning of, or the definition of fornication. There is an exception but it is in the case of fornication not adultery. So the big question is of course, what is fornication? Because we cannot put away or marry another except for this reason. Most seem to think this means adultery or incest, but this is impossible as I have explained in (Divorce and remarriage different Christian views). If you have not read this then you should, as I will not go over all those details here again. None of the usual explanations for this verse fit without breaking many rules. One cannot, separate what God Himself has joined together. Jesus said fornication, and He meant fornication. But what has fornication got to do with a married couple? It all has to do with Jewish betrothal customs which I have also written about in Jewish wedding customs . After reading this we then look at Romans 7 and 1st Corinthians 7 these will also give you an understanding of the definition of fornication. It is best you read these pages first but to give you an idea just briefly, it was customary for a Jewish couple to betroth up to a year or so before they married. To do this they entered into a covenant with each other just as we do on our wedding day. People look at betrothal as an engagement but it is not, it is much more than this, it is a covenant, or at least it was in the old Jewish customs. So a betrothed Jewish couple who had not consummated the marriage were not joined as one flesh by God as yet, but were nonetheless in a binding covenant relationship with each other and considered to be husband and wife. If under these circumstances the woman was to fornicate then the husband may put her away for her fornication, (just as Joseph thought to do to Mary). Once a couple have consummated the marriage they are joined by God and there is no room for divorce for any reason. Note that this exception is given to the man to put away the woman, because even though one may put away and marry another under these circumstances it did not annul the covenant (as nothing can). The covenant still stands, so how can he remarry? Well believe it or not a man may have more than one wife but a woman may have only one husband (I might have to do a Bible study on this too). Therefore he may remarry but she may not, as it says and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. God allowed people of old including David himself to have many more than one wife and this was not counted as sin to them. So this exception clause is basically no exception to us. It affects a few in other countries, and not only is remarriage sinful, but so is divorce (except it be for fornication). This is something which I am sure most people do not understand and for this reason I will be doing a Bible study on the subject of divorce also.
Mat 19:10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
If Jesus was saying that one may divorce and remarry for adultery or for just about any reason as people think today, then His disciples would not have made this comment. Obviously they now understood that marriage was a lifetime commitment, else they would not have thought it good, not to marry.
Mat 19:11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
Some think this means that some can't receive the fact that we cannot get divorced and remarried, as this may be too difficult for some of us. This, of course, is not what Jesus meant. God's commandments are not negotiable, nor is the Word of God flexible to suit our personal needs. He said this in answer to the disciples comment that (it is good not to marry). This is what some may receive or not depending on if it is given to you. He then goes on in the next verse to explain who is appointed to this unmarried life.
Mat 19:12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.
The exception clause Matthew 19