What Did Jesus Teach About Marriage?

What Did Jesus Teach About Marriage? October 6, 2017

What did Jesus teach about marriage? Here are some Bible verses about marriage to see what Jesus taught about marriage.

A God-Ordained Institution

Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”

There are many Bible verses about marriage but we are examining only those which Jesus taught about on the subject this subject, so first of all, marriage is a God-ordained, God-created institution that He blessed and saw as good. By God saying that “the two shall become one flesh,” we could see this as intended to be a permanent relationship where the two become one and stay as one and they become as “one flesh,” meaning that they cannot (or at least should not) be separated (Matt 19:5). When Jesus quoted this verse He was establishing the fact that it was God’s intention to have the two be joined together and to stay together for life; the only exceptions would be for ongoing, unrepentant adultery or if one of the spouses would die.

One Man and One Woman

Some people claim that polygamy was taught in the Bible, but this is simply not true. Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 19 that it is God “who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Matt 19:4-5). That is, marriage is to be between one man and one woman, and He was specific that it was created to be between one male and one female alone. This also debunks the notion that God allows for more than one wife or more than one husband, but just because some of the patriarchs of the Bible had more than one wife, doesn’t give us permission to do the same thing. They did a lot of things that we should not duplicate, like King David’s adultery and subsequent murder of Uriah. Since the Scripture states that the “two shall become one,” and not three or four become one, its intentional that there only be one man and one woman in a marriage. The patriarchs ended up paying huge consequences for their polygamy. Nowhere in the Bible does it teach that a man can multiply wives or a wife can have more than one husband, and a husband have more than one wife. In fact, God gives a command to not to do this, so even though some of the ancient kings and Patriarchs had multiple spouses, this was not the way that God intended marriage to be and when the men took more than one wife, it always created huge problems for them. God told the kings of Israel, that they should not multiply wives (Deut 17:17), and if God commanded this of the king, everyone understood that to mean, it applied to them too!

Grounds for Divorce

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.”

Jesus was crystal clear in who was permitted to be divorced and who could remarry, and the only exception was that of “sexual immorality.” Jesus’ teaching doesn’t allow for any other exceptions, however if a spouse or the spouse and his or her children are experiencing physical abuse then they not only need to separate themselves from that situation for the sake of their own safety, but they should also report that person to the police, and that person who abuses a spouse or children deserves to be punished to the fullest extent of the law. They must be reported because those who are in such positions of authority yield the sword in God’s sovereignty, and they act with God’s authority (Rom 13:1-5). The only reason that Moses allowed certificates for divorce was because of what Jesus said; “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so” (Matt 19:8). This doesn’t mean that it was favorable in Moses’ or God’s eyes. Jesus clearly said that “Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you (Who as God, Jesus has more authority than Moses) 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” (Matt 5:31-32). Jesus says that Moses allowed for divorce (Matt 19:8), “but I say to you” that whoever “divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery” (Matt 5:31-32). Naturally this applies to the both the man and the woman, so whoever divorces her husband or whoever divorces his wife, except on the grounds of adultery, commits adultery with another person if the remarry.

bible-reading

Adultery of the Heart

Matthew 5:27-29 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”

Jesus sees lusting after a woman or a man as being the very same thing as adultery itself. He called it adultery of the heart, and although it’s not as bad as the actual physical act (1st Cor 6:12-20), it’s an act that a person would carry out if they were able to do so, with whomever they’re lusting after. That’s where adultery begins…with lusting in the heart. Even more specifically, Jesus said that if they even looked at another “with lustful intent,” or in other words, their intent is to lust or commit adultery in their heart with that person, then that’s seen as adultery. The Jews considered the heart as being the seat of the intellect, so to them, “in the heart” is the same thing as being “in the mind.” Either way, lusting in the heart or mind for someone who is not your spouse is, according to Jesus, committing adultery. This is why pornography is so destructive to marriages and devalues women and men. The person who looks at pornography is sinning in their heart by lusting after what they see and it is with intentionality that they are doing it. If they actually had the woman or man in the image, and could commit the physical act, they would, so it’s essentially committing an act of adultery in the heart.

Conclusion

When God ordained and created the institution of marriage, it was intended for life. And in the beginning, there was nothing said about divorce and remarriage, because the law hadn’t been given yet, however, among the Patriarchs and the kings of Israel, divorce was not even considered an option. The only reason divorce entered the picture was, as Jesus said, the hardness of their hearts, not because God allowed for it. You have read Jesus’ teachings about divorce and remarriage. When He spoke of about marriage, He indicated that it was to be forever with the only exception of one spouse committing sexual immorality (Matt 5:31-32). The word “immorality” used in Matthew 5:32 is from the Greek word “porneia” and covers many things like, illicit sexual intercourse, homosexuality, intercourse with animals, with a close relative, and of course, adultery (Lev 18), and includes “sex with a divorced man or woman” (Matt 5:31-32). All of these things involve lusting, and lusting after someone who is not your spouse is the same thing as committing adultery in the mind (or heart).  Of course the actual physical act is far worse, just as murdering someone is far worse than hating someone in your heart. That’s why the Bible warns us about committing adultery or any other kind of sexual immorality.  If it’s not repented of, it will bring God’s judgment. Jesus says; “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matt 5:29-30).

If you’re a believer and have since remarried, God is a God of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. God hates divorce, but He certainly does not hate divorced people.  You cannot unscramble an egg, so what’s done is done.  The children of God can confess their sins, and be cleansed from all unrighteousness (1st John 1:9), and we then can stand before God, but only because  it was “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2nd Cor 5:21).

Article by Jack Wellman

Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.

"Word salad, tossed with incoherence and a side of ignorance."

Baptized In Prison
""Why do atheists deliberately complicate things with arguments?When God simplifies things through revelation." That is ..."

Baptized In Prison
"Wow, your copy and paste skills are top notch, but you fail to give any ..."

Baptized In Prison
"narrow gate: bending down to get through it denotes a certain 'humility' and that is ..."

Why Is The Gate So Narrow ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Evangelical
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Carlos Santiago

    Paul’s planted churches, as indicated in scripture were a mix of men, women, slaves, slaveholders, polygamists, men with concubines, and we can only imagine who else who was brought in from Roman society. We want to make a Jesus’ followers neat tidy picture. Do we live our lives completely as in the garden before sin? Do we live naked eating only fruits and seeds? Genesis does not record a marriage between Adam and Eve. Do we know if Adam and Eve were even “married” yet we want this to be a proof text for today. God was silent on all sorts of things like concubines and multiple wives as Abraham, Solomon and other Patriarchs made procreation of the Nation the priority (multiplying). The only verse limiting polygamy is one in Timothy discouraging them from being pastoral leadership. Even Jesus in Matthew discusses Eunuchs (feminine males?) as either made, chosen to be or born that way. Phillip converts but doesn’t try to change the Ethiopian Eunuch in his lifestyle. We should love God and our neighbors as ourselves and encourage others to do the same as we stop judging them by the law(the Old Covenant). Today with gay marriage legal as was polygamy and concubines were then, we need to reach out the same way.

    • pud

      No such “adam” or “eve” ever existed. Hello? It’s an infantile fable from an infantile ridiculous book that’s swallowed whole and without thought by credulous, ignorant low IQ gullible sheeple.

  • pud

    “He” said NOTHING because “he” never existed. Your cult manual “says” he “said” this or that….fixed it for you again as you are not capable of rational thinking

  • pud

    “If you’re a believer and have since remarried, God is a God of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. ” LOL!! You’re insane! Yesterday your “god” was sending mass murderers to teach us a lesson, today he’s the “god” of grace and forgiveness. Make up your delusional mind!

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Matthew 19:8 is frequently misread. It’s less clear in English, but clear in the Greek. Jesus isn’t saying that divorce wasn’t permitted in the beginning, Moses changed this and now Jesus is changing it back. Jesus says what the Pharisees said had never been true even from the beginning, and still wasn’t. The Pharisees said Moses “commanded” divorce, and this wasn’t right. Jesus replies that Moses gave divorce to the Israelites due to their “hardness of heart”, Moses did not “command” divorce. “Hardness of heart” as an idiom in Greek, unlike English, doesn’t mean unkindness or callousness, but stubbornness. Moses provided for divorce because if he didn’t the Israelites would still stubbornly set aside their wives anyway. Provision for formal divorce gave the wife a certificate allowing her to remarry without accusations of adultery and financial compensation where there were no proper grounds. Jesus’s point is that the availability of the legal procedure didn’t therefore make it right.
    Matthew 5:31 as you render it is a mistranslation, albeit a very ancient one. In the Greek, “adultery” is in the passive, so it doesn’t say “commit adultery” but literally “be adulterised”. It is also in the aorist tense, which refers to a completed past action, so what the verse actually says is that the man by divorcing the woman has committed adultery against her, not that he will cause her to commit adultery if she remarries.
    Matthew 5:32 talks only of the man committing adultery, not the woman. If it meant a divorcée could not remarry it would be undermining the law of Moses’s protection of abandoned women, and indeed Jesus’s words in the immediately preceding verse, as if a woman whose husband has divorced her is the victim of adultery by her husband she is (in accordance with Jesus’s own teaching) permitted to divorce him.
    Understanding the verse requires reading Matthew 5 as a whole (in my view) starting with vv27-29, which you quote. These verses refer to a man lusting after a married woman: they have to because if she wasn’t married the man could not commit adultery with her, in his heart or otherwise.
    The word used for “divorce” in the first half of v32 means literally “release”, and is repeated in the second half, which says “he who marries a woman who has been let go commits adultery”. Matching this back to v27 what Jesus is saying is that if a man desires another man’s wife he is committing adultery even if he never does anything about it, or even if the husband consents to the divorce. (Which would not be true in the Pharisees understanding of divorce.)
    What I don’t think he is saying is that a woman (or man) whose spouse divorces them is then committing adultery if they remarry.
    ” the only exceptions would be for ongoing, unrepentant adultery ”
    Naughty, naughty Jack! This isn’t what Jesus said, you are doing what the Pharisees did, and tendentiously misquoting the Bible. Jesus says divorce is permitted for sexual immorality. He doesn’t say anything about “ongoing” or “unrepentant” sexual immorality (and sexual immorality is wider than adultery): a spouse is not obliged to put up with a cheat just because they only did it once and said sorry.
    I would also take issue with your reading Jesus’s words as a statute rather than teaching. You do this when you state that a woman is obliged to remain married to an abusive husband or a child abuser (BTW how is child abuse not sexual immorality?) You also do so completely inconsistently. You say of Matthew 5:31-32: “Naturally this applies to the both the man and the woman” but it doesn’t literally say that at all, and you are happy to “read in” the adultery exception that is not there in Mark 10:11-12 without claiming Jesus inconsistent.
    How is it any less “natural” to assume that if one may divorce one’s spouse for cheating, one can do so for some other equally egregious conduct, such as trying to kill one, or abusing the children. Likewise why is it permissible to read into Matthew as a given the known exception for adultery, and not read into it the equally known exceptions in Jewish law for spousal violence and neglect? The dispute is about “no fault” divorce.

    • pud

      But but it’s the “perfect word of god”…so how can this be?

      Also…once again…”jesus” NEVER said anything…no name authors wrote a story book! No one followed “jesus” around with a notepad writing down his exact words as presented in your book of fables. Authors whose names you don’t even know wrote stories generations after the alleged time. You people are truly lunatics. Superstitious delusional gullible lunatics

      “Naughty, naughty Jack! This isn’t what Jesus said, you are doing what the Pharisees did, and tendentiously misquoting the Bible.”

      NO IT ISN’T!!! It’s what no name authors said he said! The “bible” isn’t a manuscript that was carefully recorded by trustworthy reporters. You prove my point you crazy indoctrinated fool. There is NO historical evidence that any “jesus” ever existed at all! And there is even less than nothing that someone followed him around taking dictation from him.

      How can you be so credulous?

    • NathansFather

      Thank you so much Iain, Your research always in-depth and outstanding. I have saved your post to help anyone going through a divorce. It is the worst event that can happen in one’s life including the physical death of a loved one or the prospect when terminally ill.

  • Some people claim that polygamy was taught in the Bible, but this is simply not true.

    I disagree. God said to David, “I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.”

    God was OK with the patriarchs having multiple wives, and Jesus said nothing about polygamy.

    • Maltnothops

      My only quibble with your comment: How could it be possible for “Jesus” to not know what “God” said? Same deity. So when God said whatever to David, Jesus was saying it too.

      • That’s one approach. But the NT has lots of places where Jesus said, “It is written X, but I tell you Y.” If Jesus was right that Y was the right action, why did God say X?

        • Maltnothops

          Several possibilities suggest themselves:

          No trinity. There is a trinity but Jesus wasn’t part of it. God wasn’t really a god. Neither one was a god. Both are part of a triune god but that god isn’t a stickler for consistency. “X” was written down incorrectly and Jesus was correcting the record. Jesus lied.

          And that is what occurs to me in just a minute or two.

          • And then there’s the obvious one: there is no Trinity because the whole thing is a combination of myth and legend. There is no God.

          • Maltnothops

            Oh sure, go for the easy one.

  • JustThink

    Re polygamy: the first polygamist in the Bible is Lamech, a descendant of Cain, and Lamech is presented as being an evil character, boasting to his two wives that he had killed a man for wounding him. The good men in Genesis are monogamous, with the exception of Jacob, who becomes polygamous only because his crafty father-in-law insists that Jacob marry Leah before he can marry Rachel, Jacob’s one true love.

    • pud

      It’s all a story book for lunatics…it isn’t real.

    • pud

      It’s all a story book for lunatics…it isn’t real.

    • NathansFather

      King Solomon really messed up. He made shrines and temples for his hundreds of wives and concubines.
      (Aside how did he “service” them all? He must have been realllly busy!)
      This explains why the Holy Seed Line of the Lion of Judah came from David’s son Nathan (named after the prophet). King Solomon’s heirs were not allowed to inherit the blessing.

  • JustThink

    Re polygamy: the first polygamist in the Bible is Lamech, a descendant of Cain, and Lamech is presented as being an evil character, boasting to his two wives that he had killed a man for wounding him. The good men in Genesis are monogamous, with the exception of Jacob, who becomes polygamous only because his crafty father-in-law insists that Jacob marry Leah before he can marry Rachel, Jacob’s one true love.

  • Your primary verse here is a story in which Jesus is chastising men in a patriarchal society for putting away their wives and leaving them destitute.

    I am grateful that so many churches are beginning to accept marriage equality and are welcoming the LGBTQ community into their fellowship.

  • Your primary verse here is a story in which Jesus is chastising men in a patriarchal society for putting away their wives and leaving them destitute.

    I am grateful that so many churches are beginning to accept marriage equality and are welcoming the LGBTQ community into their fellowship.

  • NathansFather

    Given thoughts of a reformer of the Ligonier Ministries of the humble and esteemed R. C. Sproul, Saint Andrews Chapel in FL
    I have a personal friend who is privileged to sit in this congregation. I have not heard from this elder person in his 80s, Dana, for a while. I pray he is well.
    http://sachapel.com/
    http://www.ligonier.org/
    Tim Challies – Newsletter 10/11
    https://www.challies.com
    Losing the Ability to Type and The Ol Ball and Chain
    https://www.challies.com/articles/on-losing-the-ability-to-type-and-the-ol-ball-and-chain

  • Statistics Palin

    Jesus wasn’t the marrying kind.

  • Dana Chilton

    Despite Jack Wellman’s insistence otherwise, The Bible NEVER defines Marriage, ever. Research it. The Bible NEVER says where marriage came from, who can be a part of it, how to perform the ceremony, or even if there is supposed to be a ceremony. The Bible NEVER says marriage is the “union of one man and one woman.” The Bible does, however, explicitly condone the polygamous marriage relationships in it’s pages (2 Samuel 12:7-9). The Bible even says that god GAVE David and Solomon their many wives as a reward for their faithfulness. The Bible NEVER condemns it’s many accounts of Polygamous marriages, marriage between relatives, or even child marriages. If you want to know what the bible actually says about marriage look it up for yourself. There’s been a lot written about “biblical marriage” over the past few years; mostly written by people who want to sell you a book or get you to donate to their organization. Look back at this article; Its pages long but based on only two very small NT passages (Matthew 5 and Matthew 19) neither of which says what Jack Wellman says they’re supposed to say. Anyone who ever asks, “what did Jesus say about…” then immediately goes to the book of Genesis to answer, is doing some hard-core biblical gymnastics.

    • Jack Wellman

      So where did marriage come from? Who was the first couple? I suggest you do better research my friend. You are surely lacking.

      • Dana Chilton

        an ad hominem attack on me, mr. Wellman, does nothing to change the underlying facts I laid out. Your article is supposed to be on what Jesus taught about marriage. The answer is nothing. That’s why you responded by asking me to tell you who the first married couple was. Your article is just a personal opinion on a cultural institution based on your own personal moral understanding of the world; not the bible. Your own church’s general conference says its idea of marriage is based on a “larger narrative”. Please cite chapter and verse giving the “biblical definition” of marriage. Please cite chapter and verse instructing is that Adam and Eve were “married”. Please cite chapter and verse instructing is what the marriage ceremony is supposed to be or if there is a ceremony at all. Please cite chapter and verse saying marriage is the “union of one man and one woman”. You won’t because you can’t. It’s a line that gets repeated so often that the vast majority of self proclaimed evangelicals just believe it must be in there and folks like you who write articles like this purporting to tell us what Jesus preached about it get away with it because the vast majority , according to Christianity today, have never even read Bible. You may believe what you wrote but that doesn’t make it the words of thoughts or teachings of Jesus and it would be nice if those of you who pontificate about the subject would just admit that it is all just your own personal opinions.