How Does a Man Make His Wife Commit Adultery?

Note that Jesus said, “Everyone who divorces his wife, except for the cause of unchastity, makes her commit adultery .” This again leads us to believe that He was not laying down a new law of remarriage, but only revealing the truth about the sin of a man who divorces his wife without a good cause. He “makes her commit adultery.” Some say that Jesus was thus prohibiting her remarriage, because He makes it to be adultery. But that is absurd. The emphasis is on the sin of the man doing the divorcing. Because of what he does, his wife will have no other choice but to remarry, which is no sin on her part as she was just the victim of her husband’s selfishness. In God’s eyes, however, because the man left his wife destitute with no other choice but to remarry, it was just as if he forced his wife into bed with another man. So the one who thinks he has not committed adultery is held guilty for a double adultery, his and his wife’s.

Jesus could not have been saying that God held the victimized wife to be guilty of adultery, as that would be completely unfair, and in fact would be utterly meaningless if the victimized wife never remarried. How could God say she was an adulteress unless she remarried? It would make no sense whatsoever. Thus it is plain to see that God is holding the man guilty for his own adultery, and the “adultery” of his wife, which is really not adultery at all for her. It is lawful remarriage.

And what about Jesus’ next statement that “whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery”? There are only two possibilities that make any sense. Either Jesus was now adding a third count of adultery against the man who thinks he has never committed adultery (for a similar reason as He added the second count), or Jesus was speaking of the man who encourages a woman to divorce her husband in order to marry her so as “not to commit adultery.” If Jesus was saying that any man on earth who marries a divorced woman is committing adultery, then every Israelite man during the previous hundreds of years committed adultery who, in complete compliance with the Law of Moses, married a divorced woman. In fact, every man in Jesus’ audience that day who was presently married to a divorced woman in full compliance with the Mosaic Law suddenly become guilty of what he was not guilty just one minute before, and Jesus must have changed God’s law at that moment. Moreover, every person in the future who married a divorced person, trusting Paul’s words in his letter to the Corinthians that such was not a sin, was actually sinning, committing adultery.

The entire spirit of the Bible would lead me to admire a man who married a divorced woman. If she had been a blameless victim of her former husband’s selfishness, I would admire him as much as I admire a man who marries a widow, taking her under his care. If she bore some blame for her previous divorce, I would admire him for his Christ-likeness in believing the best of her, and for his grace in offering to forget the past and take a risk. Why would anyone who has read the Bible and who has the Holy Spirit living in him conclude that Jesus was forbidding everyone from marrying any divorced person? How does such a view fit with God’s justice, a justice that would never punish someone for being a victim, as is the case of the woman who is divorced through no fault of her own? How does such a view fit with the message of the gospel, which offers forgiveness and another chance to repentant sinners?