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Home » Daily Gospel, Daily Readings

Divorce Is Not God’s Will

Submitted by on Friday, 13 August 2010One Comment
  • Reading I: Ezekiel 16:1-15,63 or Ezekiel 16:59-63
  • Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-3,4bcd, 5-6
  • Gospel Reading: Matthew 19:3-12

divorce-pic

The question about divorce is relevant. People tend to have vague notions about marriage, love, commitment and family, that they miss the point of the contention that marriage should be until death. Today’s reading from Matthew 19:3-12 while not putting the question to rest is a testimony that Jesus, interpreting the Scriptures, clearly teaches that marriage is an institution meant for the fulfillment of the vocation of male and female, and that he cannot imagine it to be less than what God has revealed "since the beginning."

The reading can be divided into two parts, the latter of which is unique to Matthew: (a) the question of divorce (3-9), and (b) the possibility of celibacy (10-12). Verses 3-9 is a rewriting of Mark’s report about the question of divorce. Below is an illustration of how Matthew transposed elements of the conversation so as to present his own message.

Illustration

Notice the following points:

  1. In both Mark and Matthew, the teaching about divorce is the same: even before Moses’ law in Deuteronomy, God has intended that marriage should make both male and female into "one flesh", that is a complete human being.
  2. In Mark, Jesus stresses the permanence of marriage. His teaching about remarriage after divorce — which would be equivalent to adultery — is a teaching given to the disciples in private. In Matthew, the Marcan conclusion becomes more pointed: those who remarry after a divorce commits the sin of adultery. He says this to the Pharisees who’ve asked him the question and to stress the idea that "from the beginning" God has willed the permanence of marriage.
  3. In Matthew, the disciples react to Jesus’ teaching about the permanence of marriage and the implication that remarriage is tantamount to comitting adultery. This presents Jesus an occasion for presenting his teaching on the possibility of celibacy: of becoming eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of God. In Mark, the reaction of the disciples gives Jesus the opportunity to stress that to marry another after a divorce is tantamount to adultery.

In a milieu that allowed divorce for whatever reason whatsoever, Jesus affirms the teaching in Genesis of the permanence of marriage. To remarry after a divorce, as a general rule, is tantamount to adultery. The only exemption he makes is when divorce is due to the immorality of the female partner1.

In the Catechism

Matthew 19:1-12
CCC 2364
Matthew 19:3-12
CCC 1620
Matthew 19:3-9
CCC 2382
Matthew 19:4
CCC 1652
Matthew 19:6-12
CCC 2053
Matthew 19:6
CCC 796, 1605, 1614, 1644,2336, 2380
Matthew 19:7-9
CCC 2382
Matthew 19:8
CCC 1610, 1614
Matthew 19:10
CCC 1615
Matthew 19:11
CCC 1615
Matthew 19:12
CCC 922, 1579, 1618
Ezekiel 16:1-15,63
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
1And the word of the Lord came to me, saying:
2Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations.
3And thou shalt say: Thus saith the Lord God to Jerusalem: Thy root, and thy nativity is of the land of Chanaan, thy father was an Amorrhite, and thy mother a Cethite.
4And when thou wast born, in the day of thy nativity thy navel wits not cut, neither wast thou washed with water for thy health, nor salted with salt, nor swaddled with clouts.
5No eye had pity on thee to do any of these things for thee, out of compassion to thee: but thou wast cast out upon the face of the earth in the abjection of thy soul, in the day that thou wast born.
6And passing by thee, I saw that thou wast trodden under foot in thy own blood. and I said to thee when thou wast in thy blood: Live: I have said to thee: Live in thy blood.
7I caused thee to multiply as the bud of the field: and thou didst increase and grow great, and advancedst, and camest to woman's ornament: thy breasts were fashioned, and thy hair grew: and thou wast naked, and full of confusion.
8And I passed by thee, and saw thee: and behold thy time was the time of lovers: and I spread my garment over thee, and covered thy ignominy. And I swore to thee, and I entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God: and thou becamest mine.
9And I washed thee with water, and cleansed away thy blood from thee: and I anointed thee with oil.
10And I clothed thee with embroidery, and shed thee with violet coloured shoes: and I girded thee about with fine linen, and clothed thee with fine garments.
11I decked thee also with ornaments, and put bracelets on thy hands, and a chain about thy neck.
12And I put a jewel upon thy forehead and earrings in thy ears, and a beautiful crown upon thy head.
13And thou wast adorned with gold, and silver, and wast clothed with fine linen, and embroidered work, and many colours: thou didst eat fine hour, and honey, and oil, and wast made exceeding beautiful: and wast advanced to be a queen.
14And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty: for thou wast perfect through my beauty, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God.
15But trusting in thy beauty, thou playedst the harlot because of thy renown, and thou hast prostituted thyself to every passenger, to be his.
63That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and mayest no more open thy mouth because of thy confusion, when I shall be pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God.
Ezekiel 16:59-63
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
59For thus saith the Lord God: I will deal with thee, as thou hast despised the oath, in breaking the covenant:
60And I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth: and I will establish with thee an everlasting covenant.
61And thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed: when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thy elder and thy younger: and I will give them to thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.
62And I will establish my covenant with thee: and thou shalt know that I am the Lord,
63That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and mayest no more open thy mouth because of thy confusion, when I shall be pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God.
Isaiah 12:2-3,4
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew
2Behold, God is my saviour, I will deal confidently, and will not fear: O because the Lord is my strength, and my praise, and he is become my salvation.
3You shall draw waters with joy out of the saviour's fountains:
4And you shall say in that day: Praise ye the Lord, and call upon his name: make his works known among the people: remember that his name is high.
Matthew 19:3-12
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
3And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:
5For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
6Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
7They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
10His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.
11Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given.
12For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
Matthew 19:3-12
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
3And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:
5For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
6Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
7They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
10His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.
11Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given.
12For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
Matthew 19:1-12
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
1And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these words, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judea, beyond Jordan.
2And great multitudes followed him: and he healed them there.
3And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:
5For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
6Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
7They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
10His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.
11Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given.
12For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
Matthew 19:3-12
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
3And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:
5For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
6Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
7They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
10His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.
11Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given.
12For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
Matthew 19:3-9
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
3And there came to him the Pharisees tempting him, and saying: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:
5For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be in one flesh.
6Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
7They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
Matthew 19:4
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
4Who answering, said to them: Have ye not read, that he who made man from the beginning, Made them male and female? And he said:
Matthew 19:6-12
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
6Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
7They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
10His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.
11Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given.
12For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
Matthew 19:6
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
6Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.
Matthew 19:7-9
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
7They say to him: Why then did Moses command to give a bill of divorce, and to put away?
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.
Matthew 19:8
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
8He saith to them: Because Moses by reason of the hardness of your heart permitted you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
Matthew 19:10
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
10His disciples say unto him: If the case of a man with his wife be so, it is not expedient to marry.
Matthew 19:11
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
11Who said to them: All men take not this word, but they to whom it is given.
Matthew 19:12
View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg Greek
12For there are eunuchs, who were born so from their mother's womb: and there are eunuchs, who were made so by men: and there are eunuchs, who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. He that can take, let him take it.
CCC 2364
¶2364 The married couple forms "the intimate partnership of life and love established by the Creator and governed by his laws; it is rooted in the conjugal covenant, that is, in their irrevocable personal consent." Both give themselves definitively and totally to one another. They are no longer two; from now on they form one flesh. The covenant they freely contracted imposes on the spouses the obligation to preserve it as unique and indissoluble. "What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
CCC 1620
¶1620 Both the sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord himself. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will. Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdom and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other:

Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.

CCC 2382
¶2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.

Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death."

CCC 1652
¶1652 "By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory."

Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: "It is not good that man should be alone," and "from the beginning [he] made them male and female"; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: "Be fruitful and multiply." Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.

CCC 2053
¶2053 To this first reply Jesus adds a second: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." This reply does not do away with the first: following Jesus Christ involves keeping the Commandments. The Law has not been abolished, but rather man is invited to rediscover it in the person of his Master who is its perfect fulfillment. In the three synoptic Gospels, Jesus' call to the rich young man to follow him, in the obedience of a disciple and in the observance of the Commandments, is joined to the call to poverty and chastity. The evangelical counsels are inseparable from the Commandments.
CCC 796,2380
¶796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist. The Lord referred to himself as the "bridegroom." The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride "betrothed" to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him. The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb. "Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her." He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:

This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many . . . whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? "The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church." And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: "So they are no longer two, but one flesh." They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union, . . . as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself "bride."

¶2380 Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations - even transient ones - they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire. The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely. The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry.
CCC 2382
¶2382 The Lord Jesus insisted on the original intention of the Creator who willed that marriage be indissoluble. He abrogates the accommodations that had slipped into the old Law.

Between the baptized, "a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death."

CCC 1610,1614
¶1610 Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law. In the Old Testament the polygamy of patriarchs and kings is not yet explicitly rejected. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord's words it still carries traces of man's "hardness of heart" which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives.
¶1614 In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning permission given by Moses to divorce one's wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts. The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it "what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder."
CCC 1615
¶1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy - heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life.
CCC 1615
¶1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy - heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life.
CCC 922,1618
¶922 From apostolic times Christian virgins and widows, called by the Lord to cling only to him with greater freedom of heart, body, and spirit, have decided with the Church's approval to live in the respective status of virginity or perpetual chastity "for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven."
¶1618 Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social. From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming. Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:

"For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."

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  1. Where Matthew was writing, only the males can initiate divorce procedures. []

One Comment »

  • Daily Inspirations » A History of God’s Love said:

    […] the Gospel reading, read this article: Divorce is not God’s Will (Matthew 19:3-12) Joshua 24:1-13View in: NAB NIV KJV NJB Vulg LXX Hebrew1And Josue gathered together all the tribes […]

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