Is a sexless marriage biblical grounds for divorce?
The intimate duality touches you to the core of your existence. Think of the moments when you made love in a perfectly safe setting and devoid of any kind of guilt. That intense gratitude afterwards. The feeling of being complete. And to know for sure: this is from God. That’s how He meant it between us.
7 important Bible verses about marriage and sex
In movies, books, and on TV, sex and even marriage are often depicted as a daily means of consumption. The selfish message that is often told is purely about pleasure and a ‘just make you happy’ mentality. But as Christian, we want to live differently. We want to dedicate ourselves to an honest relationship full of love. So, what exactly does the Bible say about marriage and – just as important – about sex. Jack Wellman from Patheos gives us seven relevant vital verses.
christian sexless marriage
1. Hebrews 13: 4
Honor the marriage in all circumstances, and keep the marital bed pure, for adulterers and adulterers will condemn God.
“What is very clear in the Bible is that sex outside of marriage is considered a sin. The marriage bed must be seen as something sacred and honorable in the church, even if this is not the case for the rest of the world and certainly not in the media.”
2.1 Corinthians 7: 1-2
Now the points about which you have written to me. You say it’s good that a man has no intercourse with a woman. But to avoid fornication, every man must have his own wife and every woman her own.
“Moral values in the field of sex have fallen sharply over the last fifty years. What used to be seen as obscene is now portrayed on billboards. Paul’s point is that it is not good for you to have sexual relationships with men and women. This is, of course, about relationships outside of marriage, which is why he clearly states that it is good that “every man must have his own wife and every woman her own husband.”
3. Lucas 16:18
He who rejects his wife and marries another commits adultery, and anyone who marries a woman who is rejected by her husband commits adultery.
“Jesus has made it very clear on several occasions” anyone who disrupts his wife drives her into adultery – unless there was an unauthorized union, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery “(Mat 5:32). What is essential is to know, however, that adultery and immorality can also occur in your heart and mind. “
4. 1 Corinthians 7: 5
Do not refuse each other the community, or it must be that you mutually agree to devote some time to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan will use your lack of self-control to seduce you.
“Sometimes, couples get into a fight and use sex as a kind of punishment or revenge against their partner, but this is clearly a sin. It is not up to them to refuse their partner sex, especially as a result of a discussion. In this case, the other is more easily tempted to enter into a sexual relationship with another. “
5. Matthew 5:28
And I even say: everyone who looks at a woman and desires her, has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
“This is the text where Jesus talks about the origin of sin; it all starts in our hearts. When we look with pleasure at someone other than our partner and let go of our sexual fantasies, it is the same as adultery for God. “
6. 1 Cor 7: 3-4
And a man must give his wife what is due to her, just as a woman must provide her husband. A woman does not control her body, but her husband; and a man also does not control his body, but his wife.
“This is the text in which Paul tells us that we cannot refuse sex as a result of an argument.”
7. Genesis 2:24-25
This is how a man detaches himself from his father and mother and attaches himself to his wife, with whom he becomes one of the bodies. They were both naked, the man and his wife, but they were not ashamed of each other.
“I always find it extraordinary that we are often terrified of being seen naked, except in the presence of our partner. People feel shame when they are seen naked by others because they think that it is unnatural. In the setting of However, marriage completely changes this. When you are with your partner, it feels natural. “
1 Is divorce the solution?
To love someone means to look for what is best for the other, even when it is connected with difficulties. Married people are always called by situations to deny themselves. It is precisely when there are problems that the temptation can arise, to choose the easier way and to divorce or to get married again if my partner has left me. But a marriage is a decision that you can no longer undo, even if you have ignored your own conscience in that decision.
That is why we want to encourage anyone who is considering divorcing or getting married again to open up without fear of the words of Jesus. Not only does Jesus show us the way, but He also helps us to go that way, even if we cannot imagine it yet.
We will quote several Bible texts for the topic of Divorce and Remarriage. They show that Jesus expects the unconditional allegiance to each other that lasts until death. A more detailed explanation follows after the texts.
2 Clear Bible texts on the subject of Divorce and Remarriage
These texts from the New Testament show us that the will of God is monogamous marriage, which means that one man and one woman are faithful to each other until death:
Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and anyone who marries a woman who has been divorced by her husband commits adultery. (Luke 16:18)
And the Pharisees came to him and asked him to ask him if a man is lawful to cast off his wife. But he answered and said to them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses has permitted to write a divorce letter and to reject her. And Jesus answered them: Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote that commandment for you. But from the beginning of creation, God has made them masculine and feminine.
That is why a man will leave his father and mother and attach himself to his wife; and those two shall be one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh. So what God has put together does not let man separate it. And at home, His disciples asked Him again about this. And he said to them, He who rejects his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And when a woman rejects her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. (Mark 10: 2-12)
But I order the married ones – not me, but the Lord – that a woman will not divorce her husband – and if she does divorce, she must remain unmarried or reconcile with her husband – and that a husband will not divorce his wife leave. (1 Corinthians 7: 10-11)
Because the married woman is bound by law to the man as long as he lives. However, if the man died, she was released from the law that bound her to the man. Therefore, if she becomes the wife of another man while her husband lives, she will be called an adulterer. However, if her husband has died, she is free from the law, so that she will not be an adulterer if she becomes the wife of another man. (Romans 7: 2-3)
Already in the Old Testament God clearly rejects Divorce:
In the second place you do this: covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and moaning, because He no longer turns to the grain offering and accepts it from your hand in pleasure. Then you say: Why? Because the LORD is a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you are acting faithlessly, while yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant. Did He not make just one, though He still had spirit? And why the one? He was looking for a divine posterity. Therefore, be wary of your spirit, and do not act faithlessly against the wife of your youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, says that he hates sending his own wife away, though violence is covered with his garment, says the LORD of the army. So be wary of your mind and do not act faithlessly. (Malachi 2: 13-16)
3 Except for fornication / fornication?
In the Gospel of Matthew there are two texts ( Matthew 5: 31-32 and Matthew 19: 1-12 ) where it seems that an exception is possible in the case of sexual misdeeds. Why do we not find this important exception in the other gospels, nor in the letters of the New Testament? The gospel of Matthew was written for Jewish readers. As follows, we want to show that the Jews interpreted these words differently than most people today. Unfortunately, today’s thinking also influences Bible translations. That is why we must also deal with translation issues here. We want to keep it as short as possible.
3.1 Matthew 5: 32
The Revised States Translation translates this text as follows:
It has also been said: He who rejects his wife must give her a divorce letter. But I tell you that whoever rejects his wife for a reason other than fornication causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries the outcast commits adultery. ( Matthew 5: 31-32 )
The Greek word ” parektos ” is translated here for ” for another (reason),” but it literally means something that is “outside”, “is not mentioned,” “is excluded” (eg, translates into 2 Corinthians 11:28 the NBV this word with “everything else.” This is not an exception)
A translation that fits as close as possible to the original text would read as follows:
It has also been said: Whoever wants to dispose of his wife must give her a divorce letter. But I tell you that whoever rejects his wife (the reason for fornication is excluded) causes the marriage to be broken for the sake of her; and whoever marries a deserted man commits adultery.
Fornication was a generally recognized reason for divorce.
In the context of Matthew 5, Jesus referred to Jewish law and Jewish traditions. In verses 31-32 He alludes to a text in Deuteronomy:
When a man has taken a wife and is married to her, and it happens that she no longer finds mercy in his eyes, because he has found something shameful about her, and he writes her a divorce letter that she hands in her hand and her send away his house, … ( Deuteronomy 24: 1 )
The rabbinic schools of the time interpreted the expression “something disgraceful” as sexual missteps. For many Jews that was the only reason to divorce.
Jesus brings something new.
Jesus says: ” It is also said: … But I say to you … “. Apparently Jesus is learning something new here, something that the Jews have never heard. In the context of the Sermon on the Mount ( Matthew 5-7 ), Jesus deepens God’s commandments with a view to purity and love. In Matthew 5: 21-48, Jesus mentions Old Testament commandments and then says, “But I tell you.” Thus, by His Word, He points to the original clear will of God in these points, for example in verses 21-22:
‘You have heard that your ancestors have been told: You must not kill. Whoever kills someone must answer to the court. But I tell you, everyone who is angry with another … ( Matthew 5: 21-22, GNB96 )
If in Matthew 5:32 Jesus only meant that He agreed with the generally recognized reason for divorce, then his statements about Divorce would not fit into this context. He would then bring nothing new. (The “new” brought by Jesus is, by the way, the “old” eternal will of God.)
Jesus clearly taught here that the reason for the separation, which was generally recognized by the Jews, no longer applies. Jesus excludes this reason with the words “the reason fornication is excluded”.
But that does not mean that someone is obliged to at least stay with his spouse, even if He behaves in a very bad way. It may even be necessary to isolate oneself for the reason of the poor life of the spouse. In certain cases, the separation can also take the legal form of a divorce. But the Marriage Covenant still exists in this case, and with it the obligation to marry. This means that a new marriage is no longer possible. In a divorce you would dissolve the Marriage Covenant and both marriage partners would be free to get married again. But that was clearly rejected by Jesus.
3.2 Matthew 19: 9
In the case of Matthew 19: 9 we see a similar situation to that of Matthew 5 .
And the Pharisees came to him to tempt him, and said to him, Is a man permitted to cast off his wife for all sorts of reasons? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read that he that made man made them male and female from the beginning, and said, Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife and those two shall be one flesh, so that they are no longer two, but one flesh? So what God has put together does not let man separate it.
They said to Him, Why did Moses command a divorce letter and reject her? He said to them: Moses, because of the hardness of your heart, has allowed you to reject your wife; but it has not been that way from the beginning. But I tell you: He who rejects his wife other than fornication and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries the outcast commits adultery. His disciples said to Him: If the case of the man with the woman is that way, it is better not to marry.(Matthew 19.3-10)
In verse 9, where the HSV translation quoted says ” other than for fornication ” it says in Greek: ” not because of fornication “. In Greek there are two words for the Dutch word “not”. The first is “μὴ / me”, and that word in verse 9 is ” not because of fornication. ” It is normally used when things are prohibited. In the New Testament we find several examples that the word me = not without a verb, which would explain what it is about, is used. It is then necessary to make clear from the context what cannot be done. Jesus expresses here that a certain reaction in the case of sexual misdeeds should not be there. The context shows that the reaction, which should not be there, is divorce. So it means: “not even in the case of fornication”.
Mark 10: 12 (quoted above) shows us that the same applies to the reverse case, when a woman leaves her husband.
Mark 10.1-12 describes the same situation as Matthew 19: 1-12 . To the question of the Pharisees, whether it is lawful to separate themselves from women for whatever reason, 6 Jesus refers to the order of creation, that man and woman are one flesh, and that which God has joined together, the man is not allowed to divorce. The divorce letter that Moses had offered was only allowed because of the hardness of their hearts. The original will of God was different. Jesus “corrects” the law here. The unbreakable nature of the Marriage Covenant is based on the order of creation.
Also the disciples’ reaction in Matthew 19: 10 7 let us see that the teaching of Jesus at this point was completely new to them. Under Jewish law, divorce and remarriage were permitted for sexual sins of the woman (according to Rabbi Schammai). The disciples understood by the words of Jesus that according to the will of God, the Marriage Covenant cannot be lifted, not even in the case of the woman’s sexual sins. With that in mind, the disciples ask whether it is advisable to marry at all.
So this reaction of the disciples also shows us that Jesus brought something completely new. If Jesus had learned that after divorce for divorce, the husband would be allowed to marry again, He would have learned the same as many other Jews, and that would not have caused this astonished reaction among the disciples.
3.3 About these two texts
Both in Matthew 5: 32 and in Matthew 19: 9 we see that the law of Moses on the divorce letter ( Deuteronomy 24: 1 ) is in the background. Jesus shows in both texts that the reasoning of divorce with fornication is not the will of God. Since the question of the interpretation of Deuteronomy 24: 1 was primarily important to Christians who came from Judaism, it is not surprising that we have these two verses where Jesus says that even fornication cannot be a reason for divorce (with the possibility of divorce) to marry again), can only be found in Matthew.
He wrote as mentioned above to Christians with a Jewish background. Mark and Luke did not want to engage their readers, who came mainly from paganism, with the question of the interpretation of the divorce letter in Deuteronomy 24: 1, and therefore omitted these words of Jesus addressed to the Jews.
Matthew 5: 32 and Matthew 19: 9 are therefore in unity with all other words of the New Testament and do not speak of a possible reason for divorce, but say the opposite, namely that the reasons for divorce that the Jews accepted, are not valid.
4 Why was divorce allowed in the Old Testament and no longer according to the words of Jesus?
Divorce was never the will of God. Moses allowed the separation because of the disobedience of the people, because unfortunately it was a sad fact that in the Jewish people of God there were always very few people who really wanted to live according to the will of God. Most Jews were usually very disobedient. That is why God allowed divorce and remarriage in the Old Testament, because otherwise people would have to suffer a lot from other people’s sins.
For social reasons, it was almost imperative for a divorced woman to get married again, because otherwise she would have no material care and almost no possibility of being cared for by children when she was old. That is why Moses commanded the man who rejected his wife to give her a divorce letter.
What was never possible in the people of Israel, that everyone lives together in obedience, love and deep unity, filled Jesus in the church. There are no unbelievers in the church, but everyone has made the decision to follow Jesus without compromise. That is why the Holy Spirit gives Christians the power for this life in sanctification, devotion, love and obedience. Only if you truly understand and want to live the commandment of Jesus about brotherly love can you understand his call that there is no separation for God and that it is also possible for a Christian to live like that.
For God, every marriage applies as long as one spouse dies. In the event that one of the spouses wants to separate themselves from a Christian, Paul allows this. But it does not count as divorce for God,
Marriage is a covenant for God and you must remain faithful to that covenant, even if the marriage partner breaks this covenant. If the unbelieving marriage partner wanted to divorce a Christian – for whatever reason – and the Christian would get married again, he would not only break the marriage loyalty, but he would also involve his “new” partner deep in the sin of fornication and adultery. .
Because Christians live in communion of property as an expression of their brotherly love ( Acts 2: 44-47 ), the social care of the Christian woman whose unbelieving husband has left her is also guaranteed. It will not be lonely either, because God gives every Christian daily deep fulfillment and joy through brotherly love and unity among each other.
5 How should we judge the marriages of “old life” (before someone became a Christian)?
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: the old has passed away, see, everything has become new. ( 2 Corinthians 5: 17 )
This is a very important word from Paul and shows what fundamental change it is when someone becomes a Christian. But it does not mean that all our obligations from life before we became Christians no longer apply.
however, let your word be yes and your no be no; … ( Matthew 5: 37 )
This also applies in particular to the wedding vow. Jesus argued the inextricably of marriage with the order of creation, as we explained in 3.2. The notion that marriages that were concluded before someone became a Christian would not be valid and that you could therefore get divorced because you start a new life as a Christian is therefore a false doctrine and a contempt for the words of Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 7 , Paul speaks of Marriages concluded before conversion:
But I say to the others, not the Lord: If a brother has an unbelieving wife and she agrees to live with him, he must not leave her. And if a woman has an unbelieving man and he agrees to live with her, she must not leave him. Because the unbelieving man is sanctified by his wife and the unbelieving woman is sanctified by her husband. Otherwise your children were unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever wants a divorce, let him divorce. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases. However, God has called us to peace. ( 1 Corinthians 7: 12-15 )
His principle is that if the unbeliever accepts the new life of the Christian, they must not separate. If it still comes to a divorce ( verse 15 ), Paul must not repeat what he already in verse 11 wrote, namely, that the Christian either alone must remain either must reconcile with his spouse.
6 A few thoughts about the current situation
Today, unfortunately, we live in a situation where the “normal case”, as God wanted it, namely a marriage in which two spouses share their lives, faithfully until the end of life, as they promised each other at the marriage ceremony, has already become a major feature. “Patchwork families” are increasingly becoming the normal case. That therefore has its effect on the teachings and practice of the various “churches” and religious groups.
In order to better understand the clear rejection of divorce with the right to marry again, it is also good to bear in mind the positive value of marriage in the plan of God’s creation. It is also important to always consider in a concrete way how the fundamental doctrine of the Bible should be put into practice in the specific situation in which a person stands.
Jesus had brought back the original clarity in this matter, so that even his disciples, who knew the practice of the Old Testament on Divorce and Remarriage, were shocked.
Among the Christians there were certainly people who came from Judaism or paganism and already had their second marriage. We do not see in the Scriptures that all these people had to dissolve their second marriage because they had not entered into their marriage with the consciousness that they are doing something that is absolutely forbidden by God, even if it was for a believer who used to be a Jew, at least it should be clear that God does not see divorce as good.
If Paul wrote to Timothy that an elder in a church may only be the husband of a single woman ( 1 Timothy 3: 2)), then we show that people who were remarried (before they became Christians) could not become elders, but that they were indeed hired in the church. We can only partially accept this practice (that people can continue their second marriage in the church) because the New Testament is known today, and therefore also the clear position of Jesus in this question.
As a result, many people are more aware of the inaccuracy of a second marriage than in the time of the first Christians. It is certainly true that much depends on what consciousness the second marriage was concluded with. If someone started a second marriage knowing that it was against the will of God, then this marriage cannot be seen as a marriage in the will of God. After all, the problem often lies much deeper;
But it is always necessary to investigate the specific case in a precise way and in that way to search honestly for the will of God. Also in the event that the result of this honest investigation is that the second marriage cannot continue, various other points of view must be considered. Especially if both spouses are Christians, the consequence will not be a complete separation. After all, there are often many common tasks, especially raising the children. It is certainly no help for children if they see that the parents are divorced. But in this case (if it is concluded that the second marriage cannot be continued), the sexual relationship can no longer have any place in this relationship.
7 Summary and encouragement
Jesus emphasizes monogamous marriage as the will of God, which can also be seen from the argumentation of becoming one, and that the man should not reject his wife. If the husband for some reason rejects his wife, or divorces the wife from the husband, they may not enter into a new bond as long as the divorced spouse is alive, because the first Marriage Covenant applies as long as they both live. If he or she enters into a new bond, that is a breach of law. For God there is no separation; every marriage is valid as long as both spouses live. Jesus makes no difference in all of these Bible verses whether someone was cast off guilty or innocent.
Because Jesus makes no exceptions in Mark and Luke, he cannot have meant exceptions in Matthew either. The disciples’ reaction also shows that there is no exception to the issue of divorce. Remarriage is not possible as long as the spouse is alive.
Paul deals with specific cases in 1 Corinthians 7 :
If someone is already divorced when he becomes a Christian, then he must remain single or reconcile with his spouse. If the unbeliever wants to divorce a Christian, then the Christian must allow – ( verse 15 ) “But if the unbeliever wants to divorce, let him divorce. The brother or sister is not bound in such cases (literally: addicted). However, God has called us to peace. “
The fact that the brother or sister is not “addicted” in such cases means that he / she has not been sentenced to a common life with an unbelieving spouse in discontent and trouble. He can divorce – and remain single.
What is unimaginable for many people is not an unbearable burden. A Christian has a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As a result, he is much more confronted with the call that God’s holiness makes to us. It is a higher appeal than to the believing people in the Old Covenant. We thereby become more aware of our own weaknesses and sins, and God teaches us to create strength from this deep relationship with Him for what surpasses our powers.
With Him the “impossible” becomes possible. God also helps us through fellowship with brothers and sisters in the faith that every Christian needs: fellowship with those who listen to and do the word of God. These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, our spiritual family, who will last forever. A Christian is never alone without a marriage partner. See also our topic “about the life of the first Christians”