The Bible and Its Divorce Contradiction

According to the Bible, can a person get divorced and remarry without committing adultery? Remarriage after divorce is prohibited because it is adultery. Jesus clearly says so.

    Mark 10:2-5, 9-12: “And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept…What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”1

Hence the logical notation or form of the prohibition on remarriage based on the above verse is:

    (x)(Dx & Rx => Ax)

where D is for “divorced,” R is for “remarried,” and A is for “commits adultery.” It is read, “For anything x, if x is divorced and x is remarried, then x commits adultery.” This is universal and applies without exception to any x, according to the above quotations from Jesus. “Whosoever” means “anyone”. Jesus also says this applies for any divorced man and any divorced woman:

“Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” 2

Other parts of the Bible also state that if someone divorces, the person is not to remarry.3

So no one who divorces can remarry without committing adultery. But, on the other hand, the Bible also says that not everyone who divorces a spouse and remarries is committing adultery:

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.”4

Jesus agrees that you can get divorced and remarry as long as you divorce because of fornication:

“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.”5

But if you can divorce and remarry without committing adultery (in case of fornication), then this implies the following:

    ~[(x)(Dx & Rx => Ax)]

If there is an exception, then the conditional cannot apply to any and all things x and it is not the case that whoever divorces and remarries commits adultery. This is a formal contradiction, since the Bible, and even just the New Testament, endorses both sides of the issue:

    (x)(Dx & Rx => Ax) & ~[(x)(Dx & Rx => Ax)]

So the Bible contradicts itself on whether one can get a divorce and remarry without committing adultery. This is a formal contradiction supported by the Biblical text. It should be noted that New Testament scholars are not even sure what Jesus(P) originally said on the topic of divorce and remarriage. What we find in the Gospels are a variety of forms of sayings which were developed at different times among different Christian communities. D. C. Parker concludes:

“The main result of this survey is to show that a recovery of a single original saying of Jesus is impossible. We have been able to show that some forms of text were developments. But it does not follow that one of those with which we are left is more original than the others. The differences between the four passages in Matthew (twice), Mark and Luke are already great. But the development of the tradition goes beyond that, both in time and in extent. We can see the tradition being developed right through to the formation of the Byzantine text.

The quest for a Law in the teaching of Jesus cannot be pursued in the face of the evidence that, for those early Christians who passed the traditions to us, there was no law, but a tradition whose meaning had to be kept alive by reflection and reinterpretation. What we have is a collection of interpretative rewritings of a tradition.” 6

And only Allah knows best!

Footnotes

  1. cf. Luke 16:1-18 []
  2. Mark 10:11 []
  3. See Matthew 5:31-32; 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 and Romans 7:2-3 []
  4. Deuteronomy 24:1-2 []
  5. Mt. 19:9 []
  6. D. C. Parker, The living text of the Gospels, Cambridge University Press, 1997 pp. 92-93 []

7 Comments

  1. By the way admin…

    I realize that some people might take “pathetic” the wrong way…I’m used to using words in some of their older and less-popularized senses because they’re more precise. For instance “absurd” means “irrationally unlikely according to statistics”, for instance, 1/x while x–>infinity is called “absurd”, properly: but “absurd”, today, is loaded: so if you will please change “pathetic” so that I don’t offend people. Here’s the modern sense: “limp’. A little weird, sure…but it’s like “lame” means useless/hindered, but today it’s used as an insult.

  2. this argument is pathetic…please think through things…and quote the whole contexts; you also need to remember the “without a cause”…which you don’t cite. Also, Christians aren’t ignorant that power-struggles resulted in people trying to change the scriptures: some documents expunge “without a cause”, something not suprising since people like Augustine asserted that marriage can never be annulled (Contradicting Deuteronomy and Jesus Himself who said “except for the cause of adultery”.

    If you want to make an argument you really ought to know what you’re about to say: otherwise you lose all respect in the eyes of those who know what’s going on when they find a demonstration of nothing more than ignorance.

    And mind you, ignorance isn’t an insult: we’re all ignorant of something…we just have to put time in and learn about it.

    The whole “we don’t really know the original text” argument is one that’s laughable…since there are more manuscripts of the NT than any other ancient document, with more constantly being discovered, and demonstrating predictable differences in what are usually (by non-believing critical scholars, even) termed “minor” details such as spelling, word-order (which doesn’t matter in Greek most of the time because it uses case endings called “declensions”), and insertions/deletions which are readily identified.

    People read Plato with confidence: when there are only 4 or so ancient manuscripts of it. The NT has thousands upon thousands, not only of manuscripts (minisucles, uncials, etc.) but then papyri, lecionaries, ancient quotes, etc… so we’re not altogether too worried about assailants who try to take such a preponderance of evidence and twist it.

    Thanks for the try, though.

  3. adultery is a crime! ^_^

  4. I am the author of the piece on the divorce contradiction. Some of the formatting may be a little off in the formal logic statements. In between the “Rx” and the “Ax” there should be an arrow indicating implication. In some computers, unfortunately, this may appear as a question mark.

    This is a solid contradiction in the Biblical view of divorce and remarriage.

    ____________
    Doug Krueger
    Fayetteville, Arkansas

  5. what the hell are you people on about?

  6. In fact, New Testament scholars aren’t sure what Jesus (P) originally said on the topic of divorce and remarriage. What we find in the Gospels are a variety of forms of sayings which were developed at different times among different Christian communities. D. C. Parker concludes:

    “The main result of this survey is to show that a recovery of a single original saying of Jesus is impossible. We have been able to show that some forms of text were developments. But it does not follow that one of those with which we are left is more original than the others. The differences between the four passages in Matthew (twice), Mark and Luke are already great. But the development of the tradition goes beyond that, both in time and in extent. We can see the tradition being developed right through to the formation of the Byzantine text ?

    The quest for a Law in the teaching of Jesus cannot be pursued in the face of the evidence that, for those early Christians who passed the traditions to us, there was – no law, but a tradition whose meaning had to be kept alive by reflection and reinterpretation. What we have is a collection of interpretative rewritings of a tradition.”

    [D. C. Parker, The living text of the Gospels, Cambridge University Press, 1997 pp. 92-93]

    Therefore, there is little point talking about what Jesus (P) said or did not said since we do not even have the original form of the words and therefore do not know what Jesus (P) originally said on this topic.

  7. sorry. but may i correct u?

    deuteronomy 24:1-4
    1 ?When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, 2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man?s wife, 3 if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, 4 then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the LORD, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

    Read the whole thing! Don’t just stop midsentence! The Bible didn’t say that “she may go out and be another man’s wife. It says that if her second husband dies, he (the first husband) can’t marry her again. And if he does, he commits aldultery!

    Jesus DID NOT agree that we are allowed to commit adultery in this:
    ?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.? (Matt. 19:9)

    WHich sentence over there says that we are allowed to commit adultery?! It just states that if we do the above, we commit adultery. It doesn’t give us the PERMISSION to do it.

    Hope you do your research (if you did any) before posting a blog like this =)

    God bless.

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