The Exemption Clause (Mt. 5:32)

By Timothy Sparks


I previously stated my understanding of Mt. 5:32 (What Is Jesus Saying in Mt. 5:32?). To address the “matter of fornication” in more detail, I defer to the summary Dr. McFall sent me in email correspondence on July 20, 2015:

“Shalom Timothy,
A husband is responsible for his wife’s sexual history. The three cases where a man is not held responsible are these.
First, when he divorces her on a non-fornication issue, thinking he has the authority of Moses to do so, and the expectation was that she would remarry another man, but she does not, but uses her freedom to live as a prostitute. She knows this is wrong, and it was her decision to live a life of sin. Her first husband cannot be held accountable for this sinful life.
Second, where a wife committed suspected fornication while still married to her husband, and her husband could not prove it with two witnesses, but he ‘knew’ she was unfaithful, so he used some other, non-fornication excuse to divorce her, he will not be held responsible for her pre-divorce fornication, because it was her decision to commit secret fornication while still married to him.
Third, a man can marry a divorced woman. He is not responsible for her sexual history before he married her.
I trust this helps. I have added the above as a Summary to the next edition of my ebook, to clarify the three cases where he is not culpable for her sexual history.
The revelation that Jesus brought to light was that when a man divorces his wife, thinking he had Moses’ permission to do so on a non-fornication issue, and she marries another man, this is not a marriage, but a life of fornication, because two living men may not have relations with the same woman. This was the ‘shocking’ aspect of His new revelation about God’s intention for marriage: it was to be an unbreakable, undissolvable, one-flesh union until death parted them.”1

1See Dr. McFall’s discussion of “Deuteronomy 22:20-21 as the background to the exemption clause in Matthew 5:32”: McFall, pp. 218-220 (see also pages 156, 202-203, 239 and 273-274 for details pertaining to his summary).

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.