“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:31-32 ESV

The same contrast, with Jesus this time contrasting what the Jewish Law said about divorce, from Deuteronomy 24:1. The same formula, It was said.. I say.

The end of the sermon on the mount gives some context, “The crowds were astonished at [Jesus] teaching, for he was teaching them as one who has authority, not by their scribes.” Matthew 7:29

[Citation needed] is something I see a lot when looking at Wikipedia. It is said when there is no backing up evidence to what has been said. The scribes would not have taught like this, referring back to the Law and the prophets, or the writing of some earlier rabbi.

Jesus teaching is not like this. there is no citation. I say is not backed up. Jesus is using his own authority, not that of the scribes and Pharisees. His authority is direct from God. God in human form is speaking. And it is clear that he disagrees with the Law here, marriage is for life, and should only be terminated due to adultery, or some other act of immorality.

In those days divorce was a one-way affair [pun intentional]. The husband could divorce his wife, but not the wife her husband. What Jesus is saying is that the shame of being divorced should not fall on the innocent party. If a woman was divorced she had two choices, return to her parents in shame [Citation: ESV Study Bible] or find a new partner. If she is the innocent party in the divorce, she has not been immoral, the blame should fall not on her but on the divorcing husband. Jesus does not explicitly say she should not remarry. He says that the sin of adultery if she does, is her former husband’s, not hers.

Jesus is not so much standing up for women’s rights, in those days they had none, but giving her rights that society denied.

I believe we are to continue that work by giving rights to those that society, and even Parliament, would deny rights to.

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