Jesus Teaches about Marriage and Divorce

Matthew 19:1–9

1 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judæa beyond Jordan;
2 And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there.
3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.
9 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.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“The word of the Lord is definite that when a man and a woman marry they become ‘one flesh,’ and therefore, they should never separate except where the most serious offenses in violation of that covenant warrant its being broken. Divorce is not a part of the gospel plan and there never would be any occasion for it if the man and his wife were sincerely, humbly, living in accordance with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It never could happen if the man and wife had in their hearts the pure love which they should hold for each other. No divorce ever comes where there is in the hearts of husband and wife, the pure love of Christ, for that love is based in righteousness, and righteousness is an enemy of sin. Our Lord condemned divorce when the Pharisees came tempting Him, saying:

“‘Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

“‘And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,

“‘And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?

“‘Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder’ [Matt. 19:3–6].

“When they inquired why it was that Moses permitted divorce, Jesus answered them:

“‘Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so’ [Matt. 19:8].

“Here we have reaffirmation that marriage in the beginning was instituted by divine command, and wherever a man and his wife were united by the authority of the Lord, they should not be put asunder. Unfortunately today, and so it has been generally among all nations from ancient times, husbands and wives are not and were not ‘joined together’ by our Heavenly Father.”

(The Restoration of All Things [1945], 239–40.)

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