Questions From Readers
● Do homosexual acts on the part of a married person constitute a Scriptural ground for divorce, freeing the innocent mate to remarry?—U.S.A.
Homosexuality is definitely condemned in the Bible as something that will prevent individuals from gaining God’s approval. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10) However, whether an innocent mate would Scripturally be able to remarry after procuring a legal divorce from a mate guilty of homosexual acts must be determined on the basis of what the Bible says respecting divorce and remarriage.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus Christ said: “Everyone divorcing his wife, except on account of fornication, makes her a subject for adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matt. 5:32) On a later occasion he told the Pharisees: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.”—Matt. 19:9.
Thus “fornication” is seen to be the only ground for divorce that frees the innocent mate to remarry.
The Greek word for fornication is porneía. It can refer to illicit sexual relations between either married or unmarried persons. The ancient Greeks, in rare instances, may have understood this term to denote acts other than illicit sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. But the sense in which Jesus used the word porneía at Matthew 5:32 and Mt 19:9 must be ascertained from the context.
It should be noted that in Matthew chapters 5 and 19 “fornication” is used in the restricted sense of marital unfaithfulness, or illicit relations with another person not one’s marriage mate. Just before bringing up the matter of divorce in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus Christ pointed out that “everyone [married] that keeps on looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt. 5:28) Consequently, when he afterward alluded to a woman’s committing fornication, his listeners would have understood this in its relative sense, namely, as signifying a married woman’s prostitution or adultery.
The context of Matthew chapter 19 confirms this conclusion. On the basis of the Hebrew Scriptures, Jesus pointed out that a man and his wife became “one flesh,” and then added: “What God has yoked together let no man put apart.” (Matt. 19:5, 6) Now, in homosexual acts the sex organs are used in an unnatural way, in a way for which they were never purposed. Two persons of the same sex are not complements of each other, as Adam and Eve were. They could never become “one flesh” in order to procreate. It might be added, in the case of human copulation with a beast, two different kinds of flesh are involved. Wrote the apostle Paul: “Not all flesh is the same flesh, but there is one of mankind, and there is another flesh of cattle, and another flesh of birds, and another of fish.”—1 Cor. 15:39.
While both homosexuality and bestiality are disgusting perversions, in the case of neither one is the marriage tie broken. It is broken only by acts that make an individual “one flesh” with a person of the opposite sex other than his or her legal marriage mate.