Divorce and celibacy in the Gospel of Matthew
LE3 .A278 2018
Zacharias, H. Daniel
Master of Arts
Acadia Divinity College
How are divorcés within the church to live out their post-marital lives? Specifically, how do Matthew’s unique statements about exceptions for divorce, and his cryptic comment on eunuchs apply to such people? If Christian divorcés are to live out their faith, the answers to these questions are vital in their next step forward. Since Matt 5.32, 19.9 & 12 are unique to his gospel, an exegesis of Christ’s statements on divorce and remarriage must be situated within the gospel rather than by comparing the synoptic gospels. These three verses need to be understood in their context in order to understand what Matthew is saying. Thus, a general overview of the First Gospel is necessary, beginning with the women in Christ’s genealogy and the opening narrative about divorce. This will enlighten one’s reading of Matthew 5.32 to see how Christ as exonerating his father with his exception phrase. Similarly, the Herodias passage in Matthew 14.1-12 helps readers understand Christ’s predicament in 19.1-3 where he was quizzed on divorce in the same area where his cousin was beheaded. Finally, readers will note that eunuchs were never a symbol of celibacy, so Jesus was not forcing divorcés to be celibate. Instead, he was emphatically stating that marriages were to be permanent. This reinforces the universal church’s doctrine on marriages, but it shatters the Catholic Church’s dogma on the sacrament of marriage and the fate of divorcés.
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