Pastor James J. Barker

Text: LUKE 16:18


  1. One of the most difficult subjects to preach about is divorce, but when we read the Bible we see that Jesus spoke of it often.
  2. I want to preface my remarks by saying that I am opposed to divorce, but I love divorced people. Some of our best members have been divorced (usually before they were saved), and the last thing I want to do is offend any of them.
  3. I remember a divorced couple that I knew for many years. They have since moved to a different state. It was his second marriage, and it was her second marriage.
  4. And though their first marriages ended in divorce, they were determined to make their marriage a good Christian marriage, and it was. I remember one time when my children were young they gave me and my wife a very generous gift so we could take our family on a nice vacation.
  5. When I was a young boy, Nelson Rockefeller was the governor of New York State (1959 to 1973). He was a very worldly man. He was liberal politician and he was very ambitious. He was a multi-millionaire, a grandson of the famous industrialist John D. Rockefeller, who co-founded the Standard Oil Company.
  6. Nelson Rockefeller tried to become the Republican nominee for president in 1960, but he was unsuccessful.
  7. And he tried again to become the Republican nominee for president in 1964, but again he was unsuccessful.
  8. And then he tried again to become the Republican nominee for president in 1968, but again he was unsuccessful.
  9. Many people said he could never get the Republican nomination because he was too liberal, but there was another reason why he was unsuccessful – he was divorced (and so was his wife) and that was a very big issue back then.
  10. Things certainly have changed – Donald Trump has been divorced twice. Other divorced presidential candidates would include John Kerry and John McCain.
  11. Ronald Reagan was the first (and only) divorced president of the United States. He was elected in 1980 and 1984.
  12. By the way, Nelson Rockefeller died in 1979 (at age 70) from a heart attack while he was committing adultery with his 25-year-old aide in a townhouse on 54th Street in Manhattan.
  13. Nelson Rockefeller’s wife’s name was Happy, but Happy wasn’t very happy when she heard how her husband died.
  14. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7, 8).
  15. I heard about a man who was in the process of going through a divorce, and he asked his attorney, “Do you think I’ll win?”
  16. The lawyer replied, “Of course not. In a divorce nobody wins.”
  17. This is especially true when there are children are involved. They suffer the most.
  18. I recently read this article: “Unfortunately, the growth in the number of children born into broken families in America – from 12 for every 100 born in 1950 to 58 for every 100 born in 1992 — has become a seemingly unbreakable cycle that the federal government not only continues to ignore, but even promotes through some of its policies” (The Heritage Foundation).
  19. Many young men are angry, and are mixed up in gangs and drugs because they do not have a relationship with their father.
  20. Divorce is a sin, just like adultery is a sin (Luke 16:18). But like any sin, there is forgiveness in Christ.
  21. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).
  22. If there are Christians here tonight who have experienced divorce, I am not trying to make you feel bad. If it were not for the grace of God none of us would have a happy marriage.
  23. Young people need to understand that it is God’s will for one man and one woman to stay together “till death do us part.”
  24. Jesus said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).



  1. Notice that in Matthew 19:4, our Lord said, “Have ye not read, that He (God) which made them at the beginning made them male and female.”
  2. God created Adam and Eve – one man and one woman – till death do us part.
  3. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6).
  4. I heard about this nervous bridegroom. When the preacher said, “Repeat after me…with this ring I thee wed,” the man said, “With this ring I be dead.”
  5. His friends tied a bunch of tin cans to the back of his car, and as the newlyweds drove off, you could see they put up a sign: “Just Buried!”
  6. “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” means marriage is supposed to be permanent.
  7. I do not know how these Hollywood people can make their marriage vows with a straight face. But since they are actors, they are used to faking it in front of the camera.
  8. Sadly, too many people are following the Hollywood way instead of the Bible way.
  9. Not only is marriage a permanent union, it is also a physical union – “they twain shall be one flesh” (Matthew 19:5).
  10. Furthermore, for the Christian it is a spiritual union (cf. Malachi 2:15, 16). God hates “putting away” (Malachi 2:16).
  11. Marriage was ordained by God for procreation (Malachi 2:15; Genesis 1:28; 9:1).
  12. Marriage was ordained by God for companionship (Genesis 2:18).
  13. Marriage was ordained by God to avoid fornication (I Corinthians 7:1, 2; cf. Matthew 5:27-30).



  1. Luke 16:18 does not make any allowance for divorce. However, in Matthew 19:7, the Pharisees said to our Lord, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?”
  2. Our Lord answered them by saying, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8).
  3. The Mosaic law did allow for divorce. Moses did not “command” it, but the law tolerated it (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
  4. “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered (permitted) you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8). It was not part of God’s original plan for marriage.



  1. Whenever we do a serious Bible study on an important subject – marriage, divorce, adultery, homosexuality, drinking, abortion, capital punishment, war, etc. we must always look at all of the references in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
  2. When studying the subject of divorce, we must carefully consider Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9. These verses contain the so-called “exception clause,” i.e., divorce is permissible after fornication.
  3. All of the other Scriptures dealing with divorce do not allow it under any circumstances (cf. Luke 16:18; Mark 10:2-12; Romans 7:2, 3; etc.).
  4. It should also be noted that Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 say the only exception is for “fornication,” not for incompatibility or for some of the other excuses given today to justify divorce.
  5. In the New Testament, the word “fornication” refers to immorality. It refers to illicit sexual relations. In other words, any sex outside of marriage.
  6. The Greek word translated “fornication” is porneia (porn-aya), and it is where we get our English word “pornography.”
  7. I believe this “exception clause” (found only in the Gospel of Matthew, a book written primarily to a Jewish audience) refers to divorce during the betrothal period.
  8. Matthew 1:18 and 19 says that before Joseph and Mary “came together” (during the betrothal period), “she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” Then Joseph, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, “was minded to put her away privily,” in other words to quietly divorce her (cf. Deuteronomy 22:23, 24).
  9. Going back to Matthew 19, let us consider the reaction of our Lord’s disciples (Matthew 19:10-12).
  10. “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” (Matthew 19:10). Apparently they thought our Lord was too strict. But if our Lord taught that divorce was permissible only after fornication, then he was not being particularly strict.
  11. When you consider the wicked depravity of man, you can imagine that many sinners would gladly commit adultery in order to get out of an unhappy marriage.
  12. In fact, infidelity is usually the number one cause of divorce.



One preacher has said that divorce leads to:

  1. Broken homes – Divorce wrecks homes. There are scars that cannot be erased.
  2. Bleeding hearts – all the various relatives are affected – in-laws, siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc.
  3. Bewildered children – confused children shuffle back and forth from Dad’s house to Mom’s house, or they grow up without the benefit of having a dad in their home, or they have to deal with their mom’s new boyfriend(s), or their dad’s new girlfriend(s), etc.
  4. Blighted testimonies – society has removed the stigma from divorce, and illegitimacy, and homosexuality, and couples living together out of wedlock, and numerous other sins (now the most popular sin is “transgenderism”), but this does not make these things right. When people get saved, God forgives them but they still have to deal with the consequences.

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