"Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery." (Mark 10:11-12)Jesus' statement here sounds pretty strict. As though there are no exceptions. Yet there are several considerations here. First, Jesus is speaking directly to his disciples, as opposed to the public. Jesus is speaking to those who have become his followers:
Then in the house, his disciples asked him again about this. (Mark 10:10)Thus he is speaking in a more strict sense. However, as Jesus explained elsewhere, there are exceptions to this:
"But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for immorality, causes her to commit adultery, and anyone who shall marry one so divorced commits adultery." (Matt. 5:32)
But I say to you, with the exception of immorality, whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. And whoever marries her who has been so divorced also commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9)So we see here that there are exceptions - specifically, "immorality."
But what is "immorality?"
Many Biblical translations have assumed Jesus was speaking only of sexual immorality. The Greek word being translated to "immorality" is πορνεία (porneia). Yes, according to the lexicon, this word can mean "illicit sexual intercourse - adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. - and sexual intercourse with close relatives."
But the word πορνεία (porneia) can also mean "the worship of idols - of the defilement of idolatry, as incurred by eating the sacrifices offered to idols."
So we see here that Jesus is not only speaking of the situation where a spouse has sex with an outside party as a reason to divorce. But also on other grounds of 'immorality.'
What is the worship of idols?
Is this only the worship of a particular statue such as Baal - worshiped in ancient times? What is an idol, anyway?
An idol is an object of worship that is not the Supreme Being. Yes, this can include statues. But it can also include people. It can include material objects - even money or wealth. It can include a particular position or role - such as a government leader or even a teacher. It can literally mean anyone or anything that someone may 'worship.'
So what is worship? To worship means to serve, pay homage to, give ultimate respect to, to give one's heart to.
What's wrong with idol worship?
Because this is the role of the Supreme Being. The idol worshiper is putting someone or something other than God into the position of God.
Today, for example, many put their pets into this position. They consider their dog or cat or horse to be their life and soul - their best friend. They even have a saying about this about dogs: "Dogs are man's best friend."
So they will serve their dog or other pet. They will pay homage to their pet. Whatever the pet wants, they will do.
This makes them pet worshipers: They put their pet into the position of God - making their pet an idol.
After all, God is our Best Friend. God is the person we should serve. God should be our life and soul.
This means that pet-worship is no different than idol-worship.
So does this mean that a person should divorce their spouse because they decided to have a pet? Don't be ridiculous.
But if the pet's interests - and the relationship with the pet begins to interfere with their spouse's ability to worship of the Supreme Being - that would be another matter.
Interfering with our relationship with God
The point that Jesus is making is that if someone is accepting marriage as an arrangement by the Supreme Being, then the only valid reason to break the marriage would be if the marriage began interfering with the spouse's progress towards their relationship with God, or their ability to continue their service to God.
Such a situation might well coincide with the spouse's cheating. Often these sorts of actions will occur as a result of the person's loss of interest in growing their relationship with God. The cheating can be seen as an outward sign of the loss of one's commitment to growing their relationship with God.
After all, growing our relationship with God is more than just following a bunch of rules and regulations. Rather, it is seeing God as the Person we want to spend time with. We see God as that person we want to secretly steal away with.
After all, why would we want to have a cheating relationship with someone who would have sex with a married person when we could have a loving relationship with the Perfect Person?
That is what cheating is anyway - wanting to have someone we think is perfect in some way.
Each of us is looking for a soul mate.
We search the world for that special, perfect person for us. Because that person is not found among us humans, most will "settle" for whoever will "settle" for them.
Even after marriage, most never really give up that search for the perfect person. This is because none of us in the material world is that perfect person. Each of us is flawed. We are flawed because we are not God.
The Supreme Being is the only perfect person. He is also our only soul mate. He is the perfect person for each of us, and each of us has a unique relationship with Him deep within.
But because He gives us the freedom to love Him or not, we have the choice whether we want to embrace our soul mate relationship with God - the Perfect Person for each of us.