WT74 11/15 pg 704 Question From Readers (yeah, right!)
? Do lewd practices on the part of a married person toward that one’s own mate constitute a Scriptural basis for the offended mate to get a divorce?
There are times when lewd practices within the marriage arrangement would provide a basis for a Scriptural divorce. Of course, the Holy Scriptures do not encourage divorce nor do they command the innocent party to divorce a mate who engages in adultery or gross sexual perversion.
Regarding divorce, Jesus Christ stated: “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication, and marries another commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:9) “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.
Thus “fornication” is set forth as the only ground for divorce. In the common Greek in which Jesus’ words are recorded, the term “fornication” is por?nei′a, which designates all forms of immoral sexual relations, perversions and lewd practices such as might be carried on in a house of prostitution, including oral and anal copulation.
As to Jesus’ statements about divorce, they do not specify with whom the “fornication” or por?nei′a is practiced. They leave the matter open. That por?nei′a can rightly be considered as including perversions within the marriage arrangement is seen in that the man who forces his wife to have unnatural sex relations with him in effect “prostitutes” or “debauches” her. This makes him guilty of por?nei′a, for the related Greek verb por?neu′o means “to prostitute, debauch.”
Hence, circumstances could arise that would make lewd practices of a married person toward that one’s marriage mate a Scriptural basis for divorce. For example, a wife may do what she reasonably can to prevent her husband from forcing upon her perversions such as are carried on in a brothel. Yet, due to his greater strength, he might overpower her and use her for perverted sex. So as not to be prostituted in this way at another time, a Christian wife may decide to get a divorce. She could establish with the congregation that the real reason for this is por?nei′a and then proceed to get a legal divorce on any truthful grounds acceptable to the courts of the land.
If, on the other hand, the lewd practices were engaged in by mutual consent, neither mate would have a basis for claiming por?nei′a as a Scriptural ground for divorce. This is so because neither party is innocent and seeking freedom from a mate guilty of por?nei′a. Both marriage partners are guilty. Such a case, if brought to the attention of elders in the congregation, would be handled like any other serious wrongdoing.