Question: Divorce and Remarriage?

March 15, 2012 — 2 Comments



Anonymous asked:
I’ve read on Tumblr a lot of things having to do with divorced Christians getting re-married, and whether guilty parties are allowed to remarry or not (after repentance). Where do you stand on this?

So there are four views on divorce and remarriage:

1) No divorce and no remarriage, no exceptions.

2) Divorce allowed only from adultery, no remarriage.

3) Divorce allowed only from adultery, possible to remarry.

4) Divorce allowed for a variety of reasons, possible to remarry.

Jesus speaks on divorce in Matthew 5 here:

31 “It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’  32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.


Jesus is saying two things: 1) Divorce may be acceptable for adultery, and 2) Divorcing without this reason means that remarriage is not a possibility, because under God’s witness you’re still married.

Jesus also replies to some Pharisees about divorce in Matthew 19 –

7“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. 9 I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”


So in a more thorough teaching, Jesus says divorce is never a good option, and it only happened because these people were defying God’s original design for marriage.

Keep in mind that we can’t simply zero in on these verses as the entire counsel on divorce and remarriage.  Forgiveness for adultery is possible.  Jesus would also never condone staying in an abusive, violent, dangerous marriage.  And desertion — running away, disappearing forever — is not exactly easy to mend.

Though I’m not married, I understand the pain involved with troubled marriages.  My parents divorced on my fourteenth birthday, so I speak between wanting to follow God’s Word while knowing the pain of broken families.  Should my parents have stayed together? Yes: it’s God’s command. Did they have valid reason to divorce? Yes: adultery. Do they still have another chance at life? Yes: God forgives. For new relationships too? I’d like to say yes, given they follow God and repent.

When fellow Christians tell me, No divorce nor remarriage under any circumstances, I know exactly what they mean.  Let’s never compromise the Word of God just because times are tough.  Let’s show the world what God’s Love is all about, that it can keep a rough marriage together. Those are noble reasons, the best reasons.

But I also speak from a real place of hurting people who have tried with every fiber of their being to make it work, and the adultery and abuse didn’t stop.  I am sometimes thankful my parents ended up divorcing. I wish they hadn’t but see why they did.  They both, after many more post-divorce trials, became better people. My dad himself became truly saved (in his third marriage). Could my parents have been better together? Sure. But after so much adultery and abuse between them, they began to fit Jesus’ exception for divorce.

Please hear my heart on this one: I do not condone divorce.  It’s one of the most painful things that can happen to children, and even without children it destroys a part of the spouse’s soul.  Anyone who gives up on a commitment kills a part of themselves.  It affects your whole life. 

At the same time, this is a broken, sinful, hostile world. Many husbands are downright horrible.  Many wives are outright obnoxious.  They are not beyond saving, but together may be too damaging.  This is not an exit or excuse or escape clause for divorce, and hardly ever should you consider yourself the exception.  When all other options have failed — I really mean there has been severe serious effort — then divorce might be viable.  I say that with total grief and no hint of relief at all.

For people who are divorced: a second chance exists. Maybe they just met Christ after it happened.  The damage is done but recovery is possible with Christ. No one should treat them like second-rate Christians, which happens often.

For people who want remarriage: that requires major prayer, counseling, no possible reconciliation with the ex-spouse, and tons of blessing. I lean more towards remarriage being generally unwise and to be avoided. 

My dad remarried twice. His current marriage seems to be doing well, but he’s left a path of destruction with his first two marriages.  It’s not true that a “starter marriage” helps the next time. Statistically that’s false.  So while it may be desirable, remarriage is usually not wise. I understand the case of single moms or a marriage where early death happened, but even then, there is a lot to pray over. If you’re an over-thinker and over-analyze (like me), that’s the best place to do it.


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2 responses to Question: Divorce and Remarriage?

  1. 

    Interesting. This is probably one of the better, more understanding articles written from this point of view (having had parents who divorced). This sort of thing should make people want to pick their spouse wisely, ya know? Too bad love is blind.

  2. 

    I too am going to speak from experience. It has been over seven years now since I found out about my husband’s adultery, and over four since we have been separated. I have gone over these passages so many times with so many people. Unfortunately most see this as a philosophical or theological issue when it has serious practical implications for the church. In Bible times, if a wife was abandoned, how was she to live? Certainly this isn’t a new issue for our time. Widows and abandoned women were pretty much in the same boat. I have tried to do some word studies and found that perhaps the word translated as “widow” in English may mean “a woman alone.” For those who say, no remarriage whatever the circumstances, what do you think the early church would have done with a woman in the church whose husband had left her?

    Paul comments on a similar issue, warning about having young widows dependent on the church and advising that they get married. (1 Timothy 5)

    11 The younger widows should not be on the list, because their physical desires will overpower their devotion to Christ and they will want to remarry. 12 Then they would be guilty of breaking their previous pledge. 13 And if they are on the list, they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t. 14 So I advise these younger widows to marry again, have children, and take care of their own homes. Then the enemy will not be able to say anything against them. 15 For I am afraid that some of them have already gone astray and now follow Satan.

    If Paul was concerned about single widows in the church, but (some people think) insisted that those who had been left by their husbands be left to their own devices…….. what kind of ways would they have found to feed themselves and their children? Ways that would have brought shame to the church?

    If I follow this verse in my situation: I Tim 5:5 Now a true widow, a woman who is truly alone in this world, has placed her hope in God. She prays night and day, asking God for his help.

    but cannot expect any guidance or anything from the church except “thou shalt never marry again” (not that I am thinking about or pursuing that, I am actually trying to go back to school to get a degree so that I can take care of myself) I am “alone in this world” indeed. How sad.

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