Divorce and Remarriage
What the Bible Says About... | Divorce and Remarriage
"The Pharisees also came to him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so." (Matthew19:3-8).
From the very beginning, Jesus taught that God designed and ordained marriage between one male and one female. He created the family unit as the first and most important institution. They being two, became one flesh spiritually and physically. It was never intended that a couple should divorce for any reason, as marriage is a rich symbolic picture of God's love and faithfulness toward the Church, the body of Christ. "Let not the wife depart from her husband," Paul wrote, "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). It was as if Paul was pleading, "Don't divorce each other. If you have to separate, do so, but don't get remarried to another. Do whatever you can to work things out and be reconciled."
Only for one specific reason outlined in the scriptures is divorce permissible. In fact, Jesus said that those who divorce and remarry another for any reason other than the one permitted have committed adultery. What is the permissible reason for divorce?
Adultery or Fornication
Jesus said, "Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9). "But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery." (Matthew 5:32).
I know and hear of cases where a husband beats or abuses his wife and children. Even though he abuses her, he has never been unfaithful to her. Is she not permitted to divorce her husband? Is she supposed to stay with him and take the abuse? A Christian should never become involved in a relationship with a non-believer. But, if it does happen, or if one partner becomes saved after marriage while the other remains unsaved, this can result in serious problems. I know it must be hard to receive abuse at the hands of someone who claims to love you. This problem is not new, and I'm sure it was experienced by many in Jesus' day. But, He did say that the only reason for divorce was adultery. Paul instructed that the wife is not to depart from her husband. Then he states, "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband." (1 Corinthians 7:10-11). Under such circumstances as abuse which one spouse may receive at the hands of another, I believe Paul says here that it is okay to be separated. But don't get divorced and remarry another. Pray for your husband or wife and hope to be reconciled to them. By your actions, influence and lifestyle, you could win your spouse to Christ.
What about remarriage? Is it permitted?
Jesus said, as quoted above, that whosover marries another that has been put away or divorced commits adultery. Including the death of a spouse, a Christian is permitted to remarry only under three circumstances:
(1) Widows are allowed to remarry, but Paul prefers them to stay unmarried as he is (1 Corinthians 7:8-9; See also Romans 7:1-3).
(2) If you divorced your spouse because they committed adultery, then you are free to remarry.
(3) If a non-Christian spouse wishes to leave, remarriage of the Christian to another believer is permitted. Again, a marriage between a Christian and a non-believer should never take place, for we should not be yoked together with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). But what happens in a marriage when one person becomes a Christian, but the other does not? Paul teaches us that if your spouse is an unbeliever, and they desire to stay with you, don't divorce them. Your influence and lifestyle could cause them to be saved (1 Corinthians 7:16; 1 Peter 3:1-2). However, if the unbelieving spouse wishes to leave, then the Christian partner is free to remarry another believer. "But if the unbelieving depart," Paul said, "let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases." (1 Corinthians 7:10-16).