People often ask me if a divorced Christian has to remain single. Some Christian churches teach that marrying again is a sin. Many Christian churches do not teach that.
Why the discrepancy? It seems to depend on your approach to the Scriptures. More insight can be gained when we look at the times in which the scriptures were written.
Let’s Look Deeper at whether a Divorced Christian has to Remain Single
Let’s look a little deeper at two verses that bring up the concerns about whether a divorced Christian has to remain single and see what we find out. We’ll start with Matthew 19:8-9.
In this Scripture Jesus answers a direct question cited in Matthew 19:3. Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?
Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.’”
Jesus was saying that God designed marriage to be a lifetime union. Moses allowed for divorce because people sometimes have hard hearts and fall short of God’s perfect plan. As suggested by the question in verse 3, many men were divorcing their wives for trivial reasons not in keeping with the law, this often left women on the streets. Jesus was saying that for a man to dismiss his wife in a frivolous way that is not in keeping with the law is the same as committing adultery.
The NIV Study Bible says this about the phrase”commits adultery”
This speaks only of the man who divorces his wife unlawfully. In such a case, his remarriage is adulterous. Jesus’s motivation is to re-establish the permanency of marriage.” (NIV Study Bible, notes. P. 1617. Published 2007)
Now let’s consider Romans 7:3
So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries.
This passage is actually not about whether a person can remarry. If you look at it in context you’ll realize that it is an illustration. Paul is talking about new life in Christ as opposed to the law.
Verses 4-6 go on to make the point that now we serve God by living in the Spirit rather than by trying to obey the letter of the law as was done in the Old Testament. Notice that divorce is never mentioned here as part of the equation.
Grounds for Divorce in God’s Law
By the way, a commentary on Biblegateway.com, Grounds for Divorce in God’s Law, states,
…a valid divorce by definition included the right to remarry, as is attested by ancient divorce contracts.”
No doubt God wants Christians to have strong healthy Christ-centered marriages. Divorce isn’t a part of his plan. Yet, He realizes divorce happens because as humans we can have hard hearts.
Is your heart hard? Talk with God and ask him to help you find healing. He has a better plan for you than for you to go through life hardhearted.
Is your heart broken? Your divorce may stem from a spouse who has a hard heart in which case you probably have a broken heart yourself. God is reaching out to you and has a plan for you for a future and a hope. Talk with him about healing now. He will let you know in time whether remarriage is right for you.
Our God is of judgement but he is also of grace and redemption. He knows your heart.
My Personal Testimony
A personal relationship with Christ is powerful. God saw me through the heartbreak of divorce. He loved me and nurtured me through the pain. In his grace he guided me to a new life.
There is no doubt in my mind that God led me to my second husband. He has blessed our life together in amazing ways. We have been married since 1987.
God’s hand in our second marriage is evident. His presence confirms to me that marriage after divorce is not a sin. In fact, every day I still feel God is smiling on our marriage.
Four Words to the Wise
- Never take divorce lightly. The Bible makes it clear that divorce should not occur for trivial reasons. Marriage takes work and commitment. Seek professional marriage counseling if at all possible. Even if your marriage eventually collapses you will feel better knowing you gave it your best effort. (That doesn’t mean you should allow yourself or your children to be abused.)
- Make your priority seeking God. If your priority is seeking a new mate rather than seeking God you are likely to run into a host of problems. Only God can truly make you whole.
- Don’t race to marry again. Be sure you take time to heal before jumping into a new relationship. Taking old wounds into a new relationship sets you up for failure.
- God still loves you even if divorce is your reality. God is close to the brokenhearted and heals those who are crushed in spirit. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like a second-rate Christian because of divorce. I believe God hates divorce because of the pain it causes his children. The Bible never says God hates divorced people.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
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This post is modified from a post that first appeared March 9, 2016
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION.
Additional Resource on Divorce and the Scriptures:
Much has been written on the controversial topics surrounding divorce and the Scriptures. There are far too many factors to fully cover here. For a more in-depth study you may wish to reflect on research conducted by Rev. Mike Winger. You can view his video by clicking this link: Divorce and Remarriage: Everything the Bible Says about It.