The stand of most protestants is that it is okay to remarry after a divorce. However, there are some that argue that once one divorces, one shouldn’t seek remarriage. Still, there are others that believe that God hates divorce and that married people should therefore not even consider it.
So, what does the Bible really say? Does God allow remarriage?
In a nutshell, yes and no. If your spouse dies or if your non-believing spouse asks for a divorce, then you are free to remarry. Otherwise, if you divorce your spouse for any other reason, the Bible teaches that you shouldn’t remarry.
Let’s have a look at what the Bible says on this controversial topic below.
Reasons against remarriage
Remarrying after divorce is adultery.
Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18
The scripture above states that anyone who remarries after divorcing their spouse is committing adultery. This stems from the fact that a married couple has become one in the eyes of God. In the first marriage recorded in the Bible, scripture illustrates how the male and the family unite in marriage to become one flesh. Jesus emphasized this point when answering the question on divorce in Matthew 18.
Since the two are one flesh, divorce does not really separate them. Instead, God considers them still married and the one who remarries is considered to be living in a sin with the new partner. So, not only are they committing adultery but they are also making their new partner an accessory to the adultery.
Divorce may be permissible but remarrying is not allowed
To the married, I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.1 Corinthians 7:10-11
When writing to the church at Corinth, Paul admonishes the married people to stay married. Even though he alludes to the possibility of divorce, he makes it clear that it shouldn’t be used as a ground for remarriage. On the contrary, he advises that even after the divorce, the two should give room for reconciliation and perhaps even get back together.
This advice is consistent with the teaching of Jesus in the following scripture
Everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality makes her commit adultery. Mathew 5:32
The main lesson from the scripture above is that anyone who divorces and remarries is committing sexual immorality. Also, just as Paul hinted in Corinthians, Jesus mentions that adultery is a justifiable reason for divorce. However, this does not necessarily permit remarrying as it would contradict what the Bible already taught in other scriptures.
Reasons for remarriage
Even though the scriptures cited above clearly forbid remarrying, there are some exceptions that have been mentioned in scripture. These are:
- Separating from a non-believer
If the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace. 1 Corinthians 7:15
The scripture above addresses those who got saved after marriage but their spouses are still unsaved. In such a union, it is not uncommon for the unsaved spouse to want out – especially if they are unwilling to change to accommodate their spouse new found faith. Paul teaches that the believer should allow the non-believing divorce if they ask for it. He also teaches that the believer will no longer be bound. This can be interpreted to mean that they would be free to remarry if they so chose.
While this may be seen as contradictory to the other scriptures that teach against remarrying, one may argue that the believer and non-believers were unequally yoked, to begin with, and separation wouldn’t be a violation of God’s precept on marriage. However, this doesn’t mean that the believer should initiate divorce from their non-believing spouse. On the contrary, scripture teaches that they should remain faithful to their spouse and continue demonstrating the love of God. By so doing, scripture teaches that the non-believing spouse could just as easily get convicted not through the preaching of the word but by the conduct of their spouse (1 Peter 3:1).
- Death of spouse
A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 1 Cor. 7:39
Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? 2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Romans 7:1-3
The scriptures above posit that even though the law of marriage is binding, this law will no longer have effect if your spouse dies. In other words, widows and widowers are permitted to remarry. Paul however makes it clear in 1 Cor. 7:39 that the remarrying should only happen in Christ. This means that the widow or widower should not marry someone that is not a believer and that they should not marry someone the scripture doesn’t permit. For instance, if they marry a divorcee, they will not only be in error but also cause the other person to commit adultery. Marrying in Christ also means holy matrimony. This could mean many things depending on the doctrine of your denomination but in a nutshell, it means following the marital pathway of the church. For instance, it may include abstinence before the night of the wedding.
The subject of remarriage elicits a lot of debate in Christian circles. These debates are often guided by misquoting or misrepresenting portions of scripture. But as we have demonstrated from the scriptures, there are both reasons for and reasons against marriage. In other words, the question of whether or not God will bless a second marriage has not yes or no answer. It depends on your unique circumstance.