Christian View on Re-Marriage?

I am borrowing this from Steve Scott’s blog on Fundamentalism in 5 various churches (A-AB-B-C-D):

“I was married and divorced before my conversion.

(1) Church “A” held that the bible taught in no uncertain terms that divorce was forbidden for any reason (even the biblical ones!), and once divorced, there was to be no remarriage as long as the spouse was alive. Those who remarried were guilty of adultery, and no adulterer shall inherit eternal life. God didn’t even recognize divorce, so I was actually still married to my ex-wife. 

(2) When I arrived at church “C”, I told them of my situation, never suspecting their answer. They held that because my ex divorced me, and that it occurred before my conversion that I was free to remarry, but only to a Christian woman. Now I was confused. They also mixed this with the verse in Genesis where God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” and almost held that it was my duty to get married again, telling me to start looking. They also condemned “A” for their beliefs.

(3) As if this weren’t confusing enough, friends within “AB” held (along with “A”) that God didn’t recognize divorce, and also believed that I was still married to her, and that my duty was still to my wife and that I was obligated to reconcile with her, even though an unbeliever. They condemned “C”.

(4) Distraught, I talked to a pastor within the “B” circle, and he told me I was free to remarry. He condemned both “A” and “C” for their beliefs.

(5) Once at church “D”, I asked them, and they said also that I was free to remarry. I became interested in a woman. But this particular woman posed a problem for both “AB” and “B”. She was a nurse who wanted to become a missionary. But for “B”, their fundamentalism included semantic garbage about a missionary only being a man (according to the bible of course)…Then, her parents, who held to the same as “A” while attending a church that believed like “D”, found out about my previous marriage. They used the scarlet “a” word and banned me from their house. Later on, they did some study and changed their position. I never married her, which I now know was the best thing, because I’m now married to Mrs. Scott.”

But I have to ask plainly – what is the Christian stance on divorce and re-marriage? Here are the passages (Mark 10:2-12 is so similar to Matthew I excluded it):

Matt 5:31-32 “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery”

Matt 19:7-9: “They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?” He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery.”

I Corinthians 7:10-11: “But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife”

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8 thoughts on “Christian View on Re-Marriage?

  1. This is a very interesting question for me to ask since I have 1 brother divorced twice and remarried twice (more or less), a sister divorced and practically re-married, another brother divorced recently. Me, I am in a happy marriage with the woman I met outside of church – lived with for 3 years before marriage – and life is just grand now. I am not sur ehow I feel about this – I see the lesson to be learned from the passages but what does it all mean?

  2. I see the dillema but have never had to deal with it myself so I haven’t given it much thought. There are many things commanded (or taught) in the NT that are difficult to deal with and follow. If we took them all at face value then we would not be wearing wedding rings, allowing tattoos, letting women speak in church, etc. Yet is is difficult to say that we should follow this command and not that one.

    I believe the solution is to allow people to make up their own mind on “grey” issues like these. To tell people you must do this or that you had better have solid biblical reference or else you may be teaching false doctrine, I think the scripture is quite clear on how serious that offence is.

    What I have done in some of these issues is pray about it and read what I can on the topic. If I can’t find peace at how I have handled the situation then maybe I should try a different approach. Of course talking it out here with other believers is great too 🙂

  3. Scary topic – I know…thanks Ken for braving the storm and saying something – much appreciated.

    Here is my take (and I hope to God I am judged by the way I judge):

    (1) The basic idea being taught is divorce is not going to be good – it’s something we should avoid at all costs. We need to protect our marriages and make sure they work – responsibility is upon both parties (man and woman) involved (and moreso for the sake of a loving relationship that is worth being in and doesn’t make us want to quit). This is serious business – since the idea in marriage is family (2 become 1 flesh) – and kids do get devestated by parents who let the family fall into ruin. I think Jesus taught harshly on this for that very reason – why do you want to hurt the one’s you love?

    (2) We notice the Pharisee’s in this passage give huge allowance for divorce – via Moses. Jesus seems to be saying that as humans we need to step above that also – and allow for marriages to work (going against the idea of getting out of marriage too easily). Marriage is not easy work – it’s going to be a little tough – but big deal – love is not supposed to be so easy anyways (it takes work and time). Oddly enough – Paul is aware of this commandment…food for thought.

    In the end, the idea seems to be pointing to those married (and with children also) to think about how they can work on their marriage to protect it. Now divorces will happen – some marriages are so bad I think it need to be done (immorality). But the idea there is to protect the children in that seperation – this is both of you (2 in 1) – and that can never be broken – so I see the importance in that idea (kids are easy to ruin in case some of you have not noticed that yet – being sponges and all). So I think even in the seperation we need to allow for the kids to love their parents…seems easy…ever deal with divorced couples (yeow).

    As for re-marriage, it is allowed (ex: immorality or cheating) – even by Jesus own words (as Moses allowed) – it’s not the highest route – but it is a route. I think God is one of mercy and forgiveness – and to me the idea in these teachings are about taking care of your family (ie: children) – if you do that after the seperation – what can anyone truly say?

    People makes mistakes – but children are not part of that mistake and demand that they are cared for (and Jesus is very high on this idea in Matthew). If they are not cared for – well – then the problem runs deeper than marriage and that person needs to be held accountable (even if by law – which I think is fair) irregardless of their ethical short-comings. But this is a truly on a case to case basis and we have no right to condemn people for this.

    That being said, we still need to define marriage better – is it a piece of paper by law or is it something else (ie: children solidify that connection)?

  4. Society,

    Thanks for the coverage. Just a comment on your Scripture references. It is interesting that the Pharisees said that Moses “commanded” divorce, then in Jesus’ answer He changed the word to “permitted.” His reason was because of the hardness of THEIR hearts that divorce was permitted. THEY (the men) were the harsh jackasses, whereas they thought their wives were impure. This was because of their adding to God’s law. Because they were such jerks, God allowed them to divorce their wives so that their WIVES wouldn’t have to put up with THEM anymore. This is how merciful God is. He had compassion on the women.

  5. I agree with Steve… in that divorce was permitted in certain circumstances not commanded. The Pharisees forgot in Malachi that God said “I hate divorce.” Why? Mainly because it is symbolic between Jesus and the Church, (Ephesians 5).

    Christians need to realize that “irreconcilable differences” is not biblical grounds for divorce. My take on remarriage based on the Scripture you reference – in cases that do not deal with biblical criteria for divorce (infedelity or non-believing spouse running out, etc.) is to discourage it and encourage reconciliation if possible. If their ex-spouse remarries they are free to remarry because reconciliation is no longer possible.

    In all of this grace should abound and those who are divorced and/or going through a divorce need our love and support, along with encouragement to seek counseling and reconciliation before divorce.

  6. Where’s your grace when it comes to not stereotyping whole groups of people? Always ‘The Jews’ ‘the Pharisees’. Give me a break. Do you even know what it takes to get a Jewish divorce? Take a look around sometime. Look at the divorce rate among Jews as compared to Christians. Do some research. You might be in for a surprise.

    So, in Malachi God said God hated divorce because it is symbolic of Jesus and the church? Gee, I didn’t know there was a church back in the times of Malachi! Could it be, is it possible, God hated divorce because the Jews are God’s bride? Oh, that’s right. We’ve been put aside by a new bride, a new bride married to that God who hates divorce……

    Anyway, I thought you guys were free from the law? What difference does it make to you what the law says or doesn’t say? You don’t follow it anyway!

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