Let me start by saying I understand that the subject of Divorce and Remarriage are very sensitive subjects. Just like Polygamy. Especially among Pentecostals, Charismatics and Evangelicals in the African setting. Some would prefer we turn a blind eye to it rather than talk about it.

However, as the days go by, the happenings around us demand that we do a proper study of these subjects from the scriptures, to see what God has to say about them.

So, knowing how sensitive these topics are, I'm going to do my best to set aside my personal sentiments and truly reveal the Bible's stand on divorce and remarriage, especially in the New Testament church.

Having said that, what does the Bible teach concerning divorce and remarriage?

Can Christians divorce and remarry?

If a Christian (including ministers) who is a divorcee remarry, has he or she sinned in any way?

All these questions and many more will be answered here.

To be properly grounded in the scriptures concerning these topics, we will study them starting from the Old Testament to the New.

Divorce And Remarriage In The Old Testament

The first mention of divorce or separation in the Bible is found in Deuteronomy 24:1.

Deu 24:1 KJV When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

This was the first time the issue of divorce was addressed in the Bible, and this was done by Moses the lawgiver.

Now pay a close attention and read that verse one more time. (Deut.24:1)

Notice the rendering of the following statements "When a man hath taken a wife... and... she finds no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanliness in her..."

That should show you that the practice of divorce was already happening prior to the giving of the law. That verse actually started with "When" and not "If" like some translations make it look. To show you that divorce was a common occurrence among them.

However, the kind of divorce practiced prior to that law is not the kind practiced after, and that is why the law was given, to give order to the way the act was done in their day.

If you pay attention one more time to the rendering of that verse, you'll notice that men were taking advantage of the fallen nature of man and male societal dominance, to unofficially send their wives away over very flimsy excuses. And once a woman is sent away that way, her life is almost completely reduced to nothing.

She will have nothing tied to her name, including in her father's house where she is almost looked upon as a disgrace. She cannot even remarry unless her former husband is dead. The reason is because she wasn't officially or rather legally separated from her ex-husband.

For her to be in a marriage relationship again, she will have to either go back to her former husband or wait till he's dead. The amount of suffering both she and her kids will have to endure as a result of this is best left for the imaginations.

This is one of the major reasons God so much hated that kind of divorce, which is not really divorce (as we know it today), but a "putting away" or kick-out from one's marital home.

Mal 2:14-16 KJV 14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.

15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.

16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.

Read that verse 16 again and see. That is why the law came, not to support the act of divorce like some of us may be thinking, but to give order to the way it is done. Thereby fighting for the woman and freeing her from the treachery and wickedness of man and the bondage that usually follows after the separation.

With the bill of divorcement or certificate of divorce in her hand, a woman can be and do all that she truly wants after she is separated from her spouse. She can even remarry anytime she wants, without being judged for it.

Since this is not an easy to get certificate (because it costs money, time and several embarrassing appearances before the elders and family heads), most men somehow managed to stay with their spouses, ditching the idea of divorce everytime it shows up.

Now if a man can meet up with the requirements for getting the bill of divorcement in their day, the act will be allowed.

It was from this law that modern legal forms of divorce originated.

In The New Testament

In the New Testament, the Bible also addressed the issue of divorce and remarriage among believers.

Before we go into that deeply, it is important to understand that the New Testament here is not just a collection of books, but a dispensation (a period of time) ushered in by the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. The books we then refer to as the New Testament books are therefore books that talk about things pertaining to that new covenant.

Knowing this, we're going to see how the subject of divorce and remarriage were addressed before and after the death of Jesus.

Beginning with Jesus, let's read Mat 5:31-32 KJV

31  It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:

32 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.

From the rendering of verse 32, it's as though Jesus was saying there's no room for divorce in marriage at all, or that those divorced cannot remarry. But if a closer attention is paid to that verse 31, we'll notice that Jesus was merely tightening the bond of the marriage union, closing the gaps for people to send their wives packing over flimsy excuses.

He was actually taking the Law of Moses concerning divorce and remarriage to a  higher level so men can only separate from their wives based on a very strong reason - which in this case is infidelity.

That way, the ladies of His day, who were almost counted alongside a man's properties, will stop being victims of treachery and wickedness in the hands of men. This was why when the Pharisees sited the law of Moses instructing them to give their wives a bill of divorce and send her away, Jesus had to weigh in on why Moses issued that very command to them.

Mat 19:3-9 KJV 3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 5 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? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. 7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? 8 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. 9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

That same thing Moses addressed in His law, was what Jesus trying to address in His own command on divorce and remarriage and that is treachery, cunningly sending your wife away so you can marry another whenever you want, not minding what will become of the other one and her kids.

Does this mean Christians cannot legally divorce their partners and be married to another? Not at all. Further studies reveal that there are still circumstances in the New Testament were believers where allowed to separate from their spouses without infidelity being the cause.

Let's see some of these below:

1Co 7:10-11 KJV 10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

According to that verse 11, people can choose to be separated from their spouses based on their own personal reasons. I mean reasons other than infidelity. But in this case, it is best for them to remain unmarried after that.

This is where I believe the issue of domestic violence (whether physical or verbal abuse), negligence and other common causes of divorce today come in.

In the next verses other reasons such as decisions based on Faith or Unbelief are also recognized as cogent reasons for separation.

1Co 7:12-15 KJV 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

From all we have studied so far, we see that there are Biblically accepted reasons for divorce and that Christians who prayerfully and peacefully go through divorce, are not sinning in any way, even though divorce is not God's best for couples.

Can A Christian Who Is Divorced Remarry?

Yes. According to our studies on the subject of divorce and remarriage in the Bible, there are cases where Christians who have experienced divorce are allowed to remarry. There are also other cases where it is best for them to remain unmarried. The later though is very rare.

This is what the Bible teaches concerning divorce, separation and remarriage among Christians or believers.

Divorce is certainly not God's best for anyone. But He will definitely have you stay alive for yourself, your family and His purpose for your life, than die untimely in any marriage.

I hope this blesses you. Glory to God!

Post a Comment

Ensure to enter your name in the pop up that will show after you're done typing your comment.

Previous Post Next Post