This topic is spoken of directly by Jesus and appears twice in the Gospel of Matthew and once in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. How often do you hear it spoken of in church? I was brought up in church by my parents and I can tell you that I’d never heard this topic talked about until I reached adulthood and then even that has been severely limited. When I realized what the Bible had to say about the subject, as my husband and I have moved from place to place and have had to look for a church to attend, we’ve asked different pastors what their stance on divorce and remarriage was. If it weren’t a serious topic, it would have been funny watching them as they stumble over themselves in sheer awkwardness. Some pastors have never even studied on the subject, one admitted that he was still in the process of studying it, and many others who know what the Bible says, do their best to sidestep it the best they can. I’ve learned that it is a rare pastor who will try to formulate a position that’s based on the Bible at all, even if it is slightly variant from what I think the Scripture is saying.
So let’s examine for ourselves what the Scriptures say on this topic.
“The Pharisees came and asked Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” testing Him. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.” And Jesus answered and said to them, “Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” (Mark 10:2-12)
Points from the Scripture:
1) In the Old Testament and under the Old Covenant, divorce was allowed, but Jesus clearly states that this was not the way that God intended for it to be.
“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”(Matthew 19:9)
2) The only clause kept in the New Testament for divorce is for the reason of an unfaithful spouse.
3) Remarriage for the divorcee is called adultery. (Except those divorced for reasons of spousal infidelity.)
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Luke 16:18)
4) Marrying a divorcee is also adultery.
Besides these Scriptures, I would urge the reader to remember that vows made before God should not be taken lightly. Do not forget that marriage is a vow to your mate before witnesses and most of all before God.
I’ve divorced my husband, what now?
If your husband has not remarried and you are able, then seek reconciliation. If that isn’t possible, then make the best of your current state and serve God in your singleness.
“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 7:11)
I’ve married a divorcee or I’ve been divorced and remarried, what do I do now?
Acknowledge your sin before God and repent in your heart for the wrong you’ve done. However, what’s done is done. God hates divorce and would not have you now go out and create more divorce and adulterous relationships by divorcing your current spouse. Make the best of what you now have and serve God the best you can in your current marriage.
“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel…” (Malachi 2:16)
“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)
Now I know sometimes that quoting the Old Testament laws can get sticky, but I think that it is always of note when God mentions something being “an abomination” before Him and uses language talking about polluting the land with sin. So while this was written to the Israelites as part of their law, I think that God’s feelings on this matter have not changed.
While quite the awkward subject, the church’s failing to address this issue has left devastating results. Coupled with our society’s espousal of divorce of first marriages because they were made “when I was young and stupid” and divorce of those “they’ve fallen out of love with”, the divorce and remarriage rate is skyrocketing. About 50% of marriages end in divorce. The church has been no exception to this rule! The mindset “if I mess up, there’s always another chance to marry the ‘right’ one” is completely unacceptable. There is no such thing as a “starter marriage”! We as a church need to address this topic again, even if it is awkward. Responsibility and consequences must be shown to turn the tide for the next generation. We must teach our generation who have not heard God’s word and our future generation the necessity to use wisdom and caution when choosing a mate, show them the permanence that God expects of those who would take the marriage vow, so that when they do choose, they do so very carefully. If we are to stem and turn the tide of this collapse of the family, we can no longer remain silent on this issue.