Today’s topic isn’t an easy one as there are many different opinions about divorce and remarriage. Plus, marriage is a very personal thing that involves human beings and our raw emotions. Before we start I want to say a prayer to prepare our hearts for this subject. My intention and tone are in no way meant to be taken as forms of guilt, judgment, or shame. However, the enemy will certainly try to make it feel that way. Simply put, I believe there are biblical reasons for divorce/remarriage and there are non-biblical reasons. The point of this blog post is to help lay out the biblical frame work for remarriage and divorce. After that it’s up to you to have a conversation with the Holy Spirit to make a Godly decision. Then we will dive into, “What does the Bible say about Remarriage?”
Dear Lord, please soften our hearts, minds, and souls to hear your word today. Help us discern your will for our lives and our marriages. You designed marriage to be a representation of your covenant with us, your children. I pray that we will not take that lightly and will see/understand the important semblance of it all. Also, please help us see our spouses as your beloved child and treat them accordingly. Please bring people alongside us that can guide and direct us if we are struggling in our marriages Lord. We love you father and want nothing more than to worship you and bring you glory in all we say and do. Amen!
Am I Allowed to Divorce My Spouse?
Let’s look at 2 main passages/topics to help us answer this question.
Laws Concerning Divorce
24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, (ESV) (Emphasis mine)
“Indecency in her” is another way of saying adultery and is providing grounds for handing over a certificate of divorce. In ancient times when a certificate of divorce was handed over it said at the bottom of the document something to the effect of “You may remarry any man you wish” (Divorce and Remarriage in the Church, David Instone-Brewer). I think it’s also worth mentioning that this goes both ways, not just a woman committing adultery but men also.
I believe many people have heard or understand the idea that adultery is grounds for divorce which is also discussed in Matthew 19: 1-12, but let’s look at another area that isn’t talked about quite as much.
Exodus 21:10-11 – 10 If he takes another wife, he must not diminish the first one’s food, her clothing, or her marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, then she will go out free, without paying money. (NET) (Emphasis mine)
Quick background; the “he” that is referenced is a wealthy man who owned slaves and this passage is speaking to the fact that he took multiple wives. Obviously that practice is long gone but the basis for marriage is still intact and is why I believe we can use this passage as guidance for our discussion today.
I like the New English Translation (NET) notes to these verses which I feel sums it up quite nicely; “The principal is this; women who were often at the mercy of their husbands must not be trapped in an unfortunate situation. God is preventing people who have power over others from abusing that power.”
Dr. David Instone-Brewer is a senior Research Fellow and Technical Officer at Tyndale House, Cambridge, and has done an extensive biblical study on divorce and remarriage. You can find a lot of his findings in the book, “Divorce and Remarriage in the Church.” But one quote from him that I would like to highlight comes from the discussion of cruelty and abuse from the above verses in Exodus;
“Abusive Situations were covered by these laws because physical and emotional abuse are extreme forms of neglecting marital support or physical affection.”
If You are Currently in an Abusive Relationship
If your spouse is physically abusing you get out of the house today and take any and all kids with you. You do not have to put up with that! After some time away and extensive counseling, repentance and forgiveness are the best action in these situations. Just know that even though this situation is grounds for divorce, God may be calling you to work through this in his name. But you staying there while he/she is abusive will not help that! Please see/call law enforcement if you are frightened or scared of being injured. Also, the following resources are available if you are facing an abusive situation and need help;
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline
Related Content: Can ‘Iron Sharpens Iron’ Become an Excuse for Abuse?
The Best Course of Action For a Broken and Hurting Marriage.
Repentance and Forgiveness is ALWAYS the best outcome when a marriage is broken and hurting. Marriages are precious, they are worth forgiving and fighting for. I have heard of the most desperate and broken marriages revived into the most beautiful marriages because of forgiveness and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through them. It can happen to anyone, because nothing is impossible with God!
If you are struggling in your marriage please don’t make decisions in a vacuum. Talk to Jesus first and foremost, then your pastor(s), counselors, family, or whoever you feel comfortable with that will guide you down a Godly perspective on the matter.
Remarriage; When is it Ok
If you are the victim of a divorce through adultery or cruelty you are free to remarry (see Exodus 21:10-11). You are not enslaved to your past situation or marked with a scarlet letter.
If you are the individual who sinned and wounded the other person, Grace covers that sin. It is not the unforgivable sin, which some of you may have heard in the past.
If after divorce neither of you have remarried and your spouse is still alive then I would encourage you to reconcile if at all possible. If it’s not possible then connect with God and give your heart to him. Seek his direction for you and lean unto him for every aspect of your life.
Unbiblical Remarriage or Divorce
For those of you that have made this far and have gone through a non-biblical divorce and are re-married you may be feeling shame or guilt and thinking “Oh no, am I living in sin?” You may also be thinking, “Should I divorce my current husband/wife to make things right?” Like the old saying goes, two wrongs don’t make a right. You are married and if you ask for forgiveness you will be covered by grace. Shame and guilt are left at the cross and you too, do not have a scarlet letter attached to you.
In the interest of time and to keep this blog post from tuning into a novel, check out 1 Corinthians 7 if you are interested in reading more on a biblical marriage.
If you read this blog post looking for a loophole to get out of a marriage you are bored with you have missed the boat entirely. If that is the case stop, pray for God to soften your heart. Then re-read this blog post and Bible verses in their entirety.
Prayer For All Marriages
I would like to end this blog post the way we started it, in prayer. Not just for struggling marriages but for all marriages to be strengthened and fortified in His name.
I pray that you will restore and re-fresh broken marriages. And I pray that you will bring divorced couples back together to help them reconcile and re-establish a relationship centered on you. Also, I pray that those in an abusive relationship will get help. Help them have the courage to walk out and seek help for themselves first and foremost but also for their spouse. Please help bring clarity to those that may be confused on this subject and that they will understand your will and your voice.
I also want to pray for those marriages that are good, strong, Godly marriages. Please continue to strength them and help them have the courage to reach out and come along side those that are struggling. Thank you, Lord, for your grace and mercy when it comes to all our sins. I pray that we all will feel that weight of shame, guilt, and judgment lifted from our shoulders and replaced with the warm feeling of your loving arms wrapped around us in affirmation and love. Thank you, father, for everything you do. Amen!
Please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you!