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Articles

  1. What does the Bible teach about divorce?
  2. Commit to Your Marriage — Do Not Divorce
  3. Realities of Divorce
  4. Search form
  5. What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce and Remarriage?

But Ezra did not use the more common word for divorce Laney, p. If so, the men were free to marry Jewish women Heth, We do not know which situation is correct; we must turn to other passages for clearer teaching. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. In this situation, Jewish men were divorcing their Jewish wives so they could marry Gentile women v.

This was a politically expedient thing to do Efird 41 , since there was a possibility that the empire would remove its permission for the existence of a Jewish state. If that happened, leadership would revert to Gentile families, and Jews who had intermarried into those families would benefit. Again, the existence of the Jewish nation was being jeopardized. The people did not have faith. We must agree that divorce is not good modern sociological studies verify that , but we must also ask if this brief statement is intended as a universal prohibition. The Jews did not consider this statement a prohibition Efird, We have already seen that God described his own action toward Israel as a divorce.

The passage tells us that, in flesh and in spirit, marriages ought to be subservient to God. This is the shortest New Testament passage on the subject, and we will give it only brief discussion, for its content is duplicated in Mark and Matthew. Also, the context in Luke does not clarify the meaning of the short saying about divorce. It is a radical statement, one of the exaggerations Jesus used to make a point — without intending to formulate an exact law cf.

Luke His statements may describe a godly ideal without prescribing every detail and circumstance. In the short saying we see in Luke and Mark, readers may have understood that the saying was an exaggeration, assuming that the law had exceptions that did not need to be stated every time. Matthew may have also understood that the short form had an implied exception, which he spelled out for the benefit of his readers. Either way, the short saying cannot be taken as the last word on the topic.

There is at least one exception — at least the one Matthew was inspired to include. The second part of this verse implies that a woman unjustly divorced should not remarry.

What does the Bible teach about divorce?

It seems to state that the innocent party cannot remarry. This seems to contradict what Paul wrote; perhaps it may also be seen as an exaggeration. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery. This passage is similar to Matthew 19 in setting: a discussion with the Pharisees about divorce.

The Hillelites said that a man could divorce for any and every reason; Shammaites said that only adultery was grounds for divorce. In Matthew, Jesus was being asked to side with one school or another. Mark may have omitted this phrase because his Gentile readers would not be familiar with the details of the Pharisaic arguments. Whatever the reason, Mark does not hint at any exception. Nor does he say that Jesus did away with the old law. Rather than asking what is permitted, they should ask what God wanted in the first place. Instead of worrying about the minimum standard of godliness, the Pharisees should strive for the maximum, with a focus on purpose rather than legal loopholes.

In Matthew and , Jesus indicated that the principle of mercy superseded the letter of the law. Since we live in a sinful society, our applications have to include mercy. We do not yet live in the fullness of the kingdom of God — if we did, divorce would not exist — nor would there be any marriage! Moses permitted divorce because the people were hard-hearted. They were not transformed by the Holy Spirit in them. Jesus said that they committed adultery in their remarriages.

We cannot assume an action is good simply because it is not prohibited; we should also look at larger theological principles a major lesson of the Sermon on the Mount. The Jews, as a people of God who claimed to live by the Torah, were guilty because they should have known better. What has God joined together? Jesus said what, not whom — he is discussing marriage as an entity, not individual couples. God has joined male and female to create the institution of marriage, and Jesus implied that easy divorce was destructive of marriage as an institution.

From this passage, there is no reason to assume that God joins every couple — for example, those who dedicate their union to pagan gods, or those who have civil ceremonies without mention of God,7 or unbelievers who mention the name of God simply because it is traditional. Mark mentions a woman who initiates divorce. This was possible in the Gentile world, but not among the Pharisees.

But readers might understand that the rule did not necessarily apply in some unusual circumstances. Let us now look at the exception clause that Matthew includes. But he says that divorce on demand is wrong. There is a legitimate reason for divorce, and that reason is porneia a Greek word that included prostitution and a wide variety of sexual acts, all of which would be adulterous for a married woman. Jesus indicated that porneia was legitimate grounds for divorce. The role of forgiveness, which Matthew also stresses , , would affect the way this exception worked.

Instead of the divorce-initiator committing adultery directly by remarrying, in this saying he causes his wife to commit adultery unless, of course, she is already an adulteress , presumably because she will remarry.

Commit to Your Marriage — Do Not Divorce

Jesus did not condemn the wife — the blame is given to the husband. Remarriage seems to be assumed in these divorce sayings. Jesus is not talking about annulment or separation, but divorce, a legal term that indicates a person is free to marry again. Here, the remarriage of the innocent party is called adultery not only for her and her new husband, but blame is assigned to her first husband. So they are no longer two, but one.

But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven.

The one who can accept this should accept it. In our last and most complex passage from the Gospels, Jesus covers some of the same ground as in other passages. The Pharisees ask about unlimited divorce, and make the mistake of saying that Moses commanded divorce. Jesus replies that divorce was only allowed, not commanded, and not ideal, and he again includes the porneia exception clause. Does the exception clause apply to divorce, or also to remarriage? Grammatically, it applies only to divorce.

But the effect of the clause extends to remarriage. The adultery applies only to people who fit both conditions: 1 divorce without sufficient cause, and 2 remarriage. Jesus did not comment on the person who divorces because of porneia and then remarries. Rather, he implies that remarriage under such circumstances is permissible. Jesus sided with the strict school of the Pharisees on this point. Second, the disciples were not known for being smart.


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They were often astonished by Jesus, or they did not understand or have faith. Their dismay in this case is similar, showing that they needed the teaching as much as the Pharisees did. If remarriage were permitted in some cases, why did Jesus speak about voluntary eunuchs? For two reasons: Some people will divorce for inadequate reasons, and they should not remarry.

Realities of Divorce

Not every disciple is affected by this saying. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 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. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace….

Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.

Can Believers Remarry After A Divorce?

But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this…. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. Paul is addressing some problems the Corinthians had with sexuality. Perhaps influenced by a Greek philosophy that separated body and spirit, some were willing to accept an incestuous situation 1 Cor as if it had no bearing on spiritual maturity.

Others seem to have ceased sex even within marriage, perhaps thinking that sensual pleasures were incompatible with spirituality, and Paul therefore told them that they should have sex within marriage Paul then makes a few comments toward the unmarried and then toward the married If married Christians separate, he says, they cannot remarry.

There is no criticism or rebuke regarding such separations Furnish 41 ; the tone is matter-of-fact. Who are these people? Those who had unbelieving spouses b The Christians in such circumstances should not initiate a divorce. Apparently so. Paul encouraged people to be single, but he made it clear throughout that it was simply his preference, not an apostolic command vv. Perhaps he expected Christ to return soon, or perhaps he simply expected persecution.

Regardless, his advice was not a requirement, and it was based on a temporary situation. Paul permitted divorce, with possibility of remarriage implied, on the basis of desertion by an unbeliever. He saw that the Corinthians faced a situation Jesus never addressed, and Paul did not rigidly adhere to the letter of the saying — he simply indicated that there was another exception.

The Old Testament takes divorce as an already-established custom. Abuses were criticized, but the practice was not outlawed. The Synoptic Gospels report what Jesus said about divorce. In Mark and Luke, his statements seem to prohibit divorce, but Jesus did not intend for those statements to be used as an exceptionless code of conduct. In Matthew, an exception is allowed for cases of porneia.

Paul, recognizing that he faced a new situation, permitted divorce and remarriage in cases of desertion. Paul did not intend to provide an exhaustive list of exceptions just as none of his lists of spiritual gifts, virtues or vices is complete. Situations arise that were not addressed by either Jesus or Paul. New situations may call for new exceptions, and new judgments.

Paul indicates one way the church can judge: the principle of peace, which he deemed more important than a law-based prohibition. This suggests that Christians today may also use the principle of peace to release people from the bondage of certain marriage vows. Ethical principles are more important than strict rules. Principles are sometimes even more important than the exercise of specific freedoms: Although a Christian may eat meat, it is better to abstain if eating might offend another believer Rom These examples show that principles are more important than narrowly defined laws.

In a bad marriage, principles must be weighed. God then created a woman, Eve, for Adam. He blessed them and their union and gave them the earth to rule over. See Genesis The creation of marriage occurred prior to sin's entrance into the world. It was a part of God's perfect design for mankind. Jesus underscored the importance and sacredness of lifelong marriage in His own teachings. See Matthew The apostle Paul further taught that the marital relationship is to be an ongoing demonstration of the sacrificial love that Christ showed His church.

See Ephesians Let's look at this issue more closely. Specifically, what does the Bible tell us about divorce? Malachi gives us a clear look into God's heart for marriage:. Another thing you do: You flood the Lord's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, "Why? Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are His.

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And why one? Because He was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. Jesus Christ reiterated the importance and permanence of marriage. They asked, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?

What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce and Remarriage?

So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

Because, as an attorney, I've represented many people going through divorce, I understand why God says, "I hate [it]! Sometimes, it's necessary. Sometimes, it's even unavoidable. In Colorado, for example, if one spouse files for divorce, the other cannot stop it from occurring. Nonetheless, it's important that we in the Body of Christ encourage those in troubled marriages to seek counseling and restoration — because most divorces are neither necessary nor unavoidable.

But are there any cases in which the Bible allows divorce? If you are concerned about whether you have biblical grounds for divorce, you will need to commit the matter to prayer and study.