The Truth about Remarriage


      When I was a young boy remarriage was not that common. I know because my mother had remarried and I experienced the stigma of society. Things sure have changed since then! The scriptures recognize the action, reality, and concept of remarriage both in the sense of condemnation and exoneration.

     Beloved, God's marriage law is not ceremonial or endemic to his people. Sin is sin (violation of God's law, I Jn. 3: 4) regardless of the practitioner (cf. Tit. 3: 3, 4). The universality of God's marriage law is seen in Genesis one and two. People who steal before they become Christians are not allowed to keep what they have stolen because they have become Christians (cf. Lk. 19: 8). People who are in unauthorized marriages are not allowed to remain just because they are Christians now! If there is any difference, it would be that as Christians they would immediately forfeit what does not belong to them - objects or illicit relationships, Homer Hailey's book The Divorced and Remarried Who Would Come to God to the contrary notwithstanding.

     The scriptures address a widow remarrying. Paul wrote that the "widow" is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord " (I Cor. 7: 39). While she is allowed to remarry, she must do so according to the Lord's will and teaching (see phrase in Eph. 6: 1). The death of her husband frees her from the marriage bond (I Cor. 7: 39, for a study of "in the Lord" click here and see the addendum).

     Jesus allows divorce and remarriage. The mate who puts away his unfaithful mate because of his or her adultery does not share in their adultery when the put away remarries. Also, the innocent one who puts away a mate because of their mate's adultery is allowed remarriage (Matt. 19: 9, we see this teaching by the activation of the exception phrase).   I submit I Corinthians 7: 15 does not provide a second exception for divorcement and remarriage (see addendum). 

     In such cases, death and fornication, remarriage is allowed. In these instances -only in these instances - remarriage can be entered into with God's blessings.

     In all other cases, remarriage is not allowed by God. The mate who has been put away because of their adultery or the unjustly put away mate are not allowed remarriage (Matt. 19: 9, 5: 32, see articles on "The  Truth about Marriage" and "Scriptural Divorcement" located elsewhere in Archives). Those who remarry without God's permission are in adultery (Matt. 19: 9). In fact, they continue or live in fornication (adultery, moichatai, 3 pers., sing., pres., ind., The Analytical Greek Lexicon, pg. 272). Repentance necessitates ceasing such an unauthorized relationship (Matt. 3: 8, 21: 28-30, 2 Cor. 7: 1).

     Just as remarriage is becoming more the norm in our society so it is in the local church. One place I preached had eleven families that involved divorce and remarriage (there were less than one hundred members). Instead of preaching more on this growing problem, some preachers are avoiding the subject or simply presenting shallow, inapplicable presentations. Some elders are refusing to question prospective members and existing members about their previous marriage(s).

     Remarriage at its best (even when authorized) can be a challenge. Often there are children from the previous marriage, a previous mate with whom to contend, and step brothers and sisters. The statistics regarding remarriage indicate a far greater chance of failure in remarriage. However, God does allow remarriage in the approved cases we have noticed.

     Scripturally acceptable remarried people in the church should not refuse to discuss their particular situation when asked by elders, etc. (this is a fellowship issue, I Jn. 1: 6-8, 2 Thes. 3: 6). In instances where I have served as an elder, we have provided a written statement addressing the facts of the divorcement and why we believed it was scriptural and that the person had a right to remarry - when we were able to do so. The person could then present this document to the receiving church for their consideration. Remarried people in the church must not have the attitude of not wanting remarriage preached on because of any embarrassment they may suffer. They should be instrumental in helping others to prevent failed marriages and holding up the hands of preachers who will preach the truth of the Bible on this subject!  (For a detailed study click on, "Matthew 5: 32 and Matthew 19: 9, a Study.")  (A related article to consider is, "A Study of I Corinthians Chapter Seven" and "Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, Questions and Answers")

     Addendum:   I Corinthians 7: 15 contains what has been called "the Pauline Privilege." The verse reads, "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" (I Cor. 7: 15).  Many religionists tell us that there are two allowable cases for divorce and remarriage when there is a living mate. Adultery and desertion, they explain based on Matthew 5: 32, 19: 9, and I Corinthians 7: 15. Is Paul actually introducing a second reason?

     Paul is addressing the situation of a believer and unbeliever being married (vs. 12-16). Hence, there is immediate restriction and limit regarding an application of "not under bondage." Also, remarriage is not even being discussed in the passage. "Not under bondage" is from the Greek dedoulotai. The grammar posture of dedoulotai is "3 person, singular, perfect tense, indicative mood, and passive voice" (Analytical Greek Lexicon, pg. 85). The perfect tense is, "…the tense is thus double; it implies a past action and affirms an existing result" (Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek, by Ernest Burton, pg. 37). If "bondage" means marriage, as some insist, Paul is saying the believer is not and has not ever been in bondage (married?). Paul has argued that the believer is bound (marriage bond) to the unbeliever (vs. 12, 13). Deo, the word for the marriage bond, is used 44 times (see Rom. 7: 2, I Cor. 7: 27, 39). However, deo is not used in verse 15. Also of interest in establishing the exact scenario of the verse, "depart" is chorizetai and is present tense (ibid., pg. 440).

     Paul is not allowing a second reason for divorce and remarriage, but is saying that the believer has not been reduced to slavery (meaning of dedoulotai, Thayer' Greek-English Lexicon, pg. 158, see vs. 23). The use of the present tense accompanied by the other grammar contributions and the meaning of "unbeliever," presents a situation of the pagan mate attempting to cause the believing mate to depart from Christ, I am convinced.  Hence, become a slave to the pagan mate.  Such must not be allowed. The believer's relationship with Christ must take priority even over the demands of their mate (cp. Col. 3: 18).  In such matters, the believing mate is not and has not been a slave.