What Does God Say About Divorce and Remarriage?
Well, marriage is for: Companionship (Gen. 2:18), For multiplying (Gen. 1:27-28), To prevent immorality (Heb. 13:4), and Marriage is a relationship of this earth only (Matt. 22:30). Now, what God put together is mentioned twice indicating that there is not suppose to be divorce. When it comes to marriage, according to Gen. 2:24, man and woman is to cleave to each other.
But, for what reasons can one divorce? Well, many believe it can be for just about any reason. In Alaska, one can be divorced for mental illness, drunkenness or conviction of a felony. In New York, one can be divorced if one is separated for more than a year. In China, one can be divorced if you gamble. In Germany, one can divorced because of irresponsible attitudes. Others divorce because the husband or wife is abusive, or their mate is not as sexy as they use to be, or they were not married long enough and want an annulment, or they are just not compatible anymore. But, according to the Bible, there is only one reason for divorce. Matt. 5:32, “. . . 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.” Matt. 19:9, “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.”
But, what is fornication? Some claim that it is kissing another woman or man who you are not married to; while others, say it is hugging or dating another. And, while these can be understandable reasons, they are not scriptural and Godly reasons for divorce. Fornication is the Greek word, “Pornea,” from where we get the word pornography, and it can be nothing else, except sexual intercourse. Intercourse, as you know, involves the ripping apart the flesh of the marriage. It rips apart the cleaving of husband and wife, it rips apart that which was joined together by God and that person joins with another person. Now, as a result, the innocent party may remarry. But, the fornicator has lost all rights to remarry.
Now, some say, what about baptism, since baptism removes sin, does this mean that one can continue in a second marriage that was unscriptural before baptism? Well, baptism does remove sin (Acts 22:16), but the moment they are baptized and are still in that relationship, they are still fornicating in that 2nd marriage. And, this also questions the validity of their baptism as if they were trying to wash away sins, but to continue to live in sin. This does not show a penitent heart. You know, in 1 Cor. 6:9-10, it states, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” and among the unrighteous, he mentions fornicators and adulterers.
Some say that this is not fair, but the point that people forget, is God intends for marriage to be to one man, one woman, for life. Eph. 5:25 tells us, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Well, you don’t see Christ going out a-whoring after other churches do you or leaving the church, to find something younger. God forbid. This is the reason marriage should never be taken lightly. Sadly, people do not understand the one flesh which is why they break the bond of marriage.
Now, as to the remarriage part, in 1 Cor. 7:39, Paul says, “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” Now, I want to point out that the emphasis in 1 Cor. 7 is not about the persons to whom the Corinthians were to be married, but about marrying itself. Paul told both the unmarried and the widows to remain like him, unmarried, if they could (1 Cor. 7:7-9), because: He wanted to spare them trouble in the flesh (1 Cor. 7:28), He wanted them without “anxious care” (1 Cor. 7:32), and He wanted them to serve the Lord without distraction (1 Cor. 7:35).
So, while this passage gives the person described the right to remarry, it does not give that person the unconditional right of remarriage, except, “only in the Lord.” Now, notice a couple of views of this statement, “Only in the Lord” because we have to use caution so as to not make a law where God did not make one. The first view is that the Christian widow may remarry, but only in accordance with the teachings of the Lord. Now, we know that this phrase “in the Lord,” appears frequently in the scriptures to mean those who labored, spoke and died in the faith of the Lord (Rom. 16:12; Rev. 14:13), or to mean the acknowledgment of Christ’s supremacy (1 Cor. 1:31) or, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord” (Col. 3:18), or, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord …” (Eph. 6:1). Thus Paul’s language would indicate that “widows are free to marry anyone they choose (whether Christian or not) so long as they do not violate some teaching of Christ about marriage. She or he would not have the right to marry a man who had obtained an unscriptural divorce (Matt. 19:9). However, this seems to deny the plain condition: Only “in the Lord.”
The second view is that the only person the Christian widow [or widower] may consider for a husband [or wife] is another Christian. This seems to be the natural understanding. But, then that raises the question, why marry only a Christian? Well for starters, a faithful Christian companion has a supportive faith and encourages his service to the Lord whereas, an unbeliever would not support him. You see, the worldly spouse will tempt the Christian to live worldly again and can pull him away from his first love, which is Christ. Second, if marrying outside the Lord, it shows shallow faith and we risk our souls for the sake of a marriage.
But now, this poses a question that is difficult to answer: What should be done to a Christian widow who marries a non-Christian? I mean, you can repent that you did wrong or that you did not know, but the only reason to end a marriage is still fornication or death. One man said, “while this union may be holy or unholy, “It is unwise to disobey the Lord in the matter. How serious is this disobedience? I don’t know. Will one be lost who is guilty of this sin? Again I do not know!”
Now, one other question that goes along with this thought is: “Why should this restriction apply only to a widow or widower and not to a Christian who marries the first time?” Well, I think it would be wisest to marry a sound Christian the first time. It saves a lot of heartache and pain. But, when we look at 1 Cor. 7:39, as Paul pointed out earlier in the chapter, it would be best to remain unmarried which spares us of troubles, anxiety and distraction in our faith.