Are you living in adultery if you’ve been divorced and remarried? Let me say right from the start in this Little Lesson that I don’t need to come up with any kind of doctrine to justify myself.
I’m very blessed and fortunate to have married a wonderful woman 38 years ago, and I’m still married to her. And there is no end in sight! Our vows were ’til death do us part, and due in large part to her long suffering, we’re still together.
Both of us are Christians under construction. I kind of jokingly say we’ve never had an argument in 38 years. But we have had some very intense fellowship at times! And of course we’ve never, ever considered divorce in any of those 38 years. We certainly have thought about murder! But not divorce.
So I have been very blessed. We need to be very careful in casting the first stone at people who haven’t been so fortunate. We need to ask ourselves before we do that, “How would I have done if I was married to their spouse?”
Divorce a Second Time?
I’ve encountered some people who believe that if you have been married and divorced and then remarried, you’re living in an adulterous relationship.
And the remedy for this adultery is to divorce again and then remain single until your original spouse dies. And then you’re no longer “married in God’s eyes”. Then at that time, you are free to remarry. But not until that time!
I’m surprised I had never heard of this particular doctrine in the 40 or so years that I’ve been a Christian until just recently. I thought I’d seen it all! But no, this is something new. And it seems to be gaining some degree of popularity.
(I go into more detail about this belief here.)
An Attractive Option for Some
You can probably guess right off the bat that this is a very attractive doctrine for people who are currently unhappily married and were previously married and divorced. Well, now they have a justifiable excuse to divorce and get out of that unhappy marriage!
They won’t be allowed to remarry again, but for people who are in horrible marriages, singleness sounds better than being miserably married! Solomon wrote that,
It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman. – Proverbs 21:9
A Biblically Unbalanced Conclusion
Let’s think about this. Where do these people come up with this idea? Well, they get it from the Bible.
As I’ve said before, all spurious doctrine has some source within Scripture, but the mistake is always the same: isolating a few verses at the expense of the rest of the Bible. The Bible has over 31,000 verses in it. Your interpretation of any one verse needs to harmonize with all the rest of the verses, particularly on relevant topics.
So, it behooves us to spend some time looking at everything the Bible has to say about divorce and remarriage before we come to any conclusions.
Where This Belief Comes From
Some people have isolated statements of Jesus recorded in three of the Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke (all three synoptic Gospels), where Jesus said that whoever divorces and remarries commits adultery. And He actually elaborated to extend that adultery to the one who has been divorced and who has been a victim of divorce, as well as the one who marries the victim of that divorce.
You can look into Matthew 5 and 19, Mark 10 and Luke 16 to study this for yourself. We’re not going to take the time in this Little Lesson to do that. I’ve gone into more detail in this article.
Once Married, Always Married?
From these statements of Jesus, those who adhere to this Divine Divorce Doctrine have concluded that if you’ve remarried after being divorced, you’re living in an adulterous relationship and, according to Jesus, you need to repent.
The only way that you can repent is if you divorce your current spouse. And If it’s possible to remarry your original spouse then you should get back to the person to whom you are married “in God’s eyes”. These people claim that marriage is unconditionally unbreakable and only death is what breaks the covenant of marriage.
And this all sounds logical, and people are buying into it.
Reading Scripture in Context
But the question that we ought to ask is, is this interpretation of what Jesus said supported by the rest of Scripture? Both the New Testament and the Old Testament?
Now, some would say, “Well, we don’t have to worry about the Old Testament because Jesus brought a new law.” Well, I submit to you that, concerning divorce and marriage, Jesus endorsed the Old Covenant law.
In fact, if you’ll take some time and read in Matthew 19, the Pharisees came to Christ and asked Him this question in verse 3:
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?
Divorcing one’s wife for any reason at all was obviously what the Pharisees believed. We could go into the history it. There was a prominent teaching by a prominent rabbi some years before Christ that basically said that it was lawful under the law of Moses to divorce your wife for any reason at all.
They even developed a list of reasons. If your wife burnt your food. If your wife talked to another man in public. Probably the worst one on that list is that if you saw a woman who was more attractive than your wife, you could lawfully divorce her!
What Jesus Was Really Addressing
This is the background of what these Pharisees were asking Jesus: Is it lawful to divorce your wife for any cause at all? They were asking this question in respect to the law of Moses. That was their law that God gave them.
Let me summarize what Jesus said: No! It’s not. He said if you divorce your wife for any cause other than immorality and you marry someone else, you’re committing adultery. And He was just simply endorsing what the law of Moses actually said.
The whole basis of the Pharisees’ belief that they could divorce their wives for any cause at all was the Scripture found in Deuteronomy 24. This Scripture goes into detail about a man who finds some indecency in his wife and gives her a certificate of dismissal.
We’ll take a look at that particular Scripture in the Next Little Lesson. Thank you so much for joining me! See you next time.