Divorce and Remarriage

The subject of divorce and remarriage is one that is often debated among sincere Christians. Two fundamental questions are the basis of that debate: (1) When, if ever, is divorce permissible in God’s eyes? and (2) When, if ever, is remarriage permissible in God’s eyes? Most denominations and independent churches have an official doctrinal stance on what is permissible and what is not, based on their particular interpretation of Scripture. We should respect them all for having convictions and living by them—if their convictions are motivated by their love for God. It would surely be best, however, if all of us held convictions that are 100% scriptural. The disciple-making minister does not want to teach what falls short of what God intends. Neither does he want to place burdens upon people that God never intended for them to carry. With that goal in mind, I’m going to do my best to interpret Scripture on this controversial topic and let you decide if you agree or disagree.

Let me begin by telling you that I am, like you, grieved that divorce is so rampant in the world today. Even more grievous is the fact that so many professing Christians are divorcing, including those in the ministry. This is a great tragedy. We need to do all we can to prevent this from happening more, and the best solution to the divorce problem is to preach the gospel and call people to repentance. When two married people are genuinely born again and both are following Christ, they’ll never be divorced. The disciple-making minister will do all he can to make his own marriage strong, knowing that his example is his most influential means of teaching.

May I also add that I’ve been happily married for over thirty-six years and have never been previously married. I can’t imagine ever being divorced. So I have no motive to soften difficult divorce scriptures for my own sake. I do, however, possess a strong sympathy for divorced people, knowing that I could have easily made a bad decision as a young man myself, marrying someone who I would have later been sorely tempted to divorce, or someone less tolerant of me than the wonderful woman I did marry. In other words, I could have ended up divorced, but I have not because of the grace of God. I think that most married people can relate to what I’m saying, and so we need to restrain ourselves from throwing stones at divorced people. Who are we, who have low-maintenance marriages, to condemn divorced persons, having no idea what they might have endured? God might consider them to be much more righteous than us, as He knows that we, under the same circumstances, would have divorced much sooner.

No one who marries expects to be ultimately divorced, and I don’t think anyone hates divorce more than those who have suffered through it. So we should try and help married people stay married, and help divorced people find whatever grace God might be offering. It is in that spirit which I write.

I will do my best to allow scripture to interpret scripture. I’ve noticed that verses on this subject are often interpreted in such a way that they contradict other scriptures, which is a sure indication that those verses have been misunderstood, at least in part.