Can a Divorced Christian be Remarried?

There has been some recent discussion about this issue in my part of the woods. As with some other issues, I am open to amending my theology, especially when it is in an area of great controversy such as this. In fact, I have nuanced and refined my stand on this issue since I last wrote on this. I know how much many Christians who love the Lord struggle with great distress concerning divorce, remarriage, and what is expected of the committed Christan.

The question is: Can there be remarriage after divorce for the committed Christian?

This is not an easy question to answer by any means. While I was on pastoral staff at Stonebriar Community Church, I could not dodge this issue by reducing it to some objective theological position as I would have liked. Practically speaking, it was always before me. I performed many marriages while I was at Stonebriar, so much that I was called the “marrying man.” In many of the marriages I performed, at least one of the two people had been through a divorce. Each pastor on staff had a different position concerning the issue of remarriage after divorce; I think mine was one of the most liberal (relatively speaking). Stonebriar gave us some freedom in our decisions of whom we would marry. If another pastor did not feel comfortable performing a ceremony, they would probably just say “I will send you to Michael, he will marry anyone!” (That is not really true, but there was only one1 that I turned down in my six years in the pastorate.)

As briefly as a blog will allow, I want to give you my current position on the matter and hope that you understand what a struggle this is. I am in no way dogmatic about this, but I do have some thoughts. Generally speaking, I believe that people are either too liberal or too rigid when it comes to this issue. I think that there needs to be a middle ground (as I do with many issues). I hesitate while I write this due to the fear that people will find in my view an excuse for divorce, which is the last thing I want or intend. Yet at the same time, I believe that if what I propose is true, it, like all truth, will always undergo the risk of misapplication.

First let me say that the argument is not over whether divorce is bad. Everyone agrees that divorce is a result of sin and that healthy reconciliation is the perfect will of God. Well, let me rephrase. God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). Let me make this a bit stronger. God always hates divorce. This much is true. We must, however, keep this in perspective: there are a lot of things that are the result of a fallen world that God hates. God hates death (Ez. 18:23). God hates war. I believe that God hates hell, deformities, addiction, and cancer.  But God also, to be sure, hated that he had to divorce Israel:

“And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.” (Jer. 3:8; see also Isa. 50:1)

So for God to say “I hate divorce” helps us recognize that divorce, as a part of the fallen order, is a result of sinfulness in the world and it is this that God hates. It also helps us recognize that divorce, like death and war, is sometimes a necessary part of a fallen world due to sinfulness.

Having said that, there are many disagreements about the issue of remarriage after divorce. I think that the primary passage that causes this particular trouble in dealing with divorce is Matt. 5:31-32 (and parallel passages):

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Christ here uses divorce as an illustration for our consistent inability to live up to the standards of God’s perfection. I say “illustration” because it comes in the context of Christ’s shocking statement, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (v.20). What a terrifying statement that must have been. Christ then goes on to demonstrate how the traditional way that people view the law and righteousness is insufficient. “You have heard it said . . . But I say to you” was Christ’s way of telling the people that what was said before needs to be rethought and intensified. Why? Because fulfilling the requirements of what was said before does not make one righteous unless it is understood correctly. Christ shows that just because someone has never committed the act of murder, this does not make them innocent of the principle that prohibits murder; the spirit of the fifth commandment includes a benevolent disposition to others (vv. 21-26). He then does the same thing with adultery, teaching that the commandment prohibiting adultery goes much deeper than the actual act. One must have fidelity in his thoughts as well (vv. 27-30).

By saying these things in such a way, Christ is turning the Jewish people’s worldview upside down. The scribes and the Pharisees were the best-in-show. Surely, if they could not enter the kingdom by their righteousness, everyone is without hope. The Jewish leadership felt at ease with themselves because, according to their estimation, they had lived pretty good lives. They had not broken any of the commandments, so they were safe. Christ seeks to level the playing field by showing that all people are sinners, even the Jewish leaders. Why? Because everyone has broken the principles of the laws, even if they had managed to avoid breaking a particular expression of the law.

What we must realize about this entire section is that Christ’s argument employs much hyperbole and extreme rhetoric. Speaking of how serious it is, Christ says concerning lust, “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.” I don’t know about you, but I have never seen even the most conservative Christian who has followed Christ’s advice here. Why? Because they understand it to be hyperbolic. This is not meant to water down the seriousness of Christ’s admonition, but to show that Christ, like any good teacher, used hyperbole to get a point across. Everything that Christ says in this section must be taken in the spirit of its intent. It is in this context that Christ makes his statement about divorce:

“It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Mt 5.31-32)

Ouch! These are very shocking and hard words. But, we must realize that they are no less shocking and hard than the two previous admonitions concerning hatred and lust. I believe (albeit very timidly) that Christ’s words that anyone who divorces his wife makes her commit adultery, etc., must be taken in the same vein as the rest of His teaching in this context. In other words, Christ was using the same methodology to bring shock to his listeners so that all would see the drastic need that everyone has, no matter how good they think they are, for God’s mercy. This is not to say that what Christ says about hate, lust, and divorce are wrong and he really did not mean it; it is just to say that we need to keep this in perspective.

Let’s entertain for a moment the propositions that Christ did intend for us to follow this teaching about divorce literally in every case. What would happen? Well, I think we would have to interpret everything in this context the same way (including the gouging out of eyes and cutting off of hands). The outcome would be disastrous in many ways. This is what could conceivably take place: lusting itself would be an excuse for divorce since it is adultery (v. 28). As well, if you were to lust before you are married, and by lusting you have literally had sex with that person, then you are in God’s eyes joined to that person and are required to marry them (by Pauline extension in 1Cor 6:15). So, if this is the case, is it then God’s perfect will for me to find the first girl I lusted after and be “rejoined” to her so that she does not commit adultery? Of course not.

Craig Keener also provides some insight to this passage in Matthew 5:31-32 when he says,

“If He [Christ] intended this statement literally, the new union is adulterous; hence, sin occurs during every act of intercourse (not simply during the remarriage ceremony). In this case, we should not merely forbid divorced church members to remarry; we should regard their remarriages as adulterous unions and thus seek to break them up, even if the remarriages preceded their conversion” (Mark L. Strauss Remarriage after Divorce in Today’s Church, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2006, p. 104).

Let me take a brief moment and deal with 1 Corinthians and Paul’s comments on the subject. First Corinthians 7 is unique and deserves a fair amount of attention, but I will be brief. It is hard to understand many of Paul statements concerning the issue since many of the situations seem to be unique. Others are hard to reconcile and find one course of action that is always right. For example:

1 Corinthians 7:15 “Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.” What is the bondage here? Does it refer to the bondage of the marriage?

1 Corinthians 7:20 “Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.” Does this represent a universal Pauline stance that a single person should never get married?

1 Corinthians 7:26-27 “I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” Is it because of the “present distress” that this entire passage is written? What is the “present distress” that makes Paul think the unmarried should not be “bound”? If the “present distress” is not present does this mean that the one “released” (divorced?) from his wife can seek to be bound to another? Are we, today, out of the “present distress”? If so, what does that do to the series of admonitions of 1 Cor 7?

1 Corinthians 7:29 “But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none.” What does it mean to be married and live as though you had no spouse? Is it hyperbolic rhetoric to demonstrate the seriousness of our mission?

1 Corinthians 7:11 “But if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband.” But what if she burns (lusts)? Would this admonishment bend according to 7:9? In other words, Paul says that it is better to be married than to lust for sex (1 Cor 7:9), but that a divorced person must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to their former spouse. What if reconciliation is not possible, yet the person’s sexual drive is difficult to control (i.e. they are “burning”)? Which admonition takes priority? It is like an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object!

Divorce itself is bad, but I don’t think that these passages can be used to justify a strict admonition requiring perpetual celibacy in every case. I just don’t believe that the Bible is as clear here as many suppose, and as I have demonstrated.

Forgiveness and grace is something that we can take literally and act upon. For the person who has lusted in the past, we offer forgiveness, not a bride. For the person who has hated his brother, we offer grace, not the death penalty. For the person who has been divorced, shouldn’t we do the same?

This is what it boils down to and what I discuss during marriage counseling: is there any way possible to be reconciled to your former spouse without sacrificing your family’s safety? If so, I believe it is the Lord’s will to pursue this. If not, then grace and forgiveness are offered. At this point the practical issues of responsibility and maturity come into play. I suggest to people to make sure they have worked out the reasons for the previous divorce to be sure that any personal spiritual issues (including commitment) are not unresolved.

If you have been divorced and have remarried, by God’s grace and mercy enjoy the blessing of your marriage and build your family in a godly way. Don’t spend your time second guessing your decision to remarry. It will drive you nuts and create more problems than it might solve. After all, there is no decision that we make that doesn’t have some precursor of sin. As God’s providence finds its realization, we must understand that lives riddled with sin are all he has to work with. If this is not true, then grace is no longer grace.

In the end, I want to reiterate how difficult these issues are. I am not saying that there are no answers or that we should just throw our hands in the air, wipe the sweat off our brow, and opt for moral subjectivism. But we do need to tread these waters with great humility and timidity as the Scriptures present some ambiguity with regard to divorce and remarriage.

1 It was because of obvious unresolved issues of a woman who had been divorced and remarried many times that I did not perform the ceremony. She simply did not take marriage seriously and I could see that. The couple went to the church down the street!

185 Responses to “Can a Divorced Christian be Remarried?”

  1. Again, to mbaker,

    ALL sins can and will be forgiven of believers, but willful sinning IS a different story: GOD will only indulge us for so long, EVEN as believers, especially because we ARE believers.

    We would be better to unbelievers than believers that willfully commit a sin against GOD.

  2. We would be better to unbelievers than believers that willfully commit a sin against GOD.

    I meant we would be better to BE UNBELIVERS thana believers that willfully commit a sing against GOD, KNOWING that it IS A SIN.

  3. So Drew are you saying that since the time you became a Christian you have NEVER known that something was wrong and done it anyways or alternatively known that you should do something and not done it?? If you are then I bow to your perfection.

  4. Michael,

    Obviously, no I am not saying that I haven’t done something that I knew was wrong, but after repeated offenses so to speak, I think that we are seriously pushing the envelope with GOD. How did HE treat the Jews after continual disobedience, when they KNEW what GOD required?

  5. Drew,

    Wow, where to start. First, I don’t know if you’re intending to come of this way, but CAPS are generally screaming and you needn’t yell. Even if that’s not intended, your tone and intimations lack charity, as I read it.

    That said, you need to humbly come to terms with the fact that God-fearing, Scripturally knowledgeable men and women who seek to honor God in all things have come to very different conclusions than you — and done so based on Scripture not personal agenda. In fact, the “no remarriage” position is a minority even in conservative denominations. It’s as thinly defensible as the divorce-for-any-reason liberal position on the polar opposite end.

    As for your assessment of C. John Collins, quite frankly, your mini-rant is mere accusation, unsubstantiated with factual counterpoints. Dr. Collins has multiple degrees from fine universities, is completely fluent in the original texts (are you?!) and served as the Old Testament editor for the ESV Bible translation. I’ve been over that PDF with a fine comb, and it’s incredibly solid and based on simply historical fact. Just because his fact, research and professional expertise run headlong into your personal opinion doesn’t make him wrong.

  6. Michael T,

    I COWER at the THOUGHT of facing the LORD and answering for things that I have, or have not done.

  7. Let’s keep this on the topic of divorce and remarriage. The “how much can we sin and still be saved?” discussion is interesting, but not the topic of this thread. Skip the red herrings please.

  8. Drew, you write: “I COWER at the THOUGHT of facing the LORD and answering for things that I have, or have not done.”

    No need to scream. However, you scream as a man who has not fully grasped the idea that, as a believer in Christ, you are free from condemnation (Rom. 8:1), Christ is you Savior and Advocate, and He stood condemned in your place. He has absorbed your sins, nailed them to the cross, and in return has given you His perfect righteouness — the only thing by which you can stand before a Holy God. Unless you have that, then yes, you should be terrified at standing before Him. But with Christ, clothed in His Righteousness, you needs not stand ashamed. Jesus said, “It is finished!” not “you followers better get the rest of this right!”

  9. Phil,

    I assuredly am not intending, nor was I trying to come off as yelling; I was merely trying to assert a point, obviously wrongly, however.

    I have NO personal agenda, nor am I trying to manipulate the Scripture to suit my situation, and my resulting needs thereof, I assure you.

    Did I “rant” about C. John Collins? That was not my intention, nor position; my apologies.

  10. Phil,

    Thank you, honestly, for your input.

    My intent is not to “yell”, and I am ever so aware of what caps mean on the internet; I was merely trying to place focus on certain words and/or phrases. I was merely trying to place emphasis.

    My point was that if you are a Christian, and subsequently commit a sin, KNOWINGLY, REPEATEDLY, then I THINK there is a limit to GOD’S grace.

  11. By the way, Christians CAN fall from Grace. Just because you (we) are saved doesn’t mean that we are perpetually saved regardless of what we do.

    THAT would be in keeping with Roman Catholic religion.

  12. “By the way, Christians CAN fall from Grace. Just because you (we) are saved doesn’t mean that we are perpetually saved regardless of what we do.

    THAT would be in keeping with Roman Catholic religion.”

    Wow… Roman Catholicism teaches the complete opposite of “once saved always saved.” In fact in Catholicism one must remain a member of the church in good standing and participate in the Sacraments in order to maintain salvation. Reality is about the only group that teaches once saved always saved in a unqualified way is American Megachurch Evangelicalism. After that the closest is Calvinism, and they are careful to qualify it.

  13. Also just out of curiosity what are your credentials to come in here and start spouting off like you have? Do you know the original languages, the history, the culture? Do you have BA in Theology, a MATh, a Th.M, a Ph.D?? Or are you just some laymen who likes to go off on rants?

  14. Drew,

    i agree with the commenter who said maybe you are not getting God’s grace in its fullness.

    No one is immune is from sin, whether they are Christian or not. Yes, we all try to obey God after we become His, but even if we do we still fall down every day and so do other people.

    Not saying we should believe in Christ and then ignore His admonishments for a holy life, but just saying despite our failures, forgiveness in Christ is a constant thing. Our alvation is ongoing. No, I don’t fully understand it, but who does?

  15. No credentials, and definitely no interest in partcicpating any further. Sorry I wasted your time and space with obviously disputable information.

    God Bless

  16. Fascinating thread, can’t believe I sat and read through all of it!
    The final point about the indissolubility (sp?) of marriage and the question of remarriage being a state of constant repeated adultery – just wow. That’s finally getting down to the nitty gritty.

    I am interested in an explanation of the book of Esther then. King Xerxes threw out his Queen Vashti and remarried Esther! And the remarriage appears to have been God’s will? Or maybe God just used their adultery to his own ends? And Xerxes was not a Jew, either…so many issues there. yikes.

    I find it frightful that one of the strictest commenters on this thread stated that a remarried man could not be eligible for an elder position in the church, if he had been remarried for only a year vs. a man who had been remarried 30 years. That rule seems strangely arbitrary, and again if he’s in a continued state of adultery for 30 years against his first wife I would hardly consider him elder material.

    I read these debates with a sense of dread, every time I run across them in Christian circles. I am divorced because my spouse abandoned me for a new wife. I am young, but I will remain unmarried for the rest of my life – because Paul says that even widows should remain unmarried. Paul clearly says that “single is best”.

    And if I’m honest with myself, the thought of subjecting myself to a man in marriage again is more vile than remaining celibate. Many years of abuse will beat that “desire for remarriage/adultery” right out of you! ;)

  17. I just broke up with a girl who i loved dearly. We were both previously married and would be eligible to be remarried according to most Christian churches (escpecially those holding to the Pauline and adultery priveledges). God told me to break off with her. I would feel convicted when i was with her, especially when her gay exhusband would pick up her child. I recently discovered the no remarriage teaching that more or less stuck in my mind.
    That being said, I can see both sides……i can actually take both sides. Emotions aside, its the no remarriage camp that usually pounds thier fists and tells me to “take the narrow road” or “read your bible stupid” or “you should have been more careful on who you married” or “we csnt choose our crossed” or”God doesnt care about your hapiness just your holiness” etc.
    They have been very informative but almost never have they been helpful or have they ministered to me for deciding to remain unmarried.
    My hope is crushed and i have struggled with suicidal thoughts the last couple of weeks. I was married at a court house when i was young,- i made no oath or covenant. My exwife slept with all of my friends and many others during the two years of hell i was married. It was a marriage between two soldiers out of boredom/young stupidlty etc. I did not know Gods commands.
    That was 22 years ago. I was excited to find another believer. She was married to a homosexual who pretended to be straight to get to her parents money. She was hospitlaizdd 6 times for him. She divorced 10 years ago.
    Well…..i did what the no remarriers wanted me to do. Now i am sick and so depressed. How is this “burden light”? Where is the forgivess offered to the innocent party? God help me.

  18. Jeff,
    I am grieved by your situation. I am one of those who do not see remarriage as proper as it regards believers. As you noted, I am sure you have heard all the arguments and scriptural proofs from both sides of the issue. However, I would like you to consider something. When Paul stated it was not he but the LORD who commanded not to remarry, I believe the command is relevant to believers whose spouses have departed or divorced. What we each did as lost souls, as that old man who is now dead and buried, is buried along with that old self as it regards sin in the presence of God. If you were a divorced man when you came to the LORD, that divorced man is no longer you. He died and you rose a new creation in Christ. You should never feel burdened by those old chains of slavery.

    Please consider this because I do not for a moment believe this is what the LORD meant. Paul’s comments are to believers concerning believers and what transpires as believers. If my wife left me, I could not with a good conscience remarry another because I am a Christian, as is she. That is my conviction. However, I was once another man as you were once and that is not, in my opinion, the purpose of the instructions.

    God bless!

  19. Thanks A.M. Unfortunately the cats out of the bag and because i have a sensitive conscience, ill never be able to date someone again with this teaching in my brain. It will always nag at me. All of those no remarriage people might be right, but they are so nasty about how they convey it….its like talking to one of those people who all the talk about is using th KJV only bible. It has become thier religion. They go from Internet site to Internet site telling everyone thier new pet truth and how they are the remnant and the only ones who will be saved.

  20. Can people remarry while spouses are still living?

    Of course not. Jesus already answered your questions. Woe to the man or woman that does not listen but has their own Gospel.

  21. rachel,

    you gave the exact kind of compassionless response i am talking about.

  22. We are no longer under the law (Old Testament), but are under GRACE (New Testament). It really is that simple. Michael is right – GRACE! Humans make it so complicated.

  23. I think that part of the confusion comes from an improper understanding of what grace and repentance are and are not, and a lack of awareness of our flesh and how cunningly it make justification of sin appear righteous.

    For instance, being repentant about a divorce means that what we justified based on pursuing our own will and happiness now sickens us and we want to turn back. we are deeply grieved over our sin and how it has offended and violated God’s will and harmed our former spouse and children if we have them. We hate our sin and selfishness and never want to go there again. Receiving grace and mercy means that the penalty for our sin and rebellion against our God has been forgiven, wiped clean and not counted against us and that we now have power available to obey where before we had failed. Yet some seem to think that it means that we can continue in the very self will that caused the sin in the first place. Grace is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Where do we get out of that that we can still go ahead and pursue our own will? John MacArthur said something along the lines of repentance not meaning that we can say oops, sorry about wrecking my marriage and then do nothing to try to reconcile i. It means that we go back and do right what we did wrong wherever possible. If our divorce occurred with an unsaved spouse then we ought to be seeking to evangelize them. This indeed is the test of real repentance versus false repentance. If our motives and hearts are for God’s kingdom and not our own desires the way is clear enough. Isn’t one of the reasons there are so many perspectives on this issue the tendency of our flesh to act like a little lawyer in the closet who steps out and says ” Now wait a minute, my client’s case is unique….”? Being under grace and not law doesn’t mean we don’t have to obey. It means that now we want to for completely different motives.

  24. Jeff,
    Consider the source, as you pointed out, the no remarriage camp goes from site to site, and there is no love or grace in their words. You will know them by their fruits, and I see no fruits, only Pharisee behavior. More than likely people like Rachel above, are stuck in abusive or loveless marriages and they want everyone else to be in the same misery pit. I grew up in a home where my parents divorced, my father had custody and my step mother was a strong christian and a huge blessing to me. I believe God put her in my life, to raise me. If you keep listening to these people who put heavy millstones around the necks of others, and I am pretty sure are not eating kosher, you will WASTE the rest of your life and be no further ahead in eternity.

    And I doubt someone who can minister in love and grace while espousing their beliefs really has salvation. See, two can play that game. Who did Jesus attack, the common person or the religious Pharisees. If God can not forgive the sin of divorce and allow the person to move on in freedom, then there is no forgiveness of sins. Another thought, you had a two year marriage with a cheating spouse, and people say there is no second chance for you. While someone else might have a 7 year relationship with a live in significant other, with every accoutrement of marriage except the legal government paper. Can they break up with this live in and be free to remarry, only because they lack a govt paper? The whole arguement is silly and you have lived in condemnation and guilt way too long. Stop reading the angry hateful spewings of broken people who are bound to the law but dont understand grace. Empty religion.

  25. Above i meant to say “i doubt someone who CAN NOT minister in love and grace while espousing their beliefs really has salvation.

  26. “i doubt someone who CAN NOT minister in love and grace while espousing their beliefs really has salvation.”

    God doesn’t change. And he killed a man for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. What does that tell you? Jesus said He didn’t come to bring peace- he came to divide.

    We don’t have time for all this “lovey dovey”, God accepts all of your sin nonsense. The truth is the truth. Walk in truth, or burn. That is loving. What is unloving is to not tell you that, and just watch you walk into the Lake of Fire without even warning you.

    If you cannot obey, then you cannot enter his Kingdom. Jesus told you that! The only reason you refuse to believe it is because you are following Paul. Paul is the only one in the Bible who gives you permission to disobey. Who else tells you that you don’t have to listen to God? Where is a second witness to confirm that?

    If you are comfortable with that- that is your choice. But Paul isn’t writing names and blotting out sin in the Book of Life.

    Jesus was very clear on the issue of remarriage and divorce. It doesn’t take a scholar, reference books, or 90 page thesis to get the answer.

    Follow Him, or don’t. Believe Him, or don’t. He died and rose again so that you could have the chance to be saved. However, just because you believe that, it doesn’t mean that you will be saved. You think that Satan doesn’t “believe” that?

    You better stop listening to others and start opening your Bible and praying.

  27. The following is a response to someone that asked about this blog post on a FB group:
    First of all, C Michael Patton’s supporting scripture on marriage mainly revolves around one passage: Matthew 5:31-32. This is where he says that Jesus is using hyperbole and is not at all to be taken literally. He then goes on to ask questions about Paul’s teaching on divorce in 1 Corinthians 7, but leaves a lot of those questions unanswered. There are many of us that have not left those questions unanswered.

    1 Corinthians 7:15 “Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.” What is the bondage here? Does it refer to the bondage of the marriage?
    Answer: “It is more than reasonable to understand this to say that the believing spouse is not to be anxiously and ‘slavishly inbondaged’ to following after the unbelieving spouse to persuade them to return to them. This would be a much more honest representation of the meaning of the word. But it is an unreasonable and lawless leap to say that they are not ‘bound’ to the deserting spouse so that they are free to remarry.” (Divorce and Remarriage/Repentance Revolution – Josiahs Scott;

    1 Corinthians 7:20 “Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.” Does this represent a universal Pauline stance that a single person should never get married?
    Answer: Paul sufficiently addresses this earlier in the chapter when he says, “But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.” So, is Paul saying that a single person should never get married? No.

  28. Part 2

    1 Corinthians 7:26-27 “I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.” Is it because of the “present distress” that this entire passage is written? What is the “present distress” that makes Paul think the unmarried should not be “bound”? If the “present distress” is not present does this mean that the one “released” (divorced?) from his wife can seek to be bound to another? Are we, today, out of the “present distress”? If so, what does that do to the series of admonitions of 1 Cor 7?
    Answer: During Paul’s time, the Christians were actively being persecuted. They were indeed in a “present distress”. Was the entire passage written because of “this present distress”, such that when “this present distress” was/is removed, then the passage is rendered no longer necessary? This entire chapter was written as a reply to a letter Paul had received. His wording clearly displays this fact, because he is clearly answering questions that have been asked of him. C Michael Patton’s final question, “…what does that do to the series of admonitions of 1 Cor 7?”…absolutely nothing. Paul’s writing here is teaching principles, not situational ethics. When read clearly, and as it was written in the Koine Greek (ex: he uses 2 different words for “bound” in this passage, speaking of 2 different concepts that English does not adequately represent), Paul is clearly teaching that the marriage covenant is a lifelong covenant, regardless of spiritual status, that is not broken upon separation (divorce).

  29. Part 4

    Answer: This argument is using a double standard. First, we know that sexual sin is one that is addressed throughout the scriptures, from OT to NT, as being very serious indeed. It is such a serious sin that the penalty for fornication and adultery was death by stoning. So, we say that lust that causes an unmarried (never married or divorced) man to consider sinning is better off to marry and thereby be without sin by having sexual relations within the confines of a marriage covenant. But…the argument here is saying that a divorced person’s lust is enough to justify the ongoing sin of fornication/adultery when they enter into a new legal marriage that is not recognized by YHVH as marriage, but as adultery. Paul would not and does not contradict himself. He says clearly at the end of this chapter, “A wife is bound by law for as long a time as her husband lives; but if her husband sleeps, she is free to be married to whomever she desires, only in the Lord.”

    C Micheal Patton also states in his blog post: “First let me say that the argument is not over whether divorce is bad. Everyone agrees that divorce is a result of sin and that healthy reconciliation is the perfect will of God. Well, let me rephrase. God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). Let me make this a bit stronger. God always hates divorce. This much is true. We must, however, keep this in perspective: there are a lot of things that are the result of a fallen world that God hates. God hates death (Ez. 18:23). God hates war. I believe that God hates hell, deformities, addiction, and cancer.”

  30. Part 5

    Here, he emphasizes with italics that healthy reconciliation is the perfect will of God. What really is the perfect will of God? From my studies of the past 3 1/2 years, the “perfect” will of God is a doctrine of men, not of God. I am still open to being corrected on this one, but I do not believe that God’s will is “double minded” by having His will, and then His “perfect will”. YHVH recognizes marriage as a blood covenant, one that is in effect until death parts the husband and wife. There is no wiggle room here.

    Ultimately, the question of whether or not Jesus was using hyperbole to emphasize a point in Matthew 5: 31-32 does not hold up under close scrutiny. Jesus’ point in this passage was to tell that the one who divorces the other is the one that causes that person to be involved in adultery when/if that person marries another. This was often the case during Jesus’ time as it was extremely difficult for a single woman to survive without being married or becoming involved in prostitution. The only way the one divorcing the other was not the cause of their future adultery was if they were already involved in adultery before the thought of divorce came to mind. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He quotes scripture (the OT) repeatedly. If you look to the other passages where Jesus spoke to the Pharisees on the issue of divorce and remarriage, He is clear. Moses gave a concession to the people because the hearts of the people were hard. God instituted the covenant of marriage, and that covenant was by design a lifelong covenant. Jesus told the Pharisees that Moses’ concession was “not this way from the beginning” (Gen 2:24), and went on to say that those who divorced and remarried were living in adultery.

  31. From the beginning of the marriage we had lot of problems . We both had own mistakes . Adultery was never involved . There was never a physical violence from my side , from her side she will go crazy and throw things at me for small things . After a verbal fight she filed a domestic violence on me and my family (8 people) . In-spite of all that I tried to reconcile with her 3 times . But she wanted me to live according to all her rules and write all that legally . I prayed a lot about this and asked god to renew our marriage . I agreed her terms just asked for a guarantee that in future she wont falsely accuse my family cause they went through a lot because of that , she said she cant guarantee that. Which left me no option but to seek divorce , because there was lot of pressure from my family who were accused not to reconcile .

    I was told that since there was no adultery involved I cant remarry . We are not yet divorced . But last month I saw her with a guy . I don’t know who he is . I see lot of places this debate which says we are still married in god’s eye and even after divorce we will be . If she remarries , doesn’t she commit adultery ? And if she does commit adultery doesn’t that break covenant allowing me to remarry ?

  32. As I was being divorced, I came to Credo House for a timely discussion on the theology of divorce and remarriage around June 2012. A well meaning local pastor basically had told me that I could never remarry based on scripture. I knew the passage he was talking about and it bothered me. To be honest I am still not 100% sure that I can but feel no condemnation and am in Christian premarital preparation. But I appreciated hearing other views in addition to the view this pastor espoused. My hope is that I fought for my first marriage and, even though I was not perfect, I have the grace to remarry. I wasn’t blameless for the failure of the marriage but I was the one that was left. We were and are both Christians, following Christ imperfectly. She just “tapped out” and the discussion at the Credo House actually gave me compassion towards her and her decision to end the marriage. She quickly married her high school sweetheart and I believe they are happy and as part of my healing actually prayed for God to bless their marriage. And this September I am looking forward to trying this marriage thing again. Believing that He brought Tracy into my life for a second chance at sharing my life with someone. Cool thing is we are hosting my eldest daughter’s engagement party at her house and my ex and her husband will be there too. God does heal all our hurts. God is good and does use the hardest circumstances we walk through.


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