Divorce and Remarriage

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Divorce and Remarriage

27 August 2014 Hits:7577

There can be a great deal of confusion and questions surrounding divorce particularly for Christians.

The matter of divorce (and remarriage) is a controversial issue for which a number of statements need to be made:

  1. If you are divorced or remarried you are most welcome in this church.  You are not a second-class Christian!
  2. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) – why?  Because it breaks a covenant and causes much pain and hardship.  God has been divorced and knows firsthand the amount of hurt it causes.  Through the prophet Jeremiah God said, “I knew that the kingdom of Israel had been unfaithful and committed many sins, yet I still hoped she might come back to me. But she didn’t, so I divorced her and sent her away” (Jeremiah 3:8).  I’ve never found a person who enjoyed the experience of a divorce.
  3. Divorce is not the unforgivable sin – it is a sin, but it is not unforgivable.  However this should not be used as an excuse to escape from a marriage covenant.
  4. Divorce is not God’s ideal – but then we don’t live in an ideal world.   God’s ideal is marriage to one person for life that is why marriage vows contain the words “till death we do part.”  When questioned about divorce Jesus took his questioners right back to the Book of Genesis, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”  They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”  He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

The Bible does give three instances where separation, divorce and subsequent remarriage are acceptable, because all three break the covenant of marriage.

1.   The case of unfaithfulness

Jesus said, “whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”  The person who is free to remarry here is the victim of the unfaithfulness not the culprit.  Also, Jesus is particularly condemning the actions of a person who commits adultery, divorces and then marries the person they committed adultery with.  A person must not commit adultery in order to get out of a marriage in order to marry someone else (Romans 6:1).

2.   The case of an unbelieving partner departing

Paul offers the following advice to believers with unbelieving partners in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, “If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.  But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.” 

3.   The case of violence and abuse

It sickens me the number of times over the years I have heard of pastors, priests, counselors or ministers recommending women in particular, to stay with husbands who are physically, verbally or emotionally abusive.  Ephesians 5:21-33 makes it very clear that submission is to be mutual, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies … each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”  Love and respect don’t beat each other up! There is no room for abuse in a relationship.”

These three things – unfaithfulness, an unbelieving partner departing and violence and abuse break the marriage covenant.  In most cases …

  1. Separation is advisable (at least a temporary one)
  2. Reconciliation may be possible (with much support, prayer & counseling)
  3. Divorce may be unavoidable
  4. Remarriage is permissible.

Rob Buckingham

Senior Minister

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6 replies on “Divorce and Remarriage”

Penelopesays:

Hi Rob, I came to Bayside Church two years ago as a single mother of two small children, having left an emotionally abusive marriage that was becoming physically threatening. Initially l felt a sense of guilt at coming to Church, but over time was relieved to discover l was welcomed. I appreciate your clear stand that abuse in marriage is not acceptable because is not honouring Christian marriage vows.

Grant Kirbysays:

Thank you for expressing that clearly Rob. I agree wholeheartedly.

Margaret Dunnesays:

Hello Rob, I live in England but came to your church as a visitor with my good friend Alannah Anderson back in 2010. My question is; if you are a Christian now, but not at the time you divorced, is remarriage permissible? I divorced in 1990 and have never remarried. I came to Christ in 2007 and have been faithful. Many thanks and God’s blessings on you. Margaret

Rob Buckinghamsays:

Hi Margaret. I believe that “in Christ” all of our past is washed clean – including divorce & broken relationships, so I think that remarriage would be totally fine in your situation.

But I just want to be happy | Christian Woman magazinesays:

[…] For example, I’ve had many conversations in recent years with people who’ve told me they are no longer happy in their marriage. The husband/wife they were once in love with they love no longer, and some of these people have chosen to leave their spouse and children because “I just want to be happy.”  Now, I realise that some marriages get to a point where they are beyond repair, and my intention here is not to condemn those who have gone through (or going through) a marriage breakup or divorce.  However, I do want to challenge the easy “out” I hear from some people all for the sake of personal happiness. [b] […]

Marysays:

I have been divorced now for approximately 12 years. I do not fall into the categories above. We were married for about 3 years. We were both Christians, late 20’s, and only dated 3 months. Our foolishness is what ushered us down the aisle. The pressures we felt to get married because of our age and Christian Community. Looking back, I knew it was wrong. We initially broke off the relationship but only got back together and became engaged. It was so foolish. We didn’t fit each other at all – our families were so different. Fundamental values were at odds. I abandoned myself to be the submissive wife – I remember looking in the mirror and not recognizing myself. I don’t mean that in a ‘dying to self’ Christ glorifying way. I am picturing a wooden shape being forced into the wrong hole, shaving some of it off… I never got that far in (3 years)! He knew it too… we came to a mutual agreement to end the marriage. Sometimes, we make mistakes – big ones! I believe in the WORD of God. I have devotions every morning and am often in tears as I pray for others and myself. God hasn’t forsaken me even though I divorced outside of the reasons prescribed above. However, I have been treated by church elders (leadership) like I am a leper. It pains me. I don’t intend to marry again. I actually don’t wish to be; my ex-husband has remarried and I wished him well. I have no bitterness there. The reason why I googled (divorce in the church) is because of the judgement and lack of ministry towards people like me. Mercy and Grace is freely given by the Lord… And we are to follow his example. So, I hope that your church does the same.

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