What does the Bible say about Divorce and Remarriage?

What does the Bible say about Divorce and Remarriage?

June 1, 2021 | Matthew Morken


Statistical data about divorce is difficult to study. So many couples, infatuated with each other and excited take the plunge into marriage, do so with little or no preparation for what is to come. Even those of us who are called Christians statistically seem to have the exact same issue as our society has when it comes to divorce.

In order to discuss divorce well, we need to understand what marriage is. Marriage is more than a partnership, more than a contract, more than a friendship or companionship. Yes, most of the love songs got it wrong. The most significant text that stands out regarding marriage is found in Ephesians chapter 5. In this section on wives and husbands, Paul lays out the roles for men and women within marriage and sums it up by saying, "this mystery is profound and I'm saying that it refers to Christ and the church" (Ephesians 5:32). As Christians, our marriages ought to be oozing with grace and mercy for one another because we understand the humility and sacrifice of Christ for us.

Sadly, many of us look at Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and 1 Peter 3 as the only sections of the Bible regarding marriage, but I would argue differently. Another text that should not be forgotten is Romans 12:16-21. In it Paul states that we should live peaceably with one another and not seek revenge, and if someone becomes our enemy we should serve them. Now certainly the direct context isn't marriage, but if these things should apply to those around us, how beneficial would these truths be within our own homes? Let's look at Matthew 7:12 and apply that to marriage. It says, "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them". These basic biblical truths ought to undergird our marriages and show the world Christ's gracious love and sacrifice for all.

As we know, sin has entered the world and wreaks havoc on all of us, and our relationships. Paul Tripp reminded me in his book, What Did You Expect?, that not only am I a sinner, but I am also married a sinner. Sinners sin. There will be plenty of times where grace and mercy are needed within marriage. That is when we, as Christians, recognize that marriage will either harden our hearts or draw us closer to Jesus.

Sanctification is the journey we are all on to become more like Jesus Christ. God's desire is that we know him and love him above all else. Our situations and circumstances draw us closer to that reality or turn us away from him. Marriage is one of those situations. In marriage you have an eternal covenant made between you and another person in the Lord. It is important to note the state doesn't have a whole lot to do with it. Your covenant is with another person by God until death do you part and that is how you each begin the most intimate journey towards Christ. There is no one who will know you more than your spouse. There is no one who can celebrate your strengths like your spouse and no one who will have to survive your weaknesses like your spouse. It can be a rocky road. You can see where the need to do unto your spouse as you would have them do unto you is so important and the battle to live peaceably with one another can be so difficult. Simply put, some choose to walk away.

Jesus talks about divorce in Matthew chapters 5 and 19, where many believers go when this discussion comes up. Matthew 19 clarifies that Moses allowed the Jews to divorce because of their hardness of heart. At this point it's great to do a study on when hardness of heart is ever good or ever used to describe a Christian. It isn't. Paul addresses marriage in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, telling us also not to divorce, but to reconcile. Because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can have tremendous optimism in reconciliation. The gospel, grace, love, and mercy, fueled by Jesus Christ, helps define the war that is waging perhaps even in our home and gives each person an opportunity to represent Christ to the other who may be struggling. Divorce among believers is a hard thing to comprehend when you consider the implications of the gospel on each person's lives. The state can destroy marriage documents, but the scriptures say, "what God has brought together, let no man separate."

Once again, because of the gospel of Jesus Christ, remarriage can be a reality. It is anchored in the ability to address sins in life, to heal from wounds inflicted when you have been sinned against, and sense that God may be bringing someone into relationship with you. Perhaps you should ask the question if marriage is necessary considering that you have all you need in Christ. This is an important question to ask yourself and sets the footing of this new relationship. It helps the relationship come as a blessing rather than from a dysfunctional need. With the desire to remarry comes the importance of truth-speaking community in your life. Have they witnessed you pursuing Christ above all else? Do they see you in a healthy place? And are you at a place when you can share where you are at with them for the sake of accountability? Lean into community to help you see your blind spots especially in places where emotions and infatuation can take hold. Take your time. God is seated on his throne and nothing in your past has taken him off of it. Another year of spiritual growth and healing will help to bring all the more clarity to your situation. There are many reasons your previous marriage ended in divorce ranging from your own sinfulness to perhaps an unbelieving spouse walking away, so don't fail to learn from that experience. You can make it meaningful.


Matthew Morken

Biblical Counseling Leader (Pastor)