No one ever sets out to be a single parent, and God certainly did not create us to do this all on our own. We all know that God hates divorce, which is something I struggled with greatly when my ex-husband and I separated, as I sought God’s will on what to do about that marriage. Should I believe for reconciliation, or go through with the divorce? And if I was to get divorced, how could God hate divorce, and yet still give me the green light to get divorced? If you’re new here, you can find the story of how God told me to let that marriage go here.
Apparently, there is some debate about whether or not God recognizes a second marriage after divorce. Some firmly call any marriage after divorce adultery, while others say the whole reason for a divorce is to be free to move on with life, which would include remarrying if one wishes to do so. To settle this question, we should always look to the Word, being careful to pay attention to what is being said and not to take portions of scripture out of context.
The first thing we need to understand about this, is why God hates divorce. Did you know, that God experienced the first “divorce?” This is a lesson I learned from some wonderful teachers, that truly deepened my understanding of this subject. Divorce is a painful separation, a breaking of a deep covenant bond between two people; a bond that is by God’s design meant to last a lifetime. The first time we see this type of separation take place, is in Genesis chapter 3, when Adam and Eve sinned and became spiritually separated from God. God Himself has experienced the painful heartbreak that divorce brings, and like any good father, He doesn’t want us to go through that kind of pain. We can avoid this, by being careful about the spouse we choose, and doing all we can to keep our marriage to them Christ-centered.
In Deuteronomy 24:1-4, we see divorce was allowed in the Levitical Law, due to the hardness of men’s hearts, and also mentions remarriage after divorce, but never calls it adultery. In the New Testament, we find two accounts of the same incident in which the Pharisees ask Jesus “Can a man get divorced for any reason?” (Matthew 19:3-9, Mark 10:2-12). He replies by explaining that the law of Moses allowed it because of men’s hardened hearts, then tells them the only valid grounds for divorce is sexual sin, and that remarriage after divorce for any other reason is to commit adultery. The Greek work pornea in the original text is referring to ANY type of sexual sin, which would include homosexuality, beastiality, incest, literally sex with anyone outside of the marriage covenant.
Jesus also gives the same grounds for divorce in Matthew 5:31, 32. He states that, with the exception of sexual immorality, to divorce is to make the divorcee commit adultery, and the person who marries her to also commit adultery. This does not mean that every remarried couple is committing adultery. What Jesus is saying, is that if the divorce is not legitimate in God’s eyes (not having biblical grounds), then the second marriage is not legitimate. But if the divorce is legitimate (has biblical grounds), then the second marriage is legitimate.
As we study the New Testament further, we find two more reasons that are biblically valid grounds for divorce. In 1 Corinthians 7:10-15 we see Paul teaching that if an unbelieving spouse wants to leave the marriage, as often happens when two unbelievers get married, then one spouse becomes born again, the believing spouse should let them go, and is no longer morally or spiritually bound to that person. The Greek word douloo in verse 15, translated to bound in English, means to enslave or bring under subjection, HELPS Word Studies says “belonging to another,” and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says “held by constraint of law or necessity.” So no longer bound means “no longer under subjection, no longer belonging to another, no longer held by constraint of law or necessity,” that is, free to remarry.
The third and last valid reason for divorce is abuse. While marital abuse is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, no one should ever be expected to remain in an abusive relationship, and there is scriptural support for leaving the marriage. First of all, 1 Timothy 6:11 tells us to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” Then, in 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are instructed to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel.” Based on these two scriptures, we see that all forms of physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse are forbidden, as they do not demonstrate righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, or understanding, nor do they show honor to the woman.
We also see in 1 Timothy chapter three, Paul outlines the qualifications for men to serve in leadership positions. These qualifications are understood by believers to be traits of a person who is truly born again. Verses one through four state “…must be above reproach, husband of one wife, sober minded… not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.” The Greek word for “not violent” in verse three is plektes, which means “not a striker,” someone who does not strike, or hit, others.
A truly born again, saved and sanctified, Holy Spirit filled believer, would not be an abuser. On these grounds, based on what scripture tells us, the abused spouse is married to an unbeliever, and has biblical grounds for divorce according to 1 Corinthians 7:15.
Our salvation comes with no conditions- it is freely given to all who receive, regardless of your relationship status. There is nothing in the Word that says God hates remarriage, and nowhere does He ever command remarried couples to divorce. If you got divorced for any reason other than biblical grounds before you were born again, there is forgiveness and grace for you included in your salvation, and a new marriage with God at the center of it- whether through reconciliation with that spouse, or a new spouse where reconciliation is not possible, is allowed, even if you were already remarried before you were born again.
If you are a divorced single parent, and there were biblical grounds for that divorce, then to believe God has a new spouse for you is in no way wrong; you would not be committing adultery by getting remarried.
Whatever your circumstances may be, marriage is marriage. If you were divorced and are now remarried, ending a second marriage through divorce would still be a painful breaking of covenant vows taken before God and witnesses, and no better than ending the first one was. You goal now should be to live your current married life in fidelity, honoring God and your spouse, and of course keeping Christ first in all things.
~Walking by Faith as I Wait for My Future Husband, & Finding the Blessings, Gerri