“(Jesus) I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9
What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage? Is it allowed? Why or why not? This is an incredibly complicated and personal subject but one that Jesus had quite a few things to say on the matter. You can read His complete teachings for yourself in Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:1-9, and Mark 10: 11-12. Remember that when studying Jesus’ teachings, it’s important to read Scripture in light of Scripture. Don’t just look at one half of a verse but at the complete teachings on the subject. In that light, Jesus identified a few key points on the issue of divorce and remarriage.
- Adultery. In the case of adultery, divorce is allowed and remarriage may occur. However, any remarriage that grew out of an adulterous relationship leading to divorce is always wrong.
- Desertion by an Unbelieving Spouse. (1 Cor. 7:7-10) In this case, the Bible is clear that the spouse left behind is no longer bound.
- Physical Abuse. Now this is my pastoral perspective here: I believe that in the case of chronic physical abuse, divorce can be the lesser of two evils. Certainly trial separation may need to come first with the hope of reconciliation, but in the end, physical violence towards a spouse seems to be a worse sin.
- Emotional Abuse. You won’t find any indication in Scripture where emotional abuse is reason enough for divorce. Now don’t miss this because I know that for those of you in such a relationship, this is not something to be taken lightly. However, even the happiest and godliest marriages will experience some level of emotional abuse. We all intentionally say things that hurt and harm our spouse. Unfortunately, it’s a part of the ups and downs of marriage – but not a Biblical justification for divorce.
What about the situation where divorce took place before becoming a Christian? Well, 2 Corinthians 5:17 is very clear: “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creature. The old is gone; the new has come.”
When it comes to divorce and remarriage – it’s complicated. While Jesus laid down clear guidelines, be encouraged that there is always redemption. Christ covered our sins, shame, and even our broken relationships when He died on the cross for our sins. In Jesus, the old has gone and the new has come.