Question of the Week: Divorce and Remarriage


This is a fairly sensitive subject: Divorce and Remarriage. It’s a situation that touches just about every family and every church. The Bible has some very strong things to say, and there is a wide range of differing opinions among believers on this subject. All of these views and opinions are valid for people to take into account, but it is important to keep in mind that the decision they make is between those who are in a relationship, so if they want to check out a divorce lawyer in Denver CO or ones closer to their location, then they should be able to do so. The church will always play a part in their lives, but they are individuals who need to think this through properly. To help this discussion along, let’s split this into a few parts.

  1. What is your view of divorce? In what situations is divorce allowable? What about situations involving physical, mental, or verbal abuse?

  2. What is your view of remarriage? Is remarriage ever okay? If so, in what situations and why? What about an individual who was divorced as an unbeliever, became a believer, and now wants to remarry? What if a couple divorces and, ten years later, they want to get remarried?

  3. How does divorce and remarriage affect church life? Should divorced or remarried individuals be permitted to serve in leadership capacities? If so, in what situations.

  4. Finally, and more personal, what experiences (good or bad) have you encountered relating to divorce, remarriage, your family, and your church?

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Comments 19
  1. Am I to give my own answers outside of what the Bible clearly says concerning these questions?

    1. I think the goal is to give your opinion of what you think the Bible clearly says concerning these questions.

      There’s a considerable amount of variance on interpreting the passages that relate to the questions. So, give your opinion of what the Bible “clearly” says.

  2. Interesting topic having been divorced and remarried. I look at this very different. Divorce causes pain for several generations. My parents divorced, I divorced and my son is divorced and remarried. As Luther mentions in the Small Catechism our children suffer for our inequity (page 885 ELW leaders desk edition). This is a fact about divorce and remarriage. It causes pain in our lives, our children’s lives, and our grandchildren’s lives. There needs to be healing and reconciliation to bring an end to the suffering. We need to look at our mistakes (confess) and with a contrite heart change our way (repent) to make the new marriage work and our children to heal. I see it working in my family. We learn to forgive each other when we step outside of the healing power of Christ.

    1. All good points scott. I agree wholeheartedly. We need to stop the cycle at some point, and seek redemption and restoration in Christ.

  3. Say an unbelieving couple is married and has kids. They divorce and later one spouse gets saved. The couple then moves back in together but does not remarry. The believer is baptized and the church backs up this living situation and baptism, seeing it as not a real divorce in God’s eyes. What is your opinion of that type of situation?

      1. They didn’t feel like it, or they still felt like they were married. The troublesome part for me was that the leadership didn’t see a problem with it.

  4. “Remarriage is permissible” or “allowable”- This terminology has had wide-spread acceptance yet Biblically speaking that phraseology does not exist. That is to say, Christ does not call on us to make this judgement either as laymen or as Pastors and gives us no special/possible way to enforce its permissibility or allowability, even if it were assumed to exist. Keep in mind also:
    1- We are not given some special believer-finder attribute wherein we can determine with certainty who does and does not truly believe and furthermore out of those who believe which have freely accepted God’s grace for salvation to qualify for such restriction were it to exist.
    2- With that understanding, how does this relate to I Corinthians 7:12-16? A believer is told to just let an unbeliever go but we still don’t have our believer detector to know for sure where our partner stood. That segment does not specifically speak to it but one can assume this to fall under the abandonment allowance
    3- Divorce has no distinction of being any nastier than any other average sin and if it’s used to exclude one from membership, participation, or leadership then we’re all excluded. That’s gonna be a problem, eh?

    1. Some very good points Jeff. Particularly points 1 and 2 regarding the “believer-finder.” Interestingly, the deterioration of the church involvement in the lives of believers is, in part, to blame for this.

      In a Biblical church atmosphere, the church would be making unified disciplinary calls on these issues. For example, if a spouse was deemed to be in sin, the church would put them out, and ultimately deem them an unbeliever John does in 1 John 2.
      This would then provide the necessary “out” Biblically for the other spouse as the church would be acknowledging that the person is, in fact, an unbeliever and similarly walking that difficult road alongside the faithful believing spouse.

      The problem is, in our culture no one gives a rip what the church does or thinks. It might as well be burger king. So, rather than look to the local church (which whether we like it, or not, has been given some authority in these matters) we’ve look to our own feelings and the government for resolution. The problem is that in these situations our personal feelings are inevitably marred either by the hurt or the deception, and I don’t even feel the need to explain why the government is a poor choice for resolution.

      Sadly, the church has done this to itself. Rather than attempting to be that place where large amounts of time are invested these matters we’ve been happy to simply judge people and let the government and individuals handle it. It’s sad, but as with many other areas, the church has shirked it’s responsibility and then acted surprised when attendance goes down because nobody needs them anymore. Hrmmm.

  5. I should of let my wife proof my post.
    Shoulda’ included that abuse was not an issue in my 1st 2 marriages either.

  6. okokok
    I’m jumping in here with mostly personal anecdotes, which, I hope, will bring honest questions to the table here.
    My Believing 2nd wife (tells you something right there) just HAD to church hop. During the 10 years that we were married, we attended and became part of at least a dozen different churches. That is wrong on so many levels, but I did learn much on how different denominations view marriage.
    There was a marriage Catch-22 in some of them that I’ve found interesting. That is, if you were divorced AND remarried, you were forever excluded from becoming a Pastor or Elder. You be convicted of any horrible crime, com the know the LORD accept His forgiveness and boom, you could become a Pastor with a powerful testimony.
    I understand Jesus/God hating divorce, it is a form of death. But, what happens when the other partner, for whatever reason, decides that they want out? In my case, I desperately wanted to stay married, both times. Yet they were done with me, I would of done anything to reconcile to maintain the marriage and family, but…
    (BTW adultery was not an issue in the 2nd marriage)
    I found myself in a denomination that views Paul’s Corinthian letters using the term unmarried as synonymous as being divorced. Got remarried, became a Deacon, Elder, Custodian, Youth Leader and otherwise active member. Not to mention having an incredibly happy and fulfilling marriage for 22+ years, so…

    1. Some good thoughts Jeff.

      I have found that most people approach this subject with more personal experience than Biblical study. In fact, even when they approach the Bible they often do it with heavy consideration toward trying to make the practical fit the Biblical.

      That being said, the practical is really there and it should not be ignored either. I can sympathize with your situation and the fact that some churches do make Divorce/Remarriage a sort of scarlett letter in terms of leadership and service. That’s not right and I would never support that as a blanket assessment of all people.

      That being said, the fact that some people have restored marriages and end up serving, seemingly successfully, cannot negate what the Bible says about these things. It’s a balance I try strike in my interpretation and practical application. (see my article )

      One thing I wanted to point out is that you say in both cases your spouses left you. First, I’m really sorry to hear that. I’ve met a number of men who were so shunned by the church that faced similar situations. One of my congregants went through a horrible divorce where his wife took his kids away and he barely knew them. I met the man in his mid-seventies, now remarried for 15 years, and I’ve never met a better man. I suggested he become a deacon at one point and he refused because of his divorce which had happened like 40 years ago.

      Second, I just wanted to point out that the Biblical record comes at a time when most marriages were arranged. You would think abandonment would have been more prevalent back then and yet the Scriptures still have some very strong things to say regarding divorce and remarriage. We have to find a way to balance the Biblical with the practical. In my opinion, the Biblical should weigh more heavily than the practical.

  7. To Lex:

    1. I agree with your position on abuse. I do distinguish between “emotional” abuse and “physical” abuse. I’ve seen a few situations where the wife used “emotional” abuse to control and manipulate the husband. Great discernment is needed in this situations. As per my previous article, I don’t think this frees a person up to remarry, but I’m in the minority on that one.

    2. Some interesting points here. Agree on the non-believer’s vow not being “to God.” I think that distinction is one that many well meaning churches miss. I didn’t explicitly state this in my remarriage post, but I have personally remarried a couple that were both previously married (prior to salvation).

    I have also had unbelievers come to the church and ask if they could get married here. I explain my 7 week pre-marriage course and then ask, “Why do you want to be married in a church.” This opens the door for great spiritual conversations and challenges the couple to do some introspection.

    3. I’m such a rare bird on this point. I’m strict on remarriage, but I’m lenient on the divorced in leadership because I do not agree that Paul intended, “husband of one wife” to mean “never divorced.”

    That being said, I do think divorce touches on the qualification related to managing the home. That does come into play. If a person was just recently divorced, I think a significant period of time would be needed to evaluate them in regard to home management as well as other areas such as “above reproach.”

    4. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences. I’m thankful to have never had a divorce hit really close to my family. My father, however, did. My grandfather divorced when he was young and remarried to spouse who had kids. It is truly heart wrenching to hear stories of how the parents had to balance that.

    Also, I have found that the church has been wildly unfair in their handling of this issue. I have met so many people who say, “I can’t come to church because I’m divorced.” I didn’t grow up in that sort of environment and I am completely heartbroken when I hear those stories of churches shunning (whether explicitly or implicitly) folks that they should have walked closely with.

  8. Not sure if post was reply or answering the question of week…either way:

    As I stated in my post “physical abuse” to me applies to a biblical reason & I listed the passage.
    I also stated if divorce was for biblical reason, then I see no reason to deny remarriage.
    I know many divorced for unbinlical reasons, & we still have fellowship. We must turn to Gods word not “divorce stats”

    BUT…as far as pastors are concerned, don’t argue with me, take that up with 1 Tim 3:4-5. God created this qualifications for some reason, so we abide by them. The former pastor can still obtain office of evangelist, teacher, etc…but God placed rules on overseer.

    Sidenote: Grace to all, in our Lord & Savior Jesus the Christ. This is not a salvation issue, but an issue of order God has laid.

  9. I remember when I got a divorce from a man who was cold, stubborn and angry, I didn’t want to ever get into a relationship, but I met someone and strongly wanted to get married in my church and receive the pastor’s blessing, but I was refused. It really hurt to have this rejection and turned me away from church for a long time. I feel that many pastors are out of touch when they refuse to let a divorced/remarried person in leadership in church. Take a look a the divorce statistics. You’re not showing compassion and ministering. If a person was in an abusive relationship and you don’t permit them to serve, you’re just abusing the abused. If the person has repented, if it wasn’t their fault…their are so many reasons. I would rather go to a church where the pastor was divorced or remarried,then go to a church where I feel that the pastor has no understanding like where I’m coming from. I know of a pastor who’s going through his second divorce. He’s very open about it and you can understand the reasons. I’d rather attend his church than be with the self-righteous unmerciful. If he were to get a third divorce…that’s different. After two, he should stay single and wait for a while. If a person wants to get remarried after ten years, why not? If that’s the way they feel God is leading them. Just want to say, I’m really against divorce, never wanted to have one, but having to deal with reality…it’s not a perfect world.

    1. I appreciate your comments and your willingness to share. I hate the fact that some churches and pastors seem to come off as unsympathetic. I hope that they are not.

      One of the challenges we face as Pastors is that we have to be faithful the the Word of God. We can’t just wing it. If we see in Scripture a clear command against something we can’t just ignore it based on our feelings.

      Personally, I can’t get past Mark 10:11, 12 and Luke 16:18 which seem to give clear commands against remarriage. Many (like Lex above) feel that the exception clause frees a person from this. I don’t personally see it that way (as badly as I wish I could see it that way).

      That being said, I think Churches take what might be a Biblical view of divorce and remarriage, and add to it their own social moral values. I’m not convinced that “husband of one wife” has anything to do with divorce. I also don’t think a remarried person is living in a “perpetual state of sin” (Some people actually do believe this).

      I maintain that divorce is allowable in cases of adultery, abuse, or abandonment however I do not see remarriage being made allowable. However, I don’t judge remarried people for having gotten remarried. I may disagree with that decision but I sin every day and I don’t expect people to judge me the rest of my life for it.

      So, long story short, I think we need to mix Biblical conviction with Biblical grace. Far too often people hold so tightly to Biblical conviction that they forget about Biblical grace. We must find the balance especially in situations such as these.

  10. 1. Divorce is not the will of God, but mercy He has allowed. I’d say it is only permissible for adultery & abandonment (1 cor 7:15-16). If divorce is permitted by God, I see no reason re-marriage should not be allowed.
    Here is a quark many will not agree w/, but I consider domestic violence under the 1 cor verse. To have spouse’s life & well being in serious danger shows that the partner is not a believer. They are not loving wife as Christ loved church, not loving neighbor as self, & we are called to peace. Yes the abuser may be willing to still live w/ the Christian, but she/he is not called to punching bag until spouse goes to far.

    2. Remarriage is permissible if divorce was for biblical reason. To assert remarriage is never permissible is basically to deny that God has allowed for divorces in certain circumstances.
    2a. No problem with a non believer getting married. I’d assume there view was not to God
    2b. If we are to call the couple to reconcile, I think absolution is key & let it be. And if “state allowed” divorce was for non biblical reasons, they are viewed as still married in Gods sight, so I see no problem with it

    3. FINALLY…the 1 question I was waiting for. I think it depends on how we define leadership. Pastor, Elder, no. But head of parking lot ministry, I do not see why not. The verse 1 Tim 3:4-5 is applicable here.

    4. I am from a broken home myself. Metropolis may look nice & clean, but at its core we are just like Gotham! From my first blog on here I spoke on an abusive relationship, & after yrs of abuse, my mom finally got divorced. So technically I have experienced several divorces in my childhood.
    The way it affected the church, was the self righteous judging & not extending grace. Not realizing the increasing debt they have been forgiven for, yet they want to gossip and shun others. People picking sides rather than attempting to love neighbor

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, know what you went through. I agree with you on most, but disagree about pastor, elder, etc. I would say ideally yes, but it really needs to be a case by case…not a blanket rejection of no divorced in leadership. You can block really good leaders that way. I’d rather have a godly divorced pastor/leader, than a self-righteous, unloving one. What i’d suggest is no one living together, unmarried or single and sex before marriage, people who gossip, slander, liars…things the Bible consider sin…shouldn’t be in leadership until they’ve repented and have really changed.

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