Christian Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage

What the Bible Says

by Pastor John Hamel


One of the most heartbreaking signs of the time we live in today is the tearing apart of Christian marriages, families and homes. A few short decades ago divorce hardly ever occurred amongst Christians. However, today it is such a real every day problem that almost every Christian has come face to face with it - either in their own marriage or in the marriage of someone they know. 


Holy God's perfect plan is that marriage be a joyful, lifelong commitment. Sadly, as a result of Adam and Eve's Fall in the Garden, the world is no longer perfect and neither is the institution of marriage. 


As we are quickly approaching the last of the Last Days, the Curse of the Fall becomes more and more predominant in all human relationships, particularly the marriage relationship becomes more strained and threatened. As a result divorce is rapidly on the rise. Some estimates of the Christian divorce rate are as high as the world's - well over fifty percent.


It has been said, "Misery loves company." The Apostle Paul said Satan is the miserable god of this world. (2Corinthians 4:4) He has great wrath as a result of God cursing him for what he did to God's man and woman in the Garden of Eden. He is out to hurt God and to cause God suffering. He is well aware of Holy God's love for the apex of His creation - men and women. In order to hurt God he is out to destroy God's human creation. Satan is determined to plunder Heaven and populate Hell. He is out to destroy the nations of the world and he is fully aware that in order to do this, he must tear at the fabric of human families.  


Nations are made up of human beings, the majority of them married human beings and families. Satan is determined to destroy those families by destroying marriages.


If you, the reader, as a Believer in Jesus Christ are being faced with Satan's threat of divorce, the first thing you must do is take authority over the demonic principalities and powers attacking you, your mate, your marriage and your family.


Divorce in the Old Testament


"When a man hath taken a wife and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favor in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance." (Deuteronomy 24:1-4)


God's plan has always been that the marriage commitment be forever. However, in the Old Testament divorce was permitted in some situations, although not encouraged. Sexual immorality was just one of the grounds for divorce. Moses made this perfectly clear here in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-four. Jesus also made this clear in His teaching on divorce. The Pharisees tried to trap Him one day, asking if it was lawful for a man to put away his wife for any reason.


"And He answered and said unto them, Have you not read that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder." (Matthew 19:4-6)


Initially it sounds as if Jesus is putting His foot down here and insisting there are no grounds for divorce. That is until we read further in this narrative down to verse nine.  As the Pharisees continued to harass Him with questions about Moses allowing divorce, Jesus answered as follows.


"And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery. And whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9)


Quite obviously, according to Jesus and Moses, sexual sin is allowable grounds for divorce and not unforgivable. This is true for both men and women.


"Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery..." (Luke 16:18)


"And if a woman shall put away her husband and be married to another, she committeth adultery." (Mark 10:12)


Jesus Addresses the Rabbis' Ridiculous Ruling


There is something frequently overlooked concerning Jesus' discourse with the rebellious Pharisees concerning divorce and remarriage. I will give you a little bit of helpful history here.


The Pharisees and the Rabbis of Jesus' day were taking Moses' teaching on granting bills of divorcement to the utter and absolute extreme. Because Moses did allow divorce in Deuteronomy chapter twenty-four, they were using it to grant individuals the right to marry and divorce as often as they chose. This little religious scam was in order that individuals might have sexual relations with as many others as they chose as long as they were married to them.  The Pharisees and the Rabbis were distorting Moses' teaching and allowing people to have sex with as many individuals as they desired as long as they were married to them. People were marrying and divorcing in order to have sex with as many different partners as they wanted.  The Pharisees and Rabbis were cooperating with this ridiculousness. They were using divorce and remarriage as a legal cover for extreme moral failure.


Jesus came along and spoiled all of their fun by telling them that bill of divorcement or no bill of divorcement, divorcing and marrying someone else in order to have sex with them was still committing adultery. 


Most Ministers today who teach that all divorce and remarriage is adultery either do not know of this ridiculous scam which Jesus was rebuking or they deliberately refuse to share it.


Jesus was not teaching that everyone who married, divorced and remarried were adulterers.  He was correcting the Pharisees and Rabbis ridiculousness in their granting bills of divorcement as religious permission slips for sleeping around.  He was rebuking their legal cover for the people's moral failure.


Jesus was rebuking the lack of respect for the institution of marriage and the desire for multiple sexual partners. 


It seems as if the Dirty Church was as alive and well in Jesus' day as it is today. 


Bible Teachers must be very careful to not use these passages of Scripture to teach people that all divorce and remarriage is the equivalent of adultery and that it cannot be forgiven.


Divorce & Remarriage Are Not the Unforgivable Sin  


There is only one unforgivable sin mentioned in Scripture. That sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.  Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is committed when a Born Again, Spirit-filled Christian who has experienced the power of God and the Gifts of the Spirit in operation in their life turns their back on Jesus and tells Him, "I don't want You anymore," - and truly means it. (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26) 


For more in-depth teaching on what the unforgivable sin is, please see the JHM free online book, "What Is the Unforgivable Sin?"


Human beings, including Christian human beings, are not perfect and they make mistakes. No mistake is unforgivable.  No forgiven mistake disqualifies one from any of the blessings of God, even if that mistake results in divorce. God understands and forgives human frailty and fallenness.


"Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities ... Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." (Psalm 103:1-3, 13-14)


When Jesus asked the adulterous woman whom the Scribes and Pharisees were about to stone for adultery, "Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?" She answered, "No man, Lord."  Jesus looked her in the eye and told her, "Neither do I condemn thee: Go, and sin no more."  Adultery is not the unforgivable sin. 


Christian marriage, divorce and remarriage is not the unforgivable sin and Jesus condemns no one for it. This is not to say that repentance should not be offered to God for the events that led to the divorce, for it should be. We are simply pointing out that it is not unforgivable and no one need to live under condemnation who has experienced it.


"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)


The Word of God encourages married Christians to do their best to work things out and not divorce. However, there are times when this does not work out. (1Corinthians 7:10-11)


Sometimes repentance and forgiveness can save a marriage. Sometimes it cannot.


Sometimes in a physically abusive situation divorce is better than living in constant danger.


"A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished." (Proverbs 27:12)


As Ministers of the Gospel my wife and I never tell individuals who they should or should not marry.  Neither do we tell them that they should or should not divorce. We take the time to show them what the Bible says, encouraging them to seek the Lord and make their own decision. We teach them how to be led by the Inward Witness of the Holy Spirit, encouraging them to follow His leading for themselves. All Believers have the Holy Spirit dwelling within and are fully capable of obtaining their own guidance. 


Sometimes a Believer in Jesus Christ marries an unbeliever and the marriage does not work out. In a case like that, if the unbeliever desires to divorce this is permissible as well. The Believer is under no obligation to stay with the marriage and is free to remarry as well.


"If any brother hath a wife that believeth not and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean but now are they holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace." (1Corinthians 7:12-15)


Divorce & Remarriage Do Not Cancel One's Call to Preach












"Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. (Hebrews 13:4)


In Hebrews chapter four the Apostle Paul strongly admonishes all that marriage should be considered honorable and that the marital union remain undefiled. The Greek word Paul used for "undefiled" is "amiantos." This word literally means "unsoiled and pure."


The marital relationship can be defiled in a number of ways, particularly through immoral sexual relationships. The Bible tells us we are not to commit adultery with someone else's mate. (Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 18:20)  Sex between those of the same gender is forbidden even as sexual relationships with animals are. (Leviticus 18:22-23) Obeying the Scriptures and avoiding these types of immorality will not only spare individuals the negative consequences they bring, they also keep the marriage bed (or sexual relationship) pure.


The Apostle Paul also taught us in First Corinthians chapter seven that both the husband and wife must always put their mate's sexual needs first. They should also regard their bodies as belonging to their mate and not to themselves. One must never deny the other sexual satisfaction with the exception of times of fasting and prayer, and only then by mutual agreement. Once the period of fasting and prayer has ended, the couple should come back together in sexual unity in order that they not be tempted to fulfill their sexual desires elsewhere. (1 Corinthians 7:1-5)




Be Blessed ... John and Barbara Hamel



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