Should I Get Remarried?

The answer to the question “Should I get remarried?” is even more complicated than the issue to divorce.  A lot of it comes down to how a person ended up single again.  Even then however there are a lot of gaps in what is spelled out in the Bible.

Paul simplified the issue with advice that is not to be taken as a command in 1 Corinthians 7:8-9.

“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”

Simply put, life is easier as a single person.  However there are more temptations as a single person and if a person cannot control themselves, they should get married.  Of course the implication is that they must control themselves once they are married then.

Widows are free to remarry when their spouse passes away.  Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 7:39.  “A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.”

The issue of remarriage gets complicated once divorce is involved.  There are a few things that are clear from scripture.  A person who initiated a divorce should not get remarried with the exception of marital unfaithfulness.  See “Is Infidelity Grounds for Divorce?” for more information about marital unfaithfulness.

In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 Paul writes, “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”  Paul does not give the reason a person should not get remarried after initiating the divorce but Jesus does.  In Matthew 19:9 Jesus says, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”  If a person doesn’t like the words of Paul, the words of Jesus are even more hard hitting and difficult to ignore.

But what about when a spouse leaves?  Is a divorcee an adulterer if they get remarried?  The issue becomes even more difficult with fewer specifics spelled out.  Jesus addresses this issue in Matthew 5:32.  “But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

A Christian should not married a person who has been divorced.  Many would argue that there are exceptions to Jesus’ statement but He offers none here or anywhere else.  Because Jesus uses the words wife and divorced woman, it is clear that he is speaking of marrying someone who did not initiate the divorce and is instead a victim of it.

A victim of divorce is perhaps the best way to depict a person whose spouse has left them.  Jesus says that a person who divorces causes their spouse to become an adulterer.  A person is not an adulterer by virtue of becoming divorced.  It would appear that Jesus is making the assumption that most divorced people will get remarried.  To get remarried would cause the divorcee to become an adulterer.  However, from Jesus’ statement it appears as if the guilt of adultery rests upon the one who initiated the divorce because he or she has caused their spouse to become this.  That being said, a divorced person is responsible for their own actions and even though they are a victim of divorce, they are not forced to get remarried.

There is an exception offered as a legitimate reason for divorce.  If a spouse is unfaithful a divorce is allowed.  From the wording of Jesus’ statement it would appear that getting divorced and remarried as a result of marital unfaithfulness is allowed.  The guilt of adultery rests with the spouse who broke the marriage vows.

There is another category of divorcee that is discussed in “What Should I Do About an Unbelieving Spouse?”  In 1 Corinthians 7:15 Paul writes, “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.”  A believer is not bound to remain married to an unbeliever, if the unbeliever initiates the divorce.

What we have left is an argument from silence.  The divorce is allowed and the guilt rests on the unbeliever who initiated the divorce.  However there is nothing definitively said when a Christian can remarry after an unbelieving spouse divorces them.

The argument against remarrying is that Jesus only gave one exception to divorce and remarriage, marital unfaithfulness.  Because no other exceptions were made we can’t assume that this divorce means that a person can remarry.

The argument for remarriage is that the divorce was allowed.  Likewise, when Jesus spoke, He addressed a Jewish audience who would not have had marriages where one person was a believer and the spouse was not.  By Paul’s day there were many converts to Christianity and it was likely that many marriages had one spouse that had become a Christian and the other had not.  Jesus had no reason to include this exception but Paul did 25-30 years later as he addressed Christians in an entirely different situation than Jesus addressed Jews in.

This still leaves a lot that is open for interpretation.  About the only things that we can definitively say from scripture is that a widow or widower is free to get remarried.  On the flipside, a person who initiated a divorce should not get remarried or else they are guilty of adultery.

As for other situations, the advice of Paul rings loudest.  If a person can remain single and not be tempted, they are better off to do so.  If a person feels the need to become remarried they should let their conscience be their guide.  If they believe it is wrong to do so, they should refrain.  Only after much prayer and consultation should a victim of divorce consider remarrying.

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