What is the biblical view on divorce and remarriage?

The Bible gives very scant guidance regarding remarriage after a divorce.

In Matthew 19:9, Jesus says, "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery." Some interpret this to mean that if a marriage ends because of infidelity on the part of one party, the innocent party is free to remarry.

Divorce and remarriage is also allowed if a blameless spouse was sent away, remained single, and the divorcing spouse died. First Corinthians 7:39 says, "A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord." Like a widow, if a man or woman remained faithful to their wedding vows before and after the marriage, death releases them.

Finally, remarriage is more than allowed—encouraged, even—between the couple that originally divorced (1 Corinthians 7:11). Deuteronomy 24:1-4 gives the stipulation that neither party marry someone else in the meantime. A reconciled marriage is one of the great blessings God grants those who follow Him.

There are more verses that explain when it is not appropriate to remarry after divorce. Matthew 5:32 says that if a man divorces his wife, he causes her to commit adultery (assuming that she remarried). Mark 10:11 says that any man who divorces his wife and remarries commits adultery against his first wife. And 1 Corinthians 7:11 says that if a wife leaves her husband, she should remain unmarried or reconcile to her husband.

The Bible is clear that remarriage is permitted to the innocent spouse whose divorce was due to adultery and to the faithful spouse who is released by death. But Scripture does not command people to remarry. First Corinthians 7:32-35 was written to Christians who were about to go through horrible persecution, but the words are still worth considering today:

I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

The grounds for divorce given in the Bible feel incredibly strict. More tender hearts wish to allow remarriage for abused spouses, people who became believers after the divorce, and even Christians who have grown more mature in their faith. It is entirely possible that God will call those in such circumstances to remarry. Such specifics just aren't found in Scripture.

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