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What Does the Bible Say About..Marrying After Divorce?

I have some friends in town, and I just found out that they will not associate with someone who claims to be a Christian and has been divorced. Even if the divorce happened before they were saved. My friends believe that if you have been married/divorced/then remarried, that you have committed adultery. Then they told me that the Bible says that we should not hang out with them. (Is there a verse to back that up?) I told them that if that is so, then we would not be associating with any men, because the Bible says that if a man looks upon a woman in lust he has already committed adultery in his heart, is that correct?


I personally don’t like the use of the word “remarried” in this context. To me “remarried” implies that they married each other again, which would not be wrong. I would rather see someone marry, divorce, then remarry than to see them marry, divorce, and then marry someone else. But I understand that these people are talking about marrying, divorcing, and then marrying someone else.

You initially said that they would not associate with anyone who had been divorced. The act of divorce itself does not make one an adulterer. They can be divorced and never marry anyone else, and never commit adultery. If it is just that they will not associate with a divorced person who has married again, then they still have to answer some questions. Do they go up to every person with whom they associate and ask if they are divorced and remarried? If so, do they then ask why they were divorced in the first place, and whether they are the one who initiated the divorced? The answer to that second question would determine if the person commits adultery. If you take the three passages in the gospels together (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9; and Mark 10:11-12), then there are situations in which the person who is divorced and the person who marries her may not be committing adultery (especially if she was divorced because of fornication), but the one initiating the divorce may be.

And even if they are so rude as to insist on asking those questions, the list of people to withdraw from specifies fornicators but not adulterers. If they are going to be such strict interpreters of the scripture (and most people read those passages wrongly, anyway) then they would have to be strict about that list as well, and only withdraw if the person is currently involved in sexual activities outside of their new marriage (for even Jesus admitted that the “remarriage” was indeed a marriage).

Also, the point of not associating with someone is to get them to change. Thus, it is only effective if the parties being shunned are part of the congregation where your friends regularly attend. It is only effective if they had a close relationship with them in the first place. And it is only effective if they are willing to forgive and resume the association when the others repent of their sins.

One thing that they told me the other day is if the person does not claim to be a Christian they can associate with them, it is only if they do claim to be Christians will they not associate with them. There is not a verse to back that up...is there? And they also told me that "there is no room for divorce," so if our spouse commits adultery we are called to forgive them.

Another thing that they do which I find very wrong, is...For example someone was married young then divorced then married someone else, they would counsel them to get divorced from the second spouse and get remarried to the first spouse. (even if there are children involved) When I told them that I did not agree, they asked me if I would have a problem if they counseled a homosexual to get divorced. They said they are both in an adulterous relationship. What do you believe about that?

They are right in saying that the command not to associate only applies if they are Christians. The passage is one that I originally mentioned. “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-13) Since the purpose is to get the person to return to obedience in the church, it would do no good not to associate with someone you didn’t really associate with in the first place. Since he uses the phrase “among yourselves” in verse 13, he is talking specifically about Christians in the same congregation. You can’t break off fellowship with someone with whom you never had fellowship in the first place.

I also agree that one should marry with the idea that there is no room for divorce. If one spouse cheats on the other, forgiveness should be the first option. With some people, though, forgiveness becomes an excuse to do it again. If one knows that the other will always forgive, no matter what, then they may take advantage. Maybe that is why Jesus actually said, “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornications.” He used the plural there, although most translators use the singular.

As I have pointed out in another answer on my web site, Jesus may be saying that the “acceptable” divorce (for lack of a better word) is only if the person was guilty of fornications before the marriage; that is, if the person pretended to be a virgin and was not, then they may be divorced. If the marriage contract was with one who claimed to be virgin and wasn’t, then the contract may be considered faulty to start with. Note that Jesus never says that the person who was divorced because of fornications is guilty of adultery if they marry someone else, although the one that divorced them may be.

Whatever Jesus meant by “except for fornications,” he clearly acknowledged that there were some divorces that God recognized. He further acknowledge that the second marriage was a marriage. Otherwise he would have said something like, “one who divorces and thinks they married someone else.” By saying they married someone else, he is acknowledging that it is a valid marriage. (And I know that many people disagree on this point.)

As far as counseling a person who has divorced and married someone else to divorce that second person and remarry the original spouse, that is something that I could not do based on scripture. First, if divorce is always wrong, then it would be wrong to counsel another divorce; two wrongs don’t make a right. Second, counseling such a person to divorce the second spouse is saying that the second marriage is valid before God (which goes against the beliefs of most people who would recommend this). Third, and most importantly, Jesus could never have made that recommendation because it goes against God’s law. The people to whom he is talking in the passages about divorce are Jews. The Law of Moses (and the prophet Jeremiah) prohibit marrying a person if you were divorced from them and married someone else.

“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour 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 calls going back to the original husband after marrying a second man an abomination. Jesus would never have recommended a course of action that God called abominable. Since Jesus could never counsel a person who had married someone other than their original spouse to remarry that person, I certainly would not make such a recommendation.

And the argument about homosexual marriage does not apply. Since God only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman, a so-called marriage between people who engage in homosexual activity is not a marriage. Therefore no adultery is involved. Adultery is, by definition, a sexual act between two people at least one of whom is married to someone else. A homosexual act between two men could only be adultery if one of them was married to a woman. I would counsel such people to stop engaging in sinful sexual activities. But any argument about homosexual behavior has nothing to do with marriage or adultery.