What Does the Bible Teach About Divorce and Remarriage?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible address the issue of divorce?  What does it say about marrying after divorce….and is it adultery if you do?  Are there exceptions to being able to remarry after a divorce?

Does the Bible Address the Issue of Divorce? 

God performed the first marriage ceremony between Adam and Eve, therefore we can say with assurance that God loves marriage and that it is a divine institution (Gen. 2:18-24).  God also hates divorce and says so many times in the scriptures (Malachi 2:16).  Jesus said the only reason that divorce was permitted was because of the hardness of human’s hearts but this was not done in the beginning (Matt. 19:8).  If a husband’s or wife’s mate leave them, then they can not be held responsible for the marriage and some believe that Paul says that they are not bound by the law (I Cor. 7:15) because he uses the same Greek word for “bound” when referring to a spouse being bound to their mate.

Clearly, God reveals throughout the Bible that He hates divorce and that husband and wife were intended to marry for life.  Separation is permissible where spousal abuse occurs or where children are endangered by one of the parties because the higher moral law is to protect children and, in most cases, women from abusive husbands and fathers.  It should be noted that some men had to separate from their wives because of spousal abuse too.  What the Bible teaches is that divorce is the high exception to the rule and it should always be the very last resort in any marriage and reconciliation and restoration of a good marital relationship should always be the highest purpose for those who are separated.  God hates divorce because of what it does to the family which is society’s support system.  Divorce is also very harmful to children in almost every case, again with the exception of where abuse is occurring.  Where ongoing, unrepentant adultery is occurring, divorce is allowed as Jesus taught.

What Does The Bible Say About Marrying After Divorce….and is it Adultery If You Do?

Generally speaking the Bible teaches that it is unlawful to marry again after a divorce.  Even if a single person who marries a divorced person, it is called adultery (Duet.24:4).   Divorcing someone is not considered adultery but Jesus did say in Matthew 5:32 that “… anyone who divorces his wife [or husband I would add], except for sexual immorality, makes her [or him] the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman [or man] commits adultery.”  But then again, even looking at another person with lust in their hearts is also considered adultery (Matt 5:28).  However it is important to remember that it may be the best course of action where the unfaithful spouse refused to repent of their adulterous affair.  Each case must be looked at in particular and not all divorces and remarriages can be considered in the same way since circumstances may be different.

If you remarry after your spouse was unfaithful, this is an extenuating circumstance and God would not condemn anyone for this.  Paul would says that for the unmarried it is better not to marry and to the widows and unmarried, he thinks it best not to remarry but not everyone can handle being single because if they are continually tempted sexually, then its better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Cor. 7:8-9).  Others were married and divorced before they became a Christian and after being born-again and so since they remarried before becoming a Christian, there is nothing that they can do about that and God does not condemn such people.  Besides, there are no sins that are not covered by the blood of Christ upon professing Him as Lord and Savior.  Christians who know other people that are not saved or other Christians who have been divorced and remarried should be forgiving and not judgmental.  They may not know all of the circumstances but even if it was not permitted, every one of us have sinned and will continue to sin until the day our Lord comes for us.  God hates divorce but He still loves divorced people.

Fornication is not the same thing as adultery. Fornication is having sexual relationships between unmarried people but fornication is still strictly forbidden by God.  Sexual abstinence is commanded before marriage, but after marriage, God wants the husband and wife to enjoy sex because that is the primary reason that He created it.

Are There Exceptions to Being Able to Remarry After a Divorce?

Some of the exceptions have already been mentioned.   An important point is that even if you become a Christian and are married to a non-believer, you have no excuse to divorce them.  The Bible does not teach such a thing and if the unbelieving spouse is willing to remain married to the believer, then by all means they should stay married and clearly, no divorce is permitted.  In fact, many unbelieving spouses have been brought to Christ through the loving example of Christ in the believing spouse’s life (1 Cor. 7:12-14). God may have placed you with the unbelieving spouse expressly for the purpose of helping them come to Christ in faith.  In this case, divorcing from them might have proven tragic.  Certainly, no believer should ever marry an unbeliever because that is to be unequally yoked (2 Cor 6:14).

God does allow for remarriage too in the case of a spouse’s death but that the person you are marrying must be a Christian (1 Cor. 7:39).  Paul would suggest that they would be of better service to God if they remained single, as he was, but some people who have greater sexual drives may not be able to handle this (1 Cor. 7:32-36).  Paul’s greatest teachings about marriage, remarriage, and divorce are covered in 1 Corinthians chapter seven.  He says that whatever state you were in when you became a believer is the most desirable state to remain in (1 Cor. 7:17-24).  Marriage is an honorable thing before God.  It is a gift of God.  We should esteem it very highly and as a divine institution.

Was this Article Helpful?

If this article was helpful to you, please consider linking this article to your own blog or sharing this through the social buttons to the left. You might also find some of these other good Christian Answer articles helpful:

What is Speaking in Tongues?

What Are the Gifts of the Spirit?

Do Animals or Pets Go To Heaven?


The Holy Bible, New International Version

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

magda January 22, 2017 at 8:34 am

Thank you for your article! I have a question! What do you think is right to Do! If you are in a relationship with a man who i divorced because of sleeping with other woman! After his divorce He found Christ and i now a believe! Is it ok to get marrie? Or is it still sin? Ich can Not go back to his wife since she is married again! He asked all his family for forgiveness! But I am Not sure if since He became , Christian After Hi divorce it is ok to remarrie! what is the right thing to Do accordin to gods will?


Jack Wellman January 22, 2017 at 8:41 am

Have you talked with your own pastor about this? If so, what did he say? If not, why not? I am confused a bit. Are you in a relationship with a married man right now? This is clearly sin. If he was not saved before his divorce and is now, I see no problem. It sounds like you both were not saved before all this and now if you both are, seek your pastors counseling about this as it’s hard to know all the background of your situation and you need face to face counseling and not over the Internet.


Payne January 22, 2017 at 11:15 pm

Does God always want restoration even after repented adultery happened? How do we know for sure God would rather us stay married and forgive each other for repented adultery? Thank you!


Jack Wellman January 23, 2017 at 8:47 am

Hello Payne. I would speak with your pastor about this. Have you talked to him? if so, what did he say? God wants all marriages to survive and doesn’t want any divorce. If the offended party is willing to accept back the repentant partner who committed adultery, I would say yes, by all means, be joined back together. How do you know for sure? God hates divorce and wants us to work things out so that marriage is “till death do you part.”


Kayla January 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Hello, I am really confused, I was unsaved when i married my 1st husband at 19 then I later found God, I was still so sinful, and lost and ended up divorcing him about 1 year or 1 1/2 year after we married. He had a bad drug problem and I wasnt sure if he was doing heroin with needles or not and I was terrifed about std. I then was learning about God and sinned so much until the age of 26 or 27 and sleeping around and just lost, God changed me so much and i eventually went down a dark path and decided to be celibate until marriage, it was really hard and I slipped up sometimes, not intercourse but in other ways, I ended up marrying a different man and now I am reading and learning about divorce and I feel so terrified because I dont know if I should have remarried as I didnt know that I couldnt! I feel devastated and i couldnt imaging leaving my now husband. I am confused and terrified. What do I do?


Jack Wellman January 29, 2017 at 7:03 pm

Hello Kayla. Please don’t worry about what has already been done. You cannot undo what has already been done. If you were not even saved before you got married, I don’t see how you could have known, but I would not think you’re condemned just because you have remarried. All of us sin (1 Jhn 1:8, 10) but all can be cleansed (1 John 1:9; 2 Cor 5:21). Don’t leave your husband. Stay with him. You cannot change what’s been done, but it is not where you should worry about God’s condemnation because all who trust in Him shall never perish. That means you Kayla.


Missing my husband February 19, 2017 at 1:06 pm

My husband of 15 years (3 kids) told me the week before Christmas he doesnt love me and may have never loved me and he wants a divorce. He has moved out and I have been praying for restoration and doing the LOVE DARE on him along with showing respect which I feel like i didnt do enough before. He told me a couple of weeks ago all i wanted to do is fight so i started the respect and Dare and now he says I am getting on his nerves becuse i am too nice. What do I do? I want to save my marriage but he doesnt want anything to do with me.


Jack Wellman February 19, 2017 at 1:23 pm

I am so very sorry my friend. I fear that your husband either doesn’t understand how much Jesus paid for his salvation (Rom 5:6-10) or he is not saved. No Christian should ever abandon or divorce his wife except for adultery. I would give him space, pray for him, and ask your church to pray for you and him but said it’s “an unspoken need.” Give him what he doesn’t deserve; love, respect, and honor, just as Jesus’ die for us while we were still ungodly, wicked sinners who were God’s enemies (Rom 5:6-10). Only God can change his heart (Prov 21:1).


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