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?


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{ 21 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).


Beth February 26, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Question..divorced two times..should I be standing and praying for restoration of the first covenant marriage? Both spouses were unbelievers…so confused.


Jack Wellman February 26, 2017 at 4:57 pm

Hello Beth. I don’t think there’s anything wrong if you pray to have your first marriage restored, but if you don’t want to get married, by all means don’t because these men were not believers when you married them. They Bible doesn’t teach that you should your first husband again. In fact, since you are now a believer, we are told not to be unequally yoked with non-believers, and I would presume that means our ex-husbands and ex-wives who are unbelievers. Does this help?


I need help February 28, 2017 at 10:15 am

I need a guide since I’m suffering because of my situation. I’m Catholic, I married by law an agnostic not baptized man who was married by Catholic Church because her ex wife is Catholic and wanted to have a church ceremony. At the moment we got married I didn’t fell we were doing somenthing wrong because he was divorce and he didn’t believe in Hod or Cristian marriage and also because even being a Catholic I wasn’t going to church and honestly didn’t know marring a divorcee was adultery, but now after having two children with him I started reading the bible and tried to come back to church because I want him to know Jesus trough me and the priest told me to abandon my husband and take the children with me because I was condemning my soul. He said if I didn’t leave my husband I would live in continued adultery and sin. I don’t want to separate my children from
His father but I feel so sad and helpless. What should I do?


Jack Wellman February 28, 2017 at 11:02 am

Hello my friend and thank you for your question. Have you talked with your priest or pastor about this? I disagree with this priest. Paul says we are to live in whatever state we are when we come to faith in Christ. To abandon your husband is not taught in the Bible and it is not condemning your soul if you don’t. That’s a big problem for me considering that we have Jesus’ own righteousness once we’re save (2nd cor 5:21) and there is no more condemnation again (Rom 8:1). I would not abandon your husband, neither take your children from him. We will pray with you and for you and I would not take the priests counsel because it’s not what the Bible teaches.


James March 1, 2017 at 9:46 am

Hello I was wondering if you could give me advice on my situation. When I was married for 6 years I separated from my wife and then committed ing adultery during the separation. Although I thought I was a Believer at the time retrospect it was just to try and make the marriage work since she was a Christian… I didn’t actually believe.

Now almost 10 years later, I have met a woman whom I’ve been dating for 3 years and I’ve been engaged to for a year. When we first got together she was a believer but did not care that I was an atheist. I’ve really been rethinking my life and I think I’m very close to actually believing. Now I don’t know what to do… if I really do become a Believer should I break off the engagement?


Jack Wellman March 1, 2017 at 10:22 am

Hello James. I would talk with your pastor about this. Is the woman you’re dating a believer? Marriages tend to last longer between Christians, so if you have repented of your sins (or God has brought you to repentance) and you have put your trust in Christ, God forgives the past and since you were not a believer, I see no problem, but only unless you have put your trust in Christ (Rom 10:9-13). I would suggest you read this sir about what it means to come to Jesus: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/come-to-jesus/ Please let me know what you have decided and may God richly bless you sir.


Julia March 10, 2017 at 7:07 am

Dear Jack,
I filed for divorce from my husband after his infidelity (everything short of full intercourse, including oral), and four years of his constant use of pornography coupled with an obsession with video games. This had made my life with two young children unbearable.
During our separation, awaiting divorce, I slept with someone else, so I suppose I have also committed adultery.
During my marriage and until very recently, I had lost my walk with Christ, and have only very recently renewed my faith and repented.
My question is: In God’s eyes, would I be allowed to remarry?
I would very much appreciate an answer, since this is torturing me and I’m crushed with guilt.


Julia March 10, 2017 at 7:14 am

P.S. I have now been divorced since 2013.


Jack Wellman March 10, 2017 at 8:51 am

Hello Julia and I am so sorry for all this heartache you have been through. Have you spoken with your pastor in private about this? What did he say? I would stop being crushed by guilt as God hates divorce but He loves and forgives divorced people. It would appear that you are free to remarry because of your husband’s infidelity and continual pornographic addictions. I feel sorry for this man. Let’s pray for his soul because his lifestyle does not sound like one who is a believer (read 1 John chapter 3) so we can pray for his eternal soul not to be judged and that you would have peace about his and not take that unnecessary burden or guilt any more.


Soilder in the Army if the Lord May 22, 2017 at 12:32 pm

Hello I have been married for 5 years and 4 years my husband beat me and went to jail to the point he got a felony and last April 2016 he said he want to move back with his mom after i refused to let him take the car with no license so I took him to his mom house which was an hour drive from my house because told me to drop him off so i did so now he sees im happy a year later he keeps calling text my phone saying he want his family but he stilll continues to lie about thing i have poof an when he was in jail the different times i found my self looking for safety in other mans arms and beds justifying my adulty because he hit he kicked me broke my finger bite me in the face and it really over this time but we would keep coming back together after his jail stays know he would come home and abuse me again i still loved himbelived he would change believed God would fix my marriage i so desperately wanted to work so now since i dropped him at his mom Friday April 22 2016 i moved states away in October 1st and15hrs away and i now have new boyfriend but we are not sexually active i guess i need help to know what to do do i go back to a man who keeps putting me down calling me names in front of my kids and and hitting him we have done church and counciling with both us just pointing fingers with no reslove we never were able to settle down at a church because everytime he felt judgment which i felt to be correction but as the wife i followed leting him lead in also realizing we wont learning growing i just recently fould out he was cheating on me before marriage and he was have gay man relationships while i was pregnant he even had his mom call an tell me he was faithful but she knew he wasnt im so ugh i just need encourage and strength to file my divorce and know God will not be displeased with me and will bless my new marriage because he is a believe and together we are becoming stonger in Christ and we actually pray together and help remind each other that GOD 1st in our life may help us do God will togther or apart.. all of this to say is Divorce? Reconciliation?


Jack Wellman May 22, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Hello my friend. I am so very sorry for the great pain this must have and still causes you, but your faith in God and your desire to please Him shows me you are a new creation in Christ (2nd Cor 5:17). If this man was engaged to be married, and yet already committed adultery, then he not only broke that marriage vow or engagement, but lied and deceived you before you were married. And the sexual immorality with another man shows this man was never truly going to keep his vows. I don’t think he ever intended to. For a biblical standpoint (from Jesus’ teaching on divorce), you have a right to divorce this man (which you are now divorced) and I see no reason that Jesus’ teachings keeps you from remarrying. I pray your new marriage with a man that is also “in Christ” will be richly blessed and that you will glorify God in your local church. I would call your pastor and get counseling before marriage, but I don’t see why you can’t! Happy lives to you both.


Ann August 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm

1.Why is there only one verse, Matt 19:9 “except for immorality” that OK’s divorce. Could it be that this is an example of Joseph wanting to divorce Mary quietly because she was already pregnant and Joseph knew he was not the father. And at that point they had not come together.
All the other verses from Malachi 2:16 to 1 Cor 710-11. seem to indicate “no divorce” unless you are willing to remain unmarried. None of the other verses mention the exception.
2. Is not marriage a covennant?? If you promised God in front of a crowd of witnesses, “for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer” then isn’t divorce a breaking
of a covenant? How does God see the breaking of a covenant?
These issues are never addressed in the pullpit.


Jack Wellman August 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Hello Ann. The Matthew 19:9 verse is found in the other gospels too, so it’s not just this one…its more than one. Yes, marriage is a covenant but “for better or worse,” etc. is a manmade phrase. Stoning was the fine for adultery in the Old Testament, so we know it’s a grievous sin. Malachi 2 and 1 Cor 7 are not about adultery but about marriage and staying with an unconverted mate, so this does not refute Jesus’ teachings in the gospels about divorce only for those who have committed adultery. We are all lawbreakers. We are all sinners. God hates divorce, but loves divorced people, just like He loves you and you sin..as we all do. I did address this behind the pulpit last year and Jesus’ can only state something one time and it’s enough for me. I don’t care if it’s just “only one verse” which in this case it’s not. Jesus taught this in the other synoptic gospels, and what Jesus said is true and so when He says ” And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery” that’s good enough for me. That is crystal clear, isn’t it?


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