4 Biblical Truths about Divorce and Remarriage

4 Biblical Truths about Divorce and Remarriage


4 Biblical Truths about Divorce and Remarriage

God created Adam and placed him in the midst of the garden. Adam had everything at his hands. He was master of the animals. He was the chief gardener. And he had a dynamic relationship with God.

And yet, God said it was not good.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

God knew that man needed relationship. Intimate relationship. Therefore, God created woman, and Adam and Eve entered into the covenant of marriage.

Isn’t that a beautiful thing? The purity of two individuals becoming one, living in communion with one another, sharing all of life’s joys and triumphs together? God found a suitable helper for Adam, designed to make life on this earth even better.

And then they lived happily ever after…until they didn’t.

When sin entered this world, we see the chaos it created. The perfect union of two individuals is suddenly marred by shame and loss. Adam and Eve no longer had the perfect relationship because of sin. They experienced pain and loss. They experienced shame and doubt. Marriage, while it was still beautiful, was now more difficult than God had intended for it to be.

And that is the reality of marriage in this post-fall world in which we live. While God’s design for marriage is still the same—to give humans companionship and to reflect our relationship with Christ—marriage is marred by sin. Every marriage has two sinful individuals attempting to become one, and yet sin abounds at every turn.

That is why divorce is rampant in our world.

How do we reconcile Scripture with the reality of divorce today? Is it possible that there are justifiable reasons for divorce? Is it possible that our interpretations of Scripture have heaped legalistic rules upon those struggling with the pain and weight of an unwanted divorce?

When you think about divorce, I encourage you to consider these four Scriptural truths.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/jodie777

Couple on couch family conflict discussion arguing

1. The individuals in a marriage are more important than the institution of marriage.

It’s important to remember that God created marriage for man and not man for marriage. Why is that an important distinction? If man was created for marriage, marriage would be the ultimate goal in this life. It would be one of the highest priorities, and those who are single would be considered less than married people.

God’s ultimate goal in creating marriage was to bless man, not create an institution elevated above man. We should never elevate the institution of marriage over the individual.

Because of the fall, some marriages are damaging to the individuals within the relationship. Adultery, abuse, addiction, abandonment—the pain of these actions can create lasting damage to the victims. When these behaviors abound in a marriage, it is destructive to the individuals. We cannot discount the importance of creating environments where individuals can find wholeness in God.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.” Genesis 2:18

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/PixelsEffect

hands holding wedding ring

2. All divorce involves sin but not all divorce is sinful.

If we still lived in a perfect world, divorce would be unnecessary because we would all be perfectly selfless, completely devoted to God and one another. Marriage would be absolute bliss from the very beginning. Unfortunately, that is not our reality.

We are all born selfish. We, as sinners, must learn to put aside sinful desires and desire the best person we can be for our spouse. Sadly, not everyone is willing to do the hard work of becoming more like Christ. Some people simply choose to walk in the flesh rather than live by the Spirit (Galatians 5).

This selfish desire to live our own way creates friction within a marriage. Sometimes the sins are less damaging, and we can find ways to work through them—especially when two emotionally healthy individuals are committed to becoming more like Christ.

But what happens when one or both individuals insist on living their own way despite the damage it does to the other spouse or the marriage? What happens when one spouse decides to seek out an adulterous relationship, intent on satisfying the desires of the flesh? What happens when one spouse inflicts severe emotional damage on the other spouse?

Sin abounds, and it sometimes creates a situation where divorce happens. If God created marriage for man and the marriage has become destructive to one or both individuals, God makes it clear in Scripture that divorce can be an appropriate response.

And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful. Matthew 19:9

Photo credit: © Unsplash/Engin Akyurt

Bride and groom walking down the aisle after marriage

3. God’s purpose in divorce was to allow remarriage.

If we go back to Deuteronomy 24:1-2, we see that God says if a husband finds something indecent about his wife, he should issue a certificate of divorce so she may remarry. The certificate of divorce was a kindness to women who had no rights in biblical times. The certificate of divorce was a legal document to set the woman free, to put her into a situation where she was free to marry again so she was not destitute.

Women were unable to work, unable to support themselves. They were dependent on their spouses for financial support. Young, unmarried women remained in their father’s homes until they were married. Women without the support of men often turned to prostitution as a means of supporting themselves. By giving the woman a certificate of divorce, she was free to marry again and saved from a life of destitution.

Scripture is full of women who were in second marriages, marriages that were blessed. Bathsheba and David started their marriage with an adulterous relationship, a murderous love triangle. Yet, for some reason, God chose to use their son, Solomon, as the heir to the throne and the eventual ancestor of Jesus Christ. He could have easily chosen one of David’s other sons. Abigail, who was in a destructive marriage, was elevated to the wife of King David. Rahab was a prostitute, quite possibly because she was forced into the vocation to support herself because of the failure of a previous marriage.

Remarriage was not only acceptable but expected after divorce.

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/PeopleImages

robe jesus woman helping healing heal touch healed

4. God’s forgiveness makes it just as if I’d never been married.

Let’s talk about God’s forgiveness.

He has removed our sins from us as far as the East is from the West. Psalm 103:12

And I will forgive their wickednessand I will never again remember their sins.” Hebrews 8:12

God’s forgiveness is total and complete. When He has removed our sin, He never remembers it. It is covered with the blood of Jesus Christ Himself.

The addict’s sins are removed as far as the East is from the West, and God remembers them no more. The adulterer’s sins are removed as far as the East is from the West, and God remembers them no more. The murderer’s sins are removed as far as the East is from the West, and God remembers them no more. The prideful person’s sins are removed as far as the East is from the West, and God remembers them no more. All of these sinners—which includes all of us—are made justified—just as if they had never sinned.

And the divorcee? God removes his/her sins as far as the East is from the West and remembers them no more. God’s forgiveness isn’t a partial cleansing, and it isn’t a selective forgiveness. God forgives all sins fully and completely. He washes them away and makes us just as if we had never sinned. There’s no exception for divorce. If your divorce was sinful, He still forgives. He still offers total and complete cleansing. He still gives you the chance to have a fulfilling life, even one that includes marriage.

Related Resource: Why Staying a Team Takes Time… and Is Worth the Investment

Sometimes, we forget in marriage that staying a team takes time. As a result, we can find ourselves slowly drifting away from one another. However, research shows that couples who spend time together regularly and consistently are happier and have a better relationship. Listen to the latest episode of the podcast Team Us, and hear how Ted and Ashleigh stay committed to being a team… and why it’s worth the investment.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/PeteWill

Dena Johnson Martin is a former single mom of three who learned the power of walking intimately with God when her marriage fell apart. Her greatest desire is to use her darkest days to encourage others to find the joy of a life restored by Jesus Christ. She earned her Master’s in Life Coaching and is available to assist others with rebuilding their lives after the storms of adultery and divorce. In her spare time, Dena works as a Registered Nurse and is a regular contributor at Crosswalk.com. If you would like to contact Dena, please feel free to interact with her on her blog, Dena Johnson Ministries or email her at Dena@denajohnson.com.

Originally published Tuesday, 14 May 2024.