SWM 069 – Is it okay to remarry after being divorced?

A friend of mine recently asked if the Bible allows you to remarry after you’ve been divorced.  Her husband had divorced her, years ago, and while she had no specific candidates in mind, she didn’t want to even entertain the idea of a relationship that might lead to something romantic.  I mean, who wants to be stuck choosing between God and someone you want to marry?  If only more people had that foresight in other situations ...

Her impression from reading the Bible was that if you were divorced and remarried, not only would you be committing adultery in God’s eyes, but so too would be your future spouse.  So, how can she entertain the idea of remarriage if it means she’s committing adultery, and causing this potential spouse to also commit adultery?

Knowing that I like to tackle difficult questions, that I like to find answers, and that I work with couples, she asked me - is it okay to remarry after being divorced?

Right away, my impression was that it doesn’t seem right for someone whose spouse divorced them, to be relegated to a life of singleness.  That doesn’t mean they are owed another spouse, by any means, but if the opportunity presents itself - why not?

But, as Christians, we shouldn’t be guided by our feelings, contrary to what many Christians seem to believe these days, but rather by the word of God. So, I opened up my Bible, and I quickly saw why she had formed the opinion she had when I read this verse:

But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery.Matthew 5:32 NKJV

Well, that’s pretty clear-cut, isn’t it?  At least it appears to be.  However, the more I dug into it, the less clear it seemed.  After all, how can the husband make his wife an adulterer by his actions?  The Bible is quite clear that we are responsible for our own actions, our own sins.  Ezekiel 18 shows the principle clearly when talking about the righteous man and the unrighteous son.  

So, let’s look at what some other translations did with this verse.

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.Matthew 5:32 NIV

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, brings adultery upon her. And he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.Berean Matthew 5:32 Bible Study

But I can guarantee that any man who divorces his wife for any reason other than unfaithfulness makes her look as though she has committed adultery. Whoever marries a woman divorced in this way makes himself look as though he has committed adultery.Matthew 5:32 God’s Word Translation

Now, the God’s Word translation I think is taking some liberties there, but all in all, I think the proper meaning is conveyed.  Reading scholar’s opinions of the Greek shows that the “causes her to” show that the object of the sentence, the wife, is the passive one in this sentence.  It’s the husband who is doing the divorcing and acting upon her. 

We have a similar thing happen in 1 John:

If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.1 John 1:10 NKJV

Now, can I cause God to be a liar?  Can any action I do make Him not be truthful?  No, of course not.  By the same token, can I do anything to make my wife an adulteress?  No, of course not.  

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu