Is a Christian free to remarry if their ex-spouse marries someone new?

We’re diving right in to today’s Q&A – does God allow for a Christian to remarry after their ex-spouse remarries somebody else?

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QUESTION: If two Christians divorce and then one of them pursues a relationship with another, is that Biblical adultery and therefore justifying the divorce after the fact and thus freeing the person from the marriage?

Answer: I didn’t make the rules, so don’t shoot the messenger. You’re asking a religious question while seeking a religious answer.

The key to this question is what was the reason for the divorce?

  1. Adultery, including pornography?
  2. Physical abuse that could lead to your death or could physically contribute to your death? (Ex: repeated concussion could lead to death.)
  3. Abandonment – as in the person literally disappears from your life to fake their own death and you honestly assume they’re dead, or conversely, throws you out onto the street in an attempt to cause you to die?

Nobody is allowed to try to cause their spouse to die to circumvent the Biblical prohibition against remarriage except in the case of the death of your spouse. Using murder as a loophole to have “permissible” sex with a new partner is in the running for the worst kind of sexual immorality.

Those aforementioned reasons are justifiable and Biblically sound reasons for divorce.


Now onto the second part of your question, is it adultery after-the-fact once two people are already divorced? For non-Christians, this question absolutely makes zero sense, but again, you’re asking a religious question while seeking a religious answer.

Let me guess, you got divorced for a non-Biblically permitted reason. Your ex-wife has gone and married another, so now you believe that you should be free from your marital bonds.

“But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Matthew 5:32

Women had to be married if she was going to survive in society. Life was a group effort before the industrial age, and still is in many parts of the world today. Women needed to get remarried, even though this divorce would cause them to be adulterous.

Jesus was speaking to Pharisees – men. These “super extra ‘righteous’” Pharisees were forcing women into adultery because these men and women were trying to find loopholes in Jewish law that allowed them to sleep around. You’d “get married” to a woman on paper, sleep with her, then divorce her, rinse, repeat. This concept of a temporary marriage to circumvent what is really just premarital sex exists today in Islam and is called “Nikah mut’ah.”

There is no such thing as justification after-the-fact for your divorce. This is why even the apostles were taken aback by how strict Jesus was when it came to marriage and divorce.

“9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” 10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” Matthew 19:9-10

Did you marry a crazy person? Too bad. Is the person no longer attractive? Too bad. Did this person ask for a divorce even though you didn’t want one? Still too bad, which is why the apostles were so aghast!

Unless you reconciled with your spouse before either of you “became one flesh” with another (including through pornography) you must stay single or it will Biblically be considered adultery on your part. Once one spouse has been joined to another, you are never allowed to remarry that ex-spouse.

“then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the Lord. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.”Deuteronomy 24:4

Marriage and divorce are SERIOUS undertakings to God. It doesn’t matter what falliable human beings are doing, their sin doesn’t justify your sin. This is why you better know who you’re marrying and you better have a life and death reason for getting divorced, because God doesn’t play around.

God Himself is divorced, and is awaiting His new bride, the church. Did God divorce Israel every time she upset Him and didn’t uphold her part of the marriage covenant? No. God was long-suffering. That’s what Biblical marriage is a picture of today – God’s covenant with His people.

When did God get divorced? When Israel committed adultery.

“She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.”Jeremiah 3:8

This is why God can’t rejoin Himself to His former bride Israel, but can only await for the Bride of Christ, the church, because the blood covenant, the engagement, was already made with us when Jesus went to the cross.


Unless you had a Biblically sound reason for divorce, even if your spouse left you high and dry, you are NOT allowed to remarry without it being adulterous on your part before God.

If you have already remarried after getting a Biblically unsound divorce, you are not to divorce your new spouse. You can’t undo adultery.

I didn’t make the rules, so don’t shoot the messenger.

Originally posted to Quora on June 11, 2018


💔 Christian Domestic Violence Pt. 2 (Is abuse grounds for DIVORCE?)

If God hates divorce, but God Himself gave Israel a certificate of divorce, can you divorce an abusive spouse? What options does a Christian have when facing an abusive spouse?

Episode 176 03072018

 

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18 thoughts on “Is a Christian free to remarry if their ex-spouse marries someone new?

  1. Neil Wintzloff says:

    First of all thank you for this piece, i was born again many years ago and i never really got a thorough knowledge of responsibility involved, Btw not using this as an excuse, i suffer from mental illness anxiety, depression so much so it is hard for me to hold down a job. I have a resume rediculously long, again not used as excuse was addicted to porn for many years thak God i slayed that dragon about 12 mths ago, divorced and remarried 6 years ago.
    Feel i really have a heart for God but most of the time feel lost totally lost. Back ground over the question is if i can not divorce my second wife as you say have i condemned myself.

    Hopeless

  2. Chuck Westing says:

    A Christian man and his Christian wife each consume porn, then get divorced because of the “adultery” porn has brought into the marital bed.

    After divorcing, each repents of the porn viewing, claiming the blood of Jesus.

    Are not each of them now free to get re-married?

    I understand and tend to agree with the school of thought that Porn either: (1) is Adultery because you have “lust” in your heart while consuming it, or (2) is just a very short hop away given the serious lusts that it inspires.

    However, doesn’t arguing that a spouse’s viewing of Porn justifies getting divorced blow a gaping hole through the ironclad marital covenant?

    I fully understand that this is a classic “Pharisaic” legalistic approach, but please try and answer this question honestly Rachel. The potential consequences of this position are enormous given the degree that Porn has penetrated both secular and religious marriages.

  3. Chuck Westing says:

    Also, doesn’t this position absolutely justify the extreme behavior you have bemoaned in past videos where spouses avoid watching bikini girls etc on TV because of the fear that it is lust or could lead to it?

    Finally, you did a nice job in a past video exploring your view that “lust” really is better understood to mean “to covet” given the Hebrew used.

    I haven’t thought this fully through, but Porn viewing almost NEVER leads to one spouse being able to pursue an actual PHYSICAL relationship with a Porn actor or actress.

    Can it truly be “coveting” in the sense that YOU describe if it is practically impossible for a spouse to join flesh or even meet face to face a Porn performer, many of whom are single, and non-Christian?

    I am not trying to get cute here Rachel, but you can’t have this lust issue both ways. You consistently have preached against the low “bar” or standard that many Christians set in determining whether they are committing adultery through lust.

    My views on this are still forming, but personally I DO view watching porn as committing adultery via lust in the heart.

    However, I also believe that a Christian watching a man or woman with “sexual interest” as they walk down the street is just as bad, if not worse, as this activity could result in physical betrayal and bringing that uncleaness back to the marital bed.

    Perhaps the line might be drawn at masturbation while viewing Porn or thinking of a person other than your spouse. However, the Bible does not specifically reference masturbation, while Jesus himself spoke directly to the sin of looking at a woman with lust in your heart.

    I believe that what goes on in your heart is key. It is your INTENT that Christ holds paramount.

    Again, I still am mulling this one, but I think where we may differ is in assuming that ALL Porn viewing is adultery that justifies a Christian divorce that permits re-marriage.

    Personally, I do believe that all porn viewing is a sin. However, I do not believe that ALL porn viewing supports a permissible divorce for Christians.

    Maybe you’re correct, but Satan sure would have a field day with how this would play out in the real world.

    During the time these Jewish precepts were laid down, there was no such thing as looking at a woman who was not in close physical proximity, in view of the naked eye so to speak. There was a real chance that a man’s lustful leering could lead to him being PHYSICALLY unfaithful to his spouse or to God.

    Porn does not carry this particular risk. Hence I would argue that it might be viewed differently than the sexual immorality the Bible cites as supporting a holy divorce.

    So to sum it all up, while viewing porn IS a serious sin, it may not always rise to the level of sexual immorality the authors of the Bible had in mind when discussing when divorce was justified in God’s eyes.

    Please let me know what you think, I am enjoying your website.

  4. Chuck says:

    Rachel, thanks for posting up my example of the professed Christian couple viewing porn then divorcing. I do have a quick follow-up.

    How MUCH or what KIND of porn viewing triggers the right to a Godly divirce? It’s a deadly serious question.

    Let’s say a husband is NOT addicted, but does own a single vintage Playboy magazine from when he was single.

    If he takes a peek at the centerfold pic of Miss June, and has lustful thoughts while doings so, does his wife get to divorce him?

    • Rachel S says:

      If a person puts “just the tip in” is it not adultery? Uh yeah. Any intentional porn use, any masturbation over a person you aren’t married to, is adultery according to Jesus’ own words. Don’t do it.

  5. Scott T says:

    On your Nikki Manage video, you mentioned that divorce is an unforgivable sin of the worst kind. I then read and did some research to see that indeed God hates divorce from the book of Maliki. In the book of Matthew, there is a reference that only adultery, abandonment, and death are grounds to remarry from divorce. I agree that divorce is causing adultery on both parties involved. Even though we sin, it is my belief that that sin is covered by the blood of Christ. In my heart I wish I had not divorced my wife, what is done is done and we both have moved on. I want to remarry but I do not wish to go to hell for wanting companionship. I never thought of the severity of my actions before, I have been a Christian since I was a small child, but I did not really commit to God until these past two years to transform my life. I know I am a sinner and only the blood of Jesus covers my sins. For that reason alone I feel that even if I remarry that my salvation is sealed and I am to join Jesus in heaven when I pass from this world. I am a sinner, but my Redeemer lives, therefore I am forgiven. Please, let me know how you understand these scriptures. To me, it feels like God does not approve but I am forgiven for my transgressions through the blood of Christ.

    • Scott T says:

      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
      1 John 1:9 NIV

    • Rachel at CrackYourBible says:

      “you mentioned that divorce is an unforgivable sin of the worst kind. ”

      First of all, no. No I did not say that “divorce is an unforgivable sin.” I said divorce, for any other reason than those 3 reasons listed in Scripture is adultery.

      You freely admit that you shouldn’t have divorced your wife. If you need companionship, if neither of you have had sex with other people, be reconciled to your wife.

      Your desires of the flesh don’t give you a license to sin. “Jesus, I know this is adultery, but I need to have sex, you understand” is a dispicable thing to come from your heart.

      You can’t use the Blood of Jesus as a license to sin. SICK! That is a slap in the face to Jesus.

      “1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” – Romans 6:1-2 ESV

      You know that remarriage in your case is adultery. If you knowingly and purposely commit adultery, you willfully sin. Someone with the Holy Spirit doesn’t look for ways to commit sin.

      “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,” – Hebrews 10:26 ESV

      Marriage and divorce are serious in God’s eyes. You should have been more careful before marrying your ex-wife. God isn’t going to make an exception for your sexual sin simply because you didn’t make a good choice in the past.

      If you got divorced for any other reason, it’s adultery. If you purposely commit adultery, especially for the purpose of sexual sin, don’t try to pull a “God knows my heart, I’m forgiven.” No. You trample on the blood of Jesus and make a mockery His sacrifice. You might as well have sex with a new woman in front of the cross while looking up at Jesus bleeding, saying, “thanks Jesus!”

      Either stay single for the rest of your days, dedicating yourself to the Lord, or become an adulterer. Your choice.

      • Hamilton Rowan says:

        Wow you don’t mince words! You tell the truth like it is. Rachel, what is the Biblical definition of abandonment? I ask not for myself, but as a reference for a friend of mine who says he’s free to remarry due to the abandonment of his fiancee’s former husband. Apparently there was physical battery as well as emotional abuse. I have read other commentaries that say that regardless of the reason for the divorce no one may ever remarry! The churches are not united in their teachings about this topic. God bless!

  6. Hamilton Rowan says:

    I am married, but my wife and I would never divorce and remarry! In fact we would never divorce for any reason. Despite any problems we have faced we always agreed to work out any problems. I do concur in a general sense with the disciples “it is better not to marry” and with Paul “I would that they remain as I am” given the evils of this current world. But I do not regret being married and we have three beautiful,Godly children that God created through our union. No divorce, PERIOD!!

  7. IThrogmasyer says:

    Where does adultery stand with regard to fantastizing about about a person or body of a person you don’t recognize? Either alone or while engaging in sex in the marriage bed?

  8. Joyce says:

    Absolutely not. If both are committing adultery, neither are allowed to remarry. And in your absurd example, someone who watches porn won’t divorce their spouse who also watches porn on the grounds it is adultery.

    Please support this with scripture.

    Thank you

  9. Grant Boyer says:

    Confusion ensues because of mistranslation of the word which means put away instead of divorce in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 in some translations
    There is a scholary article that discusses this in-depth at https://www.academia.edu/13071201/Marriage_from_Biblical_Tradition_and_Contemporary_Contradictions_Jesus_the_Jews_Moses_Paul_and_the_Rest_of_Us
    A short version that is similar can be found at http://www.gospelminutes.org/marryagain.php

    It is important not to rely on mistranslated scriptures that use the word “divorce” when the words “put away” are appropriate. Put away is like separation without being legally divorced. This makes it much more understandable that when one is put away they become an adulterer since their marriage is not legally over.

    There were other differences culturally at that time too, a man could get married to more than one wife at a time thus would not be guilty of committing adultery when he did so, but a woman could not etc.

  10. Catherine G says:

    Rachel first I love this blog and love your you tube channel. God Bless You.
    My now husband cheated on his first wife they where both catholic not born again
    she found out they divorced. Myself I to was married and he cheating on me all the time even got one of the women pregnant made her get an abortion. I divorced him.
    my husband and I are now born again we married before becoming born again in city hall didn’t have the funds for a wedding or a dress we both have repented of our sins.
    Rachel does God recognize we are married. By the way both our ex’s have had multiple lovers since then. By the way still in love going on 20 years.

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