What Does the Bible Say about Remarriage?

| Contributing Writer
2021
28 Jul
silhouette of man on knee asking woman to marry him, ready to marry

Everybody loves a good wedding story, and there is nothing better than two people falling in love and deciding to bind their love in marriage. Oh, the romance of it all.

Unfortunately, as we know, all marriages don’t last. Some end because death does them part, and for many others they end through divorce. Regardless of how you got there, whether through death or divorce, you may find yourself in a situation where you have gone from being married to being unmarried. For many people in this position, they may desire to get remarried, but what does the Bible say about remarriage and how can you apply this to your life if you are in this situation?

Does the Bible Allow Remarriage?

Before I go further, I want to be clear of what marriage is. The Biblical definition of marriage is a legally and spiritually binding contract between one man and one woman. When it comes to marriage, I know we like to focus on the love part, but the truth is when you get married, you are taking a binding oath – before God, before the law, and before men. This oath is your agreement to be committed to one person for as long as you both shall live.

Now that we have defined that let’s consider the question of getting remarried. What the Bible says about remarriage is that yes, it is possible. A person can get remarried, however there are conditions where this is allowable and clear, and there are some instances where the answer may be a little more challenging. Let’s start with the easier one.

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silhouette of man on knee asking woman to marry him, ready to marry

Remarriage after Death

The simplest situation to deal with is if one of the parties in the marriage dies. When this happens, then the vow that was taken has been fulfilled and the remaining partner who is alive is no longer bound to the terms of the marriage. Remember the oath was to last as long as you both shall live. Consider what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 7:

“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

In this instruction Paul is talking to those who have lost their spouses. For spiritual or ministry reasons, he would prefer this person remain single. However he is clearly giving the okay for the person in this position to remarry.

I can understand this verse because I was in this position, having lost my spouse, and I decided to remarry. If your spouse has passed away, you have every right to remarry if you decide to. I will also add one more thing from my personal experience. Should you decide to go this route, there is no one who can tell you how soon is too soon to start dating again. That choice is yours and yours alone. Please don’t let the opinions of others be a deterrent to you to start dating or desiring to be remarried if that is what you want to do. (By the way if you are struggling with this feel free to reach out to me, I would be glad to help you through this.)

Now that we have the easier scenario out of the way, let’s tackle some of the more challenging ones.

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silhouette of man on knee asking woman to marry him, ready to marry

Remarriage after Divorce

Of all the scenarios regarding remarriage, it is safe to say that deciding to get remarried after divorce can be challenging. The good news is that the Bible talks about remarriage even after divorce, so we have some guidelines to go by. The first thing I want to say is that if you are divorced, you are not an outcast, you are not lesser than, and nobody should make you feel this way, especially in the church. Let’s consider some different divorce scenarios and how it measures up against your ability to remarry.

1. Desertion

If your spouse deserts the marriage, then you are no longer obligated to stay in the marriage, because your spouse has neglected and abdicated their marital obligation. When you read 1 Corinthians 7, Paul gives some good instruction regarding this. The first instruction is that you should not get a divorce.

“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).

However, there may be situations where one of the parties no longer wants to stay in the marriage and they want to leave. Here is what Paul says.

“But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace” (1 Corinthians 7:15).

In this scenario, Paul was addressing believers who were married to unbelievers, most likely this was because one got saved after they got married. However, if someone claims to be a believer and says they want a divorce, they no longer desire to be married, and they choose to leave, then you should let them go. In this scenario, if they choose to seek a divorce, then you are no longer bound by the marital obligation and you are free to remarry.

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silhouette of man on knee asking woman to marry him, ready to marry

2. Adultery

Adultery is a biblical ground for divorce and as such the person who has remained faithful in the marriage is free to remarry. I will point out that even though adultery is grounds for divorce, that does not automatically mean if there is adultery in the marriage that this is the step you should take. Remember God’s desire is for marriages to stay together. However, if the adultery is something you cannot work through, if you choose to divorce on those grounds, then you are free to remarry.

3. Abuse

If you are in an abusive relationship, you have every right to leave that marriage because those are legitimate grounds for divorce. Abuse is an abdication of marital responsibility, and you are not required to stay in that type of relationship. Should you divorce on these grounds it is absolutely okay to seek remarriage.

4. Other Reasons

There are a host of other reasons people get divorced, but we must be careful because divorce should only take place when there is a legitimate, Biblical reason. If there are no Biblical grounds for divorce, then remarriage should be off the table. Let me repeat what Paul said in 1 Corinthians.

“To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11).

For these other situations, remarriage is not an option, but reconciliation is. This command is why we need to treat marriage seriously and not enter into it lightly.

Is Remarriage after Divorce Adultery?

Is it possible that if you remarry after divorce, you could be committing adultery? The answer is it depends on the reason why you got divorced. If your divorce is for Biblical reasons, then remarrying is not committing adultery.

If it is not for Biblical reasons, then it is adultery because in God’s eyes that remarriage is illegitimate. It may be legal according to the laws of the land, but it is not sanctioned in God’s eyes. Because each situation is different, I want to be careful about making a blanket statement about an individual marriage. True wisdom would require you to consider each situation on a case-by-case basis so that an effective determination can be made.

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silhouette of man on knee asking woman to marry him, ready to marry

What Should I Consider before Getting Married Again?

If you are seeking to get married again, here are some basic questions you should ask yourself to help you make sure this is what you truly desire to do. This is not all encompassing, but it at least gets you thinking.

1. Have you healed from the previous marriage?

Whether your marriage ended through death or divorce it can be painful. Make sure you are healed from your past before you try to begin a future with another person.

2. Have you learned from the previous marriage?

If your marriage ended in death, you need to consider whether or not you are ready to go down that emotional road again. It is okay if you don’t want to, but you need to walk into the marriage with the reality that it could happen again. Are you ready for that?

If your marriage ended in divorce, then are there characteristics or traits that you saw in the person you were previously married to that you want to avoid in the next person?

3. Are you ready for another marriage?

It is perfectly okay to not remarry, but if you want to remarry then don’t be so quick to rush into it. Take your time so that you don’t make a mistake in the process. You should pray and it is probably wise to have some pre-marital counseling to address some of the issues you may face in the remarriage. 

Conclusion

As I said earlier, marriage should not be entered into lightly. Remarriage is the same. The Bible is clear about remarriage and lays out some legitimate grounds for remarriage. I would simply add that after your decision to follow Christ, this is the most important decision you will make in your life. If you are remarrying, then you are making this decision all over again. Make sure you decide carefully and prayerfully if this is the road you choose to go down. From my personal experience, remarriage was the right decision for me. But whichever decision you make, I pray that you would be satisfied and fulfilled with your choice.

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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club.  He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.

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