If we would take the basics of the Christian faith seriously, then we must begin with what Jesus actually said.
Of Forbidding of Remarriage after Divorce

Jesus said: "Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery." (Luke 16:18).

By His words Jesus terms the remarriage of divorced persons adultery. It is adultery because marriage is a permanent, lifelong bond, broken only by death. The only time the Word of God permits remarriage is when one's spouse dies (Matthew 19:6; Romans 7:1-3). In every passage in which He speaks of this subject, Jesus terms the remarriage of divorced persons "adultery."

Divorce then is sin. Jesus gives only one exception, "except it be for fornication." (Matthew 19:9) Note that in giving this permission, Jesus is giving the sole reason for divorce, not a ground for remarriage. The text does not say, Whosoever shall put away...and marry another..., except it be for fornication. Jesus is not giving permission, even in such a case, for remarriage. Of remarriage, He says, "...and shall marry another, committeth adultery." (Matthew 19:9) And He says of the spouse, whether guilty or innocent victim, "...and whosoever marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matthew 19:9)

Jesus makes it clear then that divorce does not dissolve the original marriage. Therefore such remarriage is always called "adultery." Moreover Jesus' words make it clear that it is not simply the act of remarriage which is adultery, but the remarriage relationship itself is a state of adultery, a constant walk of sin. Sin and divorce may separate married persons. They give none the right to remarry another.

The doctrine of the apostles is no different. We read, "And unto the married I command, yet not I but the Lord, let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife." (I Corinthians 7:10, 11). In the context in which the apostle speaks of those who have never married, or virgins, he says, "But and if they marry, thou hast not sinned." (I Corinthians 7:28) But he also says, lest there be any confusion, "Art thou bound to a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife." (I Corinthians 7:27). The calling of one divorced is to remain unmarried or to seek reconciliation with one's spouse.

Marriage is a privilege, a good gift of God. Man by his sins so corrupts marriage that it is possible to find oneself in a situation in which God has taken the privilege of marriage from us. God calls some to be eunuchs for the "kingdom of heaven's sake." (Matthew 19:12)

What of an innocent victim deserted and divorced by an unbelieving spouse? "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace." (I Corinthians 7:15) The married believer, abandoned by an unbeliever, can live at peace with God's will. By "under bondage" the apostle means that the believer is not held in sin in such a case. He does not say they are not "bound" as to the marriage, but are not "under bondage," that is, as to the sin of unlawful divorce. The bond of marriage is not bondage. Sin is bondage. The apostle does not contradict either Jesus' words or what he himself has just said concerning remaining unmarried or being reconciled (I Corinthians 7:11), namely that remarriage is forbidden and is adultery.

Do you believe in this Jesus? Does your church? Does your marriage reflect this?

By Rev. Thomas Miersma, Missionary pastor

Index to articles:

What Jesus said about...