The question of divorce and remarriage is a sad reality that the church must face. Sometimes marriages fail.
This issue leaves many divorced Christians stuck: Did I sin? Am I forgiven? Can I marry again or am I committing adultery by doing so?
My view is that everything should be done to preserve a marriage, as long as it doesn’t involve ongoing dehumanizing abuses. If divorce happens, which we always pray against, I do believe that it is possible for a Christian to remarry with the blessing of Christ. Clearly, this passage brings some confusion on this issue:
But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife except for sexual unfaithfulness forces her to commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5.32
Rather than writing a long explanation to why I believe that Jesus isn’t making a blanket ban on all divorce and remarriage, I want to refer you to 5 resources that are especially helpful on this subject. Some of these are books and others are sermons.
1) Jesus and Divorce (Matthew 5) – Rob Bell
Possibly the best sermon I’ve heard on this text, ever.
2) Divorce, Remarriage and the Law of Love – Greg Boyd
Description: Jesus teaches that “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” What this meant in the first century helps us understand what it means for us today.
3) When Marriages Go Bad – Greg Boyd
Description: Divorce happens. In this sermon, Greg speaks on when marriages go wrong. With divorce rates nearly the same inside as outside of the church, it is important to have a Kingdom understanding of divorce and remarriage, and how to answer the question: “When is it ok to divorce?”
4) Remarriage after Divorce in Today’s Church: 3 Views
Amazon Description: A biblical and practical case for three main evangelical views on remarriage after divorce Among born-again Christians, 27 percent have experienced divorce as compared to 24 percent in the general population. Yet no consensus exists among evangelicals on their views of remarriage, leaving many Christians confused. This single volume summarizes and explores three main evangelical views: no remarriage, remarriage after adultery or desertion, and remarriage for a variety of reasons. Each of the three contributors offers his point of view succinctly with biblical support, and each interacts with the others to help readers come to their own conclusions. Contributors include: Gordon J. Wenham * No remarriage after divorce William A. Heth * Remarriage (two grounds) Craig S. Keener * Remarriage (variety of reasons)5) Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context AND Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities – David Instone-Brewer
Description of first book: To many, the New Testament’s teaching on divorce and remarriage seems to be both impractical and unfair. The “plain” meaning of the texts allows for divorce only in cases of adultery or desertion, and it does not permit remarriage until the death of one’s former spouse. But are these proscriptions the final word for Christians today? Are we correctly reading the scriptures that address these issues?
By looking closely at the biblical texts on divorce and remarriage in light of the first-century Jewish and Greco-Roman world, this book shows that the original audience of the New Testament heard these teachings differently. Through a careful exploration of the background literature of the Old Testament, the ancient Near East, and especially ancient Judaism, David Instone-Brewer constructs a biblical view of divorce and remarriage that is wider in scope than present-day readings.
Among the important findings of the book are that both Jesus and Paul condemned divorce without valid grounds and discouraged divorce even for valid grounds; that both Jesus and Paul affirmed the Old Testament grounds for divorce; that the Old Testament allowed divorce for adultery and for neglect or abuse; and that both Jesus and Paul condemned remarriage after an invalid divorce but not after a valid divorce. Instone-Brewer shows that these principles are not only different from the traditional church interpretation of the New Testament but also directly relevant to modern relationships.
Description of second book: Will God allow me to divorce my abusive husband? Would it be a sin if I remarried? Divorce and remarriage are major pastoral issues facing every church. Yet when we turn to Scripture for guidance, we often hear conflicting messages about its teachings. David Instone-Brewer shows how, when properly understood, the New Testament provides faithful, realistic and wise guidance of crucial importance and practical help for the church today.