fam19 Is remarriage permitted after divorce?

Is Remarriage Permitted after a Divorce?
By David Cox
[fam19] v1 ©2009 www.coxtracts.com
You may freely reproduce this tract for non-profit purposes

Mark 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

The problem with divorce is that nobody thinks seriously about it until it is on top of them. So often, people act childishly, offending, and saying things in their flesh, and never thinking about the consequences. When they have a spouse they neglect and abuse that relationship until they cannot put up with their spouse any more. They get divorced because “this is the solution”. Once they are without a spouse, they cannot handle the temptations and solitude, and “have to get married again”, which only results in another divorce shortly thereafter. Thus the divorcee rides the beast of his flesh and his will, never liking where it all leaves him. The divorcee never understands that the problem was always “inside” not with others. He didn’t seek God’s will and way, and he ruined his life.

The Exception Clause

Mat 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Mat 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

Most divorced people use these passages to justify their divorce and remarriage after divorce. Their argument is always the same, “My spouse left me, or they went off with somebody else, which is fornication or adultery. Since I am innocent, so I can remarry after I divorce them.” First of all, let’s examine the context of Matthew 5:32. The conclusion of pro-divorce people taken from Mat 5:32 is not in harmony with the context. Verse 5:28 speaks of someone who looks on a woman (not their wife) to desire her, which is adultery or fornication. Verses 5:29-30 speak of avoiding hell at all costs. Then Jesus follows this with the importance of keeping your vows 5:33-37, obviously continuing in the marriage theme (and referring to divorce). It is as if infidelity condemns one to hell. We are reminded that people who allow sexual experiences dominate and control their body and life (a fornicator or adulterer) will not inherit heaven (1Co 6:9; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:4-5), and only those who allow peace and holiness to dominate their lives will see God (Heb 12:14).

Jesus in Mat. 5:31-32 says “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication.” This seems to give permission to divorce if it is because of fornication. The word “saving for” in Greek is parektos, which at times is translated “even for”, which an equally plausible translation, thus, an alternate reading would be “whosoever shall put away his wife, even for the cause of fornication.” In Mat 19:9, we have a variant that entered the text (by Erasmus in 1500) which inserted “ei” in Greek, giving more validity in the Greek to “except for fornication” rather than the older reading “even for the cause of”.

Additional Light from Other Texts

Now if these two texts were the only passages that deal with divorce, those who favor divorce, or people wanting divorce and remarriage would be somewhat justified in their positions. But Scripture cannot be broken, and there is a divine harmony that we must insist upon. So now we turn to two clear texts about marriage. Once married, God ratifies the marriage making it a spiritual union which NOBODY (including husband or wife) can legally (with permission of God) dissolve. They are one flesh, merged into one by God, so man who separates them works against God’s will. We observe that one of these key passages is in the same Matthew 19 chapter (in the same context).

Mark 10:8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. 9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mat 19:5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? 6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

In these passages, there is no exception. So what do these passages teach about the exception clause? Let’s compare Scripture with Scripture.

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

Mark 10:11 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

If Mark and Luke divinely understood the words of Jesus as giving a valid exception when divorce is for fornication of the other person, why didn’t they reflect this thought in their gospels? If we only had Luke and Mark’s testimony on this, could you somehow understand an exception as being permitted? No. By accepting this exception, you place Matthew’s testimony against Mark’s and Luke’s. If you compare Mat 19:9 against Matthew’s own understanding of Christ’s words in 19:6, would not Mat 19:6 also show an indissoluble quality to marriage? Paul enters here also to support a correct interpretation of Mat 19:9, using this matter as an example of the Law.

Rom 7:3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

So remarriage after divorce is the sin of adultery. There is no “freeing” so they can remarry.

Paul’s point is that the marriage relationship can only be legally dissolved by God, by the death of one of the two. If there is a valid exception intended by Jesus (for cases of fornication), then how come Paul does not in any way reflect this understanding? Paul saw no exceptions.

When the Jews tried to use the issue to trap Jesus; Jesus did not take the Hillel rabbi school liberal position, nor the Shammai strict school position but returned to Adam and Eve for his position. God made the first couple, they had to make themselves content, and nothing else was acceptable. Contentment means making yourself accept your mate even though Eve caused Adam to fall into sin, and Sarah had to put up with Abraham’s foolishness also. There are no other alternatives here, because if you want the will of God, then you will remain in the marriage and make it work, praying through your prayers for God to work miracles. Everything else is out of God’s will, and it is sin, and will cause you endless problems.

For those already Divorced

Having stated the biblical position, we also observe that God well knows that there will be situations where Christians act incorrectly (marrying an unsaved person or immature Christian), or a person converts to Christ causing marital conflict that often will end in divorce. So Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthian 7 comes to bear very forcefully here. Christians have to seek peace and tranquility in their marriage relationship (even though married with an unsaved person), using their testimony, attitude, and actions as the key to spiritually changing their partner, (for example, see Peter’s statements in 1Peter 3:1-14).

1Cor 7:10 And unto the married I command, [yet] not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

What Paul clearly teaches is that for a Christian, if he has these problems, then seek reconciliation and remain with his spouse, and if they do divorce, then remain single thereafter.

When two Christians divorce

1Thes 4:4 That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel (wife) in sanctification and honour;

Actually, divorce between believers should never happen. If Paul proposes that the Christian should always stay and work out their problems, and the believer is not in sin when the unbelieving abandons the relationship, then two Christians would always work out their differences. Why wouldn’t two believers make it work?

Eph 5:18 …be filled with the Spirit; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: The problem is that neither of the two has learned the principles of God.

Eph 5:1 says “Be followers of God.” We should imitate the moral character of God.

Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

If we don’t take the moral character of God, then we just aren’t really saved. In this, the element of understanding and practicing forgiveness comes through very loudly. God in essence says, “If you don’t forgive others, then I likewise will not forgive you your sins.” Divorce revolves around an element of unforgivable sins and offenses. For a child of God, he sees his own unforgiveable state before God paralleling what his/her spouse has done to him, and he has to forgive because God has forgiven you. Forgiveness is at the heart of the gospel, and every child of God craves forgiveness (Mat 18). When a Christian wants a divorce because “he cannot forgive anymore”, look up, then look in. How many times God feels the same way about YOUR sins, and He still finds room to forgive you!


Even when God forgives, we do need to understand that we still live with the consequences of what we have done wrong. You cannot play with fire without getting burned, and this means that living in sin, or marrying the unsaved will always bring suffering. Also forgiveness by God is based on our repentance, which there is no repentance if there is no abandonment of the offense.

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