Divorce and remarriage


If a person becomes divorced while a non-believer, then later becomes a Christian, it is OK for them to remarry?  And is it OK for the person (never been married) who is going to marry them.  I have heard the opinion that it is OK because of the text in 2 Cor. 5:17 – at the time of salvation all things are become new and such divorced and subsequently saved people are permitted b God to marry with His blessing. But the new spouse should be a believer … 1 Cor. 7:39.  What are your thoughts?   S.


Hi S,

First I will make a comment about the question.  The second sentence of your question I understand to ask whether it is fine for someone to marry such a person who divorced prior to becoming a Christian.

Secondly, I don’t think that the Scripture of 2 Cor. 5:17 is related to this question as a support.  Indeed, once someone becomes a Christian his or her entire heart and life will change in direction and content.  But that Scripture is not giving any direction regarding this particular question.   Let’s be careful not to seek for ‘any text’ to support your conclusions.  Sound exposition begins with the text and its context and then formulates what it teaches.

The bottom line of God’s will is that marriage is for life (Matt. 19:1-6) yet God allows one ground for divorce, i.e. when one of the two breaks the marriage union through adultery.   Allowing, however, is not commanding it.  Yet one who divorces his or her spouse on the proven grounds of adultery needs our full support.  He or she is not doing anything wrong by ending the marriage.  I mention this simply to help us to reach out lovingly and supportive to those who have gone through divorced.  They are not ‘second-rate’ Christians because they are divorced and therefore need to be avoided.  They need our love for their pathway is difficult, in some ways far more difficult than one who has lost their spouse through death.

In your case, the person divorced before he became a Christian.  Among non-Christians divorces take place for generally two reasons.  One finds their spouse cheating on them (committing adultery) or they conclude their relationship is incompatible and they simply end it.

I am assuming that the person in your question didn’t divorce on the ground of adultery for then the issue is already answered.

But if that marriage was ended because of other reasons, the first step is to seek reconciliation.   Their marriage is still the marriage and God didn’t allow such a marriage to end. For what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.

If such reconciliation is not possible (either the former spouse has moved on to a new marriage or simply refuses to reconciliation), we need to accept this reality as unchangeable.  Since this divorce happened prior to being a Christian, I personally don’t believe God would disapprove the re-marriage of this person.  In our denomination we have allowed such people to remarry, even though it would be advisable and proper that such a person would make a confession of guilt.

I realize that it will be difficult to support this directly from Scripture.  God’s Word doesn’t speak directly on a situation like this.  That makes these types of questions always issues of controversy because one’s opinion may be different than another.  Also, in the scenario you sketched are so many unknowns that would need to be investigated before you could really make a definitive statement on this.  That would be the task of each consistory before a church would seek the Lord’s blessing on the new union.

Pastor Vergunst