An Overall Understanding of Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage
In the Light of Scripture
Paul gives us the proper way to look at any issue we may encounter as believers when he
told them in his farewell message to the Ephesian church: For I have not hesitated to
proclaim to you the whole will of God., Acts 20:27. He understood that all Scripture
must be brought to bear on any understanding of any portion of the Bible since it is of
Keeping that in mind, all biblical passages having to do with marriage, divorce and
remarriage must be seen in the light of the entire Word of God. It is commonly agreed
the basic portion of Scripture regarding marriage is found in Genesis 2:20-24, a part of
which Jesus quoted as recorded in Matthew 19:1-8. Clearly Gods plan for marriage is
one man and one woman for life. There is no other plan. Any deviation from that plan,
including all divorce and remarriage (while the former spouse is still living), is sin since
it falls short of Gods original plan. In fact, one of the biblical definitions for sin is
precisely that, falling short of Gods standards. The well-known portion, Romans 3:23,
puts it this way: For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.
Regarding believers who commit sin, I John 1:5 2:5 is extremely instructive.
According to I John 1:8, no believer is without sin. In fact, if we claim we are without
sin we are self-deceived. Sin committed as a believer if sincerely confessed is not only
forgiven by God, but also the one confessing that sin is purified from all unrighteousness,
cf. I John 1:9. Lest anyone take sin lightly, John makes very clear the goal of every
Christian is not to sin rather to live a consistent, obedient life before God and men, I
John 2:1; however, if sin is committed, Jesus Christ serves as our advocate before the
Father pleading his atoning sacrifice for our sins.
This being the case, the sin of divorce/remarriage must be included in any biblical
teaching regarding sin such as that found in I John 1:5 2:5. Some have attempted to
exclude divorce/remarriage from their list of sins, but there is no biblical warrant for that.
In fact, some have even come to the conclusion that divorce/remarriage is an
unforgiveable sin which is a kind of perpetual adultery. There is no biblical warrant for
that either. Sin is sin, and any sin can be forgiven except the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ.
Some will ask, then anything goes at any time, anywhere and any way? Paul faced this
kind of criticism from those who accused him of license/antinomianism because he
taught there was forgiveness and grace in Christ: What shall we say, then? Shall we go
on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in
it any longer?, Romans 6:1,2. Johns emphasis is the same: If we claim to have
fellowship with Him yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we
walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood
of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin., I John 1:6-7.
It is important to notice the words, go on sinning, live, and walk. All speak of a
continual act a lifestyle a way of life. The difference between someone who is
walking in the light and someone who is walking in darkness has to do with what can be
said to characterize the life. Galatians 5:16-26 makes clear what are the lifestyles of light
and darkness. The chief question facing divorced/remarried people is this: what is their
lifestyle their way of life? To which list in Galatians 5 do they conform?
Divorced/remarried believers know full well they have sinned and have come short of the
glory of God just as those who have committed any sin against God. When these
believers have sincerely confessed their sin to the Almighty and have repented of it, they
have confidence they can walk the Christian life together walking in the light as He is
in the light. As a result, they have fellowship with each other and with the family of God,
and the blood of Jesus, Gods Son, purifies them from all sin, cf. I John 1:7.