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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: July 5, 2015.

The Command To Christians Who Do Divorce –

Paul now turns his attention to Christians who do choose to divorce without biblical grounds. He declares,

“But even if she does depart,
let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.
And a husband is not to divorce his wife”
(vs. 11).

Paul first states the ideal in verse 10 that Christians should not get divorced, but then turns right around and acknowledges that he knows some will depart from each other.

If you have divorced without the biblical grounds of adultery or the abandonment of your unbelieving spouse, what does Scripture command you to do? Paul makes it absolutely clear that you have only two options: You must remain unmarried or be reconciled to your mate. Notice again that this instruction continues to communicate the overall biblical priority of being faithful to your marriage vows.

What should you do if you have already disobeyed this command and have divorced your spouse and remarried another? This question is usually followed by two additional questions. Have I committed an unpardonable sin and should I divorce the new spouse and remarry my previous partner?

Let’s deal with the second question first. Should you divorce your new spouse and remarry the one you divorced? Absolutely not! This would be total confusion and would only tear apart more lives. You should simply ask God for His forgiveness and remain in the marriage you’re in now. Let me explain the biblical principles upon which I base this counsel.

(1) Remain in the state you are in. After Paul explained the principles of marriage and divorce in 1 Cor. 7:1-16, he then encouraged all believers not to try to escape their present circumstances. He gave two examples: That of circumcision and being a servant of another person. He concluded with the general principle: “Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called” (1 Cor. 7:24). Paul then applied this same principle to marriage.

“I suppose therefore that this is good because of the present distress–
that it is good for a man to remain as he is:
Are you bound to a wife?
Do not seek to be loosed.
Are you loosed from a wife?
Do not seek a wife”
(1 Cor. 7:26-27).

In other words, Paul was explaining that they should simply stay in whatever relationship they were in.

(2) In the Old Testament, Moses commanded the people not to return to a wife they had divorced after marrying another because that would be an abomination.

“When a man takes a wife and marries her,
and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes
because he has found some uncleanness in her,
and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand,
and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house,
and goes and becomes another man’s wife,
if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce,
puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house,
or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife,
then her former husband who divorced her
must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled;
for that is an abomination before the LORD”
– Deut. 24:1-4

People often ask if this concept can or should be brought into the New Testament. I believe that you should accept this principle because this is the same passage Jesus used to allow someone to divorce in Matthew 19. Therefore, if Jesus used this passage to allow for divorce due to moral uncleanness in a wife, shouldn’t you also consider the rest of the passage concerning returning to a previous marriage partner?

To answer the second question: When people divorce and marry another without biblical grounds, is this an unpardonable sin? It surely is sin, but it is not an unpardonable sin. Jesus said, “Every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men” (Matt. 12:31). I would emphasize the word every in this text. I bring this issue up because there are those who would deny forgiveness for this sin.

However, I can not do that! If I did declare this sin was unforgivable, then I would be adding to the Word of God again. Let me be absolutely clear. There is only one unpardonable sin, which is the rejection of the Spirit of God and the testimony concerning Christ until the day of a person’s death. That is the only unpardonable sin. See Heb. 10:29 and 1 John 5:10-16.

Consequently, when I make these statements about forgiveness people have said to me, “With this philosophy of forgiveness, you are giving people the license to sin.” My response is this: If someone takes God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness and uses it as a license to sin that would obviously be wrong.

I can’t keep people from doing that. However, I will not give people incorrect or unbiblical counsel to try and keep them from sinning or scare them into obedience. That would be equally wrong on my part.

In addition, if you were divorced and remarried before you became a Christian, then you can also be assured that you have a new and cleansed standing in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Paul declared,

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new.”
– 2 Cor. 5:17

He does not say some things become new, but all things become new. All your failures and sins are washed away and you have a new start with God. Praise Him for His grace.

However, just because the sin of divorce and remarriage without biblical grounds is forgivable, it does not mean there are no consequences. Sin always has consequences. God commands us to take specific actions because He knows how destructive sin is to our lives and to those around us.

There will be consequences such as: the hurt you experience by dissolving your marriage, the anger and loss your children experience, the disruption to your extended family, and the added financial pressure of trying to make it alone. Therefore, it’s always best to obey God’s commands and save yourself from these heartaches.

Don’t miss Understanding Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage – Part II

If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, please visit  Covenant Keepers

Excerpt republished with permission from Covenant Keepers by Pastor Steve Carr, Copyright 2013.

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