DIVORCE, SEPARATION, REMARRIAGE AND MARRYING A DIVORCEE
Pastor Chinaemerem Ibezim
November 23, 2017
To understand the subject we must first understand what marriage is.
Marriage is a man and a woman being joined together by God to become one flesh and one spirit.
The joining together of the man and the woman is called a great mystery in Ephesians 5:32.
Two words stand out in Genesis 2:24 when the first marriage occurred: “leave” and “cleave”. Cleave is from the Greek word, proskolla. The literal meaning of proskolla is to glue one thing to another; to join (unite); to cement. When a marriage happens, God Himself unites the man and the woman.
Ruth showed us a practical example of what it means to cleave to someone. She said to Naomi, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” Ruth 1:16-17.
When you cleave to someone, especially when it is marriage, only death can truly separate you two. You don’t cleave to leave at will, you are inseparable only by death. Romans 7:2-3 says, “For example, when a woman marries, the law binds her to her husband as long as he is alive. But if he dies, the laws of marriage no longer apply to her. So while her husband is alive, she would be committing adultery if she married another man. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law and does not commit adultery when she remarries.” And 1 Corinthians 7:39 says, “A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if he loves the Lord.”
This great mysterious unity is of spirit and flesh is why a Christian must marry a fellow believer.
B) WHY ADULTERY IS TERRIBLE AND A VALID REASON FOR DIVORCE
Jesus said, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” Matthew 19:9
When a man and woman have been so united by God, and then one of them has sex with a third party, it’s not just a physical act; it affects the spiritual union of the marriage. That’s why the other partner can choose to leave the marriage. Adultery is a terrible crime against God and your spouse.
Forgiveness is encouraged because God can restore the marriage.
C) THE IMPLICATION OF DIVORCE AND WHY GOD HATES IT
Malachi 2:16 says, “The Lord, the God of Israel, says, ‘I hate divorce, and I hate the cruel things that men do. So protect your spiritual unity. Don’t cheat on your wife.”
Divorce is attempting to physically split the spiritual union of a couple.
Divorce is more serious than many people think it is. It has spiritual effects. God’s plan for marriage is that it lasts for the lifetime of either of the couple. Ecclesiastes 9:9 says, “Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.”
D) ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE REASON FOR DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE
In 1 Corinthians 7:15, the Bible says, “(But if the husband or wife who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing husband or wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.)”
Here’s what it means: Let’s say Mr. A & Mrs. B married as unbelievers, and after their marriage, Mrs. B becomes a Christian. If Mr. A chooses to divorce Mrs. B because of her faith in Christ, Mrs. B is permitted to remarry a Christian.
Notethat Mrs. B isn’t the one to request for, or initiate the divorce. As long as Mr. A is pleased to continue with the marriage, the marriage is valid.
1 Corinthians 7:12-14 says, “Now, I will speak to the rest of you, though I do not have a direct command from the Lord. If a fellow believer has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to continue living with him, he must not leave her. And if a believing woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to continue living with her, she must not leave him. For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the believing husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy.”
E) IS IT A SIN TO SEPARATE OR DIVORCE FOR ANY OTHER REASON?
Things do happen, and a couple, or a spouse may decide to separate from the other or divorce them completely.
When that happens, it doesn’t automatically make them sinners, neither does it mean that they wouldn’t go to heaven.
The only problem is that they are not permitted to remarry. They will have to remain single for the rest of their lives or return to their marriage. If they remarry they have committed adultery.
1 Corinthians 7:10-11 says, “But for those who are married, I have a command that comes not from me, but from the Lord. A wife must not leave her husband. But if she does leave him, let her remain single or else be reconciled to him. And the husband must not leave his wife.”
F) WHAT IF A PERSON MARRIES A MARRIED OR WRONGLY DIVORCED PERSON?
In this case, the marriage is null and void.
Both of them have committed adultery. The marriage must be dissolved and both of them must repent of their sins.
Jesus said, “But I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.” Matthew 5:32
G) SPECIAL CASES
1) Domestic Violence
Domestic violence, physical or verbal, is a sin against God and your spouse. It is also a sin against one’s self. It’s something that should never happen.
Ephesians 5:28-29 says, “In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.”
Domestic violence is a ground for separation or divorce, but not a valid reason for remarriage according to the Bible. Separate, heal, forgive, remain single or return to your partner. Remarriage can only occur after the death of the spouse.
2) Sexual Deprivation
I heard on a Christian television program, a man complaining that his wife decided about 18 years ago to stop having sex, and he had remained faithful all along. He wanted to know if it was enough grounds for divorce and remarriage.
Depriving one’s partner of sex is a sin against God and your spouse. 1 Corinthians 7:5 says, “Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
Such decisions are wicked and strongly condemned, but there’s no scripture making it a ground for divorce.
People are strongly advised to marry right and to be spiritually sensitive when choosing who to marry.
For instance, a partner marries someone who lied or did not disclose certain important details about their spirituality, health e.g. terminal sicknesses, potency, etc.
There is no scripture permitting remarriage in these cases. That’s why we are strongly advised to marry true Christians. Be led by the Spirit or you’ll have to live with the consequences of your personal decisions.
4) Marrying an unbeliever
In this case, a believer knowingly and willingly married an unbeliever. He married the unbeliever in disobedience to the word of God. He cannot divorce the unbeliever. He must live with the consequences of his decisions and pray for the salvation of the unbeliever.
Pastor Chinaemerem Ibezim is the pastor of Able Ministers Chapel.