Marriage is a covenant bound by something stronger than blood. It is authored and bound by God alone. The laws of man may have the authority to declare a couple legally married, but in finality, the origin and standards will always belong to the Lord. Jesus said that God created marriage, and as He joined the two flesh into one, no man shall be allowed to tear that sacred covenant apart for life. This means that even though different laws in every country establish different standards for marriage, divorce, and remarriage, we must never forget that we will ultimately be held accountable by God for how we have stewarded marriage. Many might resort to divorce for various reasons when marriage seems to have failed. However, in time, some find healing and restoration. There are even instances where some people find themselves getting back with their ex-spouse and eventually decide to remarry.
In such a case, is it biblical to remarry your ex-spouse? The Bible does encourage reconciliation between divorced spouses, provided that neither married someone else after the divorce. However, due to different circumstances with every couple, we may have to look further into what the Bible has to say about such situations.
The easiest place to find a specific answer in the Bible is when a man or woman gets divorced and remains single but finds reconciliation with their spouse through a time of healing. The Apostle Paul gives us a specific example of that.
In 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, Paul was commanding the married couples in the Corinthian church, according to the word of the Lord, not to resort to divorce. However, if they did leave each other, they were to remain unmarried. If they can’t stand not having a lifetime partner, they should choose to work on being reconciled to each other. That verse gives a specific answer to a rather straightforward situation. A man or woman can indeed remarry their previous spouse, so long as neither had a second marriage.
Forgiveness and restoration are parts of God’s character. As Jesus is the groom and His church is the bride, God has always chosen to remain faithful to His people, even though they have been rebellious and unfaithful to Him. His mercy and grace is so great that Christ chose to go through a painful sacrifice on the cross rather than abandon His bride (the church) to hopelessness and eternal condemnation. As Christians and recipients of His amazing grace, we must also work on reflecting this in our relationships.
What does God say about getting back with your ex?
Yes, God does approve of reconciliation with your original spouse, as commanded in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, but this verse only gave allowance for getting back with an ex-spouse for those who chose to remain single after their divorce.
How about those who have already entered into a second marriage or have already had multiple marriages before reconciling with their original spouse? What does the Bible have to say about their situation?
According to Deuteronomy 24:1-4, in the Old Testament times, God gave this command to His people through Moses. Here, Moses was giving a divorce and remarriage scenario. Even though this is an Old Testament law, if you study it closely, you can find that it can be connected to what Jesus says about divorce in the New Testament. Moses tells us of a specific scenario where a woman, after being married to a man, was found to have indecency in her. Then the man decided to divorce her. So, after the divorce, the woman got married again. But if they still end up in divorce, or if the second husband dies, according to the Old Testament law, the former husband is not allowed to marry her again after she has been defiled. This is a hard law, and violating it is considered an abomination before the Lord.
If you think about it, isn’t reconciliation with one’s ex-husband supposed to be a good thing? It seems like there is a contradiction with the verse mentioned above in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11, which gave a command to stay single or be reconciled with the original husband. There is no contradiction but rather a complement between these two biblical commands. For one, observe that 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 does not allow a second marriage after divorce with the first husband. The divorced spouse must remain single or be reconciled. In the illustration that Moses presented, the wife married another man after the divorce and only considered getting back with her ex-husband after the divorce from her second husband.
Another thing is that Moses’ illustration talks about “indecency” as a reason for divorce in the first marriage. The word may seem vague, but if you look at the original Hebrew word for indecency it is translated from erwa, which means “nakedness of a thing”; this word is used many times in Leviticus 18 in addressing unlawful sexual relations. The “indecency” of the offending spouse means sexual immorality. Jesus talked about God not allowing man to break apart marriage, except for sexual immorality (Matthew 19:3-7). He said that the offended spouse has the right to divorce and remarry. With that exception clause, it can be inferred that the offending spouse does not have the right to divorce and remarry. If the offending spouse violates this command, they are guilty of adultery, as is the person who marries them. Therefore, according to Moses, the spouse in question is regarded as defiled due to sexual immorality in the first marriage and then commits adultery again by entering into a second marriage.
So, in reference to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and the other two New Testament verses, we could say that the Bible only approves of remarrying an ex-spouse if both the man and woman have stayed single after their divorce, then chose to be reconciled, and if ever they remarried, they must have not committed adultery in their second marriage resulting in another divorce. These are the clear conditions of the Bible when it comes to remarrying an ex-spouse.
God makes the laws regarding divorce very hard to discourage couples from relying on divorce as a convenient or preferable solution to marital differences. People must understand the value of marriage and its unbreakable bond established by the Lord of All. The root Hebrew word for divorce means “cutting apart.” This denotes that divorce should be viewed as cutting one flesh into two again. It is no wonder God hates divorce. That cutting imagery paints a violent and grisly picture of what divorce looks like, and it should be treated as such. It is more than just a dissolution of a legal contract; it is more like a painful and gory dismemberment of a human body.
Our mistakes and offenses to the holiness of the marriage covenant bring painful and sad consequences; because of that, bearing with one another, forgiveness, and reconciliation seem to be impossible pursuits. Thankfully, our God is a restorer and always gives us second chances. As we repent and seek the righteousness of God in marriage, no matter how difficult or inconvenient it may be, He brings us healing and redemption.
If your conditions when remarrying are biblically legitimate and you are considering remarrying your ex-spouse, here is some helpful advice:
1. Seek Godly advice
Don’t rush into things. Emotions are not always the best determinant in decision-making, especially when it comes to major choices. We all have our blind spots, and the seriousness of marriage should be given proper attention. Finding wisdom from mature Christians can give us fresh and wise perspectives.
2. Seek Christian marital counseling
What makes you think that past problems with your ex-spouse will not resurface and other potential problems may also be unlocked? Your relationship had already been shaky in your first attempt at marriage. It’s good to seek professional help, preferably from a Christian counselor, to help facilitate healing and restoration. You may have previously missed out on root problems that trained counselors can now identify. This can help prevent recurring issues from snowballing into a bigger mess.
3. Seek forgiveness and seek to forgive
Have healthy conversations with your ex-spouse about past issues. Forgiveness cannot change the past, but it can help restart broken relationships and open new opportunities to build a renewed one. Just as Christ forgives us, no matter how heinous our sins are, we must also learn to forgive. Although forgiveness is a hard path to take, pray for God’s grace to work in your heart.
4. Seek the help of the church community
Find and be involved in a healthy church community. Having Godly friends can boost encouragement and accountability, which will help in sustaining your marriage. Your struggle in marriage doesn’t have to be a lonely walk. That is why the Bible tells us to help motivate each other to love and do good. We must not neglect meeting together as a church community, but we should also come together to encourage and strengthen one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).
5. Pray earnestly for a stronger and more enduring marriage
This is not the last and least resort, but it should be a constant measure in every circumstance, decision, and step you take. Prayer allows us to tap into the unlimited power of God. We need to trust in His ways at all times. God initiates our faith to believe in restoration, and He is also the one who completes it. A God-dependent marriage is a victorious one.
We hope and pray that the advice above will help you in your journey towards healing.
Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us that God’s love and faithfulness is boundless and that He never stops showing mercy to those who come and repent. In His greatness, we experience His fresh and renewing mercy every day.
Can a divorcée remarry according to the Bible?
This depends upon the legitimacy of the grounds for divorce. God does not like divorce, and Scripture speaks of certain instances that God does not allow remarriage after divorce.
The Bible talks about only two specific grounds for divorce that God allows: sexual immorality (Matthew 19:3-7) in marriage and when a Christian wife is abandoned by an unbelieving husband (1 Corinthians 7:10-16). However, if you study closer, only sexual infidelity explicitly allows remarriage. Divorce by the desertion of an unbelieving husband only allows the wife to let go of the marriage but doesn’t say anything about remarriage. In such a case, we may infer that separation is allowed but not remarriage. This is also applicable to other valid reasons for divorce, such as spousal and child abuse; when we look for examples or guidance in such situations, we find that the Bible is silent about remarriage. We cannot assume that God approves of something if His scriptures do not talk about it.
At best, praying for God’s wisdom and guidance can help determine your direction and make decisions in contemplating remarriage after divorce. Asking for advice from your pastor will also help in finding the right perspective. Remarriage should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, many people cannot see the sacred value of marriage and find themselves in several cycles of divorce and remarriage.
However, it must be made clear that even though God hates it when people play around with marriage or when people look to divorce as a convenient solution to marital problems, He does not condemn them but offers open arms for forgiveness and redemption. Remember the Samaritan woman whom Jesus talked to at the well?In John 4:1-42, Jesus talked to a Samaritan woman at the well. We later find out in the account that she had already gone through five different husbands and was living with a partner at that time. In the Jewish context of that time, a woman could be divorced twice or three times at most. Assuming that the Samaritans follow the same standard, she was considered to be living a very immoral life; on top of that, she was not even married to her current partner. Even so, Jesus did not condemn her for her disregard to the sanctity of marriage. Instead, He offered her a forgiven and renewed life. You may have been in the same situation or something close to hers, so you may understand. Remember, God offers forgiveness and redemption if you choose to repent and follow Him.