Sunday, June 13, 2010

What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?

What does the Bible say about divorce and remarriage?

Divorce is no longer a disease contracted only by Hollywood movie stars. It has become a common trend in the Christian world, especially in America. Majority of the Christian families, directly or indirectly, know the pain of divorce.
The recent "no fault" divorce law in America makes marriage dissolution so easy that some lawyers advertise divorce services for less than $100.00! What a pity for such a sacred relationship as marriage!
Many Christians do not know what to believe in the area of divorce and remarriage. They simply rely upon the law of the land and assume it is Biblical.
But do the followers of Christianity know what God in the Bible say about divorce? Does Bible permit divorce at all?
Here, we will try and understand the law of divorce according to the Bible:

Divorce in the Christian Scriptures (The New Testament)

According to the Bible, marriage is a lifetime commitment. Jesus says that God intended men and women to marry permanently. Divorce is not in God's plan.
Matthew 19:4-6 (New International Version)
  • 19:4) "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'
  • 19:5) and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'
  • 19:6) So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.

Mark 10:2-12: There are no valid grounds for divorce:

Jesus says that all marriages are permanent in nature and not separable. IF anyone divorce then they commit adultery.
Mark 10:2-12 (New International Version)
  • 10:2) Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
  • 10:3) "What did Moses command you?" he replied.
  • 10:4) They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away."
  • 10:5) "It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law," Jesus replied.
  • 10:6) "But at the beginning of creation God 'made them male and female.'

  • 10:7) 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
  • 10:8) and the two will become one flesh.' So they are no longer two, but one.
  • 10:9) Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."
  • 10:10) When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this.
  • 10:11) He answered, "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.
  • 10:12) And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery."
It becomes clear that Moses had permitted divorce for various reasons. Further reading of this passage suggests that Jesus allowed divorce, hopefully for same reasons as Moses', but NOT remarriage. He states that if anyone remarries they are committing adultery.
Now, if you have read the above passage carefully, you might have observed that either husband or wife can initiate a divorce. But the trouble is this does not agree with the historical records.
In 1st century CE Palestine, only husband could end a marriage or send his wife away. Male were dominants and female had no rights.
Since the author or authors of Gospel of Mark were from Rome and not native of Jerusalem, they edited the verse to suite their local pagan believes.
However, when Matthew later extracted this story from Mark, he modified the text to bring it into accordance with Jewish practice.

Luke 16:18: Remarriage is not permitted:

Jesus here condemns remarriage of both husband and wife. Both the wife's former and new husband are committing adultery.
Luke 16:18 (New International Version)
  • 16:18) "Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
This passage allows divorce, perhaps for various reasons, but NOT re-marriage. Unlike Mark 10:2-12, here a woman cannot divorce her husband for it is a MALE who has upper hand over female.

Matthew 5:31-32 & Matthew 19:3-9: Adultery the only valid grounds for divorce:

Matthew 5:31-32 (New International Version)
  • 5:31) "It has been said, 'Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.'
  • 5:32) But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.
In the Bible, divorced women are labeled as an adulteress, not men. Why didn't Jesus label the man who divorces his wife and marries another woman as adulterer? Is it a Biblical double standard? WOMEN are the prime cause for adultery and not man; no matter who is at fault.
Matthew 19:7-9 (New International Version)
  • 19:7) "Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?"
  • 19:8) Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
  • 19:9) I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
Here, if a man divorces his wife for any reason but marital unfaithfulness he is forcing her to commit adultery and if she marries another man, he is committing adultery. It is not clear whether an innocent party in a divorce is allowed to remarry.
The author of this passage borrowed it from Gospel of Mark (10:2-12).
The difference between the two (Gospel of Mark and Matthew) is that in Gospel of Mark both husband and wife can initiate a divorce (because it was written in Rome where pagans allowed a married woman to do so) and in Gospel of Matthew, only the husband initiates a divorce.
However, there is another major discrepancy among these two Gospels and that is the �exception� clause in the Gospel of Matthew.
The question is, from where did the authors of Gospel of Matthew get this exception clause, �except for marital unfaithfulness� that was missing earlier?
It is clear that Jesus preached that marriage was permanent and divorce is not permitted for any reason.
So, it is precise that the author of Gospel of Mathew added the words 'except for marital unfaithfulness' as the only grounds for divorce and then put this message into Jesus' words to make it sound divine!

1 Corinthians 7:10-11: Divorced woman MUST remain unmarried

1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (New American Standard Bible)
  • 7:10) But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband
  • 7:11) (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
According to Paul, a married woman should live the life of a caged prisoner. She has no right to divorce and worse, if divorced, she must remain unmarried throughout her life. Further, a man should not divorce his wife that makes marriage permanent.
A woman, if divorced, should remain unmarried but what about the man? Paul does not provide any solution.


The Bible does NOT permit couples to divorce, as it is not God's plan. Jesus was strictly against divorce.
Married woman has absolutely NO right to initiate divorce. She is either the property of her father or that of her husband.
In short, divorce is NOT permitted for Christians. If divorced both the parties MUST remain unmarried. If they re-marry they are committing adultery that is a clear SIN.

Ask yourself:

Divorce rates are higher in European or American countries. Imagine if all those parties involved therein were to be practicing Christians! To begin with, NONE of them would be allowed to REMARRY according to the Bible....
Yet again according to the very same Bible, women have NO RIGHT to initiate a divorce. What if the husband is a drunkard, drug edict and/or abusive (Substance, physical, sexual)? What if the husband is mentally instable or sexually impotent?
A married woman, in this case, will have no option but to remain silent and suppressed with no voice to raise and no one to help (religiously).

In Islam:

Islam has a very balanced approach to the issue of divorce. Islamic law gives the right of marriage dissolution to both husband and wife. The husband's right of marriage annulment is termed as TALAAQ while the wife's right of annulment is called KHUL'A.
It is clear which religion is oppressing women. 

Source : and remarriage in the Bible and in Christian tradition

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