We often receive questions like “I am divorced for such and such a reason. Can I get remarried?” Or “I have been divorced twice—the first for adultery by my spouse, the second for incompatibility. The man I’m dating has been divorced three times—the first for incompatibility, the second for adultery on his part, the third for adultery on his wife’s part. Can we get married to each other?” Questions like these are difficult to answer because the Bible does not go into great detail regarding the various scenarios for remarriage after a divorce.
What we can know for sure is that it is God’s plan for a married couple to stay married as long as both spouses are alive (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6). The basic principle concerning divorce and remarriage is laid out clearly in 1 Corinthians 7:10–11: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.” So, the foundational rule is that there should be no divorce and, if a divorce does happen, no remarriage.
Once we understand the basic rule that there should be no remarriage after a divorce, we can look at the possible exceptions to that rule. One possible allowance for remarriage after a divorce is found in Matthew 19:9—if the marriage ended because of adultery, then the wronged spouse may be free to remarry. But this interpretation is debated among Christians.
Another possible allowance for remarriage is desertion—when an unbelieving spouse leaves a believing spouse (1 Corinthians 7:12–15). In such a case, the believer is “not bound” (verse 15). This passage does not specifically address remarriage, however, and much depends on the meaning of the words not bound. Instances of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse would be sufficient cause for separation, but the Bible does not speak of these sins in the context of divorce or remarriage.
While God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), God is also merciful and forgiving. Every divorce is a result of sin, either on the part of one spouse or both. Does God forgive divorce? Absolutely! Divorce is no less forgivable than any other sin. Forgiveness of all sins is available through faith in Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7). If God forgives the sin of divorce, does that mean you are free to remarry? In light of the command to “remain unmarried or else be reconciled” in 1 Corinthians 7:11, the answer would seem to be no, except in the specific circumstances mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:12–15 and Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9.
Being unmarried is not a curse. God sometimes calls people to remain single (1 Corinthians 7:7–8). Singleness can be an opportunity to serve God wholeheartedly (1 Corinthians 7:32–36).
So, can you or should you get remarried? We cannot give a blanket answer to that question. Ultimately, that is between you, your potential spouse, and, most importantly, God. The only advice we can give is for you to search the Scripture and pray to God for wisdom regarding what He would have you do (James 1:5). Pray with an open mind and genuinely ask the Lord to place His desires on your heart (Psalm 37:4). Seek the Lord’s will (Proverbs 3:5–6) and follow His leading.