Remarriage After Divorce. Some time ago, I wrote the article, “If I am a Christian, Can I get a Divorce.” In it, I discussed some biblical reasons for divorce and what is forfeited by divorce for the Christian. If you are still married or thinking of divorce, I strongly urge you to read that article before continuing. Much of what we will discuss here will have a basis in that article. So please read it first.
Who is this Article For? – Remarriage After Divorce for Christians
I am writing this article for “bible believing” Christians who are divorced (or going through a divorce). If you are not a Bible-believing Christian having experienced divorce, then this is not for you.
The Woke World
Divorce can be one of the most devastating events to happen in life. It is the tearing away of something intentionally joined together in love, faith, and hope. In today’s culture of a woke world, replacing something old is relatively common and celebrated. But the reality for a Christian is God intended marriage to be a lifelong commitment. When the marriage fails, guilt, conviction, and condemnation can play havoc on the Believer’s mind. So much so that it feels as though there is nothing good ahead. This is especially true for those that didn’t want a divorce to be part of their story.
Candidly, I see very few approaches to life after divorce, with the majority leading to remarriage. It is why I believe the discussion of remarriage is vitally essential for those Christians who experience divorce.
After divorce, the topic of remarriage from a faith perspective caused me to question my Christian beliefs. Why? I played a considerable role in causing my divorce. It didn’t fit into the divorce sermonette for the freedom to remarry, as heard from the local church pulpit. It was complicated and messy, riddled with sin on both sides.
As I discovered being a Christian again after divorce, I found confusion and opinions around remarriage rooted in fear and law.
Almost always, when divorce is discussed in the context of Christianity and remarriage, it is met with a list full of rules and regulations with manipulators standing close by looking to use subjective laws rather than objective Biblical truths. The common stance from most pulpits is to warn the married of the ramifications of divorce at the divorcee’s expense. Talk of grace or restoration is limited for those Christians already divorced, which simply adds to remarriage confusion.
My first visit to church on a summer Sunday morning was met with such a message.
In that light, I felt as though there was no hope for my future as it related to remarriage. Looking directly at God’s word from a law perspective left me with no options but to walk away from God. Sadly, I did that for a short time after I attended a local church divorce care group where they only gave two options for the divorcee “are you the guilty party or the innocent party”?
GUILTY… Aren’t we all?
The law mindset (Thou shalt not…) leaves no room for biblical truth partnered with grace rooted in the new law, after Christ’s sacrifice, that of Love (John 13:34).
Equally, I found the other side as unbalanced, where some ignored the biblical truth around divorce and remarriage and were ultimately left with devastating consequences.
When God says he hates divorce, it’s because it hurts everyone involved. It’s breaking one of the first covenants created by God. However, after sin came into the world, the Bible provides concessions (to the law) for man’s sin, giving way to approved reasons for divorce that allow for some to remarry without sinning (1 Corinthians 7:10-15,27,28 and Matthew 19:9).
However, religion says that after divorce, remarriage is risky unless you were not saved at the time. This implies that God’s restorative power doesn’t apply to someone who was already a Christian at the time of the divorce; the only sin that says, “You’ve made your bed – now lie in it!”
I am sure you can sense my sarcasm.
You see, those that care about pleasing God will genuinely wrestle with remarriage after divorce in the light of God’s truth (the Bible) and His grace. Those that don’t care about pleasing God will simply justify themselves because neither truth nor grace is part of their decision to remarry. They are self-justified and ultimately deal with the consequences of their justification.
Again, none of this is part of God’s original plan for marriage.
God has proven himself repeatedly to be gracious and merciful and the redeemer of all things (Romans 8:28).
For outsiders of divorce (those who have never gone through a divorce or those who had the Biblical basis for divorce), it becomes easy to “throw stones” and fall into the legalisms, disregarding God’s restorative power for anyone who finds themselves divorced outside of biblical mandates relying on Christ alone.
Remarriage – A Matter of the Heart
The choice to remarry is a matter of the heart. Not the touchy-feely one, but the one that Jeremiah 17:9 speaks of “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Extreme caution should be used when approaching remarriage after divorce because a hurt heart can be highly deceitful.
Ultimately, no one can make this decision for you, and it won’t just be cut and dry in most situations. While it is sound judgment to seek wisdom from others concerning remarriage, the reality is you must first reconcile that final decision between you, God, and his word (biblical truth). If you love the Lord, then you must be willing to give up your right to choose rather than exclaiming, “God wants me happy,” which is one of the many justifications I often hear for remarriage.
The Confusion and Justification for Remarriage
The confusion comes when we try to reconcile the desire for remarriage with what others say rather than God, his grace, and his truth (the Bible). For example;
- The world might say forget the past it’s no big deal to remarry, do what you want, you deserve to be happy.
- The law-wheeling Christian might say, you didn’t follow all the rules; therefore, you can’t as God doesn’t want you happy but holy.
- The grace alone Christian might say God forgives so live in that, but some will ignore any discussion of the biblical truth that guards grace as we don’t want to offend anyone.
All three opinions have a hint of truth but lack a complete approach to healing from divorce and Christ-driven confidence for a future successful marriage.
I have spent years toiling, researching, and praying around the idea of remarriage after divorce. Why? Because deep down, I had a desire to both please God and be married again. I didn’t know how to reconcile the confusion with remarriage and all my deficiencies as a sin-filled man. As I described earlier because I felt as though I had no options for remarriage in the light of the “law,” I set out on a course of selfishness. ” I am just going to do what I want.” So, I lived like the rest of the world—dating and never getting close enough to anyone. I could blame the breakup on “she was crazy” or “gold-digger,” but the reality, it was me. You can read about that here.
I have to admit, at times, it was fun. Wrong choices are like that for a season. After all, why would I ever get married again?
Marriage sounded crazy from the perspective of selfishness, and my heart hardened toward it. During these times, my foundational understanding of God’s grace and his truth (the Bible) was flawed. I would often hear sermons full of laws without truth or grace around divorce and remarriage, like that first Sunday morning, which would take the desire to ever marry again away. After all, if I sinned as a single, God forgives. “Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll” were all forgivable. But if I got married again, who knew if God would forgive a possible unlawful remarriage and if it was a ticket to the unforgivable sin as religion made it seem.
So, when the final bill came for my selfishness, I was exhausted, alone, and emotionally bankrupt. I came to an end myself where my selfishness was confronted by a father who didn’t leave and was waiting for my return, even though I squandered his generosity.
I had to start over and go back to reconcile the confusion of the three opinions from the world, the law-wheeling, and the grace alone Christians looming in the back of my mind.
God did want me to forget the past (Philippians 3:13) and to live in joy (Romans 14:17), he wanted me holy (1 Peter 1:16), and his grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9) because his truth speaks a greater word of redemption (Galatians 3:13).
The reality, though, was that I could no longer live in ignorance like I used to live. When we accept God’s grace and forgiveness, our part is to honor that with our obedience to his truth (the Bible). It’s not a rule-keeping quest but a thankfulness and graciousness journey full of a desire to choose God.
Can I remarry after divorce?
For me, I found that the permission to remarry wasn’t based on a law, feelings, or happiness, but on my desire to please and choose God, regardless of the future outcome. So, I stopped dating and turned my focus to honoring God each day. Not because my intention was to be married. As you read, it was the last thing on my mind in my broken state.
I wanted to be restored and redeemed in a way that helped me to live in the light of God’s promises of peace and joy. One where people were more important than things, and selfishness, for the most part, was a thing of the past. As I shifted my focus away from what I thought I wanted to God’s, soon enough, my will aligned with his.
Sometimes explanations like that sound impractical. The woke world wants you to be the victim. But only those who take personal responsibility to honor God first, considering his truth (the Bible) in partnership with Christ’s sacrifice (Grace), will truly find freedom.
I can’t tell you what choice to make for your specific situation and you may be reading this hoping for that answer. I did the same as I scanned the web, looking for some truth that would align with my situation. Candidly, nobody can give you that answer.
You Have Been Approved for Remarriage…?
If you are looking for that rubber stamp or for some pastor, counselor, or church to say it’s ok if you remarry, you will always question the choice, especially when things get hard, as they often do in all marriages. I have watched numerous people remarry during my nearly two decades single, with many divorcing again because they took someone else’s word for it, rather than God’s.
Remarriage has to be resolved between you and God in the light of his promises. Now, here is the information no one wants to hear. In my opinion, not everyone who was once married should get remarried. Take Paul, for example. It’s believed he was once married because of his previous position and now remains single for the spread of the gospel. When I went through my time as I described above, I assumed I would never marry again. I lived in that acceptance of God and me, choosing to honor him rather than any feelings or desires.
Ultimately, I wrote this article so that wherever you are in the divorce and remarriage process, you can ask yourself some simple questions that will better position you for remarriage, should the Lord will it for your future.
Here are four things you should consider as you ponder remarriage.
1. Have you given yourself time?
I can almost guarantee if you move on too quickly, you will divorce again. I have seen it over and over and over again in the last two decades. Time is not the determinate of readiness; however, it is a gauge for allowing one to walk through their former life and reconcile a future that looks nothing like the past. If you have children from your previous marriage, you will have to navigate that in light of any future. Giving everyone, including the children, time to accept the past, address any emotional, spiritual, financial, and physical issues before moving forward. Taking time for yourself now will pay huge dividends for your future.
In most cases, your future won’t look anything like the past. Some, after divorce, try to recreate something familiar in hopes it takes away the pain. Please don’t do it. It will merely create more pain than you can imagine. So please, stop and take the time.
2. Have you repented for your part of the divorce?
The Greek word for repentance used in the New Testament is metanoia and means “a change of mind.” To be saved and forgiven, we must change our minds about sin. Here is the problem. Divorce leaves the mind devasted and confused no matter which side you are on.
Having been married and divorced, you probably know that both sides play a role in the divorce. Have you repented of your part, however small or big? Sometimes, in cases where you feel jilted, like you were cheated on or left, you might have a bit of self-righteousness.
Refusing to acknowledge your role in divorce will only leave you in bitterness and self-righteousness and blind you in future decisions. Those blinders are what cause second marriages to fail at a higher rate than first ones. Again, this goes back to self-justification, where you believe you are owed some sort of happiness for all the pain you bore in the marriage. Not true. It doesn’t work that way and will leave you with future devastating consequences.
The key to stepping into a new future is leaving the past by acknowledging it with God in repentance and prayer and then changing your mind by renewing it through God’s word. It sounds like a Christian answer. But I challenge you to try spending 15-minutes a day reading and praying for the next 30 days and see if it doesn’t change you.
3. Have you sought or waited for reconciliation?
Reconciliation is essential for every divorced person. For me, it was foundational for moving on after divorce. The reconciliation I speak of isn’t about getting your former spouse back but rather restoring friendly relations, especially if you have children together. The reality is that the percentage of those who remarry their former spouse after the divorce has less than a 10% chance of success. In my situation, I had two young children (ages 2 & 5), and many years ahead of interacting with my former spouse and her family. I had to choose what was more important—being right or reconciling for the sake of peace.
Is there a way to agree to disagree with time between you and your former spouse? Coming to peace with your former spouse through reconciliation opens the door for your heart to heal and for God’s restorative power. Reconciliation is not done with your words but with thoughtful actions. Not everyone can do this, but if you can, do it.
The second part of reconciliation is that of the relationship between you and God. You are one prayer away from reconciling with God. He doesn’t require any big gestures. Just a heart willing to move toward him rather than away. The thief on the cross simply asked Jesus to remember him (Luke 23:42)!
I had seen more spiritual growth in my singleness when I finally decided to reconcile with God, with dividends being wisdom, peace, and joy. Don’t miss the opportunity to reconcile with God.
4. Have you soberly examined your heart for remarriage readiness?
At the time of this article, I just married an amazing woman after 17 years of singleness. Candidly, she is more than I could ask for or could have imagined. It is an amazing story of God’s restoration when it appeared as though my opportunities were all but gone. God is like that. He gives good gifts when we don’t even expect them (Matthew 7:11).
However, during my journey toward readiness, I recall giving up and saying to my friend Kip, “I’m never going to get married again.” He would correct me and encourage me to seek God’s plans and not what I could see. Having good Godly friends around you, reminding you of biblical truths rather than what you want to hear, is essential in remarriage readiness.
Candidly, I had to get to a place in my heart where I wasn’t selfishly seeking my own. Even after a few months of marriage, I can say that my selfishness would have gotten in the way of enjoying marriage. It took me a very long time to lay that down. Selfishness says, “they are not doing….xyz”. Whereas a healthy partner would say, “what can I do to please my spouse.”
Our primary heart posture should be to please God in obedience. Each morning I start by asking, “Oh Lord, how can I please and walk with you?”
When your heart’s posture is to please God no matter the outcome, then readiness and remarriage are not far off. When your intentions are to selfishly fill some need, it may be time to take a break and reexamine your heart.
My Belief and Conclusion
I believe that remarriage is possible for anyone who has seen a heart change toward Christ and away from selfishness (sin) no matter their divorcing circumstances. Why? In Christ, you are a new creation; the old is dead (2 Corinthians 5:17). Physical realities of the Old Testament became spiritual realities in the New Testament.
If eternal life through Christ is possible through confessing with our mouth and believing in our heart (Romans 10:9), it causes me to pause and check the heart in everything. It might practically look like, “search me, Lord?”
Remarriage can’t be approached in selfishness. God is not a genie in a bottle sitting around waiting to answer your requests. He is a good good father wanting the best for his children (Psalm 103:13), so much so that he allows you to leave but welcomes you home when you return. He also allows you to be divorced because of personal choices but gives the Believer examples throughout the Bible of sin-filled people who were reconciled and restored.
Heart of Selfishness
If you seek remarriage with a heart of selfishness or select a partner in such a state, indeed, unless the Lord intervenes, it will end in another divorce. I see so many, who didn’t do their due diligence with remarriage, only to see a second, and even third marriages end in disaster—Christian people who love the Lord but have not given their desire or future to him. Taking things into your own hands will surely leave you with more pain.
The path to remarriage is not a formula to follow. It’s not a box to tick or a class to take. The reality is that only you and God can reconcile the choice and the timing. I believe that God can restore anything he wants to, no matter the circumstances around how you divorced. But to know his heart for your restoration, you must shift your focus from remarriage to a reconciled relationship with him as he is our only justification. No law or process will stand against Christ’s justification for our sin.
If you choose to justify yourself, you will surely find yourself with consequences that won’t bear fruit. I hope you will seek the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
As with all my articles, I believe in personal responsibility, coupled with obedience to God’s word, surrounded by the new law, that of love, and Christ’s gift of grace. Keep the stones for yourself.
Comments / Questions
If you want to comment or ask questions, you can do so publicly below.