A question was asked, I was divorced as an unbeliever, but now as a believer I wish to remarry. Is it sin? From a Christian's position, a believer is bound by their mate as long as they shall live, it is a spiritual soul-tie and it is indeed sin to divorce let alone remarry. Where divorce on behalf of a confessing Christian shows themselves failures in the faith, and possibly revealing themselves never to have been in the faith. Christ in us results in a love that covers over a multitude of sins, we are without excuse. Frankly, the multiple divorces common among so many Christians today is basically a form of serial polygamy. But on behalf of those who have come to Christ after divorce, the grounds are different.

First let me say that the argument is not over whether divorce is bad. God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). God always hates divorce. We must, however, keep this in perspective: there are a lot of things that are the result of a fallen world that God hates. God hates death (Ezekiel 18:23). God also, to be sure, hated that he had to divorce Israel “And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.” For God to say “I hate divorce” helps us recognize that divorce, as a part of the fallen order, is a result of sinfulness in the world and it is this that God hates. It also helps us recognize that divorce, is a part of a fallen world due to sinfulness.

There are many disagreements about the issue of remarriage after divorce. I think that the primary passage that causes this particular trouble in dealing with divorce is Matthew 5:31-32 (and parallel passages): “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Pastor Michael Patton explains it like this "Christ here uses divorce as an illustration for our consistent inability to live up to the standards of God’s perfection. I say “illustration” because it comes in the context of Christ’s shocking statement, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (v.20). What a terrifying statement that must have been. Christ then goes on to demonstrate how the traditional way that people view the law and righteousness is insufficient. “You have heard it said . . . But I say to you” was Christ’s way of telling the people that what was said before needs to be rethought and intensified. Why? Because fulfilling the requirements of what was said before does not make one righteous unless it is understood correctly. Christ shows that just because someone has never committed the act of murder, this does not make them innocent of the principle that prohibits murder; the spirit of the fifth commandment includes a benevolent disposition to others (vv. 21-26). He then does the same thing with adultery, teaching that the commandment prohibiting adultery goes much deeper than the actual act. One must have fidelity in his thoughts as well (vv. 27-30)."

By saying these things in such a way, Christ is turning the Jewish people’s worldview upside down. The scribes and the Pharisees were the ruling class among the top spiritual. Surely, if they could not enter the kingdom by their righteousness, everyone is without hope. The Jewish leadership felt at ease with themselves because, according to their estimation, they had lived pretty good lives. They had not broken any of the commandments, so they were safe. Christ seeks to usher in reality by showing that all people are sinners, even the Jewish leaders. Why? Because everyone has broken the principles of the laws, even if they had managed to avoid breaking a particular expression of the law.

What we must realize about this entire aspect of Scripture is that Christ’s argument employs much hyperbole and extreme rhetoric. Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression, but is not meant to be taken literally. Jesus was very fond of hyperbole, and used it frequently in His teaching. His idioms or figures of speech are combinations of words whose meaning cannot be determined by examination of the meanings of the words that make it up. Or, to put it another way, an idiom uses a number of words to represent a single object, person or concept. Unless you recognize when an idiom is being used you can easily misunderstand the meaning of a text. Modern translations, such as the NIV, use an equivalent figure of speech in English to translate many biblical idioms. More literal versions, particularly the King James Version, translate idioms word for word. It is the reader of the literal versions who needs to be most aware of the meanings of biblical idioms.

An example would what Christ says concerning lust, “If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out.” This is not meant to reduce the seriousness of Christ’s admonition, but to show that Christ, like any good teacher, used hyperbole to get a point across. Everything that Christ says in this section must be taken in the spirit of its intent. It is in this context that Christ makes his statement about divorce:

“It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Mt 5.31-32)

These are strong words, especially for those found in this situation. But, we must realize that they are no less shocking and hard than the two previous admonitions concerning hatred and lust. It is agreed about Christ’s words that anyone who divorces his wife makes her commit adultery, and following passages, must be taken in the same vein as the rest of His teaching in this context. In other words, Christ was using the same methodology to bring shock to his listeners so that all would see the drastic need that everyone has, no matter how good they think they are, for God’s mercy.

Craig Keener also provides some insight to this passage in Matthew 5:31-32 when he says,
“If He [Christ] intended this statement literally, the new union is adulterous; hence, sin occurs during every act of intercourse (not simply during the remarriage ceremony). In this case, we should not merely forbid divorced church members to remarry; we should regard their remarriages as adulterous unions and thus seek to break them up, even if the remarriages preceded their conversion.”

Forgiveness and grace is something that we can take literally and act upon. For the person who has lusted in the past, we offer forgiveness, not a bride. For the person who has hated his brother, we offer grace, not the death penalty. For the person who has been divorced, shouldn’t we do the same?

The question here could be asked, if there is any way possible to be reconciled to your former spouse without sacrificing your family’s safety? If so, I believe it is the Lord’s will to pursue this. If not, then grace and forgiveness are offered. At this point the practical issues of responsibility and maturity become mandatory. First, a person must make sure they have worked out the reasons for the previous divorce to be sure that any personal spiritual issues (including commitment) are not unresolved. I do become uncomfortable when the marriage-divorce becomes a repeating cycle. There is an underlying challenge somewhere that should be addressed before another marriage is even considered.

If you have been divorced and have remarried, by God’s grace and mercy enjoy the blessing of your marriage and build your relationship according to the precepts of Scripture.