Divorce and Remarriage Rom. 7:1-4 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This sermon is about divorce and remarriage. If I have been divorced must I remain unmarried? No, as long as there were scriptural reasons for your divorce. This is a controversial subject, to say the least. Those who have never been divorced are often too quick to judge those who have been divorced. And those who have been divorced are often too quick to justify others who get divorced.
Many preachers hold the doctrine that if you have been divorced, no matter what the reason, you cannot remarry. However, this appears to be a doctrinal misunderstanding of Rom. 7:1-4. We will see that there are in fact two scriptural reasons for divorce and that remarriage is allowed in these cases.
Let’s start with Rom. 7:1-4. In this passage, Paul deals with the matter of the doctrinal death of the body at salvation, where you “are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that you should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead,” (v.4). To illustrate this doctrinal truth, he uses the death of a spouse, and the freedom of the widow to remarry.
You see, before your salvation, you were a live body, a live soul, and a dead spirit. That’s why your spirit needed to be born again (Jn. 3:6). Paul said in Eph. 2:1, “And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.” To be quickened means to be made alive. Well, your body wasn’t quickened, because it is heading to a grave. Neither was your soul quickened, because it was alive before your salvation (Matt. 10:28). Thus, your spirit was quickened.
Therefore, following your salvation, you became a live soul, a live spirit, and a dead body. Like Paul said in Rom. 6:7-8, “For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.” The fact that the body is doctrinally dead allows you to be “espoused” to Christ (2 Cor. 11:2) awaiting the marriage of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7-9). However, practically speaking, your body is still alive, waiting on the grave.
Now, watch how Paul uses marriage to illustrate this doctrinal truth. In Rom. 7:2-3, Paul describes the way that marriage binds the wife to her husband until his death. Then, after his death, she is free to remarry, since the law only has “dominion over a man as long as he liveth.” Therefore, she is not an adulteress, because her husband is dead.
Accordingly, the soul (pictured by the wife) is bound to the body (pictured by the husband) until the body dies. Since the body dies at salvation, the soul is free to be married to Jesus Christ. That is the doctrinal teaching of Rom. 7:1-4.
You see, then, that Rom. 7:1-4, does not even deal with divorce, because it is simply an illustration of a doctrinal truth concerning salvation. Many times, however, preachers use these verses to make a case against remarriage by a divorcee. They say that if the wife and the husband get a divorce, she cannot remarry until he dies because the preachers believe that they are still “husband” and “wife.” This is not true.
According to Hos. 2:1-2, we find that when a “husband” and a “wife” divorce, they are no longer “husband and wife.” In that passage, Hosea and Gomer are still alive, but their marriage is over. He says, “she is not my wife, neither am I her husband.” Both spouses are still alive but they are no longer “husband and wife.” So, a former spouse does not have to wait until the death of his/her former spouse to remarry if there were scriptural grounds for their divorce.
In fact, in Matt. 19:3-9, the Lord Jesus Christ allows divorce. The Pharisees asked him about divorce and the Lord told them that he was totally against it. However, he made an allowance for fornication. He said, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery.”
You know why the Lord allowed divorce in the case of fornication? Because fornication divides the “one flesh” of the marriage (Gen. 2:24) and creates a new union (1 Cor. 6:16), thus causing adultery. In such a case, the other party is no longer “bound by the law.”
Referring back to the illustration in Rom. 7, if the wife, for instance, had committed fornication, she would be an adulteress because she married “another man” (a marriage by flesh joining flesh, 1 Cor. 6:16) while she was married to her “husband”.
Another case for divorce occurs in 1 Cor. 7:12-15. Here is a case where a husband or a wife gets saved and the unbelieving spouse decides to leave. Paul said, “if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases.” While Paul recommends that the deserted spouse remain single (1 Cor. 7:27), he also tells us that it is not a sin if he or she remarries (1 Cor. 7:28). The only condition on remarriage is that a widow (or a deserted spouse) marry a saved person (1 Cor. 7:39).
Let me add that preachers are wrong who teach that remarried couples from such scriptural circumstances are living constantly in adultery and that they need to divorce and return to their original spouses. Deut 24:1-4 shows you, in no uncertain terms, that returning to an original spouse is abomination to the Lord.
So, while God is absolutely opposed to divorce (Matt. 19:7-8; Mal 2:16), he allows remarriage under two conditions: fornication or desertion. Be well advised, though, that in the case of a remarriage, “such shall have trouble in the flesh,” (1 Cor. 7:28).
You’d better spend a great deal of time in prayer before you even think about remarriage. And you’d better be absolutely certain that the Lord is directing you in the case of a remarriage. In the cases where God has directed the marriage, they are very successful and God glorifying. It is very common, though, for people to divorce for the wrong reason and remarry for the wrong reason. And you don’t want to be a party to either of these cases. Nevertheless, if you are currently remarried and you find that your circumstances were not scriptural, don’t bail out. Be truthful with God and seek his mercy and his will. If anyone can get you back on track it’s the Lord.