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A study on divorce and remarriage in the church    

by Jim Drago

Church today looks very different than it did even 45 years ago. In some ways as far as aesthetics are concerned possibly some of these changes have been beneficial. Underneath the aesthetics sadly, there have also been many very dangerous doctrinal changes. Changes to doctrines that had been KNOWN as truth for 1000’s of years. One of the most tragic in my opinion is the doctrinal changes regarding divorce and remarriage that most every denomination now accepts as truth. For the most part prior to the last 45 years, most denominations held to the same doctrine that Biblical scholars and teachers had known and taught as truth since the time of the Lord’s original teachings on the subject. Hermes, Justin Martyr, Origen, Augustin all of these great theologians taught what they knew to be the truth: Marriage was a covenant until death, between one woman and one man. God hates divorce. And to remarry if you are divorced if your original spouse is alive is adultery. The truth of these doctrinal beliefs stood firm until approximately 50 years ago, this despite the fact that seeds of deceit were planted 500 hundred years ago with Erasmus’ misinterpretations and the early reformist’s zeal for change. No doctrine in the church has experienced a more profound and tragic metamorphosis than this one. This is what I believe to be true based on my own study of the Scriptures to seek the truth; not interpretation that would serve me, or extrapolation that would justify disobedience, or my comfort, but the simple question. What does the Word say on the issue? More importantly what did Jesus say concerning this issue? What does God think of this travesty that is ravaging the church? Thus began my search. It is by no means exhaustive; many have written entire books supporting their chosen beliefs on this issue. I believe the Word of God was meant to be simple to understand and to obey. I believe that as we get ourselves into situations where we need to; or want to; justify our disobedience we sometimes complicate It (the Word), and manipulate It to try to defend ourselves, or justify ourselves, rather than simply surrendering to It’s truth regardless of the consequences of simple obedience.

First of all, God instituted marriage. It was His idea. His plan. Genesis 2:21-24 tells us that God created woman from the man’s rib. He then as the woman’s Father gave her to Adam as his helpmeet. So to speak He gave her away in marriage similar to a father giving away the bride today. In verse 24 it is said that the two were joined together and were no longer two, but one flesh, and that nothing could separate them. Centuries later when the Pharisees challenged Jesus about divorce, He recounted what He had witnessed that day in the Garden of Eden as His Father instituted marriage, and He told them.

Matthew 19:4-6:

19:4 And1161 he3588 answered611 and said2036 unto them,846 Have ye not3756 read,314 that3754 he which made4160 them at575 the beginning746 made4160 them846 male730 and2532 female,2338

19:5 And2532 said,2036 For this cause1752, 5127 shall a man444 leave2641 father3962 and2532 mother,3384 and2532 shall cleave4347 to his848 wife:1135 and2532 they twain1417 shall be2071 one3391, (1519) flesh4561

19:6 Wherefore5620 they are1526 no more3765 twain,1417 but235 one3391 flesh.4561 What3739 therefore3767 God2316 hath joined together,4801 let not3361 man444 put asunder.5563

19:7 They say3004 unto him,846 Why5101 did Moses3475 then3767 command1781 to give1325 a writing975 of divorcement,647 and2532 to put her away630, 846

19:8 He saith3004 unto them,846 Moses3475 because4314 of the3588 hardness of your hearts4641, 5216 suffered2010 you5213 to put away630 your5216 wives:1135 but1161 from575 the beginning746 it was1096 not3756 so.3779

Mark 10:5-9

10:5 And2532 Jesus2424 answered611 and said2036 unto them,846 For4314 the3588 hardness of your heart4641, 5216 he wrote1125 you5213 this5026 precept.1785

10:6 But1161 from575 the beginning746 of the creation2937 God2316 made4160 them846 male730 and2532 female.2338

10:7 For this cause1752, 5127 shall a man444 leave2641 his848 father3962 and2532 mother,3384 and2532 cleave4347 to4314 his848 wife;1135

10:8 And2532 they twain1417 shall be2071 one3391 flesh:4561 so then5620 they are1526 no more3765 twain,1417 but235 one3391 flesh.4561

10:9 What3739 therefore3767 God2316 hath joined together,4801 let not3361 man444 put asunder.5563

Since the beginning of time God’s intent for marriage was that it would be permanent, and monogamous. Jesus Himself bore witness to that. May God forgive us that we have argued otherwise. Through the prophet Malachi, God Himself expressed His feelings toward divorce when He said in Malachi 2:16 For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth divorce: God hates it when one divorces their COVENANT spouse----the one that HE joined them to. We are told repeatedly in the Bible that divorce is going against God’s plan. Marriage is permanent until death. Matt 5:32 and 19:6-9, Mark 10:5-9 and 10:11-12, Luke 16:18, then again in 1st Cor 7:10-11 and 7:39, and in Rom 7:2

When the Word is so plain and straight forward on God’s intent for marriage, and His hate of divorce, why would we search so hard for exceptions? I tell you why, because of the hardness of OUR hearts. We are no different than the people that Moses was dealing with. We don’t want to sacrifice. We don’t want to love unconditionally. I call to your remembrance that none of them entered the Promised Land, not even Moses. I might add that Moses didn’t change the law concerning divorce because of new revelation from God; he hadn’t heard a new command from God. The word says he simply made a concession to allow it rather than stand against it as God would have wanted him to. Hardened hearts are not an excuse to divorce; they are a challenge to love unconditionally as we have been loved by our Lord. MOSES allowed divorce because of hard hearts, not God. God allowed a whole generation of His chosen people, His beloved, to die in the wilderness. Why? BECAUSE OF THEIR HARD HEARTS, THEIR ADULTERY!

We, just as Moses did, have allowed adultery into our camp (the church) rather than stand against it. Are we so arrogant as to think that if we don’t take a stand against this travesty, that God plainly says He hates, our fate will be any different than that of His beloved? It won’t be. It won’t be. It can’t be. The blood of Jesus was indeed shed for our sins, and our loving Father’s mercy is immeasurable, but blatant, willful disobedience will not be tolerated by Him. He is holy.

Let’s look at the supposed exception clauses that have so permeated and infected the church that our divorce rate is now higher than that of the heathen by most counts. By most counts the second highest divorce rate among professionals is held by pastors of Evangelical (Christian) churches. Yet the God we supposedly serve has stated that He hates divorce, and Jesus who we say is our Lord has borne witness that it was not even considered a possibility when They instituted marriage in the Garden of Eden. Yet we try to justify it. Please forgive us Lord.

The first and most commonly used of these is the misinterpretation in Matthew’s gospel.

Mat 5:31,32

It(1161) hath been said,4483 Whosoever3739, 302 shall put away630 his848 wife,1135 let him give1325 her846 a writing of divorcement:647

But1161 I1473 say3004 unto you,5213 That3754 whosoever3739, 302 shall put away630 his848 wife,1135 saving for3924 the cause3056 of fornication,4202 causeth4160 her846 to commit adultery:3429 and2532 whosoever3739, 1437 shall marry1060 her that is divorced630 committeth adultery.3429

In another place Matthew remembers these words of Jesus

Mat 19:8,9

He saith3004 unto them,846 Moses3475 because4314 of the3588 hardness of your hearts4641, 5216 suffered2010 you5213 to put away630 your5216 wives:1135 but1161 from575 the beginning746 it was1096 not3756 so.3779

And1161 I say3004 unto you,5213 Whosoever3739, 302 shall put away630 his848 wife,1135 except1508 it be for1909 fornication,4202 and2532 shall marry1060 another,243 committeth adultery:3429 and2532 whoso marrieth1060 her which is put away630 doth commit adultery.3429

It is of the utmost importance that we remember that when Jesus spoke these words, He was teaching Jews, and when Matthew recounted them he was teaching Jews.

Jesus DID NOT say in Matthew 5:32

whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of ADULTERY, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. Most translations of the Bible translate this passage wrong. It is a lie of Satan which he has planted to destroy the church. Most in the church, from Pastors to laymen sadly, for the convenience of not facing their own sin, or because of not being willing to confront others about their sin accept and even defend this lie.

Jesus said

whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of FORNICATION, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

The same is true in Matthew 19:9

THIS IS CRITICAL this statement is only found in Matthew. It is not mentioned in Mark’s or Luke’s account of the same incident, and for a very important reason. This exception only applied to Jews who were in the betrothal period. This was a period of time before marriage, but they were legally bound to each other. Though they had not consummated their marriage yet by having intercourse, their vows bound them. During this period of time and this period only was divorce permitted. Yes by Jewish culture you had to file for and be granted a divorce to break what we refer to as an engagement. That is why it is not found in Mark’s or Luke’s account. They were teaching the Greeks and Romans who it would have meant nothing to, so it was not mentioned. This is the reason that Joseph considered putting away Mary. Common sense told him that in her condition she must have been unfaithful to him. When the angel appeared to him the angel did not scold him for his feelings, for indeed if it had been as it seemed to be he would have had a right by Jewish law to put Mary away. The angel however told Joseph not to fear for it was as Mary had said, she had not been with a man and the baby within her was conceived through the Holy Spirit. Since he was a righteous man Joseph knew that he had no grounds to put her away, so he took her as his wife, and fulfilled the vows that he'd made to her.

The Greek word for adultery is MOICHAO it refers to sexual intercourse after marriage with someone who is not your covenant spouse and is used above as the word at number 3429. In Greek the word used at number 4202 is PORNEIA the closest word we have in our language for it is fornication sexual intercourse before marriage.

If Jesus would have meant adultery in both places He would have used one of the forms of MOICHAO at 4202. Instead He said what He meant PORNEIA. These two words are not interchangeable; they have very different contextual meaning. How dare us reinterpret what the Lord simply and purposefully stated.

I might add that if you choose to ignore the truth and use this misinterpretation to divorce, in both of the above scriptures as well as in Mark 10:11 & 12, and in Luke 16:18, and in Romans 7:3 remarriage after divorce is still named as adultery in every example. It is a separate statement. So even if you misquote God’s word to try to justify divorcing your spouse, remarriage is a separate issue and forbidden by the word unless your covenant ( first ) spouse has died. Divorce is not an allowance to remarry.

Pastors if you have ever used these verses in counseling and encouraged someone to divorce their covenant, (first) spouse and they have followed your advice, and they have remarried while their original first covenant spouse is still alive you have approved of, and encouraged, their adultery. Period.



Men/women: if you have used these verses as an excuse to divorce your covenant spouse and you have remarried while your spouse is still alive, you are committing adultery. Period. YOU WILL ANSWER TO GOD FOR IT!

These verses were not meant as an exception clause!! There is NO exception clause!! It is a lie from the pit of hell sent to destroy the very foundations of Christianity. And we have not only accepted it, but even most supposed Christians fight to defend it.

May God forgive us.

Now lets look at another verse that is often misquoted by those who want to TRY to legalize their adultery.

1Co 7:15 But1161 if1487 the3588 unbelieving571 depart,5563 let him depart.5563 A brother80 or2228 a sister79 is not3756 under bondage1402 in1722 such5108 cases: but1161 God2316 hath called2564 us2248 to1722 peace.1515

Take note that in verse 12 Paul makes it very clear that this is his opinion, NOT a command from the Lord. First of all let’s show that marriage has NOTHING to do with whether or not you proclaim to be a Christian. Here is what the word says.

Mat 14:3 For1063 Herod2264 had laid hold on2902 John,2491 and bound1210 him,846 and2532 put5087 him in1722 prison5438 for Herodias' sake,1223, 2266 his846 brother80 Philip's5376 wife.1135

Mat 14:4 For1063 John2491 said3004 unto him,846 It is not lawful1832, 3756 for thee4671 to have2192 her.846

And again

Mar 6:17 For1063 Herod2264 himself846 had sent forth649 and2532 laid hold upon2902 John,2491 and2532 bound1210 him846 in1722 prison5438 for Herodias' sake,1223, 2266 his848 brother80 Philip's5376 wife:1135 for3754 he had married1060 her.846

And yet again

Luke 3:19 But1161 Herod2264 the3588 tetrarch,5076 being reproved1651 by5259 him846 for4012 Herodias2266 his846 brother80 Philip's5376 wife,1135 and2532 for4012 all3956 the evils4190 which3739 Herod2264 had done,4160

Herod and Herodias were definitely not Christians yet John the Baptist labled their marriage as unlawful because Herodias was Phillip’s wife. So Phillip and Herodias were a covenant couple even though they were not Christians.

Adam and Eve were not Christians they were humans and God instituted marriage with them. Covenant marriages have nothing to do with what faith you are or are not, it has to do with the first time you take a vow, God does a miracle in the heavens and binds you together. Your first marriage is your covenant marriage.

Abraham and Sarah were not Christians either as we today would define it, yet in two instances in the Bible God cursed whole kingdoms because of the covenance of their marriage in His eyes. These can be found in Genesis chapter 20, the story of Abimelech look at verses 17, 18. Notice God opened the womb of Abimelech’s wife because of Abraham’s wife. They weren’t Christians, yet they were husband and wife. In Genesis chapter 12, at verse 17 we find the story of Pharaoh. Then there is Ahab and his wife Jezebel, they certainly weren’t Christians yet they are referred to as husband and wife. There are many instances that show that marriage has nothing to do with ones beliefs in God’s eyes.

So people who misinterpret and therefore misuse 1Co 7:15 make two mistakes. First the phrase “A brother80 or2228 a sister79 is not3756 under bondage1402 in1722 such5108 cases:” contains no form of the word for divorce. Not under bondage means just what it says. The Greek word used at 1402 is douloo and it means to be enslaved to, or to be a servant of. Paul is simply saying that if the unbeliever chooses to leave let them go because God would not have us fight. Nowhere, I repeat nowhere does he contradict what Jesus says in Matthew, Mark, and Luke about divorce, and nowhere does he give permission for remarriage. In fact as I stated earlier he makes it very clear that this is his opinion, not a command from the Lord. How dare us put words in the Apostle’s mouth. Secondly covenant marriage has nothing to do with your faith or lack of it, or your spouse’s faith or lack of it. Even if it did, is it our place to make the judgment as to whether or not someone is saved? I say again ‎1 Cor 7:15 has nothing to do with the ending of marriage. The word "bound" in "Is not bound" is douloo which again means "is not obligated to serve" not apoluo which would have been used for divorce. It has nothing to do with the ending of the marriage. "The word "douloo" is used 13 times in the New Testament, in 1 Cor 7:15 and 12 other times. In none of its 12 other uses does it have anything to do with the ending of marriage and yet today it is one of the most misused justifications to support the right to remarry. Oh that the Church desired truth more than the tickling of their ears and condoning of their sin. Oh that pastors had the courage to speak truth. 1 Cor 7:15 has absolutely nothing to do with the ending of marriage. Nothing." STOP TRYING TO FIND EXCUSES, AND STOP TRYING TO JUSTIFY SIN.

The only time a second marriage is not adultery and can be considered a covenant marriage is if neither partner has a living, covenant (first marriage) spouse. If either does, they are living in an ongoing state of adultery. I might add here that dead, means dead. It does not mean that in your opinion they are dead in their sin. Who are you to judge? It does not mean that they are dead in your heart. It means no longer alive.

1Co 7:39 The wife1135 is bound1210 by the law3551 as long as1909, 3745, 5550 her848 husband435 liveth;2198 but1161 if1437 her848 husband435 be dead,2837 she is2076 at liberty1658 to be married1060 to whom3739 she will;2309 only3440 in1722 the Lord.2962

Rom 7:3 So686 then3767 if,1437 while her husband435 liveth,2198 she be married1096 to another2087 man,435 she shall be called5537 an adulteress:3428 but1161 if1437 her husband435 be dead,599 she is2076 free1658 from575 that law;3551 so that she846 is1511 no3361 adulteress,3428 though she be married1096 to another2087 man.435

This is the only circumstance in which remarriage is given approval. Remarriage under any other circumstance is adultery. Let’s stop trying to mold the Word of God to fit our desires, and start molding ourselves to fit God’s word.

So why have I written this, because I know from first hand experience that when you are separated, or divorced, or are having major marital problems most of the advice you will receive, even within the church is contrary to what the Word of God plainly teaches. Misguided pastors, councilors, friends and family, will encourage you to “Move on with your life”. They will tell you that “You deserve to be happy”, or that “Surely God has someone better for you” Most will use as rationalization for their poor advice, the misinterpretation of one of the scriptures above. If you are separated or divorced from your covenant spouse (the man or woman of your first marriage) please join with God and commit to trust Him to restore your marriage. Commit to wait for however long it takes Him to heal what He joined together. Remarriage is forbidden by the Word if your first spouse is alive. Choose faithfulness and God will strengthen you. Trust Him.

If you are involved in an adulterous remarriage as described by the word of God (which is simply remarriage if either of your first marriage spouses is still living) please flee from it. Repent and run from it as fast as you can. Yes it will be hard. There will be pain. If you have children there will be trauma, but God WILL honor your choice. The curse of divorce and adultery will not be passed on to them because of your stand against it. The word says that if you stay in adultery you will not inherit the kingdom of God. If you die while still trying to justify your actions your lot is cast. Pretending that it is not adultery, when the Word clearly teaches that it is, will not change God’s stated consequences. Neither will chosen ignorance for the sake of comfort or spared feelings. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is saying or doing, and it doesn’t matter if some misinformed pastor or councilor, has led you astray, they will answer for their sin, but firstly we will each answer for our own. I’m so sorry that you have fallen prey to this travesty within the church, the Word is very clear though.

1Co 6:9 (2228) Know1492 ye not3756 that3754 the unrighteous94 shall not3756 inherit2816 the kingdom932 of God?2316 Be not3361 deceived:4105 neither3777 fornicators,4205 nor3777 idolaters,1496 nor3777 adulterers,3432 nor3777 effeminate,3120 nor3777 abusers of themselves with mankind,733

1Co 6:10 Nor3777 thieves,2812 nor3777 covetous,4123 nor3777 drunkards,3183 nor3756 revilers,3060 nor3756 extortioners,727 shall(3756) inherit2816 the kingdom932 of God.2316

Heb 13:4 Marriage1062 is honorable5093 in1722 all,3956 and2532 the3588 bed2845 undefiled:283 but1161 whoremongers4205 and2532 adulterers3432 God2316 will judge.2919

James 4:4 Ye adulterers3432 and2532 adulteresses,3428 know1492 ye not3756 that3754 the3588 friendship5373 of the3588 world2889 is2076 enmity2189 with God?2316 whosoever3739, 302 therefore3767 will1014 be1511 a friend5384 of the3588 world2889 is2525 the enemy2190 of God.2316

Please PLEASE give heed to the warning above, and the promise below.

2Ch 7:14 If my people,5971 which834 are called7121, 5921 by my name,8034 shall humble themselves,3665 and pray,6419 and seek1245 my face,6440 and turn7725 from their wicked7451 ways;4480, 1870 then will I589 hear8085 from4480 heaven,8064 and will forgive5545 their sin,2403 and will heal7495 (853) their land.776

Please understand, I am in no way saying that a husband or a wife is required anywhere in the Word that I have found to remain in an abusive situation where they or their children are in danger of harm. Abuse in any of its forms, especially sexual or physical abuse is completely inexcusable. In these cases where safety is of the utmost importance, separation from the offender is not only understandable, but indeed possibly the wisest thing to do. Where we go wrong in this culture, is that for the most part counselors, pastors, and well-meaning friends tell us to move on with our lives. They tell us that we deserve to be happy so we should find someone else. They tell us that there is no hope for this relationship. What they do is completely remove the hope that God can, and will do miracles if we will petition him and patiently wait for his timing. Instead, as quickly as we can, we move on to another relationship. This is not God's will. He would have us pray, remain faithful to our covenant, and trust that he will restore. He is the God of restoration. We are an impatient people. We want and in fact feel that we deserve His unconditional love because of His grace, yet in most cases we refuse to show others unconditional love and treat them graciously. For the most part we are unwilling to suffer for the ones we say we love. Did Jesus deserve to suffer as he did? Did he not deserve happiness? Does he not deserve followers who are willing to suffer as He did for us?

I dare say every person who goes through a wedding ceremony has said and to the best of their ability honestly means that they love the person that they are making vows with.

What is love: I Corinthians 13:4-8 very succinctly tells us…

Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.

It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.

It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. ( Net Bible)

All of these descriptors are sacrificial, giving, and unending. I was once told that you could tell how deeply you had loved someone by how deep your hate was for them. What a lie straight from the pit of hell! The truth is, according to the word of God, if you have ever loved, even a little, you could never hate. In fact, if you have loved, you could never, not love. I ask you, with a divorce rate that is higher than the heathens, do we even begin to show love to those we say we love? We as Christians should be ashamed. Our behavior shows our hearts. Does the world see anything unique about us? We are for the most part indistinguishable from them. We just use His grace as an excuse to not change, to not sacrifice. May God forgive us.

Please understand and believe that it is not my intent to hurt or offend anyone. If I am wrong then Jesus and you and I will sit in paradise some day and He will show me where I was wrong. What if however I am right…………Are you willing to risk eternal separation from God over this matter? That is the chance you take if you choose to ignore what His word plainly and simply teaches. Please study and consider what I have written above. Every word is right out of the King James Version of the Bible (except where noted). None of it is my opinion, or interpretation. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth and to give you the strength to obey God’s Word.

In our society we are faced nearly daily with news concerning the devastating effects being ravaged on us by the diseases that are caused through sexual promiscuity and immorality. The consequences to these diseases are indeed horrendous. However, none of these diseases have the power to cause spiritual death: separation from God eternally. There is a sexually transmitted disease within the church today that the Bible promises will; if not repented of. It is the adultery that is committed if a divorced person remarries while their first marriage covenant spouse is alive. It is far more ravaging than the STD’s that are given so much exposure, are talked about so freely, and fought against so valiantly. Yet for the sake of political correctness within the Church it has been left to spread nearly unhindered. In fact, 1000's upon 1000's are encouraged to exposure to it. We can and must with God’s help, stop this plague. The Devil is watching this pandemic that he has infected the church with, with glee. For the most part, our heads are turned from it, ignoring it, even protecting it, as he steals countless souls. Could we, in ignorance, be witnessing and even encouraging the prophesied end times great falling away we are warned of? The word plainly tells us 6 times that to remarry after divorce is adultery. It plainly tells us that adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Are we wise to expect that God in His mercy will in the end contradict Himself? He will not. I believe He would speak to us the same words as He spoke to His own in Matthew 15------

Mat 15:8 These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.

Mat 15:9 They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men."

Please ask the Holy Spirit to show you the truth in this matter. Ignorance as well as disobedience determines where you will spend your eternity. Will you choose to obey what the Word tells us is true, or what man in his vanity says is true? Know this for a fact, the pastors, councilors, lawyers, and friends who approve of your divorce and remarriage will not be the one you stand before on judgment day. You, as they, will stand before God alone. He makes it very plain in His Word that He hates divorce, that to remarry if your covenant spouse is alive is adultery, and that adulterers will not inherit His kingdom.


Please feel free to copy this and give it or send it to whomever you would like. It is the truth. Please leave it in it's entirety, including  the heading information.