Reexamining Remarriage

Many Christians have begun to gloss over Jesus’ teachings on remarriage and are thus unaware of what He says on it. Study what Jesus truly teaches on divorce and remarriage and how Christians can be faithful to His teachings.


Morning.  We are finishing out our “Happily Even After” Marriage series today
If you’re visiting for the first time today, this message is going to be heavier than what you would typically hear on a Sunday here. 
Although, we never shy away from the truth here, and that’s actually one of the things that makes us unique, today’s topic is exceptionally heavy. 
To date, I’ve preached just over 700 times, and this is about as heavy as it gets. 
This morning, we’re going to be talking about divorce, and more specifically, what the Bible teaches about remarriage
We’re going to dive DEEP into what God’s Word says on this topic. 
I realize this isn’t just theological. 
For some of you…this is intensely personal…which is why it feels so heavy to me as your pastor.  
In our culture today, there are few people that are untouched by this topic in some manner 
For those of you that are single…or in a marriage right now…this message is just as much for you. 
Knowing what God’s Word says on this topic is incredibly vital if you want to divorce-proof your marriage 
I will also tell you that for the last 9 months…God has been laying this particular topic on my heart in a HEAVY, HEAVY way.  
I cannot recall another time in my 15 years of ministry that I felt so burdened by the Holy Spirit to speak upon a particular subject.  

Before we open up the Bible on this subject, I need to tell you that I’m not going to say anything radical today from a Biblical standpoint.  
In fact, we are going to read A LOT of Scripture. 
And we will see that the Scriptures we’re looking at are pretty matter of fact.  
But as divorce and remarriage have become so commonplace in our culture, Christians have stopped talking about these particular passages. 
In fact, I’ve shared with a number of people I respect in our church over the last few months what God’s Word says about remarriage, and person after person in our church, said, “Huh, I never even knew Jesus said that” 
I suspect that a number of you in this room today have never seen these words either.  
And yet, Jesus says them, not once, not twice, not 3 times, but four times in the Gospels…and Paul echoes the very same thing. 
Let me say one final thing before we start looking at the verses 
My job isn’t to say what everyone wants to hear…or what makes everyone feel comfortable. 
My job is to teach what the Bible says, even if it feels impossibly difficult to say in today’s current culture. 
I encourage you to follow along so you can compare God’s words to my own. 
The verses will be in our app (Bible, Weekly verses)
Or, there are Bibles under the chairs.   
Let’s start with the words of JESUS in the Gospel of Luke
(Luke 16:18) – NIV 
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
Although the Christian Church has continued to teach on divorce, it’s the latter part that is often glossed over.  
Jesus says that if someone divorces their spouse, and then marries another, by doing so, they are committing adultery…that they’re having an affair 
And Jesus says that if you are single, and you marry someone who has been divorced, you are committing adultery.  
Now, let me stop for a second…look at me. 
There are some exceptions to this…and we’re going to carefully walk through them. 
Stay with me on this…there is a lot to work through and explain
But if you’re staring at me with piercing eyes right now, remember these aren’t the words of David Sorn, we’re reading the words of the Son of God.  
And so I want to try and gently walk you through why Jesus would speak so strongly on this matter.   
I want us to look now to a different Gospel, the Gospel of Mark where Jesus again says this same point, but with more context this time. 
(Mark 10:6-12) – NIV 
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
10 When they were in the house again, the disciples asked Jesus about this. 11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her.12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”
So, again, Jesus reiterates that to get married to someone else after you’ve been divorced is to commit adultery, but this time he gives us another Scriptural reason why. 
Jesus rises above the cultural arguments of his time, to a higher law, and He goes back to the beginning of creation.  
Jesus tells us that when a man and a woman are married, they leave their father and mother, and they come together as one. 
They are bonded together, physically, emotionally, spiritually. 
They are one flesh.   
And a couple getting a piece of paper from the government that says they aren’t together anymore doesn’t undue the bonding that God Himself has put together.   
And therefore, divorce is not an opportunity to start over and reset with someone else. 
Because in God’s eyes you are still “one flesh” with that person, and to unite yourself with another (even if it’s in remarriage), is to commit adultery. 
Now, there are 4 exceptions for divorce and remarriage, and we’ll get to those in a bit, but the reality is, many divorces don’t fall into those exceptions.  
And as unbelievably difficult as this is for me to say to you, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ (which means you follow HIS Words), and you’re thinking about divorce right now… 
You need to know that there is no one else for you besides your spouse. 
There’s no reset button. 
Even the Apostle Paul speaks on this subject
(1 Corinthians 7:10-11) – NIV 
10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
I know we’ve ignored these passages for a few generations, but they read as plain as day 
And so, if you have been divorced, and you weren’t divorced for a Biblical reason (which we’ll get to in a second)…
According to the Bible, your options are to reconcile with your former spouse or remain unmarried. 
Which I understand is an unbelievably hard word.  So hard.
But God wouldn’t have given it if it wasn’t right, and He wouldn’t have given it, if He weren’t able to sustain you through it

So can a Christian ever get divorced?  Can they ever get remarried? 
There are four Biblical exceptions, or allowances, here. 
#1: Your Spouse Died
This is perhaps the most obvious and well-known reason, but just in case you need it, here is the Scriptural evidence for it: 
(1 Corinthians 7:39) – NIV 
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.
Romans 7:1-3 says the same thing. 
#1: Your Spouse Died  
#2: Your Spouse Committed Adultery
Let’s now look at the 3rd and 4th time Jesus Himself addresses the subject of remarriage …but this time he gives what’s called “an exception clause”
(Matthew 5:32) – NIV 
32 But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
(Matthew 19:9) – NIV 
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
The Greek word here for those words “sexual immorality” is porneia (por-nay-uh)…it’s a broad term for sexual sin…almost always adultery, but could also be other forms of sexual sin like prostitution and incest. . 
And so Jesus is clear here that remarriage (to another Christian) is permitted for the faithful partner if adultery was committed against them in the marriage.   
And why is that?  
Because adultery, unlike other things, physically breaks the bond of “one flesh”
Now, this doesn’t mean the divorce is required when adultery happens. 
Jesus allows for it, but does not demand it. 
I know couples where the spouse who was cheated on, for the sake of their children, for the hope of their marriage…they forgave their spouse…
and through much counseling, and many years of hard work…they survived, and even thrived in a happily even after.  
“Even after”…an affair.  
God is that big 
And by the way, let me be clear, that this exception clause is for the one who was cheated on, not the person who cheated. 
We’re not officiating the marriage of the person who went out, had an affair, and now wants God to bless their adulterous relationship.  
#1: Your Spouse Died  
#2: Your Spouse Committed Adultery 
#3: Your Spouse Was An Unbeliever and Left You
This comes from 1 Corinthians 
(1 Corinthians 7:13-15) – NIV 
13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 
Scripture is clear that we, as believers, are not to marry unbelievers (1 Cor 6), but what if you’re married to one? 
Maybe you made that mistake? 
Maybe you came to Christ after the marriage and they have not? 
Paul clearly says in verse 13 that if your spouse is willing to be with you, you must not divorce them. 
But in verse 15, he says, “That if the unbeliever leaves you, then you are not bound to them in marriage” 
Now many people would say that, then, because you’re not bound to them, you’re free to remarry 
Although, I must tell you that there are also those out there…that argue that this verse is simply saying you are not bound in marriage, and doesn’t say anything about remarriage. 
If this is your situation, I would do some serious Biblical research on this one
It seems to read as if the person is free to remarry, but there’s enough debate out there, that it’s worth studying further. 
#1: Your Spouse Died  
#2: Your Spouse Committed Adultery 
#3: Your Spouse Was An Unbeliever and Left You
#4: Your Former Spouse Gets Remarried 
Let’s say you got divorced, and it wasn’t for a Biblical reason 
And you, as a divorced person, are trying to obey Christ, and so you’re either trying to reconcile with your ex or you are committed to remaining unmarried. 
But what if your ex goes and gets remarried? 
In that case, you then would be free to remarry. 
For two reasons.  
1) Essentially, at that point, “adultery” has occurred…the breaking of that spiritual “one flesh” 
BTW, This would also be true if they were cohabiting with someone or just sleeping with some other person 
The SECOND reason you’d be free to remarry is because God is never going to have people “sin on the pathway to holiness.” 
In other words, He’s not going to have them break this new covenant they made before Him…in order to make their previous marriage w/ you right  
Now I know many of you were waiting for a 5th point, or maybe you assumed that the Bible’s list of 4 would be different.
There are many other reasons that are commonly thought to be reasons a Christian may get divorced, and thus remarried. 
Common among these reasons are addiction and abuse. 
And this is incredibly difficult to say, and therefore most pastors choose to not say it…but neither addiction or abuse are listed in the Bible as reasons for divorce.  
Now let me be VERY, VERY clear. 
If you are in a situation where you are suffering from abuse…abuse is SO wrong.  And evil. And wicked. 
The Psalms tell us God hates the one who loves violence. 
If you are suffering from abuse, get out of your house…get to safety as soon as you can. 
If you don’t know how to do that…or where to go…talk to us, or your House Leader ASAP…and we WILL help you. 
But what we’re talking about here is separation…not divorce.   
And that separation might last for quite some time, maybe even years 
But if someone is physically, verbally or emotionally abusing you or if they are really struggling with addiction, why not just divorce them?
Because as Christians, we want to 1) Honor God’s Word and our spiritual covenant w/ our spouse, and 2) We want to believe that God is big enough to work in our spouse’s life too.  
If He could raise His Son from the dead…then surely it’s possible that He could change even the angriest of hearts (while you are SEPARATED from them). 
In the case of abuse, it is often necessary that it is a separation in almost 100% of the ways one can be separated (geographically, verbally, everything)  
It will almost feel like divorce, but as a Christian, you are still honoring God’s Word, and you’d still be giving the other person an opportunity, from your place of safety, for God to change their get help…LOTS and LOTS of help. 
And that can happen!  It does happen. 
And if it doesn’t, unfortunately, what happens more often than not…is that while you are separated, that person will go off and form a new relationship, giving you the Biblical freedom to move on and remarry (due to their adultery)  
This is such a massive topic…that’s worth you seeking wise counsel from our Elders and others.    
And again, we want to be EXTREMELY clear that if you are suffering in an abusive marriage...know this:  Just because the Bible doesn’t list abuse as a reason for divorce, doesn’t mean God is okay with it. 
He is NOT okay with abuse …we are NEVER okay with abuse.   
And we, as your church, we will protect you, defend you, and get you to help and safety.  Okay??
Let us help you.  

I know for, many of you as we talk through the various scenarios around this topic, there are lots of “what-if’s” or “what abouts?” 
So let’s talk through some of our common objections to this broader topic. . 
One of our common objections…is that the idea of reconciling (with someone you fell “out of love” with), or the idea of remaining single, feels like too tough a pill to swallow. 
That’s a hard word, right?  Really hard word. 
But know this, the deepest fulfillment you can experience…is not in marriage…it’s not in sex…it’s in an obedient relationship with Jesus Christ
Do you believe that?  
If He decreed it, He can give you the strength to live in it.  
He can USE it!
Often, on this subject, I’ll hear people say, “Well, they got divorced, and maybe at the end of the day, they shouldn’t have, but why shouldn’t they have a shot at happiness now with a better, more Godly spouse?  Isn’t God the God of grace, and redemption, and second chances?” 
This is one of THE main lines of reasoning that most people use for remarriage (when there isn’t a Biblical reason for their divorce) 
The problem with that, and again, I want to say this delicately, is we don’t use that type of logic with other situations. 
If you had a situation at work, where all you would have to do is LIE (ONE TIME!), and that ONE lie would make the rest of your career so much easier…
We wouldn’t say, “It’s okay, there’s God’s grace…just lie so you can be happy”  
And thus, neither would we say, “I know Jesus says 4 TIMES that if you get remarried, you are severing your previous unity and thus committing adultery, but no one’s perfect, there’s grace, and God just wants you to be happy, so go ahead…”
The Christian principle here is this: 
We apply grace backwards, not forwards 
Grace is there to forgive your past sin, it’s not there to enable your future sin.  
Paul addresses this exact thought in Romans 6 
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
Let me pause for a second to say this:  “I hope there isn’t a single person in this room who is feeling superior just because they haven’t been divorced.” 
Not a single one of you in this room earned your way to Jesus 
Each of us has a different cross to bear in following Him, but don’t for a second think you are any better than anyone else in this room because your path looks easier…at the moment.  
The Bible says, “Every good thing comes from God, not from ourselves” 
You might be in a good spot now, but that’s from God…not you! 
And you have no idea what might be around the bend…and where you might need to hold on to Jesus even tighter than they are right now. 
ALL of us are a mess, and yet all of us need his grace…and all of us, need to obey Him. 
If you are here today, and you’re in a second marriage right now, and your first divorce was not on any of those Biblical grounds listed above, what should you do? 
If the grounds for it weren’t Biblical, then it’s something you should confess to God…
And then…receive His forgiveness. 
And know this, just like we said before, God is not going to have you “sin on the pathway to holiness” 
So He’s not going to ask you to sin, and end your current marriage, in order to go and reconcile an old one  
So if that’s you (you’re in a remarriage), accept his grace, LIVE in His grace, and you make the marriage you’re in the best and most glorifying to God that you possibly can! 
And you live out these current vows and this union…till death do you part.   
For others of you in the room, that are still going, “But what about my situation?  I was divorced, (or I’m thinking about getting divorced), and the situation is this, and this, but consider this… 
There are SO many “What if” scenarios with this…my encouragement to you is to first and foremost HONOR GOD’S WORD 
And secondly, get to your house group this week and ask for Godly advice from your friends and our leaders… 
But if you’re in one of those really unique situations, let me warn you, your flesh will want you to find an answer that suits it…which usually isn’t the most difficult answer. 
Because listen, you can find a book, a blog, even a church nowadays, to agree with you on basically anything you want.  
They’ll find cultural arguments.  
They’ll take 4 or 5 different verses or parables and weave them together to make an obscure principle on why it’s all okay 
But I plead with you.  
Respect the Word of God. 
Jesus’ words are numerous, plain, & simple.  

Let me speak to those of you that are single, engaged, or married. 
If the devil puts the “divorce word” in your mind, often his next step is to supercharge it with the thought of another person. 
Sometimes it’s a literal person, sometimes it’s just a thought of a “type” of person, one who could actually make you happy. 
And if you are married…you CAN NOT go there. 
Certainly not verbally to each other, but not even in your own mind.  
If you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, TRUST that He has united you to this person till death do you part. 
There is no reset button…there is no one else. 
Trust in God’s power…and trust that God wants you to avoid divorce for a reason. 

People often quote that “God hates the process of divorce,” and I often tell people, “You would too, if you sat where I sat” 
I wish all you could see the absolute destruction that the tearing of a union can bring on a family…
I wish you could see the pain and the tears of these kids. 
We tell ourselves that they’ll be happier if they didn’t have to see mommy and daddy fighting anymore, and yet all I see is the kids crying and begging for daddy or mommy to stay…
What they want, is for you to believe, and to show them, that your God has resurrection power. 
And I wish you could sit where I have sat…and hear the stories of resurrection. 
I think of a Christian couple I know whose marriage started off really rocky. 
They were both incredibly disappointed in the other…with expectations never being met 
They would argue and argue and their communication got worse and worse
They added kids to the mix, she was exhausted from that, he was working late, and often instead of helping out, he would come home and just drink…throw himself a pity party because of the state of their marriage
And yet, despite the difficulties, they had told each other, “No matter how hard this gets, I’m committed to you, and I’m not going anywhere”  
Marriage keeps love alive, not love keeps marriage alive. 
And so they started to work on their marriage…hard. 
They got counseling.  
They started to talk about God TOGETHER…and pray together
They started to believe that God has to power to resurrect anything that is dying!  Do you believe that? 
And NOW, years later, they not only have one of the best marriages out of anyone I know, but he buys her flowers every 2 weeks, they can’t stop smiling at each other…and they even teach about marriage to other people
…they’re living in Happily EVEN after.  
And they only reason they are still doing so…is because they believed that a covenant…means a lifetime. 
For those of you that are married, and you’ve never explicitly said this to your spouse (beyond your wedding day)…
I want you to go home tonight, hold them tight, look deeply into their soul, and say, “I will NEVER leave you”
If you both deeply believe that, God will get you through anything. 
BUT…if there is even a thought in your mind…that if you should fall out of love…that there could be someone better for you…that a RESET button is available should you need it…
Then you will NEVER commit to the amount of work it takes to build your marriage.  
But if you know this is your only shot…you will put in the work!
And THAT is why Jesus speaks so strongly about the covenant!  
God can do anything!! 
If you’re divorced or separated, know that there are people in this very church who’ve seen their own families come back together even after a DIVORCE!!! 
Because the couple still believed that God had UNITED them as one flesh. 
Picture this: Children of once divorced parents, now walking down the aisle ahead of their reconciled parents…standing up next to them at their parent’s second wedding…to each other
These same children…once again crying uncontrollable tears…but this time tears of JOY at their reunification of their parents. 
If you don’t think God can do that, than you don’t know God!  
God loves a good story of redemption…and resurrection. 
And no matter what your history has been or current situation is, as Christians, we are in a life-long covenantal relationship with our Lord.  
Though we often lead messy lives, Jesus came, took our place on the cross, and through our faith, He united with us in a holy union
Promising that NOTHING can separate us from His love. 
So yes, our call in our marriages is to reflect that…and that is our desire. 
But, no matter what you’re feeling right now, DO NOT FORGET THE GOSPEL 
He loves you, no matter what you have done. 
He loves you, no matter what you have done. 
If you are feeling a tremendous amount of weight because of today’s message…
I assure you, if you are believer, He has taken that very weight and nailed it to the cross.  
There is nothing you have done that He didn’t die for. 
And so you let that grace of the past soak deep into your soul this morning, and let your steps toward the future, be one of obedience and trust.  
Let me pray. 

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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