For the Christian, divorce is not an option. The couple promised before God and witnesses that the union of their two lives would be “till death do us part.” Paul says: “To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife” (1 Corinthians 7:10, NIV).
There are, however, mitigating circumstances indicated in Scripture: When the Christian’s mate is guilty of sexual immorality, such as adultery or homosexual behavior, and refuses to repent and change his or her behavior (Matthew 19:9); when one mate deserts the other (1 Corinthians 7:15). In both of these exceptional situations, the Bible encourages forgiveness and restoration as the more honorable course. But if no solution can be found on these grounds, then divorce may be an option.
However, the believer who has divorced in these circumstances faces a dilemma when considering remarriage. It would seem that if divorce is permitted in such situations, remarriage would be an option as well. Yet, while many pastors take this position, others do not, all appealing to Scripture.
You may face any number of variations of the divorce situations mentioned in the “Background.” Try to follow these guidelines:
For the Non-Christian:
1. The first matter of concern to be faced is not remarriage but putting oneself within the circle of the will of God. When a person does this, he or she will have a perspective on himself or herself, and on remarriage, that would never have been there otherwise (Matthew 6:33). Ask if he or she has ever received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Explain “Steps to Peace with God,” – Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD
2. Encourage the inquirer to begin reading and studying the Bible.
3. Urge him or her to learn to pray and to practice prayer daily, seeking God’s will and guidance. NOTE: The knowledge and maturity acquired through studying the Bible and praying will be indispensable in making a decision about remarriage.
4. Encourage the inquirer to become involved with a Bible-teaching church for worship, fellowship, and Christian service. Urge that he or she seek the counsel of a qualified pastor concerning remarriage.
5. Emphasize, now that the individual is a Christian, that should he or she remarry it only be to another believer (1 Corinthians 7:39) in order to establish a truly Christian home, one that is both Christ-centered and church-centered.
For the Christian:
1. The inquirer should take into account that remarriage is not all that easy! Many questions should be considered:
• Although I am considered to be the innocent party in my divorce, did I contribute to it in any way?
• Is there pride and self-centeredness which I haven’t dealt with?
• Is there any resentment and bitterness as a result of the divorce which ought to be dealt with?
• Do I have the right to think that a new marriage will be a success?
• Am I now living in the will of God?
• Am I able to make a truly spiritual contribution to a new marriage?
• Is God’s glory my highest aim in life?
2. If appropriate, present “Restoration,” – Christian Biblical Counsel: SEEKING FORGIVENESS AND RESTORATION
3. Urge the inquirer to make sure that he or she is walking in the will of God. This can be determined, in part, by the strength of his or her commitment to read and study the Bible faithfully and to rely on prayer.
4. Encourage the inquirer to get involved in a Bible-teaching church. Urge that he or she seek the counsel of a qualified pastor concerning remarriage.
5. Advise the individual that, if he or she does remarry, Christ must be made the center of the marriage and the home. They should establish a daily family altar where all may read the Bible and pray together.
6. Pray with the inquirer for the realization of God’s will and purpose in his or her life.
“He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10–12).
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
“Likewise you husbands, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996