Bible Question:

The scripture is clear that sexual immorality is grounds for divorce and remarriage. What I do not understand is why does Jesus say the spouse who is divorced by the adulterous spouse will commit adultery if they remarry? 

Bible Answer:

The purpose of this article is to explain when a divorced person can remarry according to the Bible. The answer can be confusing because the key passage of Matthew 5:31-32 is often ignored. Since the Bible teaches us about a topic in various places, we must not leave out Matthew 5:31-32 if we want to know what the Bible says about divorce and remarriage. Therefore, this article explains divorce in the Bible (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; 1 Corinthians 7:12-15). What will follow helps us understand when a divorced person can remarry.

When Can A Divorced Person Remarry

Divorce In the Bible

A careful reading of the Bible reveals that divorce and remarriage is not allowed, except for two reasons. The first reason is given in the gospels by Jesus Christ. Here are the four passages (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).

“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. Matthew 5:31-32 (NASB)

He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” Matthew 19:8-9 (NASB)

And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.” Mark 10:11-12 (NASB)

Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. Luke 16:18 (NASB)

The first reason for which God allows divorce occurs when one spouse commits some sexual sin. That reason is given in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9. The sexual sin referred to in both passages is called porneia in the Koine Greek. This word includes a wide variety of sexual sins. That is, God allows divorce when the other spouse commits sexual sin.

The second reason for which God allows is divorce is given in 1 Corinthians. 7:12-15.

. . . if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away. And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, let her not send her husband away . . . Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 1 Corinthians. 7:12-15 (NASB)

What is the second reason for divorce? The answer is that when an unbelieving spouse wants to leave the believer. In this situation, if the unbeliever wants to leave, then the believer must allow the unbeliever to leave.

When a divorce occurs for one of these two reasons (sexual sin or the unbeliever wants a divorce), then the divorce is called a biblical divorce.

When Can a Divorced Person Remarry?

Now when can a believer remarry after a divorce? The answer is when the divorce was a biblical divorce. That is, the person who a) did not commit the sexual sin and b) is not the unbeliever filing for divorce, is then free to remarry. However, the one who committed the sexual sin or  b) is the unbeliever filing for divorce, is not free to remarry. So, can a divorced person remarry? Yes, if the divorce was a biblical divorce.

When is remarriage a sin? It is a sin if the divorce occurred for any reason other than the two mentioned above. This means that many couples have sinned by divorcing and remarrying.


So, can you remarry after divorce? Yes, if the divorce was a biblical divorce as explained above. For more information, please visit the suggested links below.

Suggested Links:

Divorce & Remarriage
Can I marry a divorced person? — What does the Bible say?
Can a new Christian marry after an unbiblical divorce?
Porneia Definition — What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?
Can someone be guilty of adultery if divorced against their will?
If I committed adultery and my wife divorced me, can I marry again?
Does Matthew 5:31-32 say that even the non-adulterer is guilty of adultery?
Does Romans 7:2-3 prohibit divorce and remarriage?
If you are divorced and remarry, are you living in adultery?