Bible Question:

How does God feel about someone who has been married and divorced several times before they were saved? Must that person now remain single even at a young age, regardless of fleshly desires and living alone while serving the Lord?

Bible Answer:

Some teach that God allows individuals to marry only once. If they divorce they cannot marry again, regardless of the reason for the divorce. For information about when does God allow divorce visit “Biblical Divorce and Remarriage.” Some claim that if a person has had sexual intercourse, oral sex or anal sex with a person of the opposite sex as a single person, then they can never marry. The question we are concerned with is what if a person had one or more divorces and then become a Christian; can they marry? That is, “Can a new Christian marry after an unbiblical divorce?”

Can a Christian Marry After An Unbiblical Divorce?

Christians Begin A New Life When Saved

Scripture teaches that when a person becomes a Christian they are spiritually transformed. Titus 3:5-7 says that christians have been regenerated and renewed. Spiritually speaking, a Christian is a new person.

He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,  whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:5-7 (NASB)

One great illustration of this transformation is described in Ephesians 2:1-5.

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) . . . Ephesians 2:1-5 (NASB)

Here we are told that before a person becomes a Christian they are like dead people. They are the walking dead. We are like skeletons, just dead bones, walking around. They were greatly influenced by the “prince of the power of the air,” which is Satan. We are told that before people become a Christian, they live according to the lusts or desires of the flesh. That is, they do not have self-control over their emotions. They just did as they desired. But God has made Christians spiritually alive. Christians are no longer spiritually dead. This is the transformation. God has given them eternal life.

As a result, repeatedly in the New Testament God reminds Christians that they are spiritually new. Romans 6:4 clearly states that Christians are to walk in newness of life.  That is, they have a new life.

. . .  as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (NASB)

Galatians 6:15 says that Christians are a new creation.

. . . but a new creation. Galatians 6:15 (NASB)

Ephesians 4:23-24 makes the point that Christians have been renewed too! Therefore,  we are urged to act like it. We are told to “put on the new self.” That is, do not keep living as you did before you became a Christian.

. . . and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:23-24 (NASB)

Colossians 3:10 urges us to put on the new self.

. . .  and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him . . . Colossians 3:10 (NASB)

That is, Christians are no longer spiritually dead people but spiritually alive. We are a new creation. We are a new person, a new self, or a new you! Therefore, we should walk according to our new life.

Can a New Christian Marry After an Unbiblical Divorce?

Therefore, can a new Christian marry after an unbiblical divorce? The answer is yes! Why? Because as we have discovered in the preceding section, when a person becomes a Christian they have a fresh start. They have a new spiritual life! They are a new creation in Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 makes the point very strongly that a Christian is a new creature.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB)

The verse says that the old things passed away. The Greek word for “old things” is archaios. The corresponding English word is ancient. It literally refers to old things all the way back to the beginning. That is, the “old things” all the way back to the moment of birth. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says the old life has been erased! Everything is new! That is why Paul says in Philippians 3:13 we should forget the things that are behind.

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead . . . Philippians 3:13 (NASB)

Therefore, “Must a new Christian remain single if they were divorced multiple times?” No, so long as divorce did not happen after they believed in Christ.  We encourage you to read “Searching for God” to discover how to become a Christian. Then, if the new Christian does marry again, they must marry only in the faith (a fellow believer) and never divorce. Yes, there is freedom in Christ, but do not take advantage of it! When a person becomes a Christian, they have a new start — a new life. Thank God and live to please Him.

Conclusion

The beauty of what happens when a person believes in Christ is that all of his or her previous sins have been forgiven. They have a completely new start in life.

 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NASB)

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36 (NASB)

Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins. Acts 10:43 (NASB)

Believers can rejoice that we have been freed from our old life. Praise God!

Suggested Links:

Biblical Divorce and Remarriage
A Biblical Divorce
Is it a sin to divorce if you profess to be a Christian?
What does God say about a person marrying someone who has been divorced?
If you are divorced and remarry, are you living in adultery?
Does Romans 7:2-3 prohibit divorce and remarriage?
Can I still divorce my husband for a past adultery?