A subscriber writes concerning two single Christians, both previously married and divorced, who are considering marriage. The woman’s first husband had numerous affairs over a period of years. The man’s first wife withheld conjugal rights for more than 20 years of marriage. “Is there a scriptural reason,” the inquirer asks, “against this couple marrying?”
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It seems abundantly clear to me, from the whole of Scripture, that God is for marriage and that he is against divorce (Gen. 2:24; Mal. 2:16). No matter what the cause, divorce is a tragic thing which reveals a fall from God’s ideal plan for people’s happiness and God’s glory. Those who have gone through it know best how terrible it really is. They do not need convincing of that point.
Divorce, though wrong, is not unforgiveable. Sometimes evangelical Christians have spoken as though it were — and sometimes they have been unwilling to forgive, even though God has forgiven and forgotten.
When people are divorced — for whatever reason — they are no longer married. It is good, as a general rule, for people to be married rather than to be alone (Gen. 2:18). God empowers some people for celibate singleness, but that is a special gift (1 Cor. 7:7-9). For Christian people, a subsequent marriage is a new beginning — committed afresh, this time, to conform more nearly to God’s ideal. Hopefully, no more divorce.
We all come short of God’s perfect standards (Rom. 3:23). That is why Jesus died for sinners. As we repent of past shortcomings, we may move into the future knowing that God has forgiven us and given us a new chance (Psalm 32:5, 8). That is surely as true of divorce as it is concerning any other sin or error (John 4:15-18). I wish your friends God’s guidance and strength as they move forward in his grace.