Given your outspoken stance on divorce and remarriage, we get a lot of questions in our inboxes about this. Here's one from a podcast listener named Lisa. “Dear Pastor John, I read your long article on divorce and remarriage and I wholeheartedly agreed. Towards the end you repeated that only God can end a marriage. Yes. Then you said that staying in a second marriage is the right thing to do. I noticed that you didn't provide the scripture to back this up. I no longer agreed. All other Scriptures only seemed to prove that marriage is impossible to end. Are there passages that suggest that a divorced spouse should remain in their second marriage?”
Shall I stay?
It's important to note that the question being asked is one that everyone needs to ask, not just me with my conservative view of divorce and remarriage. It's a question everyone must ask except those who think all divorce and remarriage are biblical. If you have any boundaries at all when it comes to divorce and remarriage, sooner or later you will meet a couple who have even crossed your boundaries and are in a marriage they shouldn't have -- which you think you shouldn't have, not only me.
"If you're divorced and remarried, keep your promise. Don't break your word twice.”
So this is a question for almost every Christian. If the marriage you are in was wrongly entered into, you should not enter into it. Can you stay inside? That is the question. And my answer is yes. Repent honestly before God to one another and to Him. Admit it shouldn't have happened. Ask forgiveness from each other and from God, perhaps from previous spouses. And then, instead of breaking your word a second time, keep the promises you made to each other when you took your vows.
Lisa's question is: are there lyrics for this opinion? I mean, that's what you're saying, Piper. What about the Bible? And I would like to say here: I could be wrong there. I could illegitimately draw conclusions from texts. But it seems to me that there are three or four or more clues in the Bible that point in that direction, and I'm going to give them to Lisa now.
1. Meet the Gibeonites
In Joshua 9 there is the story of the Gibeonites who, as you may recall, heard that Joshua and the Israelites were destroying cities and they did not want to be destroyed. So they know they'll be next on the list of destruction, so they pretend to be from a land far, far away. They lie to Joshua and get him to promise that he won't kill them because they are not in his territory.
Joshua takes a vow and swears before God that he will not kill them. Then he finds out that they lied to him. Joshua 9:19 says, “All the leaders said to the whole congregation, ‘We swore to them by the Lord God of Israel, and now we must not touch them.’”
There are two reasons why they should not have taken this vow: (1) the Gibeonites lied to them, and (2) because it specifically states that they did not consult God—and God specifically intended the Gibeonites to be destroyed ( cf Joshua 9:14, 24).
Now they keep the vow they should never have made under dire circumstances, increasing the importance of keeping promises or vows even if wrongly made. I'm saying that perhaps suggests - I think it suggests - that a vow you make to a person to be their husband or wife until death do you part should not be taken lightly.
2. Woman at the well
Jesus spoke to the woman at the well in a way that suggests quite strongly that he believed she had five real husbands and one fake mate. He put it this way:
"The vow you take to be a husband or wife until death do you part is not something to be taken lightly."
Jesus said to her: “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered him: “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her: “You are right when you say: 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you said is true.” (John 4:16-18)
Think about it. What does that mean?
It is true that the Greek - which includes this text here - has no other word forHusbandAndMannorHusbandAndmasculine. So it could be translated “You had fiveMenand the man you have now is not yoursMann.“
But even if you translate it that way, if you don't somehow distinguish this sixth man from the other five, it doesn't make sense, because he says: That's not your man. Those were your men. That's not your husband. That's not your husband. Those were your husbands. what was the difference Well, all I can say is that somehow they had formalized the relationship in a ceremony in which they made some promises to create the relationship known as marriage — or husband and wife.
It seems, then, that Jesus took some care in calling these five men real husbands, as opposed to five friends living in the household whom she never married.
3. Marry someone who is divorced
Interestingly, I discussed this with the whole team at Together for the Gospel and I won't say who said it, but one of them I thought pointed out very provocatively: Jesus uses the verbmarrywhat not to do and what to do if he tells them not to. Let me show you what I mean. "Whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32).
He doesn't say whoallegedlymarries ortries tomarry. He saysmarries. He doesn't say itpresumed tomarry ortries tomarry - as if, yes, this is a real marriage being created. It should not be created, and entering it is like adultery.
He says something similar in Mark 10:11-12. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."
So, if Jesus is willing to call illegitimate relationships marriages, it seems to me that we humans should hold to the expectations of holiness and stability that are contained in the WordMarriage'Till death do us part. I understand the warning that remarriage involves adultery, "he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery," does not mean that sexual relations in an ill-gotten relationship can never be sanctified through repentance and forgiveness, but rather, that an unholy relationship involves unholy sex until that relationship is rededicated to God through repentance and forgiveness. This relationship remains corrupt on all levels.
4. Hold on
One last thought. If it seems strange that a forbidden relationship can become a consecrated and holy relationship, consider the example - and there are several in the Bible - of the kingship of Israel.
"I appeal to those in a marriage they shouldn't have to stay put."
The people came to Samuel in 1 Samuel 8:6-7 and said, "'Make us a king, who will judge us like all the nations." But the matter displeased Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king who judges us.' And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said, 'Obey the voice of the people in whatever they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me to be king over them.'”
Yet despite this evil origin of this new relationship between king and people and God, God made kingship an integral part of His plan that Jesus should come as King of kings and Lord of lords and as the Son of David.
So that's four reasons, examples, types of texts in Scripture. I appeal to those in a marriage that they should not have entered into to remain there and consecrate themselves through confession and repentance and consecration to keep their sacred promises henceforth.
Jesus states that divorcing a mate on the grounds of immorality frees the offended mate to remarry without committing adultery. Paul upholds the idea of permanency in marriage10, whether it be to a believer or unbeliever, yet gives permission for a believing mate to separate if deserted by an unbeliever.Can a second marriage be blessed by God? ›
Historically, Christian traditions haven't agreed on the answer to this question. Catholicism has taught that if a person's first marriage ended in divorce, God won't bless a second one. Many Protestant traditions hold that since there are biblically justifiable grounds for divorce, God can bless a second marriage.Is it a sin to remarry after divorce? ›
What we can know for sure is that it is God's plan for a married couple to stay married as long as both spouses are alive (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:6). The only specific allowance for remarriage after a divorce is for adultery (Matthew 19:9), and even this is debated among Christians.Can God restore a marriage after divorce? ›
Even when couples divorce, it is still the will of God that they would still come together and have their marriage restored. There are some scripture verses to back this up: 1 Corinthians 10: 11: “and unto the married I command, yet not I but the Lord, let not the wife depart from her husband.Does God forgive divorce? ›
Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." I take solice in the fact that judgment does not come until the end of our days, and I have Jesus Christ as my advocate to ask for mercy from YHWH so I do believe divorce can be forgiven by God because the Holy Bible tells me so.What does the Bible say about being a second wife? ›
John Gill comments on 1 Corinthians 7 and states that polygamy is unlawful; and that one man is to have but one wife, and to keep to her; and that one woman is to have but one husband, and to keep to him and the wife only has a power over the husband's body, a right to it, and may claim the use of it: this power over ...How do you let go and let God fix your marriage? ›
- Pray. The best way to fight any battle is on your knees. ...
- Be still. When fighting God's battle with Him, sometimes you can do the most good by being still. ...
- Trust God. ...
- Face the battle. ...
- Let God do the talking. ...
- Give thanks.
God wants what's best for you, that's why He wants you to stay married. He wants you to stay married, but He wants to help you turn an unhappy marriage into a happy one. With Christ a loveless marriage can be a thing of the past.How do I ask God to restore my marriage? ›
We need you to restore us; I ask you to restore us oh Lord and to help us find the way back to each other and you again. I ask you to renew in me and both of us, us a willing spirit. Help me to not point fingers or respond defensively. Teach me how to listen to ______________ and to really hear.