DOES GOD PERMIT DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE? (PART IV)
“Are You Divorced? You’ve not Sinned if You Remarry”
By Akin Ojumu
Now, on the question of whether the unmarried Christian – i.e., a divorced Christian – should be allowed to remarry, Paul replied:
“But I say to the unmarried and to the widows, that as a practical matter, it is good if they remain single and entirely devoted to the Lord as I am. But if they do not have sufficient self-control, they should marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” 1 Corinthians 7:8-9).
Here, in these 2 verses, Paul made it explicitly clear that a Christian woman who is unmarried by virtue of having had a divorce before they came to Christ can remarry if such a person cannot exercise self-control.
Paul’s instructions to the unmarried men on the same issue were consistent with his counsel to the unmarried women.
“Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned.” (1 Corinthians 7: 27b-28a).
This instruction applies strictly to individuals who divorced their spouses before they got saved, and who now as Christians are unmarried. Paul was addressing the situation of unmarried born-again believers who had experienced broken marriages prior to getting saved. His instruction to them was that they could remarry if they aren’t able to handle being single.
Among the early fathers of the Christian faith, there was no one more versed in Scripture than Apostle Paul. This man understood God’s intention for marriage, and he knew where God stands on divorce. Yet, contrary to what’s being taught today about divorce, that divorce is not allowed under any circumstances, Paul understood that the Almighty God does not derive pleasure in our sufferings and He takes no joy in our pain. He knew that God would not cause any of His children to be trapped in an unhealthy relationship that could lead to their destruction.
Paul, in 1 Corinthians 7, showed the Corinthians, and by extension the Church today, how God’s principles on marriage can be applied to different situations, and he taught them some of the exceptions that exist in Scripture to God’s divine purpose for marriage.
For the unmarried Christians in the Corinthian church, people who had divorced before they got born again, Paul told them they wouldn’t be committing a sin if they remarried. He told them that if they found it difficult to remain single, they could go ahead and get married. It was better to marry than to burn with lust.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The moment we come to Christ, our slate is wiped clean, and the baggage of the past is shed. For a new believer, God presses the reset button, and he can start afresh. Paul was telling the unmarried Corinthians that the mistake of the past is forgiven, they were a new creation with new lives and were free to remarry if that’s what they desired.
The only condition he gave them was that they must marry “Only in the Lord,” i.e., the person they choose to marry must not only be a fellow Christian, it must also be the right Christian. Just because they now realized they could remarry, Paul didn’t want them jumping into the arms of just about anybody that came along. He didn’t want them taking just about any plane at the airport. If they must get to the right destination, they must board the right plane.
So, if you were divorced before you came to Christ, the Bible does not condemn you to a life of singleness and celibacy. You are free to remarry if that’s what you desire. I know this is liberating news for the multitudes trapped in this situation and have been told again and again by their church and pastors that they’ll burn in hell if they dared remarry.
It’s important for us to always remember that our God is a loving Father who cares deeply about our needs. He’ll never put on anyone a burden they can’t bear. God always wants the best for His children, and He makes provisions for all their situations. The onus is on God’s people to find out exactly what He says concerning their situation by committing themselves to finding out the truth by diligently studying the Bible.
Next time we’ll talk some more about the widows and virgins, and also discuss Paul’s counsel to the married Christians, whether or not they are allowed to divorce and/or remarry.