What are the biblical grounds for divorce and remarriage?
God hates divorce. His original intention for man was to "multiply and be fruitful" (Genesis 1: 22). Today, unfortunately society has made it acceptable for people to dissolve a marriage for just about any reason. In the US alone, the divorce rate is approximately 50%. What happened? It is evident that Satan has a true hold on the concept of family living. He has also been successful in redefining what marriage is and has successfully convinced people to turn against one another for just about any reason. To make things worse, divorce has become a means of revenge and profit. Lawyers gain, and sometimes one spouse gains financially. However like anything else, there’s a price for everything. More times than not, there are children involved that suffer. Children that did not ask to be born into a situation like this, nor do they deserve it.
Nevertheless, God knew that fallen man would indeed have reason to dissolve a marriage. In the day of Moses, the Law seem to give any reason for divorce. It may be that there are people today that hold to this rational for their justification for divorcing their spouse. However, Jesus gave us the only acceptable reasons for divorce and remarrying in the New Testament. According to scripture there are only two reasons for a person to divorce their spouse. The first is for sexual immorality. Sexual immorality includes infidelity, or extramarital affairs or anything that is outside the norm of a healthy sexual relationship between a man and a woman. These scriptures state, that if you divorce your spouse for any other reason, you cause them to commit adultery which is a serious sin. Also, if another person marries the person who is divorced, they commit adultery also;
"Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery." Mat. 5:31,32
The second reason is for 'abandonment of the unbeliever'. There are some that feel that this includes anyone who abandons the other for any reason. However the context of these scriptures speaks about an unbeliever in God / Jesus;
"Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?" 1 Cor. 7:10-16
What about two Christians who are married and one dies. Can a person remarry if their spouse dies? Yes. God's word also gives us guidance on this issue;
“A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord." 1 Cor. 7:39
So what is one to do when faced with a situation and they are considering divorce? Although it may not seem like a sufficient answer, Prayer to God is truly the thing to do. This answer may 'seem' insufficient from our perspective because there are numerous things we can not 'fix', figure out or understand. For these things, there is guidance from the Lord;
"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Mat. 19:26
Why is there so much restriction on reasons for divorce? Because marriage is union with God. It was designed by Him for the benefit of our lives to live in a strong union with Him. It is something we should not enter into lightly, but unfortunately, more times than not, we do that very thing. As stated in the beginning of this page, God does not approve of divorce;
" For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence," Says the LORD of hosts. " Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously." Mal. 2:16
Dealing treacherously refers to a casual and indifferent attitude toward our wedding vows. This is something a lot of people do in a marriage that occurs without the thought of God's word. God hates divorce, therefore so should we.