Can a person remarry if their spouse commits adultery after the divorce?


I want to ask you about two people who have divorced. I understand they are supposed to remain unmarried, and if one of them does get married later, he is living in adultery. Is the other person free to marry, since in God's eyes they are still connected to their first spouse, have broken the covenant, and went with another person? Is the other divorced person free of obligation and can get then re-married? I looked at Scripture and I come to a point of racking my brains because they both chose divorce so that is their commitment, but then again God says they commit adultery even after divorce so it's breaking the covenant and could leave the other person free to marry.


Congratulations! You've stumbled upon an issue that people have been arguing about for decades. There are a number of variations, but they all boil down to the question of what happens if a spouse commits adultery after a divorce.

So let's review the basics: The only cause for divorce that allows for remarriage is fornication, and even then only the one who had not committed fornication is allowed to remarry.

"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" (Matthew 5:32).

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9).

"So He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:10-11).

"Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18).

"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" (I Corinthians 7:10-11).

When remarriage is not allowed, the person who remarries is guilty of adultery and whoever marries the person is also guilty of adultery.

Only Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 mention the exception and both are worded such that it is the cause of the divorce that allows the remarriage of the innocent party. It should also be clear that divorce is not required if fornication takes place. Overall, divorce is to be strongly discouraged. But if it does happen, the only two choices are for the two people are to remain unmarried or be reconciled to their spouse. Only in the case of fornication can the person who did not commit fornication get a divorce and has the option to remarry.

Even though the sin of remarrying after a divorce is in the category of adultery, it is not because they are still married in God's sight. I Corinthians 7:11 makes it clear that divorce leaves the two people unmarried. Yet remarriage after a divorce to anyone else still falls under the category of adultery.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke's records regarding divorce all mention the possibility of adultery occurring after the divorce, but notice what is not mentioned: There is no mention of the adultery freeing up the ex-spouse to be able to remarry. The only time remarriage is allowed is when the cause of the divorce was fornication on the other spouse's part. To claim there are additional reasons for remarriage is to add to what was revealed, something we cannot do. "Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:6). There is no indication in God's words that later sins change the terms.

What it comes down to is that God disapproves of divorce. "For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence" (Malachi 2:16). Jesus gave one exception that doesn't have to be used but can be if the person involved insists. Otherwise, marriage is a lifetime commitment. If a person wants out before the death of the partner, then they can only do so knowing that they have given up their right to remarry. I can't think of a better incentive to cause two people to try to work out their problems.

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