Dating & Marriage

Remarrying after divorce

My brother has been a divorcé for 7 years after his ex-wife was found to be unfaithful to him. He met someone a year ago in church and they are planning to marry next year. I’m not a believer (my brother and his wife-to-be are) but I am curious: Is it wrong for him to remarry? Does the Bible consider it adultery?

Concerned sister

At The Well

Li Ping says

Dear Concerned sister,

There is a range of opinions amongst Christians about (1) whether divorce is allowable, (2) on what grounds, and (3) if remarriage is allowable, due to differing interpretations of key biblical texts. Methodist ministers are allowed to decide on their position according to their conscience and biblical interpretation. Hence, I share mine below:

Firstly, I believe that divorce is allowable in some situations. Some hold the position that divorce is never allowed due to texts (Mark 10:11-1; Luke 16:18) that teach that at face value. However, other texts (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9) clearly permit divorce in the exceptional circumstance of sexual immorality (defined as any sexual activity outside marriage). Space does not permit a more comprehensive answer, but there is good reason to see the accounts in Mark and Luke as shorter versions of Jesus’ fuller teaching.

Secondly, as mentioned, a clear reason to allow a legitimate divorce is sexual immorality. Hence, the “wronged” party, such as your brother, is permitted to pursue divorce. That said, while divorce may be permitted, it is not compulsory, as marriage is ideally for life (Matthew 19:8). Forgiveness and reconciliation are possible and should be pursued.

Thirdly, some ministers may allow for divorce, but not remarriage, based on texts (Romans 7:3; 1 Corinthians 7:39) that seem to teach that only death releases one from the marriage covenant. However, I believe that if a divorce is legitimate, then logically, remarriage is also legitimate, as in your brother’s case.