Q. My question centers on 1 Cor. 7:11 where Paul says that a divorced person should not remarry. When leading a singles bible study, this verse was brought up as some of them were single again. The Pharisee in me holds to the plain sense of the verse. Yet I know that while God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16), he permits it only in the case of fornication.
Is it reasonable to interpret that verse in the context of the Corinthian church and say that if a person gets a divorce for other than biblical reasons, then they should not remarry unless/until the ex-spouse has fully broken their marriage covenant by committing adultery with another? And, if a person gets a divorce on biblical grounds are they free to remarry? Ultimately, I’m wondering under what conditions the command to not remarry applies.
A. I believe Paul was confirming the fact that the Lord views divorce as a sin. Earlier Jesus stated that adultery was the only acceptable reason for ending a marriage (Matt. 19:9). If one party quits the marriage and takes up with someone else, the abandoned party would have Biblical grounds for divorce and could subsequently marry another person. If either party marries for any other reason, then they’ve sinned. While willful sins are a serious matter, they are not unforgivable. I don’t agree with the notion that the parties have to go back and undo any other marriages that may have taken place in the meantime and re-marry their original spouses to restore themselves to fellowship with the Lord. He already knows all the sins of our life and took them all to the cross (Col. 2:13-14). Therefore, confession automatically brings forgiveness.