After Divorce, Then What?

When making plans for the future, everybody likes to receive approval. And the stakes become even more intense when it is not just someone else’s opinion but God’s commendation which is desired. The more important our plans are to us, the stronger will be the desire to hear Scripture affirming that we are at least justified in our plans.
One subject which can stir very strong feelings is, after divorce then what? For young people, those who are married as well as those who are divorced, the study of godly options after divorce is beneficial.
It is imperative that you, the reader, understand that this article only seeks to address the question, “as a child of God who is divorced, what does God want me to do?” Reread the last sentence until it clearly sinks into your mind that this article omits any attempt to answer any aspect about what has already happened whether it be divorce or remarriage. This is only about looking at what biblical options are available to a Christian who is currently divorced. Ready?
God’s people embedded within the permissive city of Corinth had a question or two for Paul about marriage. Starting with 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul responded to their concerns. To these people who were wanting to serve God, we discover Paul recounting Jesus’ commands regarding what a divorced person seeking to do God’s will can do (1 Cor. 7:10,11). Later in 1 Corinthians 7:39, by inference we also discover a third option. These three options are:
1) Remain single
2) Be reconciled to your spouse
3) After the former spouse dies, the Christian could remarry someone who is in the Lord.
To a church which was so tolerant in its thinking that it was proud to have a man who was married to his father’s wife (1 Cor. 5:1,2) and who needed to be told that Christians ought not to join themselves with harlots (1 Cor. 6:15,16), these teachings might have sounded quite extreme. Perhaps this will also seem severe to the ears of our permissive generation. But as hard as it might be to hear, scripture consistently proclaims that to remarry before a spouse dies involves adultery, unless someone has divorced the other for the cause of infidelity (Mk. 10:11,12; Rom. 7:3; Matt. 5:32; 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:39; Matt. 5:32; 19:9).
It is also noteworthy that enmeshed within the marital context of 1 Corinthians 7, Paul informs us of the universal principle he had recommended in all the churches. This principle involved a person remaining in that situation in which God had called him (1 Cor. 7:17,20,24). The idea is to “bloom where you are planted.” Applying this to a divorced person who responds to the gospel, Paul would be underscoring that the divorcee can serve God as someone who is single.
This study about options after divorce contains lessons for all of us. To the young person dedicated to serving God, before you marry someone, thoughtfully consider whether this Christian you want to marry has the godly character and commitment to go the distance with you until you die. If you have doubts about it lasting that long, realize what your options will be as a divorcee who desires to follow God’s ways. To those who are married, do not look at divorce as an easy way out of a difficult situation which can provide you with an automatic divinely approved “Get Married Again” card. To those who are divorced, Scripture provides three options as well as a fourth one if your spouse was unchaste.
None of us can change the past. Praise God that sins can be forgiven. What we have control over today is what we will choose to do today and what plans we make for tomorrow. As disciples dedicated to serving God, let’s determine to act in a manner today which will uphold God’s will. And for those who are married or for whom contemplating marriage is within God’s will for them, weigh seriously what it would mean to faithfully serve God as a divorced individual in order to help you act responsibly and appropriately today.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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