December 28, 2013

A Summary and Questions to Ask on Divorce and Remarriage

The issue of divorce and remarriage is not only a painful reality, personally and pastorally, but is also a very difficult subject exegetically. I was helped several years ago by reading Jay Adams’ Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible. Even if you end up disagreeing with his conclusions, it’s a model of biblical and logical and pastoral reasoning.

I thought it might be helpful for some readers if I reproduced his summary and checklist:


A. Marriage

1. is a divinely ordained institution
2. is the first and most fundamental institution
3. is covenantal and binding
4. is a covenant of companionship
5. is the place for true intimacy
6. is to conform to the model of Christ and His church

B. Divorce

1. always stems from sin
2. is not necessarily sinful
3. always breaks a marriage
4. is never necessary among believers
5. is legitimate on the grounds of sexual sin
6. is legitimate when an unbeliever wishes to divorce a believer
7. is forgivable when sinful

C. Remarriage

1. in general, is desirable
2. is possible for a divorced person
3. is possible for a sinfully divorced person through forgiveness
4. is possible only when all biblical obligations have been met
5. is possible only when parties are prepared for marriage


1. Are all, one, or none of the parties Christians
2. Who wants the divorce?
3. On what grounds?
4. Does this party really want a divorce, or only a change in the situation?
5. Has 1 Corinthians 6 been violated?
6. Has sexual sin been present?
7. Is there acceptable evidence for such sin or only hearsay and/or supposition?
8. Has church discipline been applied? (Matt 18)
9. If so, what was the outcome?
10. Is there repentance/forgiveness?
11. Is reconciliation required?
12. Does an unbeliever want the marriage to continue?
13. Has a former spouse remarried another?
14. Did any church fail to handle a divorce/remarriage properly?
15. If so, how? And what must be done to set this straight?
16. Is the believer in a state where the church may declare him/her free from all obligations and,
therefore, free to remarry?
17. If not, what more needs to be done to bring about this condition?

-Justin Taylor


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