Baptists/Divorce and remarriage


In your previous response you did not address Matthew 5:32, which says, "32 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."  This makes it seem that if I marry a divorced woman we are both committing adultery, regardless of the circumstances.

After 23 years of marriage, my wife committed adultery multiple times, filed for divorce, and eventually moved in with her lover, without marrying him. There was adultery and desertion.  During this process, I met a godly teacher's aide while I was substitute teaching at her school.  She had gone through the same thing five years earlier, with her husband committing adultery and divorcing her.  Seeing as my divorce was not final, I stopped teaching at the school until it was.  A year after the divorce was final and I was working full-time again, I saw the same teacher's aide assisting an elderly person in a drug store.  We struck up a friendship and have gone out on a few dates.  She is most godly woman I have met since becoming single. I could see myself serving God with her the rest of my life, much like Aquilla and Priscilla did in the Bible.  But my relationship with God and following His word is most important.

If a woman has a husband who commits adultery and divorces her, does this mean she is put on the shelf the rest of her life, consigned to singleness?  That's what it sounds like here.  Why don't the same rules apply to the man?  Obviously it was a male-dominated society.  This is not clear.

As with the previous questioner, I am not asked this to be kept quiet.  I think a lot of people ask this question.

While I grew up Baptist and interned in a Baptist church, I am more interested in a biblical perspective.

Thank you for your question. Divorce is a very painful subject for everyone. Biblically there is only two reasons for a divorce: adultery and abandonment. You did the right thing when you felt you might be tempted by getting involved with this lady before your divorce was final.

It sounds like this lady and yourself have stayed single and have not been involved sexually with anyone as a single person. If that being the case, pray and seek what God's answer is for you and this lady. If you really love this woman, go to church with her, show her you are a Godly man, but do not get sexually involved unless you get married. The two of you should sit down and pray with each other and seek God's face together. You may find this will bring you closer to each other.

You asked "If a woman has a husband who commits adultery and divorces her, does this mean she is put on the shelf the rest of her life." The answer is "no." Rules apply the same for men and women. Sin is sin in God's eye.  

Many born again people like to use Matt. Chapter 19 to justify divorce and become very callous and pharisaical. But let's look at what Jesus is saying. Matt. 19:3-6 states "The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made [them] at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."

Verse 3 shows the Pharisees were trying to set Jesus up because they were "tempting him." That is why they asked "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?"  Divorce was a controversial topic in Jesus’ day, with two main schools of thought, centered around two of its most famous proponents. The first was the school of Rabbi Shammai (a strict and unpopular view) and second was the school of Rabbi Hillel (a lax and popular view). Pharisees were of the Rabbi Hillel view. the Pharisees are try to get Jesus to side with one teaching or the other. If He sides with the lax school of Rabbi Hillel, it is clear that Jesus does not take the Law of Moses seriously. If He sides with the strict school of Rabbi Shammai, then Jesus looses face before the multitude, who generally liked access to an easy divorce. They believe they have caught Jesus on the horns of a dilemma.

Jesus did not fall for this trap but gave them what a Godly answer in 19:4-6.   

This did not satisify the Pharisees so they continued to "They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?" (19:7). Writing of divorcement is also known as certificate of divorce in different translations. The Pharisees wrongly thought that God commanded divorce.

Verse 19:8 states "He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so." Hardness of your hearts is really a spiritual hardness because the Israelites could not meet the requirements that God had set up. The word "suffered" is epitrepō in the Greek which means to permit. The Pharisees wrongly thought that God commanded divorce where there was uncleanness.
But Jesus noted the difference between “command” (verse 7) and “permitted” (verse 8)- God never commands divorce, but He does permit it becasue of the spiritual hardness of our hearts.

Verse 9 states "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except [it be] for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." The word "fornication" in the Greek is porneia which refers to illicit sexual intercourse which refers to adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. So it due to sexual immorality that a husband can put away his wife (give a certificate of divorce) and not just anything that might displease the husband as the Pharisees wanted it.
But why is it that one who marries her is committing adultery? The reason is a person who does not have a legitimate divorce commits adultery upon remarrying is because they are not divorced in the eyes of God. Since their old marriage was never dissolved on Biblical grounds, that marriage is still valid and they are actually guilty of bigamy and adultery.

Verse 19:10-11 states "His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with [his] wife, it is not good to marry. But he said unto them, All [men] cannot receive this saying, save [they] to whom it is given."  Jesus recognized that celibacy is good for some, for the one who is able to accept it.

But remember God permits divorce because of man's spiritual hardness and can not live up to the stanard God has set for marriage, but God does not command divorce. But remember we will have to stand one day before Jesus and give an account.

This is one biblical interpretation of Matt. 19:3-11.

John, you stated "But my relationship with God and following His word is most important." I commend you for being a Godly man. But pray for what God wants for your godly woman and you. If you are living the way He has given in His word, He will bless.

Blessings to you.

Dr Don Howe, RN, PhD, ThD  


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Dr Don Howe


I welcome questions that deal with addictions, drug abuse, military issues, theological issues, relationship issues, church history, world religions, current events from a Christian worldview, "gray areas" that are present today, church growth movements, false prophets, spiritual abuse issues, end time events, prophecy, medical ethical issues, hermeneutical questions, and how Israel fits into God's economy today. I will answer all questions in a grammatical/historical normative interpretation of God's Word. If you are looking for a liberal theological answer or argument, do not ask. I am not an expert on church planting or evangelism. I am Military Chaplain in the Texas State Guard in Texas and would enjoy questions from soldiers in the military, their families, and children dealing with religious/spiritual issues/marriage issues/assimilation back into the civilian life issues/addictions. I welcome questions dealing with addictions and the problems that lifestyle places on people's lives.


I have over 20 years of experience doing ministry as a bivocational minster and Military Chaplain. I have over 39 yrs of experience as Registered Nurse. I am a Military Chaplain in the TXSG in Texas and welcome questions from military. I am a Chaplain with the TX DPS department and Certified Master Chaplain with the American Board of Certified of Homeland Security. I do ministry as a volunteer with ministries that are nonprofit and not able to pay for ministers. I have experience working with youth, children, elderly in different placement settings, mentally ill and mentally challenged in different settings, felons in state prison and county jails, hospital chaplaincy, choir ministry, and deacon ministry. I am an ordained SBC minister. I am a Professional Chaplain. I am currently doing hospital ministry, ministry to shut-ins, and a chaplain with Victim Relief Ministry working with victims of disasters and domestic violence. I have over 43 yrs of experience in Mental Health field and specialize in Addictions. Also work as a professional nurse in federal agency.

American Association of Christian Counselors, Nurses Christian Fellowship, Therpon Institute, Victim Chaplain & Counselor Association of America, International Board of Christian Counselors, American Society of Christian Therapists, International Nurses Society in Addictions. National Center for Crisis Management American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress American Board of Certified Master Chaplains (ABCMC),


PhD, Therapon University, USVI, 12/07 in Biblical Counseling, DCC, Southwest Bible College & Seminary, Jenning, LA 04/05 in Christian Psychology and Counseling. ThD, Slidell Baptist Seminary, Slidell, LA 02/04 D.D., Slidell Baptist Seminary, Slidell, LA 07/03 Tyndale Seminary, Fort Worth, TX 2001-2003 BSN, Univ. of Texas in Arlington, Tx 05/93 ADN, Midwestern State Univ., Wichitia Falls, TX 5/77 Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock, Externship 08/04-12/05, 4 units of CPE earned.

Awards and Honors
Certified Addictions Registered Nurse by International Nursing Society on Addictions. Board Certified Christian Counselor by International Board of Christian Counselors. Issued 01/24/06. Board certified as Expert in Traumatic Stress by the American Academy Of Experts In Traumatic Stress (BCEST). Fellow (FAAETS) of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. DAPA and FAPA by American Psychotherapy Association. Diplomate (DAAETS) of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Diplomate (DNCCM) of the National Center for Crisis Management, issued 11/18/09. Currently serve as Secretary on the American Board of Certified Master Chaplains (ABCMC), which is an Advisory Board under the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security (ABCHS). Certified Addictions Registered Nurse (CARN).

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