A Waco Farmer is correct that the larger context for same-sex marriage debate is the weakening of the institution of marriage. And, he is correct in pointing out that Christian churches have, in many respects, allowed their own attitudes toward divorce and remarriage to be imported from the larger culture.

For what it may be worth, below is a list of Scriptures concerning marriage, and a pastoral letter I wrote a while back, giving my understanding of divorce and remarriage from a Christian perspective.


All Christian conduct is guided by God’s Law, most famously summarized in the 10 Commandments and in the Law of Love.

EXODUS 20:1-17 You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make yourself a graven image; you shall not bow down to them or serve them. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. Honor your father and your mother. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet.

MARK 12:30,31 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Key passages regarding marriage are

GENESIS 2:24 “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.

MATTHEW 19:3-9 (parallels in Mark & Luke) “And Pharisees came up to him and tested him be asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause? He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery.”

I CORINTHIANS 7 portions quoted
“But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does.”

“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. But, if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”

“To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)—and that the husband should not divorce his wife.
To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. . . . But if the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound.”

“A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”

2 CORINTHIANS 6:14 “Do not be mismated with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and iniquity? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

EPHESIANS 5:21-33 “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, s to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that the church might be presented before him in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ This is a great mystery, and I take it to mean Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

January 10, 2006

Dear ,

I have spent many days thinking about the question you asked me regarding divorce and remarriage. I have studied Scripture, read a book titled Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views, read official statements by various denominations, and prayed and meditated on the issue.
I do not intend to tell you what to do, especially since you attend another church, but will try to state clearly my understanding. You then can make up your own mind.

Enclosed you will find two pages on which I have typed key passages from the Bible on marriage, including divorce and remarriage. These passages, plus the Bible as a whole, have informed my view.

My view on divorce and remarriage may be summarized as follows (I am here in basic agreement with official positions taken by the Reformed Church in America to which I belong, and by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church which I respect):

1. God’s intention for marriage is that it is to be permanent for this life, that is, until the death of one spouse. Two people who marry should have this same intention.
2. Problems in a marriage should be solved by the efforts of both spouses if possible, including by forgiveness and reconciliation. Divorce should be seen as the last possible option, more like amputating a limb rather than merely breaking a contract.
3. Divorce or separation, then, means a failure to live up to God’s intention on the part of one or both partners.
4. Because of the reality of human sin, divorce sometimes may need to occur, but it is never a good thing. Scripture gives two specific reasons that allow divorce—adultery and desertion. It seems to me that these two specific reasons are examples of one deeper reason—the destruction of the marriage covenant. Therefore, I think, other specific actions also may destroy the marriage covenant such as violence (usually the husband beating the wife).
5. The plain reading of Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7 seems to me to allow for the remarriage of the offended partner after a legitimate divorce. However, that person needs to acknowledge that the first marriage was a failure, to acknowledge that such failure is a serious matter, and to confess any sins which he or she committed that may have helped lead to the divorce. (For example, did his/her harsh and constant criticism of the spouse help drive the spouse to desertion? Or, did his/her coldness help make it easier for the spouse to commit adultery?) Also, before remarriage the offended spouse should seek to correct any weaknesses that helped make the first marriage difficult, for example, bad communication skills, spending beyond budget, etc.
6. The ultimate Word of God is grace, not law. God’s forgiveness is possible for both partners after a divorce, including the adulterer or deserter, etc. (Divorce is not the unforgivable sin.) God’s grace also includes forgiveness after an illegitimate divorce, that is, a divorce not done for biblical reasons (for example “We just grew apart”). Godly sorrow may lead to repentance and we know that God forgives us when we honestly confess our sins.
7. Does God’s forgiveness mean that remarriage is possible after an illegitimate divorce? Is remarriage possible ever for the offending spouse (adulterer, deserter, assailant, etc.)? In other words, after a guilty divorcee has sought and received God’s forgiveness, may that person remarry? I am still struggling with these questions and do not have a strongly held opinion. For now, I support the opinions given by the Reformed Church in America and by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
“The remarriage of divorced persons may be sanctioned by the Church in keeping with the redemptive gospel of Christ, when sufficient penitence for sin and failure is evident, and a firm purpose of and endeavor after Christian marriage is manifested [to the elders and pastor].” Evangelical Presbyterian Church
“A pastor may with good conscience officiate in the remarriage of divorced persons if in his judgement, and the judgement of the congregation’s board of elders, the persons have met the following requirements: recognition of personal responsibility for the failure of the former marriage, penitence and an effort to overcome limitations and failures, forgiveness of the former partner, fulfillment of obligations involved in the former marriage, and a willingness to make the new marriage a Christian one by dependence upon Christ and participation in his church.” Reformed Church in America
In other words, I think that remarriage is possible after God’s forgiveness, but I am not certain that I am right in this.

I hope these thoughts help you and I wish you God’s blessings,

Pastor Jeff Taylor