Who May Marry, Divorce, and Remarry

Text: Matthew 19:4-6

The topic of marriage, divorce, and remarriage has been a controversial topic for years – even during the time of Jesus (Matthew 19:3). In this lesson, we’re going to look at what God has permitted – who MAY marry, divorce, and remarry.

Who May Marry?

  • To answer this question, we must understand the nature of marriage – established by God (Genesis 2:18, 21-24); therefore, He makes the rules for it; civil leaders do not make the rules for marriage because it is beyond the scope of their God-given authority (Romans 13:3-4); they cannot grant permission that God has not given
  • Male and female may marry (Matthew 19:4) – same-sex “marriages” are prohibited
  • Two (one male and one female) may marry (Matthew 19:5) – polygamy is prohibited
  • These who have never been bound by God in marriage may marry
  • Everyone, whether they believe in God or not, may marry if they are eligible by God’s laws to do so – God will bind two atheists together, even if they do not acknowledge Him

Who May Divorce?

  • The Pharisees asked if a man could “divorce his wife for any reason at all” (Matthew 19:3) – many people believe that one may do this (religious and non-religious people); we even have “no-fault” divorces
  • The general rule that Jesus gave is that no one who is bound in marriage can divorce his/her spouse (Mark 10:10-11; Luke 16:18) – God expects marriage to be permanent
  • Jesus gave just ONE exception – “except for immorality [fornication, KJV]” (Matthew 19:9); when one is bound in marriage to someone else, and that person commits fornication, the innocent spouse may put away that mate and remarry and NOT commit adultery; no adultery because putting a spouse away for fornication releases one from the marriage bond
  • Important to note that this is a permission, not a requirement – one may choose not to put away his/her fornicator mate; many reasons why this could be done; but Jesus did give the permission

Who May Remarry?

  • This is about those who have been previously bound to someone else in marriage – understanding what the Bible teaches about marriage and divorce makes this pretty straightforward
  • One whose spouse dies may remarry (Romans 7:2-3) – no longer bound in marriage
  • One who puts away his/her spouse for fornication may remarry (Matthew 19:9) – this is the only permission while the spouse to whom one was bound is still living
  • Again, this is a permission, not a requirement – in some cases, it will be better to remain unmarried (Matthew 19:10-12; 1 Corinthians 7:26-28)


  • Marriage is a great blessing from God – but we must respect His rules concerning marriage
  • Marriage, divorce, and remarriage are serious matters – we must be sure that whatever action we take is approved by God

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