Who Must Marry, Divorce, and Remarry

Text: 1 Corinthians 7:8-11

In the previous lesson we discussed who MAY marry, divorce, and remarry (focused on the divine permission). In this lesson, we’re going to focus on a divine requirement – who MUST marry, divorce, and remarry. Sometimes being a faithful follower of Christ requires us to make difficult choices in our personal lives.

Who Must Marry?

  • This may sound like an odd question – no one has to get married
  • But Paul talked about a certain circumstance that would mean a couple must get married (1 Corinthians 7:1-2) – if they cannot exercise self-control, “it is better to marry than to burn…” (1 Corinthians 7:9)
  • One of the reasons why God gave marriage is to provide a lawful way to fulfill sexual desires (1 Corinthians 7:3-5) – the desires themselves are not wrong, but fulfilling them outside of marriage is (Hebrews 13:4); there is a way of escape for every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13); in some cases that might be marriage

Who Must Divorce?

  • Again, this may sound like an odd question – we studied the exception in the previous lesson (Matthew 19:9); that was a permission, not a requirement; the general rule is that divorce is unlawful (Mark 10:10-11; Luke 16:18)
  • We are told that God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16) – so how could God require divorce?
  • First, we need to remember that God required certain divorces in the Old Testament (Ezra 10:2-3) – they were required because they violated God’s law when they entered those marriages (Ezra 10:2; Deuteronomy 7:3); therefore, the divorces were “done according to the law” (Ezra 10:3)
  • When we talk about those who MUST divorce, we’re not talking about those whom God has bound together (Matthew 19:6) – we’re talking about those who are in an adulterous marriage (Romans 7:3); they may be legally recognized as being married, but their marriage is not lawful (cf. Mark 6:17-18)
  • Repentance requires a repudiation of sin (Romans 2:3-6; Revelation 2:5) – may require a repudiation (putting away or divorce) of one’s mate

Who Must Remarry?

  • In the previous lesson we talked about those who were permitted to marry a second mate – those whose spouse died and those who put away their mate for fornication; for these ones, the same requirement would exist that we discussed at the beginning of this lesson (1 Corinthians 7:9)
  • However, what about those who did not put away their mate for fornication and their mate is still living? – Paul addressed this question in his letter to Corinth (1 Corinthians 7:10-11)
  • Divorce for a cause other than fornication is condemned (Matthew 19:9), but what if someone has already left (1 Corinthians 7:11) or has sent his/her spouse away (1 Corinthians 7:13)? – they must be reconciled if their spouse consents (1 Corinthians 7:11-12)
  • In other words, if their spouse is willing to be reconciled, they MUST remarry their spouse (restore their relationship with their bound mate) – this is not optional; to refuse is to be guilty of keeping separated what God joined (Matthew 19:6); if their spouse is unwilling, they must remain unmarried


  • Some of the Bible’s teachings on marriage, divorce, and remarriage are difficult to accept – this is because family relationships are involved (cf. Ezra 10:3)
  • However, we must put our devotion to the Lord first – even before family (Matthew 10:34-37)
  • It may be difficult to do this, but we will be rewarded (Matthew 10:38-39)

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