The apostle Paul talks about this:
10 But I do not command those who are married, but the Lord, that the wife should not divorce her husband.
11 But if she divorces, she must remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband, and the husband must not leave his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10,11).
Note that the divorced woman still has her husband, that is, the law of marriage (Rom. 7:2,3, 1 Cor. 7:39) applies to her, notwithstanding her divorce. And she can either remain celibate, that is, unmarried, or she can be reconciled, but only to her husband and not to some other husband.
Can a divorced woman marry her husband?
If a divorced woman, being celibate, that is, unmarried, wants to use the word of God in 1 Corinthians:
8 But to the celibate and widows I say, “It is good for them to remain as I am.
9 But if they cannot [can] abstain, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to be kindled. (1 Corinthians 7:8,9),
If she does not fulfill the commandment to remain celibate, which God by the mouth of the Apostle Paul prescribes for the divorced in 1 Corinthians 7:10,11 (see above), she will transgress the law of marriage, by which she is bound to her living husband, and will become an adulteress (Romans 7:2,3). Here we need to pay attention to this word remain. This is God’s commandment for the celibate divorced.
Thus, all celibates, except those who are divorced, may marry. The celibate divorced must either remain celibate or be reconciled to their husband, who, despite their divorce, is not going anywhere.
Can believers who have been abandoned by their unbelieving husbands or wives marry as well?
Scripture permits marriage after divorce only in “such cases” as 1 Corinthians tells us:
15 But if an unbeliever [wants] to divorce, let him divorce; a brother or sister in such [cases] is not bound; the Lord has called us to peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15).
There are no other restrictions in Scripture that “bind” former spouses other than the law of marriage:
2 A married woman is bound by the law to her living husband; and if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage.
3 Therefore if she marries another man while her husband is alive, she is called an adulteress; but if the husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress when she marries another man. (Rom. 7:2,3).
Therefore, believing brothers and sisters in Christ who have been left by their unbelieving spouses, not for adultery but for another reason, are set free, no longer bound by the law of marriage, by which one cannot marry after such a divorce while the husband is alive.
It is precisely “in such cases,” as described in 1 Corinthians 7:15, that the marriage partners themselves and the pastors of the church should investigate: whether the divorce in the believer’s previous marriage really happened first because of the initiative of the unbelieving party, and second because the unbelieving party simply does not want to live together with the believing party, rather than having it against her that she is adulterous.
Otherwise, the commandment of Christ’s law in 1 Corinthians applies:
11 But if she divorces, she must remain celibate, or be reconciled to her husband, and the husband shall not leave his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:11).
The unbeliever herself must certify to the pastor of the church or there must be evidence that:
- she does not believe in Christ;
- she does not want to live with a believer not because she is guilty of adultery.
After all, it could also be that the divorce was caused by adultery on the part of the believer.
Also, a person who is not a member of the church is not necessarily an unbeliever either. There may be different understandings, teachings, sinfulness, etc. But it is God who will judge him on his faith.
Therefore, he himself must affirm or there must be irrefutable evidence that he was an unbeliever at the time of the divorce.
Does the law of marriage apply to a divorce made BEFORE believing?
We can limit ourselves to stating that the Bible does not say that believing after divorce destroys the law of marriage set forth in Rom. 7:2,3 and 1 Cor. 7:39 for the one who believes. This is a human fiction, a heresy.
Does the forgiveness of sins in repentance and in water baptism to the one who believes mean that our mothers, fathers, wives, and children who we had before we believed are no longer our mothers, fathers, wives, or children? Of course not!
So the law of marriage for believers and unbelievers is the same and does not change because one or both spouses have subsequently believed or lost faith in Jesus Christ.
Is it possible to reconcile with an ex-wife if she has been in another marriage?
The Scriptures answer this question perfectly:
1 If a man takes a wife and makes her his husband, and she finds no favor in his eyes, because he finds anything contrary in her, he shall write her a letter of divorce, and give her into his hands, and let her go out of his house,
2 And she shall go out of his house, and marry another husband,
3 But this last husband also shall hate her, and shall write her a bill of divorce, and give her into his hands, and let her go out of his house, or else this last husband of hers, who took her to be his wife, shall die.
4 Now her first husband who had let her go may not take her to wife again, after she has been defiled: for this is an abomination in the sight of the LORD, and thou shalt not blemish the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to give. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
Under the Old Testament Scriptures, divorce was allowed. Under the New Testament it is not allowed. However, the rule about not being able to reconcile with a wife after she has been in a new marriage has not changed.
Are concubines concubines concubines (harlots)?
Concubines were wives, not concubines (Judges 19). Both wives and slaves at the same time.
The Scriptures forbid having concubines, calling it fornication (Deuteronomy 22, Genesis 38:24, Mark 7:21, Acts 15:20, 1 Corinthians 6:15,16,18 Galatians 5:19,…).