Updated: Feb 12
It is common theology in the Body of Christ that women cannot re-marry after they get a divorce until their spouse dies. This is an interesting notion because it seems very unfair to the woman. It paints the picture that God is actually a respecter of men and we know that the Bible very clearly tells us that he is not a respecter of any man.
The Jewish man was able to send his wife away anytime that he desired, at least that what the common idea was among the Pharisees, and even today is still commonly accepted by the church. However, putting away does not mean divorce.
Putting away is sending a person away and not divorcing them. It's the equivalence of telling someone to get out of your house because you don't want to live with them but you never get divorced legally. Take a look at Jeremiah 3:8, "She saw that because faithless Israel had committed adultery, I gave her a certificate of divorce and sent her away. Yet that unfaithful sister Judah had no fear and prostituted herself as well." We'll discuss more in-depth at the end of this.
Notice that God says, I gave her a certificate of divorce and sent her away? There is a distinct difference. The word for putting away is Shalah. However, the word used for divorce is its own separate word. This word is kerithuthia. This word means to divorce and comes from the Hebrew word karath meaning to cut off, cut down, or in others cut ties.
In this light, you can understand why Jesus would say, "But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery." The Greek word used for divorce is Apolyon. This word means to send away, to put away, although it is translated commonly as meaning to divorce. You see this same word used in Matthew 1:19, "Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily."
If Joseph was divorcing Mary per the legal requirements of the Levitical law, then he would have to go through a legal process to present a 'get' to his wife. A get is what the Hebraic people called a writ or certificate of divorce. This would involve Joseph going before an ecclesiastical court and presenting his case before them and witnesses and then they decide what is appropriate to do according to the law. In this case, since mary would have been married and had become pregnant she would most likely be found guilty of adultery (though we know the child in her was of the Holy Spirit) for which the penalty would have been death by stoning. We know that this simply wouldn't do because that would cause the death of mary and Jesus.
Perhaps now you can understand what Jesus meant by "putting away." He wasn't just referring to getting a divorce, but he was referring to just sending your wife away without divorcing her and thus if she had carnal relations with another man, even under the covenant of marriage, she would be guilty of adultery. Likewise, the husband and her husband would be guilty of adultery because they are one in body until otherwise severed by the proper legal court. Neither the woman nor her original husband were legally separated.
Jesus was not saying that a person who has been divorced and re-marries is guilty of committing adultery. He was saying a person who is separated, not living together, is still married and is having sex, is guilty of adultery. The terminology of 2,000+ years ago was slightly more colorful than how we would say it today. If you are separated but still married you are committing adultery if either of you has sex. You are both guilty of it regardless.
In response to Deuteronomy 24:4 (a scripture commonly used to justify that no Christian should remarry after they are divorced unless the souse has passed away); you cannot take just this scripture and use it as a means to justify condemning a person that gets remarried after they have been divorced. You have the use the scripture in its proper context. If you read the verses before it you see this, "If a man marries a woman, but she becomes displeasing to him because he finds some indecency in her, he may write her a certificate of divorce, hand it to her, and send her away from his house. If, after leaving his house, she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the second man hates her, writes her a certificate of divorce, hands it to her, and sends her away from his house, or if he dies, 4then the husband who divorced her first may not marry her again after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination to the LORD. You must not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance." -Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
Now you see here that this scripture is referring to a woman that has been officially divorced and then gets re-married. The husband cannot re-marry her because she is considered unclean to him. She was now someone else's husband. You also have to keep in mind that Jesus told us that this was not a commandment of God. "Then some Pharisees came and tested Him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus answered, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” “Why then,” they asked, “did Moses order a man to give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because of your hardness of heart, but it was not this way from the beginning. Now I tell you that whoever shall put away his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery." -Matthew 19:3-9.
Take notice of the wording that the Pharisees used. They said, "divorce and send away (put away). The word they used for divorce is apostasion which means a certificate of divorce. Jesus makes it very clear that you can't just put away (send away) your wife. The only way that God allows is for a person to be divorced is if they commit adultery.
Then How do we reconcile that God divorced Israel and sent her away? Surely God cannot remarry her because that would violate his law. The answer is that God died. He divorced Israel and then died on the cross. His covenant with Israel was ended when he died on the cross. He is a good God, and he upholds his promises, but he now allows us to be reconciled to him in holy matrimony because he died and created a new covenant through which we could come back into all the blessings and promises that he originally intended for us.
It's not fair to use the law and the curses associated with those laws to justify doctrine. Paul says this to the Galatians verses 3 and 4, "Again I testify to every man who gets himself circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been severed from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."
If you are trying to justify your doctrine by placing yourself or others under the curses of the law, or are trying to justify yourself through the law then you are not under grace in this area. In fact, Paul says that you are fallen away from Grace.
Paul Teaches us in his letter to Titus, that Jesus is the Grace of God. "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men." Titus 2:11. Therefore, if you have fallen away from grace then you are fallen away from Jesus and are leading others away from the Grace of God that brings us salvation.
To sum this all up: In answer to the age-old doctrine stating that it's wrong for a divorced person to re-marry; that is false. It is wrong for a person to get a divorce unless a person commits adultery and you must not have sexual relations with anyone before you are married again or before you are fully divorced. You are not in sin if you re-marry. You are not under a curse if you re-marry.