The apostle Paul write in 1 Corinthians 7, verse 10-11 that

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. (KJV)

How literal is this to be taken, when a man for example meets a woman who is divorced? Can't such a man marry a woman? Or am I missing a contextual issue here, that it was specifically meant for the people of Corinth..

I see the same being written in Matthew 5:32, where it says:

anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (NIV).

  • Paul specifies only for women. I Cor 7:10-11 and I Cor 7:39 and Romans 7:2 all relate to women. There is no restriction anywhere in scripture that a man may not have more than one wife. So if a woman 'departs' from a man, he may marry a second time. But as you note in the question, the matter of women poses no question as it is very clearly forbidden in the bible.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 30, 2019 at 22:46
  • @Nigel J - that is not true. See Luke 16:18, Matt 19:9.
    – user25930
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 11:06
  • @Mac'sMusings Both texts refer to putting away a wife. Not just taking a second. The restriction is against evicting a wife from the household in order to accommodate another - not adding a second wife to an original household. If a man does so - spurning a first wife - then he causes the second wife to commit adultery : by usurping the place of wife one.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 11:58
  • Luke 16:18 Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery. Matt 19:9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery. Which Bible are you reading?
    – user25930
    Commented Jun 9, 2019 at 21:02
  • @Mac'sMusings Divorcing (first) and then re-marrying : is wrong. And the second wife is complicit in adultery. Merely adding a second wife to the household is never censured anywhere in the bible that I read - the Textus Receptus - KJV/YLT/JND/EGNT.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 9:56

3 Answers 3


The Bible teaching about divorce and remarriage is rather unambiguous as the OP correctly states. Matt 5:32, 1 Cor 7:10, 11 plus Matt 19:9 all state the same thing - inappropriately divorced people remarrying means the new marriage amounts to adultery. Separation without remarriage is OK.

However, Matt 19:9 also provides Jesus' only basis for valid divorce: "immorality" (NASB) translated from the Greek word, πορνείᾳ (porneia) is either (according to BDAG):

  • unlawful sexual intercourse, prostitution, unchastity, fornication
  • participation in prohibited degrees of marriage, fornication

Thus, it appears that if one partner has committed some sin as defined above, then there exists valid grounds for legal, Biblical divorce and remarriage.

In some circles, there is much debate about the fine shades of meaning associated with exactly what constitutes "immorality" or "fornication" but I will not debate this here.


To marry a divorcee is an adultery, because, if she was in a real marriage, having become one flesh with her husband, then her divorce with such a husband is a major human catastrophe and she is a person who has suffered such a catastrophe. God's will cannot be but that she reunites with her husband as to her own lost part, rather than take another man as a new part of herself.

Another question is that she became a wife of somebody without any love or respect on her part, by coercion of parents, for example; if she misses a real romantic-sublime love, a sincerity of her feelings, and is forced to share bed with somebody she loves and respects not, being tormented by this unhappy conjugal life, can such a union be called "marriage" in the light of truth, Christ? Is such a woman still forbidden to leave the man she sleeps with? Is sexual relationship per-se, automatically so to say, making one "the same flesh" with another, or sincere love and respect are necessary ingredients? Those questions I do not know and cannot tell therefore. However, I do think that a woman who is unwillingly given to marriage and loves not her husband is less guilty in leaving him, than a woman who married her husband by love and then having betrayed this love and having become indifferent, leaves him.

A big question: is a marriage that is not preceded by a sincere falling into love and mutual reciprocal romantic-sublime feelings a real marriage? Or even if yes, then is not it a bad thing to conduct such marriages? Is not it better to remain celibate entire life than marry without love or even have a sex with without love? Far better in all respects! And sex without love is sin.


How literal is this to be taken

It is meant to be taken literally.In fact,the disciples were so shocked when they heard it,that they said it was better not to marry.

Now I tell you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery.”His disciples said to Him, “If this is the case between a man and his wife, it is better not to marry.”Matthew 19:10

Not a good idea to divorce(except for sexual immorality) or to marry a divorcee,Here is what the Lord say again

And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.Matthew 5:32

Or am I missing a contextual issue here, that it was specifically meant for the people of Corinth

That command was given in Israel by Jesus,long before Paul.It isn't a specific command meant for the people of Corinth. It is a command that every christian should follow.Here is what the Lord say

And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.Matthew 5:32

Separation is never OK in God's eyes,you can only be separated if your spouse committed sexual immorality.An example of sexual immorality is adultery which is not limited to cheating on your spouse but also lusting(watching porn,sexual desire toward a person who isn't your spouse).When you get married,you become one with your spouse and as our Lord say let no man separate what God has joined.Separation is never OK,it is only permissible in the case of sexual immorality.Divorce is never appropriate,it is a sin against your spouse and we know what happens to those,who make others stumble.The only way to go about this,is to repent,not trying to find loopholes to justify what is indefensible.Sin separate us from God and divorce is one of them.

For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” Malachi 2:16

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.Matthew 5:27

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’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.Matthew 5:31

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.Matthew 18:7

Another thing you do: You flood the Lord’s altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.You ask, “Why?” It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.Malachi 2:13

Do people really think that they can overwhelm their spouse with cruelty or make them stumble and get away with it?

  • To answer your last question, the answer, sadly enough, is yes.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented Mar 12 at 20:50

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