Divorcing Second Husband to Remarry First Husband?

Divorcing Second Husband to Remarry First Husband?

There are people who believe that if a woman has been divorced and then married another man, she is living in continual adultery and needs to divorce her second husband and try to be reconciled to her first husband or remain single for the rest of her life. Because I don’t agree with this, I have been accused of supporting divorce and remarriage so I want to set the record straight. I hate divorce as God hates it and do everything I can to strengthen and save marriages.

I strongly believe in the permanence of marriage until death does a couple part and what God has put together let NO man separate. This is what I will teach until I no longer have a voice. Divorce is devastating on all involved even affecting future generations. “Divorce, no matter what the reason, does something to children that is unholy” (Michael Pearl) and this is why the Apostle Paul urges believers to stay with unbelievers because they sanctify the unsaved spouse and children by their godly presence. God allowed divorce only because of the hardness of heart and gives an out for adultery and abandonment but never recommends, encourages, or commands divorce.

I am going to share what three godly men wrote about this issue because I believe they say my thoughts about it better than I can:

Michael Pearl in his book Divorce and Remarriage wrote this: “If you come to Christ having been the guilty part in terminating a marriage, and discover to your shame that you committed adultery when you remarried, Paul says you are to remain in the state you were in when you came to Christ. The adultery is initial, not perpetual. Your original sin of adultery is forgiven when you repent, and your marriage is now sanctified. ‘Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God’ (1 Corinthians 7:24).”

“There are some cult-like groups that have committed great abomination and defiled marriages by insisting that a man or woman in their second (or more) marriage should leave their family – spouse and children – and return to the original spouse, insisting that they are living in adultery otherwise. While God has permitted divorce and remarriage on account of hard hearts (in the case of adultery and abandonment), he has never permitted a man or woman to leave a second spouse and return to the first. That remains an abomination. Anyone who would encourage a man or woman to leave their present spouse due to a former marriage is an enemy of God (Deuteronomy 24:1-4).

Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord (Deuteronomy 24:4).

“If it were true that second marriages are not marriages at all, and that a person remains married to their first spouse until death, and their relationship with their second spouse is an ongoing state of adultery, then Jesus missed the point, for He acknowledged that the woman at the well had indeed had ‘five husbands,’ and the man she was presently with was not her husband” (Michael Pearl).

“Divorced people who have married again should not break the second marriage. The second marriage has broken the first marriage. God Himself holds the second marriage binding. To break it would do no good, but would do great harm…DO NOT BREAK THE SECOND MARRIAGE! Two wrongs never made a right. It would usually be impossible to restore the first marriage, and the Bible does not command it, even if it were possible. Confess the sin of the past, but do not sin again by another divorce or separation” (Dr. John Rice).

“The prohibition of a wife returning to her first husband even after her second husband dies (because it is an abomination) suggests very strongly that today no second marriage should be broken up in order to restore a first one” (John Piper).

44 thoughts on “Divorcing Second Husband to Remarry First Husband?

  1. Ma’am with all respect, in think you should stay silent on this issue because you will be held accountable for what you are teaching. If you are not sure about then it’s best to seek the Lord only and not man’s teachings. If you read the entire book of Hosea, this is a prime example of a wife returning to her husband, even though she committed whoredom.

    And David sent messengers to Ish–bosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. And Ish–bosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish. And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.
    2 Samuel 3:14‭-‬16 KJV
    The scripture does not contradict itself, so Let God be true and every man a liar. Seek the Lord for understanding.

    1. Yes, she committed “whoredom” but she never married another man and divorced him or them to go back to Hosea. It’s completely different. There are different words in the Bible for adultery, fornication, and divorce and Hosea’s wife never divorced another man to go back to him.

      I have mentored women whose husbands are committing adultery but they fight for their marriage and win back their husbands to themselves but I will never tell a woman whose husband has remarried to fight for her ex-husband. He has broken his vow to her and the marriage is null and void.

      1. And David sent messengers to Ish–bosheth Saul’s son, saying, Deliver me my wife Michal, which I espoused to me for an hundred foreskins of the Philistines. And Ish–bosheth sent, and took her from her husband, even from Phaltiel the son of Laish. And her husband went with her along weeping behind her to Bahurim. Then said Abner unto him, Go, return. And he returned.
        2 Samuel 3:14‭-‬16 KJV
        The scripture does not contradict itself, so Let God be true and every man a liar. Seek the Lord for understanding.

        Michal had five sons with another man, and David the King went to go get her. Would you say that what David did was unrighteous? You didn’t speak on this. David was a man after God’s own heart and what David did was righteous. That’s why I said you have to be careful of youremotions because your emotions are contrary to the truth…

        1. I am not being led by my emotions but from the study of the Word and from godly men who have studied this topic in depth. The OT people are not our guidebook for living. They are the history of God’s great love story to us but we aren’t to model our lives after them. Yes, we can learn about God’s mind by studying the Law but we live under the New Covenant now and if the Apostle Paul thought a divorced and remarried person was living in continual adultery and should return to their first spouse, he would have stated such in 1 Corinthians where he wrote about all the different scenarios in marriage and divorce.

          1. Ma’am you said that we are not under the old covenant but yet you used Dueteronomy 24: 1-4 as a reference scripture?

          2. I used something from the Law which shows the heart and mind of God – what His opinions are about everything. You used an example of an OT King who was an adulterer, murderer, polygamist, etc. and not to be used as an example for us.

          3. What you have stated and shared is very good and the men you quote are all basing their statements on solid biblical principles. They are looking out at people who are hurting and needing forgiveness, not more coals heaped on their heads. We have a forgiving God.

            Divorce is not part of God’s original plan. But because of man’s harden heart he has given guidelines and principles, Christ reaffirmed this concept in his sermon on the mount.

            Remarriage is the tricky one and has to be viewed on a case by case basis. We cannot and should not bring in Hosea because he was commanded to marry the prostitute in the first place. Also please do not make David out to be anything greater than a normal sinful man as he was. Yes he was a king of Isreal and was anointed by God through Samuel. Yet he sinned just like the rest of us. He also had a contrite heart and sought out God’s forgiveness – read the story of David and his lust for Another man’s wife then losing the child as a result of his relationship with that woman.

            So what is the church supposed to do with those who are divorced and remarried? Are we to continue beating people up over this sin? What about other sins such as pride, coveting, lustful thoughts, and idolotry? God see all sin the same, and we all have to ask for forgiveness and accept the price He paid on the Cross for our sins. Read Romans where Paul reminds us of this fact. So when we sit here we need to see the whole story. If a man walks out on his wife and marries his mistress how do we handle the wife and children left behind? What about a man who has been abandoned by his wife for another man or woman?

            Another thing to think about. Who is the one granting marriage licenses? Is it the church or is it the pagan government? Who grants the divorce and following remarriages? This is one area we the church need to take back and do what ever needs to be done to preserve the first marriage so there will not be second, third, fourth, etc. marriages. We also need to preserve the current marriage even if it is born out of sin.

        2. David did a lot of things which were wrong, including murdering Uriah in order to cover up his sin of adultery with Uriah’s wife. So claiming it must be righteous because David did it is very misguided. David was a man after God’s heart because he sought to please God and was repentant when he had sinned, not because he always did the right thing.

          When it comes to the example given in the scripture by fallible human beings versus the clear teaching on morality from God Himself, always go with the latter.

          The scripture clearly teaches in Deuteronomy 24 and Jeremiah 3 that it is an abomination to go back to a first spouse after remarriage. These were words from God Himself, not just things that happened and were recorded like what David did with Michal. You can’t override God’s commands as to what we should not do by saying, in essence, “But David did it.”

          Those who teach that a person should go back to a first spouse after remarrying are contradicting the word of God. It’s that simple. They are telling people that they must do what God called an abomination.

          1. Again if you would read the scripture in its entirety then you would understanding the word of God. Everyone wants to taken old testament scriptures and use it as a reference to justify there actions. The only reason why I used a old testament scripture was to explain the circumstances between David and Michal. David was a man after God’s own heart, David did things that were wicked yes but what did he do?He repented! The whole bible is speaking of a marriage. We are in a bethroal period not yet married to Christ. WHEN He returns if there is uncleanness in us then He will put us away. The fornication clause is only mentioned in matthew. Why? Because the Jews understood what Jesus was talking about in regards to fornication. Matthew 1 explains this case with Mary and Joseph. They were espoused to each other but they did not yet consumate the marriage. That’s why Joseph was going to put her away privately because she was found pregnant. If during the bethroal/engagement period the women messes around with someone else then she shall be put away. This is the reason of the fornication clause.

          2. Submissive, you make me want to bang my head against a wall.

            Lori, awesome job. I couldnt agree more.

            Marriage is held in high regard because it involves making a vow before Almighty God and declaring it before man that you will fulfill that vow as long as you live. And copulation seals the deal. Adultery is borne out of sinful intentions and is often not intended as a lifelong commitment. Just a quickie so called fix to someones problems. Second marriage includes a vow as well. Do you notice a pattern here? VOWS ARE BEING MADE. If you were not saved when your first marriage ended. How can God hold you accountable? If you become saved after your second marriage, as a believer you must honor that vow. If your spouse is an unbeliever, to divorce him or her in the name of God would do nothing but cause hatred and resentment toward God for breaking up their marriage. Your job as a believer is to live out 1 Peter 3 before your spouse. If divorce saved your second spouse, it would of said so. Divorce doesnt solve anything, no matter how many times you do it. If you have done it once, DO NOT DO IT TWICE AND THINK YOU ARE BEING A MATYR BECAUSE YOU ARE DOING IT IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. Stop the evil cycle. Make beauty out of ashes. What is done is done.

            Whether you are giving a speech or singing, you are not told if you stumble to go back to the start and begin again. You are told every time you stumble, ignore it, and keep on going as if nothing went wrong. Similar correlation here. You married once, you stuffed up and married a second time, you find out you stuffed up again. All you can do is keep going and make the best out of it. To accuse a fellow believer of continual adultery is condemning them. And here is NO condemnation to them in Christ Jesus! They have been made clean. If your first spouse has remarried as have you, what you are asking is for someone to break up two otherwise happy marriages in order to gain a sense of righteousness. And that is evil and sick. Not only are you making a bad name for Christ infront of spouse #2. But infront of your children and your former spouses new partner and their children as well. As well as any family and friends around you and them.

            Well done, Lori. Enjoyed this post very much. God bless.

          1. But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:
            2 Samuel 21:8 KJV

            These are the sons she had from another man. This is why David sent for her because she is his wife.

          2. My version has Merab not the younger daughter Michal. Also committed adultery with Palti not Adriel 1 Samuel 25:44 . In 2 Sam. 6:23 it says she had no children till the day of her death.

          3. Submissive, to clarify, i love the Kjv. Thats all i use. But i dont go quoting bible verses unless i check, them double check they are in context and relevant to the conversation. Unfortunately, you seem to quote more bible verses out of context more than most people ive met. You also claim to aproach others whom you believe to be in error with humility and a learning spirit. And yet all i see is arrogance and an unwillingness to learn from others whom have gone before and may have wisdom that you dont. And i find that so sad. People can churn out as many bible verses within context to you, and yet you always shoot back with a haughty answer and out of context or twisted scripture to try and prove your point. You have your beliefs and thats just it. They are yours. We are all here to learn, glean wisdom and ask questions. We are all at different stages in our relationship wih God. And we must show some grace. Barraging people with emails telling them they are wrong or throwing around scripture to suit their agenda is a dispicable practice. I read Lori’s posts, seek to clarify some things she says by asking my husband or looking into the word myself, pray about it, and i either agree or disagree. But i usually let it be. You really need to watch the way you come across to others. As it can come across as really offensive. Im sure you are genuine in your desire to seek God and obey Him with your whole heart. Thats a great desire. But i fear you may of lost something in the process. I will no longer carry on a dialogue with you as i feel at this stage it is fruitless. Id have more impact talking to my cat. Unless i sense a change in the way you craft your arguments and use of scripture.
            I have no idea how old you are, but regardless, you need to learn to have respect for those who are older than you. Both in number and in the spiritual sense. And i am yet to see it.

          4. Hi,
            out of curiosity, I looked up the verse Submissive quotes and this is what Bible Gateway came up with:

            2 Samuel 21:8King James Version (KJV)
            8 But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bare unto Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she brought up for Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite:

            And

            2 Samuel 21:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
            8 The king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore to Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Merab[a] the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite;

            The ESV has the following footnote:
            2 Samuel 21:8 Two Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts Michal

            I guess both are correct. I don’t think it serves the purpose of supporting the point Submissive tries to make, but she did quote the verse as it appears in the KJV.

          5. Ruth,
            That may be how it appears, but we need to look at the context and if it is relevent to the topic being discussed. If it is within context, thats great. But if its not relevent theres not much point. If is wife is running around on her husband. Yes, its adultery. But in this instance he would be free to divorce her or, show mercy and welcome her back. However, if she does the run around, a divorce is the result and she marries. A new vow has been made. And therefore it cannot be broken. At least not without grave consequences. She shouldnt of broken the first one. But alas, she did. Furthermore if she broke the second vow to try and redeem the first, it is an abomination. People in biblical times understood the gravity of making a vow before the Lord, then breaking it. (Please read Judges 11 v 30-39) Staying in a second marriage will have its consequences. But it is what it is. Acknowledge it, repent and keep your vow to the Lord. Breaking one vow is bad enough. Breaking a vow a second time to try and restore the first one is foolish. And does more damage than good.

          6. Hi Anon M,
            I only offered the two quotes, both from the KJV and the ESV with footnote to prove that the verse Submissive quoted was right. It was a response to M’s question asking where it says that Michal had 5 sons.

            As for the topic of divorce, remarriage and going back to the first spouse, I agree with you. Context is important when offering Scripture to support one’s argument, although I disagree with this practice (of using Scripture to support one’s argument) as I think we should go to Scripture and let it teach us, not go to it looking for support for our ideas.

            I agree with Submissive’s point that we need to understand certain scriptures in the light of the whole of the Bible and I do believe that studying further than just a verse or two, leads us to the conclusion that a second marriage should be honored. Jesus honored the 5 marriages of the woman at the well. I’ve never heard anyone teach that a person should leave their second spouse and go back to the first one.

  2. Thank you Lori, I have been agonizing, praying about this very subject. I am in a remarriage with a blended family of six children, I came to Christ during this second marriage and have since repented. My ex-husband has also remarried. Thank you for this teaching , so timely!

    1. You’re welcome, Annie! Yes, I believe it’s important to acknowledge sins we have committed and confess them, but then stop looking behind, receive God’s forgiveness and grace, then walk in newness of life. There are scars and consequences from past sins but they have all been forgiven at the cross.

  3. I agree with you Lori….and I too have a strong hate of divorce. If it does happen…I do not agree with remarriage. I do not see it as biblical. However, if the remarriage does happen….it *is* a marriage and indeed should remain that way. It is biblical and right. I do not celebrate in the remarriage after divorce (with bridal showers etc.) but I acknowledge it is a marriage after it has happened and love the people! 🙂

    I totally see your point as biblical here Lori and am thankful for it! 🙂

    1. My Pastor told us that we never condone divorce but neither do we condemn the divorced. They have and will suffer the consequences of their actions and need to be encouraged to now grow into Christ-likeness.

  4. Is it still adultery, if say a married woman had an affair with a married man, they divorced their spouses and they got married?

    I’m rather upset still with a particular Christian singer who did several years ago because two families have been destroyed as a result.

    Thank you Lori for any insight you might have on this.

    1. I know who you are referring to, Regina, and I was grieved over this blatant disregard for the Word. I am sure they have all suffered because of their sin, including all of the children involved and ex-spouses. They were indeed very wrong but now they must live with their choices and remain in the state in which they are in; staying married to the person to whom they are married.

  5. I’ve read Michael Pearl’s and John Piper’s statements on this. Thanks for quoting them here. I was once told on a forum that my marriage was invalid and God didn’t care about my children, because they were “bastards,” and I should leave my children behind and go back to my ex. There’s some pretty damaging teaching out there on this subject.

    Thank you, Lori, for bravely tackling this topic!

  6. Interesting article. No one really talks about it. All I know is that the men at my church who have been divorced are are remarried can not serve in leadership positions (such as deacon and elder) because it is not their first wife. Thoughts?

  7. Thank you for this post Lori, it is very interesting. I’m not sure where I stand on this one as my understanding of the scripture is not very clear around this subject. However, in my family, my parents are separated, my father has remained single (stayed in the church) and my mother (left the church) has a partner but never married him. Although my parents have been apart a number of years, they never divorced, so I guess they’re still legally married. In this situation, I’m guessing there would be no sin in my parents reconciling. I don’t think it’s going to happen, at least not in the near future, but it would be nice if it did. At least then, my mother would come back to church with my father, and her soul might be saved.

  8. @M…But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim.
    1 Samuel 25:44 KJV
    Notice how the scripture points out that Michal is DAVID’S WIFE.

    Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.
    2 Samuel 6:23 KJV
    She dies childless from David. She had five sons from her other husband, that David killed.

    1. @Submissive
      Yes, that is what my Bible says as well. The part that is different is that in your quote about David taking Michal’s sons to be executed, in mine is written Merab’s sons.
      “So the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, Armoni and Mephibosheth whom she had borne to Saul, and the five sons of Merab the daughter of Saul, whom she had borne to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.” 2 Sam. 21:8.

      So I have always understood David to have married the younger daughter Michal but that she was childless. It is a difference of the KJV and others. If you read the other description of Michal it says that she was given to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim, not Adriel the son of Barzillai (whose sons were killed).

      But Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Phalti the son of Laish, which was of Gallim. 1 Sam. 25:44

      Furthermore it says that Michal died childless
      23 Therefore Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death. 2 Sam. 6:23

      1. Hi yes I see what you mean Im not sure why it’s written that way though. I was wondering this when I read this earlier.

  9. Make sense. I guess the best thing to do is just stick to Scripture and what Scripture says!

    Re: the whole thing about divorce damaging children. Sadly, it seems to be part of the whole mess-up world full of messed-up people, which is why God allowed it in the first place. Which is why, at the end of the day, we just need salvation and we need Him to intervene and change us. That has to be our bottom line, time and time again.

    I’m sure there are cases where children are better off not living with a parent, for example, if one parent is actively trying to expose them to filth and sin or destroy their faith. This is not because of anything except human sinfulness.

  10. I was just wondering, lets just imagine a married couple, wife goes off and ‘has a bit on the side’ so to speak. Has she committed whoredom? Is it only adultery if she has made a vow to another man? Or is it adultery regardless? I am just trying to work out if one could say Hosea’s wife was committing adultery because she was prostituting herself/running around with other men. Or was it just considered whoredom because she did not make a vow to stay with another man.

    1. Hi Anon M,
      You seem to be trying to differentiate the difference between whoredom and adultery?

      A married person commits adultery by sleeping with anyone who is not their spouse. To commit whoredom one sleeps with multiple persons while being married or unmarried, whether prostituting or simply sleeping around.

      Hosea’s wife was committing adultery by sleeping with another man, and also whoredom by sleeping with multiple men, not just one other, as in having an affair.

  11. Lori – are you familiar with this family? Much of what they believe, I also believe, but I’m not sure about this divorce part. I’m not sure that I understand what they say they believe about divorce, but I *think* they’re saying they believe divorce is okay when one spouse cheats. I don’t believe this to be true at all. What do you think? I know that Ken has a great deal of understanding of the Bible around this matter and I would be very interested in hearing both yours and his opinion, if you have the time.

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