When we study God’s design for marriage we see that it is a covenant between the couple and God. His intent is that this union between one biological man and one biological woman would last a lifetime. Then came the fall and sin entered the world, and even this Holy institution came under attack. When talking about the issue of divorce we must understand that 1) Divorce was not God’s intention. 2) It is an accommodation for sin. It is always a concession and is permitted for the sake of the faithful party who has had this Sacred one-flesh union severed by an unfaithful spouse.


We believe the New Testament teaches that there are only two grounds for divorce.  We acknowledge that not all Bible students agree on the details of this subject.  With that said the view that is presented here is the view that the majority of Christians have held since at least the reformation. This view was held in the past by such men as Martin Luther, John Calvin, Matthew Henry, John Gill, Charles Spurgeon, Charles Hodge, the Westminster confession, and D. Martin Lloyd Jones to name a few.  And also by modern leaders such as:  John Stott, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur,  and D.A. Carson. 


The first is in Matthew 5:32 “But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” Also, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9). At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the only exception to this life long covenant of marriage is sexual immorality and any other reason for divorce is sinful. Divorce is not always sinful. Remember, God divorced the northern kingdom of Israel for her idolatry (Jeremiah 3:6-9).  Also, Joseph who was betrothed to Mary (betrothal was as binding as marriage) was going to divorce Mary and this was considered righteous. 


The other exception is in 1 Corinthians 7:15, this is a new situation that has come into the Church dealing with division in the family over the gospel. Jesus said in Luke 12:51-53 that “from now on…” there will be division and Paul is making provision for this problem in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15. He teaches that “In such cases the brother or sister in not enslaved. God has called you to peace.”  Notice the phrase “In such cases”, this is exception talk, the believer is not enslaved to the marriage covenant and is therefore free to remarry.  The word “enslaved” or “not under bondage” is not the same exact word as 1 Cor. 7:39 but has the same semantic domain; “be under bondage” / “be bound”.  The believer is commanded to “let it be so” if the unbelieving spouse leaves the marriage, thus severing the one-flesh union.  “Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free.  Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.  But if you do marry, you have not sinned…”  (1 Cor. 7:27-28).  Clearly, there are some instances where a divorced person would be free to remarry.


I believe that wherever there is legitimate divorce there is always freedom to remarry. Notice in Matthew 19:9 that the exception applies in that if there is sexual immorality a new marriage would not be adultery. All scholars agree that in the first century when divorce was permitted, remarriage was a given. The divorce certificates in the day would say basically you are no longer married and free to remarry. The Old Testament presupposed divorce and remarriage. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 teaches that for a valid reason, when a man divorces his wife this dissolves the marriage union. This was largely given to protect the woman, notice she marries another man who is now her husband and she can never return to her former husband. In both sexual immorality and desertion by an unbeliever we believe the innocent spouse has freedom to remarry. 


In situations where someone is involved in unbiblical divorce and later repents, these situations must be taken on a case by case basis.  We believe the grace of God is amazing and would encourage them to reconcile and if this is not possible because they are remarried or an unbeliever then they could possibly be free to remarry under careful guidance.  What about those who are on their third or fourth marriage and then come to Christ?  God picks us up were we are at, He views the present marriage as binding and all previous sin as being forgiven in Christ at the time of their repentance.


How does this relate to qualifications of a church officer, namely him being “the husband of one wife” (literally a one woman man) in 1 Timothy 3:2?  First of all the phrase one woman man does not refer to number of wives a person has had but to the character of the man.  This is in the context of the character of the potential officer.  So with this referring to character we see this as a man who has contracted a monogamous marriage and is faithful in an exemplary manner to his wife.  If he is single then he must have good conduct sexually, and he must not be a ladies man.  We look starting at when the man was converted, has he been faithful in this area?  We would not see those necessarily excluded who, in the past, and after being converted, were the innocent party in a divorce because of an unfaithful spouse.  Nor would we disqualify a man, who upon coming to Christ, had his spouse abandon him because of his commitment to Christ.  In a nutshell we take this matter on a case by case basis.  For further reading we would refer you to which we see as a helpful article.