On divorce and remarriage

New Warhorn Media post by Tim Bayly:

Thank you for this Pastor Bayly. It really helps with my struggles.

I would like to make a point, and the article did mention it briefly, but the innocent party of the divorced couple are put under a great burden. Reflect on 1 Corinthians 7:5. "Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. " (1 Corinthians 7:5, NASB) If a married couple is at risk of temptation, how much worse off would the innocent divorced party be if they coud never marry again? Are they to “burn with passion” for the rest of their life with no relief? Biblically, the only way to rectify this is to allow for remarriage.

I know I am speaking from the side of the divorced, but I hope my addition to this post might soften some hearts.

Peace and love to the brethren,
Patrick Lally


Yes, as you say, in this case the innocent party is “free” to marry rather than to burn. Calvin makes your point quite clearly and it is so very obvious.

I’m sympathetic to those today who see the horrors of marriage outside and inside the church and think something drastic needs to be done, so they say “no remarriage ever.” But one thing I didn’t mention before is the heavy work needed making judgments about each spouse in the divorce when they are believers in the church. The Westminster Standards say they ought not to be left to their private judgements, but rather the officers of the church should make the judgments.

But if, as I’ve often said, pastoral care and church discipline (other than when a teenager hacks a grandmother to death with a knife during Sunday morning worship in full view of the children and their mothers–if you get my meaning) are absent in the ministry of our congregations (read our “Elders Reformed”), and that’s our churches’ steady state economy, it’s like starting a hundred car freight train up from a dead stop by trying to go forward right away to all of a sudden weigh the facts in a breaking or broken marriage and judge who is innocent and who guilty. Say the couple begins to date and one or the other of them was divorced sometime in the past before they joined the church, it is necessary for the officers to judge who WAS guilty so the determination may be made whether the divorced party in this new relationship is free to remarry.

It’s my suspicion one of the greatest utilities to holding to “no remarriage ever” is allowing one to give a very wide (indeed, an absolute) berth to the whole entire mess. “No remarriage ever” allows one to simply state the position and that is that.

Anyhow, welcome to the premises and may God bless you in your work for Him. Love,


Richard Baxter’s ‘Christian Directory’ has an immensely helpful section on pastoral casuistry regarding infidelity and divorce. Well worth reading. Might also be worth having younger seminary students read that instead of having them come up with a divorce position paper.