Does God allow a Divorced and Remarried Pastor?

By Dr. Rex Duff

As I write this article, I realize that this is probably the most controversial article I have ever written.

To begin with, I would like to give you some actual factual situations, and let you draw your own conclusions. My wonderful wife, the Medical Doctor, has told me that I need to tell the reader, that all these factual situations are from personal experience, sad to say.
In my past I have been a pastor, a conference speaker, an evangelist, and a lawyer to many large ministries. There are times I would like to wash my brain out, of what I know of mainly Independent Baptist Ministers.

1)  When I was very young in the Ministry I meet a young man, who was a wonderful preacher and a wonderful singer. He was married to his one and only wife, and they had wonderful controlled children. He was a strong Independent Baptist, and was in great demand.  He was able to memorize large portions of Scripture, and was very dynamic.
The only problem was, before he was married he had slept with some 40 or more women. Sometimes more than one at a time. This was all after he was even a Christian. He had even slept with his brother's present wife. But since he had never married any of them, he was qualified for the Ministry, according to all Independent Baptist I have ever known?

2) A very good Independent Baptist Pastor, has a good ministry, but his wife is keeping him from enlarging his ministry. Instead of Divorcing her, which would kick him out of the Ministry, he stages a fight, and kills her. He plea bargains for 10 years, and serves 5 years, as a model prisoner. He continues to Minister in the prison for those 5 years, holding daily Bible studies, and leading men to Christ. Once he is released he marries again, and goes back into the Pastorate.. He confesses his sin, and all Independent Baptist welcome him back into the Pastorate. Just like the Apostle Paul, a murderer does not kick you out of the Ministry, but Divorce does!  You ask, did this really happen?  I hope not. But this situation was discussed often among Independent Baptist, with a favorable outcome always for the Preacher. I do know that in the Charity Fellowship, one of their Ministers, found out that you could not be Divorced and remarried, and he was. As he prayed to God for wisdom, his first wife died, so he remarried his second wife again, and stayed in the ministry..

3) The Pastor was married to only one wife, but had several affairs on his wife, and some even with teenagers. (Actual case).. He confessed his sin, and stayed in the Ministry.

4) The Pastor before he was saved, was Divorced and remarried. Prior to his Divorce he claimed to be saved, but realized after he was Divorced, he was lost. This Pastor not accepted by all, but accepted by a large majority.  (Several actual cases)

5) The Independent Baptist Pastor marries a Divorced woman. This also is no problem, for he was never married and Divorced.. Actual case.. A very close friend of mind!

6) The Independent Baptist Pastor, has his Church declare his first wife dead (Spiritually I guess), so as a widower he can now remarry and continue Pasturing.. (Actual case)
This was done in Indiana at a UBF Church, that I preached in. The Church is considered a strong Independent Baptist Church.

7) Get mad at your wife, and just take another--- King David!!.. Take a new wife who believes the Bible like you do, after Divorce! – Read both Ezra and Nehemiah!!

The Bible states in Genesis 2:24- “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his own wife: and they shall be one flesh”
This verse is often quoted at marriages, and is used to explain what constitutes marriage.
But now, read this verse which quotes Genesis 2:24. The Bible states in I Corinthians 6:16- “What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh”.
Does this mean that anyone who had premarital relations is considered married in God's eyes?

After marriage, is it Adultery, but what about before?

In Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19: 9, the allowance for Divorce is fornication. Many well meaning Christians have been taught that Matthew is the Gospel to the Jews, and since Mark and Luke have no exception, it was a pre- joining, Jesus had in mind. But this does not agree at all with Deu. 24:1-4, and further Jesus never contradicts the law. Anyone, who believes the first part of Matthew 5, was written just for the Jews, maybe has never read it? I also wonder, why it is not brought out, in God's eyes, most men if not all, might have already committed Adultery ?  The Bible says in Matthew 5:28, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust (Desire) after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”.

I must admit this is referring to a married woman, or I Corinthians 7 means nothing.

Suppose for the moment, my opponents are right, and the Pastor committed Adultery by taking another wife, or anyone committed Adultery by taking another spouse, is there something they are forgetting?  I John 1:9, is still in the Bible. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.
To make being a Pastor a one-point test, is a sad commentary on Christianity today!

An honest look at I Timothy 3, 1-7, would lead one to conclude that God is telling a Church to look at the present man, not what he was, but what he is!
I challenge any Bible student, or anyone who can read, to find the word Divorce in this passage. They will never, because that is a past event, for anyone who is wanting to be examined presently. Sad to say, just like a woman in pants, we tell the Bible what we want it to say. I remember hearing messages against Womens slack, culottes, mens beards, women wearing a Biblical covering in Church (They preached against it), Divorced and remarried preachers, cowboy boots, wire rimed glasses, suite ties, suits, being an attorney, all music not southern gospel or hymns, being lost if you did not support the military, Christmas, having money, having an education, using Greek and Hebrew if you know what you are doing, internet, videos, et..
All of these things are man made inventions of sin!!!  You will not find 1 verse against any of these things, EVEN women's pants.. Please do not site me Deut. 22:5, because at the time this book was written, men were wearing dresses. (ROBES?) Even Jesus never wore a pair of pants, so maybe if we wish to be like Jesus, we should preach against men wearing pants!

Now back to the word fornication used in Matthew 5 and 19. It is also worth nothing that the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, (Written to the Gentiles, not Jews), also talks about Divorce.

The Word fornication is the Greek word porneia (4202). Here are some translations of this word in the context here. NKJ- Sexual Immorality; NIV & Arndt and Gingrich – Marital Unfaithfulness, Thayers Greek Lex. – Includes the worship of Idols.
Looking at these alone, we might say, in the marital context that fornication means unfaithful in the marital sexual relationship. I am convinced that when considering 1 Corinthians 7, a spouse is unfaithful when they have another lover, OR reject their present lover. YES, I believe that desertion of a spouse from her married partner, of normal sexual relations is included in the term fornication. There is clearly marital unfaithfulness. A spouse, who refuses her partner, is allowing Satan to cause her partner to commit Adultery in his heart, no matter how spiritual her partner is! See I Cor 7:3-5.
The Bible says in I Corinthians 7:2, “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband”.

I Corinthians 7:5, makes it very clear that to not have normal relationships, invites Satan in. A couple can only briefly not have normal relationships, why?--- for fasting and prayer only!!!!!!!
The woman, who will not sleep with her husband, has committed fornication, long before he goes out and finds a woman who will love him. If married, it still is sin, however!  But who is the real guilty party here?

For those of you who wish to quote how God hates divorce, (and he does), should also quote these verses:

  1. Genesis 38: 8-10 – Perversion of the marital relationship led to death by God.

  2. I Corinthians 7: 3-5 – Command to maintain marital relationship because of Satan's temptation, because of the normal, lack of self-control.

  3. I Corinthians 7:15 – Desertion of the unbelieving spouse allows divorce. Why? – because the I Corinthians 7:3-5, marital relationship is broken! A professing Christian woman or man, who with holds themselves from their spouse is covered in I Corinthians 5:11. The Church should put any professing Christian out of the Church, when they refuse to be a proper mate! When is the last time you saw a Church discipline also the woman, with her unfaithful husband, when she caused the problem?

  4. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 (the law) – Permitted Divorce if a husband found some uncleanness in her. This became very broad in time, and was abused by the Jews. However, onced Divorced, the unfaithful wife could remarry!

  5. In Ezra 10:2-5 and Ezra 10:10-12, God directed that all foreign wives were to be divorced!

  6. In Nehemiah 13:3 and 30, God ordered the Divorce of all the mixed multitude and strangers.

  7. I would also like to remind the reader that God blessed Esther when she married a divorced, King, and God preserved Israel!

  8. Isaiah 50:1 must be considered. Here, God Divorced Israel, His own people, who had gone astray, and had deserted God. Did God take a new wife? A Gentile bride, called the Church?  If you don't believe God divorced Israel in this passage, than maybe you should read Jeremial 3:8 (Certificate of Divorce) 

  9. The Old Testament position is as follows: A husband could only Divorce a wife for sexual impurity -- Deuteronomy 24

  10. A wife could divorce a husband if he was not faithful in his duty to provide for her -- Exodus 21:10-11 (A Husband, could not use this provision)

  11. See also -- Deu. 22:13-19; 28-29, and Hosea.

Realizing this is a controversial issue, there is an attempt to try to speak only with the Scriptures, and exclude any cultural biases, that might be from any denominational tradition. The main thrust of this statement comes from the Christian & Missionary Alliance denomination. (C&MA)

1. Divorce & remarriage is Biblically permissible, when one’s spouse (not oneself) has been guilty of sexual immorality and restoration of the broken marriage vows has become impossible. Matthew 19: 9 states, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” (NKJV)

2. Divorce & remarriage is Biblically permissible, when one’s spouse (not oneself) abandons the marriage. I Corinthians 7:15 states, “But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.” (NKJV) I Corinthians 7:2 states, “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband”. (NKJV)

3. Divorce and remarriage is permissible if the parties made no profession of faith prior to or at the time of the divorce. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (NKJV)

4. For men who were Biblically divorced, they are not disqualified from the ministry because of a divorce. We believe I Timothy 3:2, the husband of one wife is teaching against polygamy, not divorce. If God desired there to be a no divorce requirement than He could have used no divorce, instead of the husband of one wife. We cannot create a higher standard than God did Himself. We must remember that God Himself divorced Israel and took a Gentile bride. The Bible states in Isiah 50:1, “Thus says the Lord: Where is the certificate of your mother’s divorce, Whom I have put away? Or which of My creditors is it to whom I have sold you? For your iniquities you have sold yourselves, And for your transgressions your mother has been put away.” (NKJV) Other Scriptures to consider are Ezra 10:2-5; Ezra 10:10-12; Nehemiah 13: 3 & 30; and Jeremiah 3:8.

5. Sexual immorality is defined as marital unfaithfulness (Arndt & Gingrich). In I Corinthians 7:15, desertion is sexual immorality, marital unfaithfulness.

6. We believe those who were divorced for unbiblical reasons can be forgiven, and restored to fellowship with Christ and His church. The Bible states in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (NKJV) However, they are disqualified from the ministry if they were divorced for an unbiblical reason. (I Timothy 3:7).

    In conclusion, it is the author's view point that the professing Church has been following a Roman Catholic view point on Divorce. The Bibles view point is that the Old Testament laws on Divorce and Remarriage never changed, but were stated over, by Jesus and Paul, in their writings.  In the Old Testament, Adultery was sex with another man's wife, and that alone. If we take this meaning foreward to the New Testament, than maybe we see that the Bible is consistant with itself. For a complete study of this subject, no matter what your view is, all interested readers should read the book, "Divorce and the Bible", by Colin Hamer, published in 2006, by Authorhouse. This book greatly opened my mind to the Bible's view on Divorce!

Though I do not like the NIV in the book, the material is still very good!



    | General Editor: Rex Duff | Webmaster: Charles Felts | Updated:12/27/2016|
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