Faith and Family: A look at what Scripture says about remarriage

two gold-colored rings on paper

Faith and Family: A look at what Scripture says about remarriage

While Scripture often addresses marriage the Bible has few passages that speak to the specific situation of remarriage after the death of a spouse.

In the Old Testament we see God’s involvement in bringing couples together. In the book of Ruth, for example, we see the widow Ruth and her husband’s kinsman, Boaz, come together through God’s guidance of their circumstances.

The story of Ruth and Boaz also gives us insight into the status of women in Bible times. In Jewish tradition and culture men were the breadwinners, the providers for the family. In those days women had no real voice and depended on the protection of a father or a husband. Without a man’s protection women were subject to abuse by those who would take advantage of her situation.

Therefore if a woman’s husband died, there were specific instructions in the law for how she should respond in this situation. The message is clear. If a woman had the unfortunate experience of losing her husband, then it is definitely okay to marry again. Men obviously had the same right.

In the New Testament remarriage for surviving spouses is permissible as well. Paul mentions remarriage in two specific passages. In Romans 7:2–3, he writes that “by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies she is released from the law that binds her to him.”

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul encourages widows and widowers to stay unmarried. However, he continues that it is better for them to marry than to enter into sinful relationships outside of marriage (vv. 8–9). Later in the chapter Paul addresses widows specifically when he writes that “a woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord” (v. 39).

That last phrase is very important to Christian widows and widowers considering remarriage. Regardless of the age of the couple the spiritual aspect of marriage should not be ignored. Two people considering marriage should be on the same page when it comes to their spiritual beliefs. This is true for a first marriage as well.

For those considering marrying again after the death of a spouse, I would tell them to go right ahead. There is nothing spiritually or morally wrong with marrying again. However, both individuals should be prepared to face the changes that the marriage will bring. A second marriage is going to be different from the first. The life experiences of each individual will affect the marriage, as will the reaction of family and friends to this new union.

A couple considering remarriage later in life needs to be aware of how their children feel. Are they willing to give their blessing? Are you and your new spouse willing to accept the conflict that may happen? Often these blended family relationships work out great but sometimes they don’t.

Adult children of widowed parents who choose to marry again would be wise to take Paul’s counsel in verse 18 as well: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” which includes the person your parent has chosen to marry and the blended family that results from that union.

Love in action

The truth is that if we are who we say we are, if we are truly Christians who live like we ought to live, we are going to treat everyone, including mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters by marriage, with dignity and respect.

As Paul writes in Romans 12, love in action must be “sincere.” We are instructed to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and to “live in harmony with one another” (vv. 15–16).

Editor’s Note — Wayne Stevens is a chaplain for New Beacon Hospice, retired pastor and widower who lives in Anniston. He currently serves as interim pastor of Bethel North Baptist Church, Lineville, in Clay Baptist Association.