What does Christianity say about divorce and remarriage?

Divorce is a legal process that ends a marriage. An increasing number of marriages now break down and end in divorce. Most religious traditions recognise that divorce is sometimes unavoidable. Attitudes to remarriage after divorce vary within and between religious traditions.

Divorce is mentioned in the Bible many times.

Jesus taught that divorce is adultery, which is forbidden in the Ten Commandments. However, he did allow for divorce in the case of a partner’s infidelity:

I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery. Matthew 19:9

This is interpreted in different ways by the various Christian churches.

  • The Roman Catholic Church does not recognise divorce. A marriage can only end when one partner dies or if there are grounds for an annulment. A couple may be granted a civil divorce and be divorced in the eyes of the state, but their marriage will continue in the eyes of God. This means that neither of the partners can remarry in a Catholic church.
  • The Anglican Church (which includes the Church of Ireland) does not advocate divorce, but it is allowed if the marriage has truly broken down and cannot be repaired. Someone who is divorced can remarry in an Anglican church.
  • Many Christians experiencing marital difficulties will try to work through them because they have promised before God to stay together for the rest of their lives. A couple may go to their church to ask for advice and support. However, sometimes a couple might feel that divorce is the only option.