Dating after divorce. What does the Bible tell us about divorce? Should you date after a divorce? Dr. Jim explains God’s desires for us and what should we do when we start thinking about dating after being through a divorce. Who is allowed and who isn’t allowed to get a divorce according to the Bible?
Dating After Divorce: If I did not cause the divorce, can I date and marry again without being sinful?
Divorce creates many victims. It has become a terrible black eye on our society as divorce sweeps across the land like a forest fire. Almost every day this time of year we turn on our television sets to find another forest fire raging out of control. While I suggest that the damage is even greater in a divorce, it is not as ‘apparent’ or visible to us without taking a second look.
To be able to provide an answer to this question, I would like to begin with the foundation that the Bible provides to us. Matthew 5 and 1Corinthians 7 are the main passages that relate to divorce. The Matthew verses share that there is no grounds for divorce other than if the other spouse is unfaithful in the marriage. If this does occur, the other spouse has the ‘option’ to initiate a divorce.
1Cor. 7 speaks to a believer being married to an unbeliever. If the unbeliever wants the marriage to continue, then the Bible says that the believer is to stay in that marriage. However, if the unbeliever chooses to leave the marriage, the believer is not under obligation to continue holding to the bonds of the marriage.
I believe that most of us accept the fact that death will also end the marriage vows.
It is important to understand that even though God provided these occurrences where divorce action can be taken, He prefers that the couple work through their challenge if at all humanly and divinely possible.
Dating after a divorce and what steps should be taken.
Now to the question. If one has been divorced under the above conditions, the Bible does not provide any direct word for what specific steps to take for dating after divorce. But the overall power of the Word of God combined with good, practical sense does suggest the following:
1. Before one should consider dating after divorce, they should allow plenty of time to grieve the loss of the marriage. The ‘forces’ at play after a divorce move toward getting on with life by finding someone else quickly who will be all that was missed in the previous marriage. This is a HUGE mistake. The divorce rate for remarriages is about 50% higher than for first marriage divorces (divorce after remarriage – 60-70%; divorce after first marriage – 43% according to last US Census). I encourage divorced individuals to take a couple of years to process and get as healthy as they can before they consider dating again. Yes, it is a long time but a short course to give you better assurance that you are making wise choices and not headed for even worse heartaches.
2. A great source of strength can be obtained during this phase if you will seek out one or two Christians of your own gender to develop a support/accountability group. You can help each other have a healthy perspective as well as hold each other accountable. A ‘buddy’ is one of life’s greatest treasures.
3. God’s Spirit should be sought for guidance as to when to begin dating after divorce. He does live within each of us and wants to be a vital part of this process. All your friends and family may be shouting that it is okay and ‘time heals hurts,’ but this is not good counsel. It is not TIME but what you do with it that will make the difference.
4. If available in your country, I encourage you to find a Christian counsellor, or a pastor trained in counselling. Ask them to guide you in your processing. Our emotions are like sponges and absorb everything as we go along in life. Often we do not recognize how much a previous rejection or disappointment is negatively impacting our judgement.
5. You also have a wonderful spiritual leader available to you in your pastor or church staff. Most have a lot of experience relating to this area of relationships and can be very helpful.
After you have done this homework and find yourself not being ‘forced’ to find a mate, start dating after divorce, you are ready to consider dating and remarriage. Walk slowly and use your support/accountability team to confirm wise choices. You can now walk into a new relationship with a sense of cleansing from the past and a power for the future. If the divorce met one of the conditions mentioned in the first part of this article, then you are not sinning to date and marry again.
“Divorce after remarriage – 60-70%;
Divorce after first marriage – 43% “
Please read more about: Divorce and re-marriage.
Should you reconcile?
However, if you do not have one of these Biblical principles in your situation, then I understand 1Cor. 7:11 clearly reads that if you chose to leave for other than these Biblical principles, you are to remain single and not marry again. If you want marriage, be reconciled to your spouse. Yes, I know that there are many unfair things in relationships. This is not new to God.
If you do go ahead and date and marry again you have certainly not lost your salvation. However, you have chosen to walk outside the will of God, and there are consequences for this action apart from God’s will (called sin). Thank God He is always faithful when we make mistakes and forgives us. But the Bible is clear that you are not to go through life ‘imposing’ on the goodness and grace of God. He will forgive, but He does not remove the consequences.
“You are to remain single and not marry again. If you want marriage, be reconciled to your spouse”
May God’s Spirit bless you with wisdom and discernment as He guides you to the understanding He wants you to have.
Author of “Guide to Successful Online Christian Dating”