According to the Bible, can a person get divorced and remarry without committing adultery? Remarriage after divorce is prohibited because it is adultery. Jesus clearly says so.
- Mark 10:2-5, 9-12: “And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept…What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter. And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”1
Hence the logical notation or form of the prohibition on remarriage based on the above verse is:
- (x)(Dx & Rx => Ax)
where D is for “divorced,” R is for “remarried,” and A is for “commits adultery.” It is read, “For anything x, if x is divorced and x is remarried, then x commits adultery.” This is universal and applies without exception to any x, according to the above quotations from Jesus. “Whosoever” means “anyone”. Jesus also says this applies for any divorced man and any divorced woman:
“Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” 2
Other parts of the Bible also state that if someone divorces, the person is not to remarry.3
So no one who divorces can remarry without committing adultery. But, on the other hand, the Bible also says that not everyone who divorces a spouse and remarries is committing adultery:
“When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.”4
Jesus agrees that you can get divorced and remarry as long as you divorce because of fornication:
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”5
But if you can divorce and remarry without committing adultery (in case of fornication), then this implies the following:
- ~[(x)(Dx & Rx => Ax)]
If there is an exception, then the conditional cannot apply to any and all things x and it is not the case that whoever divorces and remarries commits adultery. This is a formal contradiction, since the Bible, and even just the New Testament, endorses both sides of the issue:
- (x)(Dx & Rx => Ax) & ~[(x)(Dx & Rx => Ax)]
So the Bible contradicts itself on whether one can get a divorce and remarry without committing adultery. This is a formal contradiction supported by the Biblical text. It should be noted that New Testament scholars are not even sure what Jesus(P) originally said on the topic of divorce and remarriage. What we find in the Gospels are a variety of forms of sayings which were developed at different times among different Christian communities. D. C. Parker concludes:
“The main result of this survey is to show that a recovery of a single original saying of Jesus is impossible. We have been able to show that some forms of text were developments. But it does not follow that one of those with which we are left is more original than the others. The differences between the four passages in Matthew (twice), Mark and Luke are already great. But the development of the tradition goes beyond that, both in time and in extent. We can see the tradition being developed right through to the formation of the Byzantine text.
The quest for a Law in the teaching of Jesus cannot be pursued in the face of the evidence that, for those early Christians who passed the traditions to us, there was no law, but a tradition whose meaning had to be kept alive by reflection and reinterpretation. What we have is a collection of interpretative rewritings of a tradition.” 6
And only Allah knows best!