Counseling the Divorced

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Bob Davis is a Certified Relationship Specialist and works with Oklahoma's Marriage Initiative, attempting to reduce the rate of divorce in their state. In this training post, he speaks directly to pastors about their ministry to those in their congregation who have experienced divorce.



Divorce is such a difficult topic, and one that the church certainly needs to address. 
Before you answer these challenging questions, read the following verses from God's Word.

1 John 1:9 (ESV)

9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Matthew 19:8-9 (ESV)

8He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.9And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Romans 7:2-3 (ESV)

2For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.3Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


1 Corinthians 7:10-11 (ESV)

10To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband11(but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Is it right for a pastor to tell a Christian that he or she should never remarry? Why or why not? Under what circumstances would you give this counsel?
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Based on these Scriptures, if a divorced man or woman in your congregation wants to get remarried, how will you address their desire to do so?
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Under what circumstances would you perform a wedding ceremony for someone in your congregation who was previously married to another person?
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What can your church do to combat divorce before it ever happens?
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As pastors, you have to be gracious to those in your congregations and true to God's Word. Our culture's rampant acceptance, even celebration, of divorce has made this an increasingly difficult subject for us in the church. Continue to think and pray about how to love people well after they have ended a marriage.