Marriage was created by God, and so the Bible contains His teachings on marriage, divorce and remarriage.
The Bible tells us that marriage is a covenant relationship, ordained of God to last a lifetime. Therefore, ministers of the United Church of God counsel our single members to approach marriage with that view in mind, and we encourage our married members to resolve differences and work through difficulties rather than to seek a divorce.
However, we also recognize that some marriages may well end in divorce. The most obvious of these is when one partner simply ceases to perform his or her responsibilities and duties of marriage, and subsequently withdraws from the relationship, whether or not he or she withdraws from the home or initiates divorce proceedings. We read of this type of marriage breakup in 1 Corinthians:7:15. Other problems that might lead to a divorce include criminal or immoral behavior that one does not repent of or is habitual in nature.
Regardless of the reason for a divorce, we want to emphasize that it always brings about additional problems. Sometimes, they are unavoidable.
Concerning remarriage, we approach this matter differently if both parties are members of the Church of God than we do if one or both are not. The apostle Paul makes that distinction in 1 Corinthians:7:10-15. God here counsels the believer to remain in a marriage if his or her unbelieving spouse wishes to continue it. However, if the marriage breaks up because the unbeliever departs the marriage covenant (which he or she may do while still remaining in the home by refusing to fulfill the fundamental duties and responsibilities of marriage, a subject we elaborate on in counseling), the believer is free to remarry a fellow believer (1 Corinthians:7:39).
When a marriage between two believers ends in a divorce, they may or may not be free to remarry. Within the United Church of God, the ministry considers the circumstances that led to the failure of the marriage in order to make a determination in accordance with biblical guidelines (Matthew:5:31-32; 19:3-9) whether the people can remarry.
Given your interest in this important topic, you may wish to read our article, "Divorce and Remarriage Within the Church," which goes into more detail about the technical explanation of the pertinent scriptures than we have here.
For more information, please read our booklet Marriage and Family: The Missing Dimension .