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Agunot – The Chained Woman:  Christian Divorce and Remarriage

“Now the Spirit [of God] expressly says that in latter times [the days we live in now] some will DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies ...FORBIDDING TO MARRY…” (1 Timothy 4:1,3).

“Forbidding [someone] to marry” after they have been divorced is a doctrine of the devil. The Bible is not saying that these people who hold to this belief are not true Christians, but that they teach out of ignorance — they don't understand God's heart in the Scriptures.

Understanding God's heart only comes from the Holy Spirit revealing Him to us. Whenever we do not understand God's heart in the Scriptures, we have departed from sound doctrine.

This Scripture could not be talking about forbidding to marry in general. The desire that God put in man to have a companion and sexual partner is too great.

In order that we don’t fall into sexual immorality, the Bible instructs:

"Let EACH MAN have his own wife, and let EACH WOMAN have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2) “[For] IT IS NOT GOOD THAT MAN SHOULD BE ALONE…” (Genesis 2:18)

The erroneous doctrine of forbidding one to marry after a divorce has been preached and taught in many churches, and through ignorance is perpetrated through religious people. It has violated the conscience and hearts of those who’ve been divorced, driving them into a constant state of confusion and negatively impacting their lives.

In order to understand that there IS marriage after divorce, we will examine the Scriptures in Matthew 19:3-12 focusing on the usage of the Greek word, apoluo.

The Greek word apoluo that’s translated “divorce” or “to put away” is a general word. Its primary usage is: to “send” (apoluo) someone home when it’s getting late. When two people are leaving each other there is a “separation.”

Apoluo is a separation in general, which does not involve the “legal” aspect of a permanent separation like a divorce.

The common usage is seen in the Matthew 14:15:

“When it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying ‘This is a deserted place, and the hour is already late. SEND (apoluo) the multitudes away, that they may go unto the villages and buy themselves food’”

The Greek word apoluo doesn’t have a legal aspect to it. It’s just a common word that means, “I’m going to go” or, “away from, to separate.”

When used concerning a marriage it means a separation and NOT a divorce. If a spouse separates intending never to return, then the next step comes into play; the spouse obtains a “certificate of divorce.” This is what the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees (the religious lawyers of His day) was about in Matthew 19:3-12. The legal question was, “Do you just separate, OR do you separate AND give a certificate of divorce?” The Greek word used for divorce in these Scriptures means, to “send away” or separate from, NOT a finalized legal divorce.

The lawyers of God’s law tested Jesus. Their motive was to justify when they only separated from their wives and remarried without ever getting a divorce. They asked Jesus if God accepts a separation to get remarried without a divorce certificate for just any reason.

Jesus responded that when a male and female come together in a marriage union, “...they are no longer two BUT ONE…” (Matthew 19:6a). Because the couple is still united, He doesn’t want “man” (the marriage partners) to just separate from each other and get remarried without a divorce.


So the question was NOT, “Can a spouse DIVORCE their mate for any reason,” but “Can a spouse get a SEPARATION from their mate for any reason and then remarry while just separated.”

When a husband just leaves his wife for another woman without ever giving her a certificate of divorce, this keeps the wife in limbo. She could not go back to her husband because he doesn’t want her; and she couldn’t “go and become another man’s wife” as Moses commanded because she is not legally divorced (See Deuteronomy 24:1-2).

If she did remarry without a legal divorce, she and the man who married her would be committing adultery. This is why Jesus said,

“...whoever separates (apoluo) from his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is [just] separated (apoluo) commits adultery” (Matthew 19:9).

Because the Pharisees’ hearts were so hard:

“They said to Jesus, ‘WHY then did Moses COMMAND to give a certificate of divorce AND to put her away [separate]?’” (Matthew 19:7).

They agreed with the part of the law that said that you could leave your wife, but they didn’t understand that it was not right to keep their wives from getting remarried. A spouse with a hardened heart will not give the other spouse a divorce. They will want to control the person. A person who truly loves unconditionally will always give you a way out: an option not to love.

This limbo for women back in the Old Testament, and even so today (See Jerusalem Post article posted below), made them an agunot, or chained women, whose husbands refuse to give them a divorce and, according to Jewish law, cannot remarry.(2)

So it is with God; He always gives us the choice to not love Him. As we choose to love Him, it’s true love.

Jesus said to them,

“Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, PERMITTED you to divorce [separate from] your wives, but from the beginning IT [being separated without a divorce] WAS NOT SO” (Matthew 19:8).

Notice in verse seven that Moses COMMANDED them to give a certificate of divorce AND to separate (put away) their wives. But in verse eight, because their hearts were so hardened against their spouse, Moses PERMITTED them to just separate without the husband giving the wife a certificate of divorce. The reason Moses commanded that a certificate of divorce be given was to guarantee that the wife could get remarried.

Simply, Moses commanded to give a certificate of divorce AND to separate. But because of the hardness of their hearts, Moses permitted them to separate only. The permission to separate and remarry without a divorce was limited to sexual immorality. If the wife was unfaithful, the husband could leave without ever being “officially divorced” — by giving her a certificate of divorcement, and go take another woman as his wife. But if there was no sexual immorality involved, the husband could NOT separate from his wife without getting a divorce first. If he didn’t get a divorce and went to live with another woman or got remarried, they were committing adultery.

Some will still argue that divorce is never permitted, nor ever was permitted in the Torah, but this is not so.

To dissolve a marriage according to Torah Law, a Get (Jewish certificate of divorce) must be given by the Husband willfully and without any coercion, and accepted by the Wife willfully and without any coercion. If the Husband is coerced into giving the Get, in most cases, the Get is completely invalid. If the Wife than re-marries on the basis of having received an invalid Get and has children, she will be guilty of the capital crime of adultery, and her children would be, Heaven forfend, mamzerim (legal bastards), unable to marry virtually any other Jewish person. (1)

Paul also addresses this issue in the New Testament. In 1 Corinthians 7:26-28 he says:

“Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed [for selfish reasons]. Are you loosed [divorced] from a wife? [In my opinion says Paul, the Apostle] do not seek a wife. BUT EVEN IF YOU DO MARRY, YOU HAVE NOT SINNED; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned” (1 Corinthians 7:26-28).

Notice that the “virgin” AND the person “loosed [divorced]” are both put in the same category — they have “not sinned” by getting married.


Deuteronomy 24:1-4 tells of a situation where a man married a woman and then divorced her. This woman then married another man. The Scriptures go on to state that if the second marriage ends by her husband writing “...her a certificate of divorce ...OR if the latter husband dies…” (Deuteronomy 24:3,4), she could not remarry the first man she divorced because she had already married someone else.

Therefore, if our spouse dies, or if we were divorced, we can get married again. Divorce and death are equal before God. The only stipulation in this Scripture is that if this is the second marriage, we cannot go back to the first spouse and remarry them because we married someone else after we divorced them. The Hebrew word: shalach is the equivalent of the Greek word: apoluo.

Article from: Divorce Hope “Destroying the yoke of shame and guilt”

References: (1)