Divorce and Remarriage
Riverwood Community Chapel Policy Concerning
Divorce and Remarriage
Marriage is an institution ordained by God, a covenant that is binding and permanent. The emphasis on our ministry will be on the permanence of marriage.
Divorce is seen as a breaking of God's covenant and His ideal regarding the permanence of marriage. Scripturally, divorce is not commanded or encouraged, but rather a possible consequence of unremitting sexual immorality or of desertion by an unbeliever.
When divorce has occurred, two clear biblical options are available:
- Remain unmarried.
- Reconcile with one's former spouse.
When divorce has occurred, it will be the practice of Riverwood Community Chapel to encourage restoration and reconciliation and provide encouragement with learning and growing opportunities to that goal.
Principles of Reconciliation
- Grow personally in Christ.
- Remove bitterness and revenge.
- Remain available.
- Seek for restoration
while understanding the biblical principles for marriage which are:
- instituted by God
- for companionship
- for fulfillment
- for procreation
- for social and ministry unit
When remarriage is permissible.
Although the emphasis of our ministry is on the restoration and reconciliation of those who have experienced divorce, there are circumstances when remarriage is seen as biblically permissible:
1. When reconciliation is actually impossible because the divorced spouse is either deceased or remarried. (Matthew 19:9).
Explanation: In cases where the divorced spouse is deceased or remarried, the person seeking remarriage at Riverwood should demonstrate a commitment to:
*learning and understanding the biblical principles of marriage.
*a period of growing in Christ for the purpose of healing and insight as to why the first marriage was broken.
*remarry with dependence upon and application of God's design.
Guidelines: There should be a waiting period of one year after the former spouse has remarried or after the death of the divorced spouse. In all cases, provision will be made for premarital counseling with a minimum of five months as a requirement.
2. When divorce has occurred because of the other spouse's unremitting sexual sin and unwillingness to repent (Matthew 19:9, Romans 12:18 - "as far as your part").
Explanation: Sexual immorality does not break a marriage, but breaks trust. If the immorality is known, continues, and is not repented of, this may cause the marriage to fail. Our pastors who hold this position are permitted to marry the victimized marriage partner.
Guidelines: Demonstrate a commitment to a period of growing in Christ for the purpose of healing and insight as to why the first marriage was broken. There should be a waiting period of a minimum of two years after the divorce before remarriage. Requirement of a minimum of five months premarital counseling and meeting the guidelines for counseling.
3. When a believer has been divorced or deserted by an unbeliever (1 Corinthians 7:15).
Explanation: This category includes an unbeliever who refuses to live or dwell in a Christian home and has departed as well as a person who becomes a Christian who was formerly divorced from an unbeliever.
Guidelines: Demonstrate a commitment to a period of growing in Christ for the purpose of healing and insight as to why the first marriage was broken. There should be a two year waiting period after the divorce before remarriage during which time the principles of reconciliation are actively pursued. The individual seeking remarriage must write a letter in which he/she explains his or her attempts to reconcile and establish a Christian home with the former spouse which will be placed on file at Riverwood.
Requirements of a minimum of five months of premarital counseling and meeting the guidelines for counseling. Note: If the new believer's former mate is a believer, then the options are to remain unmarried or reconcile if reconciliation is actually possible. (Remarriage would be permissible only if there were no hope of reconciliation after honest attempts. Only those pastor's theologically comfortable with this understanding of the text could participate in performing the marriage.)