The challenge of Christians marrying again is potentially a thorny one. Firstly, the way in which Paul writes about here is against the background that the time is short: Christ will come again very soon! Paul states that marriage is a relationship which can only be broken by death. When one person dies, the other is free to marry, Paul states, but he would prefer that they remain single. However, in this situation we often discover that the second marriage is the highest compliment that the one who survives can pay the one who has gone before, because it makes clear that the surviving person cannot go on without a loved one in their life, so happy was their married state on the first occasion. Throughout time, believers have been concerned that to marry again would disrespect the deceased loved one, whereas it is so often the opposite! One thing Paul did command about a second marriage was that it should be to a fellow believer. The Greek philosopher, Plutarch proclaimed that 'marriage cannot be happy unless husband and wife are of the same religion'. This is rational and wise as the believer will be constantly worrying about the spouse and they will view things differently than their unbelieving loved ones. However, I have seen marriages between believer and unbeliever work well, especially if the person comes to believe after they are married. It does involve a lot of extra worries and a missing depth, but as Paul stated earlier in this passage, the commitment should be to what the unbeliever wants. This is a challenging passage for some and I would say that, before divorce was legal or practically possible, there were marriages which were hell on earth. The wedding ceremony-and I will be saying the words to Luke and Lucy on Saturday-involves a commitment from both persons to love, honour and be completely committed to the other for a lifetime and some do not keep their marriage vows through unfaithfulness, physical or emotional abuse or neglect. I'm happy to talk more about this with any who have questions.
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