Can you remarry after your spouse dies? (what does the Bible say?)

I grew up in a blended Christian family. When I was older, my mum explained to me the nature of our family and that she remarried after her first husband passed away. It was not until I went to theology school that I learned more about remarriage after the death of a spouse. I spent much time researching remarriage in different circumstances and consulted with several pastors to understand this topic. Last Saturday, a member of my church approached me and randomly asked whether one can remarry after the spouse dies. I later learned that the member knew my family background and wanted to remarry. Since I am well-versed in this topic and what the Bible says about remarriage after the death of a spouse, I explained to her everything she needed to know. So, can you remarry after your spouse dies?

Yes, the Bible allows Christians to remarry after their spouses die. Romans 7:2-3 clearly states that a married woman is only tied to the husband when the husband is alive, but when he dies, the woman is free. Paul also encourages widows in the book of 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 to remarry.

So, join me as I discuss remarriage after the death of a spouse. I will analyze the biblical stand of one remarrying after the spouse dies, if one is still married to their spouse even after death, and whether God can bless a second marriage. Keep reading to learn more.

What does the Bible say about remarriage after a spouse dies?

The Bible allows one to remarry in case of the death of one spouse. In the book of 1 Corinthians 7:8-9, Paul urges the widows and the unmarried not to marry, but if they cannot, it is better to marry than keep burning with passion. Furthermore, the book of 1 Timothy 5:14 encourages young widows to marry and bear children and not give slander any opportunity. Though the Bible talks about widows and fails to mention widowers, theologians believe there is no context in these passages, indicating that the standard of remarrying is gender-specific.

Am I still married to my husband if he dies?

Can you remarry after your spouse dies? 
Am I still married to my husband if he dies? Image source: Freepik

According to the scriptures, you are not still married to your husband when he dies. The book of Romans 7:2-3 notes that a married woman is released from the marriage law that ties him to the husband when the partner dies. Therefore, a married woman can only be termed an adulteress if she remarries when the husband is still alive. Still, if she remarries when her husband is dead, she is not committing adultery.

1 Corinthians 7:39 notes that a wife is only tied down to the husband as long as he is alive. But when he dies, she is free to remarry to whomever she pleases, but in God. Therefore, when your husband dies, you can get married again.

Can a second marriage be blessed by God?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. First, the Bible opposes divorce (1 Corinthians 7:10-13). Therefore, this makes various churches and even theologians believe that God will not bless a second marriage if you did not honor your first marriage, and thus it ended in divorce.

However, if your marriage ended because of adultery (your partner cheated on you), some people hold the view that God will bless your second marriage. Additionally, as seen above, the Bible allows one to remarry in case of the death of a partner. Therefore, if this is anything to go by, then it is safe to say that God will bless such a second marriage.

Why does the Bible encourage remarriage after a spouse dies in the Old Testament?

Can you remarry after your spouse dies?
Remarriage after a spouse dies in the Old Testament. Image source: Freepik

In the Old Testament, remarriage mostly happened because of children. After the death of Sarah, Abraham got married again to Keturah, with whom they had six children (Genesis 25). Furthermore, in the Old Testament, God was not against levirate marriages, where when a husband died, a widow was allowed to marry his brother to provide heirs for the late husband. Even in Mark 12:18-20, the Sadducees reference the teachings of Moses where he wrote that if a man dies and leaves the woman with no children, then the brother must marry the widow to give birth and raise an offspring for the late brother.

If I remarry after my spouse dies, which marriage is acknowledged in heaven?

This question has been debated and is not new, as even the Sadducees questioned Jesus about this very same concept in the Bible. In the book of Mark 12:18-27, the Sadducees give Jesus a scenario where a man remarried two times; therefore, in his lifetime, he had three wives, who shall then be his wife at the resurrection. Jesus responded to them and noted that at the resurrection, when the dead rise, they shall not marry or be given in marriage.

However, we cannot conclude that marriages will have no meaning in heaven. However, it is clear that some aspects of marriage, like the marital vows that bind the married to an exclusive relationship, end after the spouse’s death.

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