What is the Catholic Church's view on marry widows, and the Bible's teachings about it? Is it considered a good thing or a bad thing?

1 Answer 1


Remarriage in

New Testament

St. Paul says it's better for widows (as for virgins, too) to remain unmarried:

1Cor 7:27 Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife* [i.e., a widow]? Seek not a wife.

*by either death of the spouse or separation

But he does not prohibit widows (those "loosed from a wife/husband") from remarrying:

1Cor 7:28 But if thou take a wife, thou hast not sinned.

Young widows

especially if the widow is young and cannot contain her sexual desires:

1Tim 5:11 But the younger widows avoid. For when they have grown wanton in Christ, they will marry:

1Tim 5:14 I will, therefore, that the younger [wanton widows] should marry, bear children, be mistresses of families, give no occasion to the adversary to speak evil.

Old widows

1Tim 5:3 Honour [i.e., support, not marry] widows that are widows indeed.

St. Paul doesn't say widows should remarry; rather,

1Tim 3:4 if any widow have children or grandchildren, let her learn first to govern her own house and to make a return of duty to her parents; for this is acceptable before God.

He doesn't advise childless widows to remarry, either:

1Tim 5:5 But she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, let her trust in God and continue in supplications and prayers night and day.

Marrying widows

St. Paul says candidates for being a bishop must not have ever remarried:

1Tim 3:2 It behoveth therefore a bishop to be blameless, the husband of [no more than] one wife, sober, prudent, of good behaviour, chaste, given to hospitality, a teacher,

cf. the analogous "1Tim 5:9 Let a [female] widow be chosen of no less than threescore [60] years of age, who hath been the wife of one husband."

See St. Thomas Aquinas's commentary on 1 Timothy 5:9-16.

Old Testament

Proverbs 5:18 …rejoice with the wife of thy youth

i.e., honor your first wife.

And the holy young widow Judith didn't remarry, but vowed to remain a widow (cf. Judith 16:22).

Church's Practice

The Church discourages but does not prohibit second marriages. The marriage ceremony of widows is more somber, the father does not walk his daughter down the aisle, nor does he unveil her.

St. John Chrysostom's On Not Entering a Second Marriage (pp. 223-44) strongly discourages widows from remarrying.

  • Why is it better for virgins not to marry are we not expected to be virgins until we get married?
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 8:59
  • @NeilMeyer There's no obligation to marry. It's de fide dogma (defined at the Council of Trent) that virginity is a higher state of life than marriage; cf. St. Thomas Aquinas's question "Whether virginity is more excellent than marriage?." St. Paul explains that it is in 1 Cor. 7; see also St. John Chrysostom's On Virginity, the best commentary on 1 Cor. 7.
    – Geremia
    Commented Apr 9, 2021 at 18:06
  • This answers the question of whether a widow should remarry, but the OP is asking about whether it is appropriate for someone to marry a widow. To offer one counterpoint: the Bible instructs us to care for the widow and the orphan, and the primary way that women were cared for was through marriage. This is one of the basic reasons why we believe Joseph married Mary, and a large number of Josephite marriages fall into this widower category.
    – zippy2006
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 14:57
  • @zippy2006 "the OP is asking about whether it is appropriate for someone to marry a widow" That's a particular case of whether one should marry at all.
    – Geremia
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 18:55
  • @zippy2006 "the Bible instructs us to care for the widow and the orphan" Yes, 1Tim 5:3: "Honour [i.e., support] widows that are widows indeed."
    – Geremia
    Commented May 1, 2021 at 18:56

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