Divorce, Remarriage and Adultery

I think its important to discuss this issue of divorce, remarriage and adultery.

I've been shying away from this topic because its very difficult pastorally.

Can we be faithful to the Word of God, consistent and condone all kinds of remarriage situations which have arisen, many times among our own friends?

I hope we can.

But its good to be fully assured of what we believe.

The Bible does, after all, contain many precepts which are contrary to human standards and ways.

So lets get straight to the burning question:

"Are there situations where a person is legally married and yet living in adultery in God's sight because of some previous marriage which broke up for some reason?"

Of course there are all kinds of reasons for marriage break-ups, and men have tried to define which reasons for the original break-up might justify the new marriage, or if no reason is needed.

It is all very well to say "Divorce is not the unforgivable sin".

I don't think anyone would say that it is. The question is whether living in an adulterous relationship is possible for a true Christian, and whether certain re-marriages are considered by God to be adulterous relationships.

Divorce is a fact of life. And it occurs for many reasons. Some people are divorced against their will. Others are divorced because their partners were unfaithful and they believe they were within their rights to terminate the marriage. Yet others are divorced because of strong and growing personality clashes within the marriage which became very painful. Divorce is the path chosen. After the divorce, it is a historical fact. A question remains: is a divorced person free to remarry in God's eyes? When are they free and when are they not? And if they go against God's will, does God

It is the words of Jesus which throw doubt on an affirmative answer to this question. And this is where the problem lies for Christians who want to take Jesus' words seriously, as the standard of God and the final authority on any matter.

You can be forgiven for your part in a divorce, even if you were sexually unfaithful – provided you repent. So of course divorce is not the unforgiveable sin.

Remarriage is the issue. Why is it an issue? Mostle because of the Words of Jesus, which we must grapple with. Here they are:

 

Luke 16:18: Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery. (NKJV)

 

Matthew 5:32But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication [Gk: porneia], causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (KJV)

 

Matthew 19:9: And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

 

Mark 10:10-12: In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. 11 So He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. 12 And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

 

And then we have the teaching of Paul in Romans 7:2-3:

"For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man."

On a casual reading, all this seems fairly clear. It seems to say: if your former marriage partner is alive, and you marry someone else, as far as God is concerned: you are committing adultery.

The Catholic church has consistently taught this down through the centuries, and so have many other church groups. But in the last 50 years, with the rise of hedonism and the massive increase in divorce amongst church people, the doctrinal positions of many churches such as the Assemblies of God have been in a state of flux – usually towards a progressive relaxation of any prohibitions. 

The Dilemma

This issue has been studied ad nauseum and lots of books with opposing views have been written. If you are a theological liberal then of course you are not under the authority of the Word of God and so you feel you can basically do as you please, or as you think best. It becomes a matter of situational ethics. We don't go down that path in this ministry because we think that there is plenty of evidence that God is a faithful and true communicator.

So it becomes a matter of "rightly dividing" the Word of Truth. The Bible has some things to say about divorce. We know from the Old Testament for example that God was holding it against the Israelites who had been unfaithful to the wives of their youth and gone after other wives.

 

The real question is: what does God say about it?

 

What do YOU think?

comments

About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

Comments

  1. barbie49701 says:

    Hi I don’t want a divorce. However, I don’t know where my husband is or what he is doing exactly. I do know he brought his new girlfriend with him to meet get his stuff. His sister says she doesn’t see him at all. He was suppose to stay there but she doesn’t know where he is. I believe she is lieing to me. However, I can’t prove anything. The last time he called me he called me from her cell phone yelling at me saying I was harassing her. When she called me and I was just returning the call. I want to talk to Russ but I am again afraid of what to say and I don’t want to make things worse. I am also still scared he will yell at me. I am afraid. I don’t want a divorce! I want my husband and I still believe he does or did love me. I still believe he will come back to me. I just don’t know when or how. It’s driving me crazy. One minute I feel strong. The next I feel horrible. I have separated myself from all my friends all my family. There so negative. They want me to seek vengence and I know vengence is not mine. I don’t want to hurt him I want to fall into his arms again and feel his love again. To not have to sleep alone anymore. I want my husband back.

    • Jerry Wright says:

      Im 73 and have seen many abused women, not all abuse is physical, yours is mental, Jesus Christ would not want you to go any longer that way. you are better than that to be alone, if he really loved you he wouldn’t do this to you, he has you where you won’t divorce him , and cost him money. do it and move on sister

  2. 1Corinthians 7:20 says remain in the condition that you where when call,in 7:24 confirms this.so many questions on this so here is mine? married first time to a divorcie,civil,married second time to divorcie and married her civil and married in catholic church when she got absolution by the church, met GOD when separated,then she got the divorce,how do you like this one,for I belive that priest in the catholic church will give you the absolution or abolition of marriage depending how much you give thats how expedite it will be given! BLESS YOU ALL

  3.  

    • Michael Fackerell ·  Top Commenter · Founder & MD at Edelite / Searchlight Media
      Hi Tom, I know this issue is a very dangerous one to tackle. Its one I've stayed away from. Many of my good friends are divorced. One at least is remarried. He was a serious Christian and his wife decided to walk away from God and divorce him. Now he is remarried.

      There may be many situations where remarriage is the will of God. There is no issue of course when someone's spouse has passed away. That is obvious. Where I am going to in this article is to suggest that the prohibition against remarriage applies to cases where the divorce was initiated IN ORDER TO make the new marriage possible. What do you think of that?

      For example, when Burroughs Waltrip divorced his wife in order to marry Kathryn Kuhlman I suggest that was an adulterous relationship. Kathryn Kuhlman was led by God to BREAK that adulterous marriage and then her ministry took off.

      Yet there are cases where a Christian man sins and destroys his marriage, and then remarries later on, because his first wife won't have him back. What do people think about such cases?

      • Tom Woythal · Iowa Lakes Community College
        Michael, in the situations that you mentioned, I couldn't agree with you more. In fact, this type of behavior is one the quickest ways to bring the judgment of God upon oneself. God is very serious about marriage, and He will not be mocked or manipulated. There's mercy for
        Those that, with pure motives and a heart after God, that have scriptural grounds for divorce, to do so, and, like you stated, re-marriage would be an permissible, but judgment for those that don't. I agree with you wholeheartedly!!! This subject NEEDS to be addressed and explained, for there's serious trouble in the church with this; in fact, respected ministers are right now misleading people in a serious way. 
         
         
       
    • Michael Fackerell ·  Top Commenter · Founder & MD at Edelite / Searchlight Media

      I am opening a forum topic on the difficult and controversial topic of divorce, remarriage and adultery. Its only difficult if you take the words of Jesus seriously, otherwise its pretty easy theologically at least. I've seen so many different attempts at dealing with these words of Jesus without coming to the conclusion that almost half of the church is currently living in adultery today. Please join me in discussing this if you are game. Help me to understand when God considers remarriage adulterous – if indeed he ever does. See Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:10-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3.
    • lookinforacity says:

      Hi Michael

      This is a very important topic, it affects way to many Christians. And, as humans beings have been known to look for anything, and everything to justify their actions, regardless of what Scripture might have to say on the matter, Christians are no different..
      So, once again, it comes down to reading things in the context.

      We first see the Pharisees tempting Jesus with their questions about the LAW. At the time of the statements made by Jesus, both He and the Pharisees were under the Law, so to start with, we see the question is a question concerning Law. (Just how bound are we in a marriage)?
      Mat 19:3
      The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

      Jesus answering their question, asked them a question, in order to put things into perspective, and giving them not only what Scripture said, but the spirit of what was said.
      Mat 19:4
      And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
      Mat 19:5
      And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?
      Mat 19:6
      Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

      Those three verses in themselves should answer the question, ( let not man put asunder).
      But as I said, humans try to justify themselves, the Pharisees attempted, by asking another question.
      Mat 19:7
      They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

      Jesus answered them, by telling them exactly why DIVORCE became legal, then led them right back to what God thinks of divorce. (but from the beginning it was not so).
      Mat 19:8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

      Jesus then went on to give them graphic examples of Adultery.
      Mat 19:9
      And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

      The actual Law concerning Divorce:

      In the Law it says, the woman having been divorced “CAN” Remarry, with no mention of Adultery.
      Deu 24:1
      When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
      Deu 24:2
      And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.
      Deu 24:3
      And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;
      Deu 24:4
      Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

      What we see, is that Divorce became legal, but “ONLY” for the reason of Adultery, and that was only because of Hardness of Heart, (Un-forgiveness).
      Jesus had told them, when a Man and Woman marry, they become one flesh.
      How then can someone divorce themselves, from themselves?
      In Jesus eyes, there is no reason for Divorce, only Forgiveness.
      Therefore we “Christians” have been taught, “turn the other cheek” “if we do not forgive, God will not forgive us”
      There are all kinds of reasons people use to justify a divorce, all of which can and should be forgiven.
      There is only one reason for which I feel a “Separation” may be in order, that being spousal abuse.
      Even within the teaching of Jesus about turning the other cheek, there isn’t anything that says, after forgiveness has been given, the person being slapped has to stay and be slapped again, but if they do stay, they are bound to forgive 70×7 and that signifying always.
      I say Separation because, there is only one reason acceptable under the Law to God for divorce, and that is Adultery. But we are not under the Law, but Grace, therefore we are bound by the Grace which has been shown to us, to forgive.
      1Jn 4:8
      He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.

      I was in a marriage for 10yrs. had one child, we were both new Christians at the time of marriage.
      My wife wanted a divorce, she wanted more out of life, I said I would not grant a divorce (period).
      She even said I could file on grounds of adultery, I still said no.
      She did not want us to live together anymore so we separated, I retained custody of our son.
      She then had the lifestyle she wanted, but after 5yrs, she found out she had been infected with HIV.
      The next 10yrs. were not as much fun as she had envisioned, as she became worse.
      I attempted over the whole time, to gain a reconciliation but to no avail.
      Our separation culminated in her death, 15yrs. after she said she wanted a divorce.
      Through the course of this 15yr. separation I abstained from any and all relationships.
      It is amazing, when you determine in your heart, that Marriage is not something to be taken lightly, because we do make “VOWS” at the time of our marriage which we are bound by, having become part of another person, a divorce becomes out of the question.
      When God says His Grace is sufficient, then celibacy becomes possable.
      All told, at the time her death, my wife and I were married 25yrs. 43days.
      I remained single for another 9yrs. I now have a beautiful wife, and a 4yr. old daughter, coming up to our 6th. Anniversery..
      1Co 7:27
      Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
      Joe 2:25
      And I will restore to you the years that the locust, cankerworm, caterpillar, and the palmerworm
      hath eaten.

      This is what I have come to understand.
      1) A Thief has to abstain, and repent of stealing, for the rest of their life, otherwise they sin.
      2) A Homosexual has to abstain, and repent of inordinate sexual lust, for the rest of their life, otherwise they sin.
      3) A Divorcee has to abstain, and repent of another marriage, and sexual relations, for the rest of their lives, otherwise they sin.
      4) A Christian does not have the Law to fall back on to obtain a divorce, it does not apply to us.

      Paul speaks of the severity of the law in his teaching by showing, Marriage truly is “Till Death Us Do Part”. It is also important to understand, in that time, women could not Divorce their husbands, as they can today, the women were (chattel, possessions) did not have rights, let alone equal rights.The question of a woman getting a divorce is a Societal issue, and has no room within the Church, Society does not dictate to the Church.
      Rom 7:2
      For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.
      Rom 7:3
      So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

      Be Blessed
      JIM

      • Jim,

        On this issue I deeply respect you and what you have done. Because you have faced the horrible prospect of spousal rejection and according to what you have said, you have handled it with real selflessness and self-denial.

        I am glad God blessed you with another wife after your first wife passed away.

        If you are right and "3) A Divorcee has to abstain, and repent of another marriage, and sexual relations, for the rest of their lives, otherwise they sin." then the consequences are grave for most of the church today.

        Because we have so many divorces and remarriage even amongst church leaders.

        Your understanding is pretty much the traditional and straightforward understanding of the Scriptural passages.

        There may be another way to understand them correctly. I hope so, not so much for my sake, but for the sake of so many Christians who have remarried while their [former] spouses were alive.

        Then there is the matter of non Christian who come to Christ who have remarried while their former spouses were alive. On what basis should the standards of God vary on the issue of marriage because of whether a person is a Christian?

        Do you believe that many professing Christians today are living in relationships which God considers adulterous?

        And if you do, do you believe that they can be righteous and accepted before God through the blood and grace of Jesus while they hang onto a relationship which God considers adulterous?

        Difficult questions indeed I would say for someone who takes the tough line on this issue.

        • Timothy Luke says:

          Christ stayed married to the old church until death did them part on the cross… making way for the new according to Romans 5. As difficult as the questions may seem, I do not know if that makes a case for overthrowing the position. In many regards, I believe, it is because we do not go into marriage with the seriousness of knowing that it is this person for LIFE, or non other, that we set ourselves up in inferior relationships in the first place… feeling we can bail out on them and 'get on with our life.' 

          The respect I have for how Jim handled that bears witness to the rightness of it. As Dietrich Bonhoffer put it, "when Christ bids a man come to Him, he bids him to DIE."  We die to our 'rights' and surrender completely to live as Jesus commands… so my "right" to remarry, being based in self-fulfillment, becomes a snare to following after what is truly best… in my opinion. 

          Will these people be condemned? That is God's call.  Just because we cannot see, or envision, God denying eternal life to anyone over a given area, does not mean He will, or will not grant eternal life. It may be a matter of being beaten with many stripes while still attaining eternal life.

          These are some of my thoughts on it…..  A reading of Ezekiel 16 shows God did not justify putting away Israel for another until he at last die at her hands, but even then, He did not forsake her forever, but will redeem her in the end.

          Tim

        • lookinforacity says:

          Hi Michael

          The question then becomes.
          1) What is the only reason recorded in the Bible recognized by God as grounds for Divorce?
          2) If there is no other reason given, and I don’t mean something (Inferred) or that can be (Alluded to), because
          Mat 19:9 says
          And I say unto you,
          (WHOSOEVER SHALL PUT AWAY IS WIFE, (“EXCEPT”) IT BE FOR FORNICATION, AND SHALL MARRY ANOTHER, COMMITTETH ADULTERY): and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

          I highlighted the word (EXCEPT) because that word means (OTHER THAN), or (ANY OTHER REASON).
          Jesus made no Inferences, or Allusions when He spoke, just statement of fact.

          When the Pharisses asked Jesus the question about Divorce, notice what they actually asked.

          Mat 19:3
          The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him,
          (IS IT LAWFUL FOR A MAN TO PUT AWAY HIS WIFE FOR EVERY CAUSE)?

          Isn’t this the same question the Church is asking today, in order to Justify their actions, by having (EVERY CAUSE) covered.

          As you say:
          “then the consequences are grave for most of the church today, because we have so many divorces and remarriages even amongst Church Leaders”.

          Will you allow me to place this scripture here, in order to make my point?
          Rom 11:22
          Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity;
          but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

          Be Blessed
          JIM

      • Holyroller_11 says:

        when the woman was caught in adultry the people wanted to stone her,but Jesus said,he who is among you without sin let him cast the first stone,,,1st if your heart is right with Jesus,there is no problem,2nd if your spouse has their heart right no problem,but if not,then adultry is only 1 of many transgressions,bible says not to put away your spouse except for fornication,the woman in the bible was told by Jesus go and sin no more! at that point her sins was cast into the sea of forgetfulness,remembered no more!! there is no little sin or big sin ,only sin, When God forgives,its over,if you choose to be free from sin,God is big enough to make this happen! your either saint or sinner,choose this day whom you will serve, there are usually problems when divorces happen,children catch the worst,parents,finances,etc,emotional nightmares, man and his righteous attitutes dont help matters either, Jesus came to save that which was lost,,,,,people mess up,we are very good at that,but thank God he has a plan for every man or woman. if we will stand the pull,he will pull us out and set us upon a solid rock,amen!!!

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