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 5:32: But 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.
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?