Question:

I got an interesting question: In Chile divorce was illegal until a year ago or so. Well, divorce was allowed in Chile, but you had to have two witness say they saw the person in adultery. There's a couple in the church who, about 20 years back, each cheated on respective spouses with their best friends. They both left their spouses, moved some where else, and met each other, and kind of been married since then. But they couldn't be married due to the fact it was illegal for them to divorce. Now it's legal and 20 years later they are filing for it. So would they be committing adultery, or in God'seyes did they do the right thing? It's a weird situation, but it's all over Chile this way.


Answer:

We need to separate out man's laws from God's laws in this case. Governments are supposed to make laws in accordance to the authority given to them by God (Romans 13:1-7), but with men involved it often doesn't happen as it should. Just because something is legal or illegal, it doesn't imply that it is right or wrong according to God. Since government's authority comes from God, it is God's laws which are more important to the Christian.

One of the things I've concluded is that people don't realize how much importance God places on our covenants. "Do not be rash with your mouth, And let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; Therefore let your words be few. .. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; For He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed- Better not to vow than to vow and not pay" (Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4-5). The marriage vows are made before God binding two people in a covenant relationship. Breaking that covenant is not a minor matter. "And this is the second thing you do: You cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. "For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence," says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously"" (Malachi 2:13-16).

Let's take a look at what the Lord taught regarding divorce and remarriage:

Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery (Matthew 5:31-32).

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 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" (Matthew 19:1-9).

The Pharisees came and asked Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" testing Him. And He answered and said to them, "What did Moses command you?" They said, "Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her." And Jesus answered and said to them, "Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.' For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." In the house His disciples also asked Him again about the same matter. So He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:2-12).

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

In the particular situation you noted, both the man and woman had committed adultery. Even if their country had allowed their spouses to divorce them, under God's law they had forfeited their right to another marriage because they had broken their marriage covenant. Anyone who marries such a person also becomes guilty of adultery because in God is still holding the covenant breaker to his or her original covenant.

So, no they did not do the right thing. They committed adultery with one set of people and then entered an adulterous relationship with yet another someone else. Even though legally they may get married again, according to God they remain in adultery. Sadly, the church has failed its duty as well. It has accepted as members people who are in defiance of God's law. Remember what Paul told Corinth regarding a man committing fornication?

"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you. For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner--not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore "put away from yourselves the evil person"" (I Corinthians 5).

Adultery is no more acceptable in the church than fornication.

I looked at what i sent you and I missed type like I do many times. The situation was that both of these adults back about 15 or 20 years ago had a spouse who cheated on them, they did not cheat. They separated from their spouses because of adultery. They did not commit adultery, the other half did. They left them totally, left as in moved away. So both of these people found each other later (the ones who did not cheat) and got married. Well maybe married not in the government's eyes but married, you could say, in God's eyes. Now back then divorce was legal only if you had two witnesses who also saw the person committing adultery. Only then you could legally get divorced. A year ago divorce has became legal in a fashion similar to what we have in the United States. Since they did not divorce under the government rules by having two witnesses, but left their spouses because their spouses cheated on them, and then married (not legally) and have been together for last 15 to 20 years, and are now trying to obtain a divorce, are they in adultery? I was just wondering. If you are confused let me know.

What makes this difficult is that God's rules always supercedes man's rules, but one of God's rules is that we are to abide by our government's rules when they don't keep us from living by God's rules. "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves" (Romans 13:1-2).

Tough as this may be to hear, God doesn't require divorce when a spouse breaks the covenant by fornication. It is allowed, but it isn't required. God's desire is that all marriages last for the lifetime of the couple. "And Jesus answered and said to them, "Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation, God 'made them male and female.' For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate"" (Mark 10:5-9).

God never said that people in cars must never go beyond 70 miles per hour, but it would be wrong to go beyond that speed if your government made 70 miles an hour the upper speed limit. Would it be right to tell the government that I should get a refund on the fine that you gave me ten years ago for going 75 miles an hour because last year you changed the speed limit to 75?

You see, Chile's government did not violate God's law by stating there needs to be witnesses before a divorce could be granted. Actually, the requirement for witnesses makes sense. People lie and granting a divorce solely because a person, who wants out of the marriage, claims sexual immorality had happened doesn't necessarily make it the truth.

These people violated their government's laws -- laws which were not contrary to God's laws. I'm glad they are trying to straighten out the mess that they caused themselves, but they should ask God forgiveness for not abiding by His law to live righteously under their government's rules.