Does a divorce because of forced sex in marriage allow for remarriage?


I just read the article regarding whether marital rape is biblical grounds for divorce. This question is brought up at the end:  

"Meanwhile, what is the husband supposed to do? I think the answer is "wait." If your wife were deathly ill, you would have no problem foregoing sex during her illness."

In my particular situation I was chronically (though not critically) ill and was raped by my ex-husband because I physically could not give him "enough sex."  My illness (generalized dystonia and non-epileptic seizures) left me bedridden and unable to control my body's muscle movements. I was having daily seizures and losing significant amounts of sleep. I was physically unable to provide sex each time he requested it. I was physically unable to work and continue graduate school.

His sexual appetite is excessive. He continued to bring pornography into the home after I begged him to stop for the sake of our son and our marriage. He often verbally threatened me for not having sex when he wanted it. When I explained to him that I was too ill and used the analogy of "What if I had cancer?" he said "Well, you don't!" No consideration was given for my well-being.

I left him 3 months after the rape and after two years combined of begging him to go to counseling with me. I legally divorced him 1 1/2 later after I left him after his continued refusal to address the problem. I have since been baptized and entered the church of Christ. Yet, I find myself troubled by the belief by some (but not all) at my church that I cannot remarry because my divorce is not valid based on conservative definitions of porneia. I do see the point that those some and the author of your post makes. However, my situation does not quite fit the mold.

I would greatly appreciate you reviewing my case and how the Bible speaks of this. I have a desire to remarry in order to raise my son in the loving, Christian home that he missed the first four years of his life. I, for myself, hope to be in a loving, Christian marriage where the commandments for marriage are honored and I and my son are respected.

I thank you for your time and consideration. Many blessings and thank you for taking on such a difficult subject.


As explained in "Does rape within a marriage lead to divorce?" what your former husband did does not constitute rape. It was abuse because he forced sex upon you, but "rape" has a specific meaning and definition that cannot be applied between a husband and wife.

The Greek word porneia also has a specific meaning. I understand that you can find those who wish to change its meaning into a catch-all for anything remotely related to sex, but that does not change the facts. God used the word porneia and we must respect that He knew what He was doing. A fairly complete definition of porneia is included in the answer to "Where does the Bible specifically say sex outside of marriage is wrong?" While your former husband's behavior was disgusting, it falls under the terms of "sensuality," "lewdness," and "violence" but not "fornication." Two similar questions address this as well: "Is pornography a just cause for divorce that allows remarriage?" and "Is phone sex grounds for a divorce?"

You found your former husband's behavior bad enough to warrant leaving him, and I don't blame you for that decision. But God decided to balance such decisions with a restriction. "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11). Seeing the mess people have made of families with no-fault divorces, I can see the wisdom God had in making this restriction. If a woman sees the need to leave her husband and desires a divorce, then she does so knowing that her only marital options are to remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. That restriction stops a lot of frivolous divorces.

Only in the case of fornication, where the partner is doing sexual acts with someone outside the marriage, can a divorce allow the innocent party to remarry. This wasn't your case, so remarriage is not allow -- until some time in the future your former husband dies (Romans 7:2-3).

I understand the need of a father in your son's life. I'm sorry that you picked such a lousy man for his father, but that is the past and cannot be corrected. Your situation does serve as an example of why it is so important to be very careful about who a person chooses to marry. I would suggest living near your parents or siblings so that either his grandfather or one of his uncles can serve as a father figure in his life. If that is not doable, then talk with some of the older men at church to see if they are willing to be a father figure for him as he grows up.