I have been reading a number of your “questions-and-answers” on your web site regarding divorce and remarriage.
Could you please shed your thoughts and opinions on the following for me? I am very confused.
First of all, I would like to say that I agree with your view of divorce, remarriage being adultery, and so on.
My ex-husband divorced me without any biblical cause – I was not involved in adultery in any way whatsoever. He claims that he is born-again, and I do not feel that I have the right to judge his claims, but there is very little evidence of repentance or fruit in his life. He started seeing someone and very soon after their first meeting (about a month), he was sleeping with her. He claims that God has blessed his personal life by bringing her into his life. We were not divorced (even in the eyes of the country) at this time. About six months before our divorce was made final, he actually moved into her home and lived with her. Our two youngest children went to visit with him every second weekend, and they took the children to church with them as well, displaying to our children that there was nothing wrong with what they were doing and how they were living. I have confronted him with the fact that his second marriage is adultery in God’s eyes, and he “doesn’t see it that way.” I have literally asked him to please explain how he interprets Matthew 5:31-32 and Luke 10:11 (and any other corresponding passages), but he doesn’t answer. In his eyes, God is a God of love and forgiveness. He realizes that he sinned (apparently he realized this while they were living together and we were still married – i.e. before the divorce went through), but he has repented (according to him), asked for forgiveness and God has forgiven him.
A very well-known evangelist has also expressed that once he has remarried, if he simply confesses his adultery (in the second marriage), God will forgive him the sin of adultery. My question there is, what about repentance then?
My confusion arises as a result of the following:
Firstly, if his second marriage is an act of adultery as per Matthew 5:31-32 (and other related Scriptures), then surely God views his current “wife” as not his spouse – as the definition of adultery is “voluntary sexual relations with someone other than one’s spouse.” If his current wife is someone other than his spouse, then surely in God’s eyes, I am still his spouse.
Secondly, if he repents and turns from his sin, then surely he would need to repent of his adultery and turn from it. Surely God would expect him to turn from his adulterous “marriage.”
Thirdly, if he repents, in God’s eyes, wouldn’t he be seen as being clean again? Would God not expect him to put right what he has done wrong?
My biggest query is regarding Deuteronomy 24:1-4. If he has remarried and gets divorced for a second time, would I be committing an act of fornication or not, if I took him back? Is he considered defiled, even if he has come to repentance before God? I have been told by my many very committed Bible-believing and godly Christian friends, that I would be committing fornication if he divorced from his second marriage and we remarried thereafter.
Fifthly, according to Matthew 5:31-32, as he has divorced me, he would be causing me to commit adultery should I remarry (obviously someone else)? So I do not have the option of remarrying as I would be committing adultery? It doesn’t say that even if I was the “innocent” party in the divorce, that I wouldn’t be committing adultery if I remarried? It simply states that should I remarry, he has caused me to commit adultery as he has divorced me?
These issues have really confused me as to even how to pray for him, any possible restoration of our marriage should God bring him to repentance, praying for God to bring him to repentance and if so, where that leaves us?
Would it be possible for you to “throw some light” on this – specifically in the light of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, particularly verse 4 thereof?
There are brethren who believe it matters who actually filed for the divorce, but in this modern view of "no-fault" divorces, it is more likely that the adulterer will file for divorce before the faithful spouse. You husband committed adultery and the divorce resulted from his sexual sins. Because of that he forfeited his rights to another marriage. "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 19:9). He is still bound by the covenant that he made with you. The two of you are no longer husband and wife because of the divorce. But because your husband sought to form a second covenant with a woman while still bound by his earlier covenant, he is committing adultery. "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. 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" (Romans 7:2-3). Because his current wife has married someone who was bound by an earlier covenant, she too is committing adultery.
Yes, there are foolish teachers out there who claim that the adultery only occurs once when the second marriage covenant is made or who claim that God forgives the on-going sin, but it is merely wishful thinking to justify sin. It has no support in the Scriptures as you know.
To repent of his sin, he needs to end his adultery. "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). If you were still available and wanted to have him back, you could choose to remarry him. We live by the laws of the New Testament, not those of the Old, so Deuteronomy 24:1-4 does not apply. If you were already married, then he would have to remain single until after your death. It seems harsh, but it is a just penalty for violating the covenant that he voluntarily made. There is no requirement that he must marry you again in order to repent of his sins.
"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 5:32). Because adultery was involved in this divorce, the "causes her to commit adultery" doesn't apply in your case. However, for better understanding, if a man divorces his wife because of some other reason, such as arguing too much, she will be tempted to marry again even though she has no right to another marriage (I Corinthians 7:10-11). What Jesus is saying is that the man who divorced his wife will be held accountable for the fact that his former wife sinned because his actions led to her sinning. Jesus is not saying that the act of divorce makes her an adulterous. The Greek is clearer than the English. He is saying that the divorce makes the probability of her committing adultery much more likely. The warning is that ending a marriage doesn't absolve you from responsibility.