Question:

My wife announced to me two years ago that she was done with our marriage and that she intended to file for divorce. To my knowledge, no adultery had been committed by either party at that time (certainly not by me). I initially fought to save our marriage. I suggested counseling and other solutions, but to no avail. It was apparent that she was intent on leaving. I was afraid of what might happen in a court situation. Particularly, I was afraid of what a judge might order. We have a daughter who was three at the time, and I was afraid that I might not gain equal custody. Realizing that I could not make my wife stay, and in order to forgo a lengthy court trial, I worked with my wife to formulate a written mediation agreement with the help of a private mediator. All property was divided evenly, and the custody of our daughter was mutually split (50/50). We then had the mediation agreement notarized. A court date was set and a judge formalized the agreement and a divorce decree was issued. Even at that point, I do not believe that adultery had been committed by either party. In telephone conversations with my "ex" wife after the divorce, I would frequently tell her that our divorce was recognized by the state that we lived in, but NOT recognized by God; as to my knowledge there had been no adultery. I would then tell her that it was not too late to make the situation right.

A few months after the divorce decree and while picking my daughter up from my "ex" wife's apartment, I learned that she had met someone new and had begun a relationship with him. The man eventually moved in with her. I logically assumed, therefore, that adultery had therein been committed.

I carry guilt over my involvement in helping along the divorce process by working with her to mediate the outcome. I feel that I should have refused to go along with the divorce, even though we lived in a "no fault divorce" state and my refusal would not have prevented the judge's divorce decree. Did I cause my wife to commit adultery by going along with the paper process? I have no desire to remarry at this time, but am I ineligible to remarry because of my participation in finalizing the unscriptural divorce?

If I am ineligible to remarry, it is something that I can accept because I am happy in the Lord. My sorrow would be in knowing that I help my wife to "eventually" commit adultery, if that is in fact what I did.


Answer:

You did not initiate the divorce, nor encouraged it. Your wife was intent on it and you merely sought out the most peaceful way that you could think of. "But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace" (I Corinthians 7:15). It is sad when this happens, but this was her decision, not yours.

Thus, the warning Jesus gave, "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), is directed toward her. You didn't cause her to commit adultery, she was already intent on it. The reason she wanted the marriage to end was so she would be free, in her mind, to find someone else. What Jesus is saying is that her decision wasn't just about her, she also put a stumbling block in front of you by making it tempting to you to seek out someone else.

Neither of you are eligible by God's laws to marry again, but at the moment your ex-wife doesn't care. Perhaps she will realize her mistake before it is too late.

Thank you.