Question:

In a second marriage where a non-Christian is wanting to become a Christian but was divorced for reasons other than adultery, is the sin the adultery or the remarriage?I am asking this in the context of repenting.Do you repent of the adultery in this second marriage or repent of the divorce and remarriage and never do it again in the future, or is being married again the sin whereby you have to undo it?

Answer:

The second marriage is the reason the couple is committing adultery. You cannot divide the two.

"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).

"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).

Well, that sure makes things difficult for my sister. The congregation I attend has taught this same way on divorce, and I have always found it difficult to accept it. She was sixteen when she married and of course it didn't work out. Now she isin her later years, and when my husband died in July it shook her up so much she decided she needed to go to church. She did. She went to be baptized and they put her off. The preacher there came to her home and explained the situation to her. Her daughter is devastated at the idea that her mom and dad have to divorce each other for them to become Christians. Seems to me like we are making remarriage the "unforgiveable sin." I realize repenting means not to engage in any more. She does not intend to engage in divorce again. If a murder wants to become a member, he can't go back and unmurder, or a rapist go back and unrape. I still find it hard to understandthat she must go back and unmarry. She was told she was still married to her first husband.

I was looking at Deuteronomy 24:1-4. I know the Old Testament was nailed to the cross, but it was also written for our learning. The idea of going back to her first husband does not seem to be God's will then and as He is unchanging why is it now?

I know this is a lot to ask, but I am so confused. The preacher there says one thing, the preacher here says something else, so I was looking for a third, unbiased opinion.

I'll try explaining again. A person who enters into a marriage when either they or the spouse does not have a right to marry again is in the state of adultery. "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). The marriage began the situation, but it remains adulterous so long as the marriage continues. In the Greek, it is a bit clearer because the term "commits adultery" refers to something that is currently true and continues to be true. "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). You are seeing the adultery as only being the act of marrying a second time -- it isn't. Adultery is having sex with someone who is not your spouse.

To use your illustration, a thief remains a thief while he continues to steal. Be baptized does not make his stealing acceptable. In fact, to be baptized a thief would have to repent of his stealing. The stealing would have to stop , the person acknowledge that it was wrong and is committed to not continuing to steal. In the same way, your sister is in adultery right now and it is continuing since you state that her current marriage isn't according to God's laws. She doesn't desire to repent of that sin, she doesn't want to stop it or change her life. Therefore, she is unable to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38).

I would not say that she is still married to her first husband. I Corinthians 7:10-11 uses the word "unmarried." However, she is still bound by the terms of the covenant she made with her first husband, which is why she is ineligible to marry again. The only things that end a marriage covenant are death of a spouse (Romans 7:2-3) or divorce because the former spouse committed fornication (Matthew 19:9).

I know of nothing that requires your sister to return to her former husband. What is stated is: "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). By divorcing for reasons other than because her former husband was committing fornication, she limited herself to two options. She can remain single or she can remarry her former husband. There is no option to marry anyone else.