I recently found out my ex-wife was married before we married. Is my second marriage proper?



I was married to a woman I recently discovered was married previously. She never told me that she was married, for if she had, I would not have married her. In less than a year, she divorced me for irreconcilable differences. About two years later, I married again. My wife and I have been married for over five years, serving the Lord together and have children together. My wife has never been married before me.

  1. I married a previously married woman unknowingly
  2. She divorced me, I didn't divorce her
  3. I married my current wife, who has never been married before and we are still married.
  4. Also, just to clarify, in the first marriage, I had never been married before.

My question: According to Jesus Christ the Lord, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. I never divorced my ex-wife. Secondly, my ex-wife was the wife of another man and again, she divorced me. So I neither fit the model for the man who puts his wife away to marry another (committing adultery), nor the man who is still in a marriage with a woman divorced or who divorced her husband (also adultery). The wife I am married to now, has never been married, as I am her first husband. So does that make our marriage adulterous?  How is this situation looked upon by God? I know the Lord to be merciful and understanding of all manner of human conditions, as I also know His word will not bend for us, we must yield to it. I have studied the Scriptures intensely on this, but I find nothing that directly addresses this specific situation or alludes to it. My wife and I both hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, and have never been instructed or convicted by the Lord to divorce one another for adultery.

After reading some of the harsh messages about this, being a God fearing man, and not yet knowing that my ex-wife was previously married, until I searched it out recently, I was fearful that I was an adulterer. Up until now having looked up the public marriage records and discovering my ex was married before, I saw her as my first wife, fearing that I would have to divorce my true wife. But knowing what I know now, I don't believe that to be true. If I am in error and you can show me this by the Scripture and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in your writing, I will accept it as the Lord's answer to me through you beyond my own studies. However, if the Lord lays on your heart that I and my wife are not in adultery, and that before our great and mighty God, holy and just, our relationship is approved and pleasing to Him, then I will of course most graciously and happily rejoice in that truth as well.

Thank you for your time! God bless you in Jesus name!


There is one fact missing that prevents me from answering your question and that is why your first wife's marriage ended.

If your first wife left her marriage because of similar "irreconcilable differences," then she did not have the right to another marriage. "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). Given such a case, your first marriage was not a legitimate marriage in the first place. You would not be bound by the terms of that covenant and would be free to enter into a legitimate marriage.

However, if your first wife left her marriage because of fornication on her husband's part, then she did have a right to marry again. "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). That would mean your first marriage was valid and you would have no right to a second marriage. The fact that she initiated the divorce against your will doesn't enter into consideration.

Thank you brother. I will pray and look into this further. God bless you!

I have another question: Many have said that regardless of the adultery, God considers the first marriage binding. Where it states that the divorced woman, if she divorces her husband, is to remain unmarried or else be reconciled to him, is because she is bound by the law to him until he dies. I am aware that adultery through fornication is ground for the husband to leave his wife and marry another, but it would seem that the Scriptures do not grant this same right to the wife. She is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. To say that she has the right to marry again would contradict that Scripture as Paul gives no provision from the Lord that in such cases the wife is ever unbound from her first husband apart from him dying.

Secondly, I have no idea whether she divorced him, or whether he divorced her. Until now, I had never known she had another husband. All I know is that at the time, God told me not to marry her, but I didn't take heed. I didn't understand why He told me not to marry her -- I was younger then. The other problem is that she is unwilling to talk to me at this point. We discussed many things concerning the past, and upon the end of those conversations, she made it clear that she would not speak to me any more about it. I believe she is involved with another man at present. What would you suggest I do to find out the truth? This is the same woman who has never told me that she was married before. I am not even sure if she would even respond to any request to speak to her, or whether or not she would tell me the truth of things if she did respond. Any suggestions?

The idea that only a husband can divorce his wife is false.

"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).

I know of the argument that chorizo (leave or depart) is not the same as aphiemi (put away or divorce). But notice that a woman who leaves her husband enters the state of being unmarried. Thus, chorizo and aphiemi are synonyms talking about the same thing, but differ in regards to who retains possession of the household.

"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 10:11-12).

Both verses prove that wives divorcing their husbands was possible. The exception clause in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9 apply equally to both a husband or a wife since Mark 10:11-12 is the parallel account of Matthew 19:9. The reason the male gender is because the initial question was framed using the male gender: "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" (Matthew 19:3). Since the topic is one spouse divorcing the other, if you use the male gender for the example, then the other is automatically the female. Mark 10:11-12 shows that the initiator fo the divorce can be the husband or the wife. Therefore, the exception clause in Matthew 19:9 must be understood as applying to either the husband or the wife. In the same way, while Paul gives the details using the wife as the example in I Corinthians 7:10-11, but because he ends with the statement that the husband is not to divorce his wife it implies that the same exception given before to the wife also applies to the husband.

Since you found the divorce decree, I assume you know the name of her first husband. If you can locate him, you could always ask him. If that isn't possible, then you'll just have to assume she didn't have the right to remarry, which explains why she lied about her past, and leave the matter to the Lord. You're currently doing the best you can with what little you know.

I am most grateful for your time and help with this. I have literally tried the best that I can to handle this matter from a scriptural standpoint, despite the stress of it all. I have been living in fear and anxiety every day, sleepless, and stressed for fear I would lose my family over a woman I endured so much grief and dishonesty with.

As you said, it is in the Lord's hand and I am trusting Him every day to help me to be holy and to be right in His eyesight. I thank you again for your sound response. You have helped me greatly. God has been helping me to be at peace as well, but I admit I have been stressing so much because I wanted to be in line with God's word in every aspect of my life. I love God first and foremost, and my family next. I would never want to put myself or my wife in a position to be in opposition to God, His word, or His will. Again, I thank the Lord Jesus Christ, and you, his servant for all of your help. God bless you brother.