Question:

I want to help my sister in Christ. 

Situation:  A woman cheats on her husband.  Husband says he forgives her and stays with her for 10 years after the adultery.  Over the 10 years, the husband never really gets over the infidelity. He eventually files for divorce and divorces his wife of almost 20 years for fornication that she committed 10 years ago. (I am uncertain if she ever cheated again.) However, he also cheats during the 10 years.  Matter of fact weeks before divorce is over.  He has now met a Christian that he wants to marry.  Is he free to marry again?  If the Christian marries him is she in adultery?  There are no innocent parties in this marriage, but the divorce was for the right reason. Are they free to marry? I understand according to Matthew 19, if the divorce had been for the wrong reason they would be both labeled adulterers and whoever they marry. But since they got the divorce for fornication, the only biblical reason for divorce, are they free to remarry?

Thank you for answering this.  I just need a Bible answer.  I have read scriptures, but she is actually looking for verses that state guilty party can not be remarried.  I can not find that.

Would appreciate your help.


Answer:

At the core of this problem is a lie. The husband claims to have forgiven his wife, he remains with her for ten years, and then claims he never got over her infidelity. His actions show that he did forgive his wife. Therefore, her sin is over and done with as that is what forgiveness means.

Meanwhile, he has been committing adultery and there is no mention of him seeking forgiveness for his sins. Given today's allowance for a no-fault divorce, I always look at the reasons the divorce is taking place, not who filed for divorce. This man has been committing adultery. He is leaving his marriage to marry someone else. "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). Notice that the exception clause is for someone who commits adultery, not for someone who at one time in the distant past had committed adultery. In the situation you describe, it is the man who is committing adultery, not the woman.

He has no 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). Anyone marrying him would be participating in his adultery. "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18).

The wife, because she was forgiven of her past sin, is innocent in this case. If he goes thorough with the divorce, she does have the option of marrying again.

Thank you for this response.  Both in the situation (married) are not Christians.  The man now divorced want to establish a relationship with a single eligible Christian.  The  Christian is seeking bible authority to marry this man (in case the relationship grows).   Her premise is the following:

  • He was not a Christian at the time. (he still isn’t)
  • Because he got a divorce (supposedly) for fornication (the only reason for  scriptural divorce) he is free to re-marry.
  • Even though he committed the same sin as his wife 10 years ago, it doesn’t matter because she (his wife) broke the bond (with her sexual immorality). Regardless to the fact that he stayed with his family 10 years, and I'm sure with sexual relationship with his wife.
  • Her thing is can’t he be forgiven,  I answered yes, but forgiveness does not equal eligibility for marriage. And most of all he has not been forgiven yet; he is not a Christian.
  • She struggles and feels as though the Bible is silent here or that there is a grey area.
  • So she feels that once he is baptized (assuming she can convert him) his sin of adultery and I guess his whole past marriage of 20 years are erased?  Are the kids erased too?  I am  so sad about this.

The other thing that her premise does is give everyone the right to cheat and get a divorce (right reason doesn’t matter who is guilty) and remarry.  She is looking for  a verse that says the guilty party cannot remarry.

The assumption is that God's laws do not apply to non-Christians. If that were the case, then no one should become Christian because then they would have to follow the rules. But the whole idea is absurd. Non-Christians are in sin (Romans 3:23). You cannot have sin without law. "Sin is not imputed when there is no law" (Romans 5:13). Sin is the breaking of law (I John 3:4). Therefore, non-Christians and Christians alike are under the same law. The only difference is one group cares.

There is also a false assumption that fornication ends a marriage. Jesus said that there was an allowance for divorce not a requirement. "He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 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 19:8-8). The man chose not to divorce his wife 10 years ago. That is the end of that matter. He has been committing adultery since that time and there is no mention of his seeking forgiveness from his wife or from God.

The Bible is quite clear about these matters. The problem isn't the Bible, it is her stubbornness regarding wanting to marry an adulterer. She is looking for someone to validate what she wants to do. She isn't interested in the truth. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4).

If this man becomes a Christian, it will wash away his past sins. However, it won't make the sins he is currently involved in suddenly sinless. To marry a man who has been committing adultery and who divorced his wife so he can marry another is to be in adultery. "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery" (Luke 16:18). That will remain true so long as his first wife lives. "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).

The man can remarry. He'll be in adultery and whoever marries him will be in adultery, but he can remarry. Just as people can tell lies, steal, and commit murder. None of those are acceptable to God. Continuing in them will keep you out of heaven, but it still remains that many people love sin more than they love God.