Question:

I have a multitude of questions that seem to be troubling me:

I have been married to my wife for many years now and we have a child. She was previously married and divorced but not for any adulterous or fornication reasons. It was due to drug addiction on behalf of the former husband. After reading your web site, I've come to the conclusion that by my marrying her (my first marriage), we both are living an adulterous lifestyle. Are you saying that the remedy for true repentance is for me to get a divorce from her to get right with God?

Second question to a troubled mind:

To add to the confusion, several years ago, my wife and I were on the verge of divorce and I had committed adultery with two separate women.I came to Jesus Christ last year and have asked for forgiveness. I have truly repented from my wrong doings, I went and got baptized and I know in my heart I will never do this again, but my wife does not know, so should I tell her for the condition of my salvation?

My motive for not telling her is to maintain the marriage for God's sake, for my child's sake, and I do still love her and truly desire to make the marriage whole again. However, according to your website, by me marrying her in the first place, I was already committing adultery in the eyes of God and so does trying to salvage this marriage have any meaning?

I have truly repented from my wrong doing (willfully sinning against God) but what about my ignorance in marrying my wife in the first place.

Please help, I want to do the right thing, but most importantly I want please God and know that my sins are forgiven through the blood of Christ.


Answer:

The fact remains that Jesus gave only one exception that allows for remarriage and that is a divorce due to sexual sins on the part of the other partner. "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). Your wife did not have a right to a second marriage. The rule for her was to remain unmarried. "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 her first husband passes away, then she can remarry then (Romans 7:2-3).

I'm sorry that you two have been living in adultery and worse that a child came about from your mistake. But to be a Christian means not accepting and living in sin. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-10). Being baptized after the fact does not change the fact that your relationship with your wife is still adulterous because of what she did.

Your involvement with other women was also sinful. I'm glad you repented of them. There is no requirement that such sin must be confessed to everyone in order to be forgiven. The one who must be told is God (I John 1:9). The only time I recommend telling a spouse about your sins is when that spouse is likely to find out anyway. It is better to hear it from you than others. But typically the motivation for telling a spouse is the idea that they need to be punished for their sins and that is the wrong motivation. It only leads to the destruction of the marriage. See: Should I tell my husband that I committed adultery? and Do I need to confess my adultery to my wife?

So what is the remedy, to divorce my wife?

The only solution to sin is to stop doing it. Since the marriage is adulterous, the only solution is to end the marriage. I agree that it is a hard solution. "His disciples said to Him, "If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry." But He said to them, "All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it"" (Matthew 19:10-12).

While you and I might wish things were different, I am restricted to only teach what the Lord commands (I Peter 4:11).

I had mentioned in my prior email to you that my wife was married before and got divorced. You provided Scripture that stated that my existing marriage was unlawful, and we were committing adultery. To my painful surprise, this all made scriptural sense (Mathew 19:9, Mark 10:12 as examples). However, I just discovered that my wife never married the man. Sshe got pregnant by him when she was in her teens and they cohabitated, but there never was an actual wedding ceremony or vows. My question is, does this mean that I do not need to divorce my wife, I can remain married and know we are not living in sin? I'm not at all trying find some scriptural "loophole," but these are the facts. Please advise. Thank you.

In the past your wife was committing fornication on an on-going basis. Marriage is based on a covenant (Malachi 2:14), and she never entered into a marriage with this man. Based on those facts you are legitimately married to your wife.