Christians and Divorce
by Amigo’s Place
God hates it (Mal. 2:16) and it’s a destructive institution, especially when children are involved. I have seen children really hurt by divorce; some even blame themselves for their parents’ actions. Despite the damage divorce causes, in some cases it must be even more destructive to remain married. So divorce is allowed as detailed Matthew 19:9, only in cases of unrepentant adultery* or abandonment. The innocent party in a divorce is free to remarry; the one that caused the divorce through their actions are not to remarry, that is considered adultery (Luke 16:18).
Is it an unpardonable sin?
What about Christians who by remarrying commit adultery? Adulterers aren’t supposed to make it to eternal life with God, as they are counted among the unrighteous (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians. 5:19-21). Yet I don’t believe that adultery is an unpardonable sin. Since we are told to confess our sins to receive forgiveness (I John 1:9), the acts described in Corinthians and Galatians must refer to those who are unsaved and whose sins are not covered by the blood of Christ.
So if by remarrying in certain cases is adultery, yet it is not a continuing sin, even though the married state is? If it is continuing, the person committing it is dead in his sin and without hope. To escape unpardonable territory, God would have to see the adulterous remarriage as a single sin event and not a continuing one. Plus marriage is considered to be better than to burn with lust for the opposite sex. (I Corinthians 7:9).
So this sin is forgivable, though I doubt God will forget to woodshed you for your disobedience. None of the other sins mentioned in Corinthians is fixable while the state of that sin remains the same (marriage can fix the fornication, but that changes the relationship from unmarried to married). Idolaters, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners are sinners that must turn away from their sin and turn to God.
What about church discipline and the Christian who divorces their spouse without just cause? Let’s say that a Christian husband divorces his wife, even after being counseled against that action. The church even follows the steps of discipline and boots the guy out from the congregation for the divorce (Matt 18:15-17 and I Corinthians 5: 1-8). The hope is that the man will repent from his sin and return to his wife.
A short period of time later the fellow shows up with a new wife (the real reason he left his first wife) and now says he’s sorry and wants to rejoin the fellowship. Does the church accept him back? He went against the church’s counsel and divorced his wife to enter into an adulterous relationship with another woman.
If repentance means to turn away from the sin, what has the man turned from? By admitting his action as wrong and that now he’s sorry?
He says he’s remorseful, and if he were to leave the present wife, that would destroy the new marriage. Plus, it’s also adultery if you remarry a spouse you divorced who then married someone else (and is now somehow available to marry again). I know we are to forgive, but somehow to take him back appears to me as condoning his behavior.
Yet I know that whatever sins I confess today, unless I die right afterwards, I will likely again confess some of these same sins later in my life. And God promises to forgive my sins if I confess them. So as an act of forgiveness, we are to accept the fellow and his new wife back into the congregation. I guess we leave the woodshedding of the fellow and his new wife up to God, as He will discipline His own.
* Where an adulterous spouse sees no wrong in their actions and will not stop committing adulterous acts. If your spouse commits adultery and asks for forgiveness, as Christians we are told to forgive. Doesn’t seem fair, but God promises to forgive our sins if we confess them. Plus, Jesus was punished for our sin, the ultimate in unfairness.
You are not required to divorce, it is an option. You also have the option to be patient and forgiving. Hosea put up with Gomer; God didn’t tell Hosea to put her away.