During a recent web search, I came across an article in Christianity Today "Is My Remarriage a Sin? that included the following concern.
“I just recently became a Christian. Both my husband and I are divorced and remarried. So, according to Matthew 5:31-32, are we living in sin—committing adultery? Somehow I find it hard to believe that God would want us to divorce each other and return to our previous spouses. And in any case, we can't—they're each remarried. I so want to please God … but this really concerns me.”
Here is an example of typical response for many who entered into a “remarriage” after divorce. They become a believer and after reading scripture such as Matthew 5:32,32, 19:9; Mark 10:11,12 and Luke 16:18 there is this strong conviction that their divorce and remarriage is a concern. What usually happens is that the Holy Spirit convicts them that their remarriage is not a marriage and they seek answers on what to do next. In this particular case, the reader asks the writers of Christianity today for discernment.
The writer in this particular case gives this advice…
“In your case, I think the answer is fairly straightforward. Two wrongs don't make a right; a second divorce isn't the answer. Christians may disagree about whether or not it is appropriate for a divorced believer to remarry—and under what circumstances. Each one of us has to seek God, study the Scriptures, and make our own peace with the issue. But once it's done, sin or not, like many choices we've made in the past, it can't be undone. All we can do is confess our part in the failures of the past, repent, and determine in our hearts to do everything we can to walk in obedience with God today. That includes making every effort to make your present marriage everything that God intended marriage to be—at its best, a beautiful reflection of the love Christ has for His church (Eph. 5:21-33).
This seems like a very good response and many in the professing church would not argue with this response. In fact, many professing Christians use this same rational to defend their own divorce and remarriages. However, is this response according to God‘s word or is this response according to what seems right in the writer’s own eyes?
I believe it is necessary to take the response to this concern and break it down with God’s word. First off, I will agree that two wrongs do not make a right… However…
We first have to assume in this case that the “two wrongs” are according to God’s word. Both the concerned reader and the responding writer make it known through conviction of the reader and the application of the responder that the first divorce was wrong. This is a very important assessment. This is not the concern; the concern is the “other” wrong in believing it is wrong to divorce from a “remarriage.”
Both the concerned reader and the responding writer both assume a “second” marriage or in this case, a “remarriage” after divorce of a living spouse is a valid marriage according to God. Yet, scripture tells us otherwise. For the sake of the concerned reader, we will stick with Matthew 5:31, 32.
Matthew 5:31 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
Notice in verse 32 that a husband that divorces his wife “causes” her to commit adultery. Notice too in this verse that one "commits" adultery when remarrying a divorced wife. We should therefore reason that "adultery" can only be committed if a husband and wife are still married in the first place. Therefore, anyone that marries a woman divorced by his wife commits adultery. Notice the text does not say, “Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced is in a valid marriage.” We need to discern the difference between a lawful marriage according to God and an unlawful marriage according to culture. The best example we have of an unlawful marriage is in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark 6:17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her. 18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.
If we notice here in these passages, John calls Herod’s marriage to Herodias “unlawful”. It was a marriage according to the standards of that particular culture; however, this marriage was unlawful from John’s perspective. Historians believe Herodias divorced Philip to “remarry” Herod Antipas.
What is important to note is why John believed this marriage was unlawful and how does this particular instance relate to other passages in scripture concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage. The word “marriage” in these passages relate to “unlawful” or “lawful” marriages. In the case of Mark 6:18, Herod’s marriage to Herodias was unlawful. Thus we can conclude that “all” marriages after divorce of a living spouse are not lawful marriages. This certainly corroborates with Matthew 5:32 since Jesus calls “remarriage” after divorcing a living spouse "adultery".
Thus, we can conclude that the responding writer is in error by making the concerned reader believe that a “remarriage” is a valid marriage recognized by God. Certainly, we can conclude that a “remarriage” after a divorce of a living spouse is not only unlawful; it is unfortunately readily acceptable by the majority of the western world. This should be a major concern today, yet as we see from the results of this article, remarriage is not only acceptable; the professing church readily approves these “culturally acceptable” remarriages.
The responding writer continues with this….
“Each one of us has to seek God, study the Scriptures, and make our own peace with the issue. But once it's done, sin or not, like many choices we've made in the past, it can't be undone. All we can do is confess our part in the failures of the past, repent, and determine in our hearts to do everything we can to walk in obedience with God today.”
This response is fatally irresponsible and lacks true biblical discernment in not only the validity of marriage, but also for a lack of knowledge in the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. If a person “chooses” to have peace believing that he or she can remain in what God calls adultery, will this not have a profound impact on his or her eternal destiny and not to mention, his or her witness to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit through the word of God or do we seek validation from emotions, feelings, and other sources?
Repentance of sin means to do a 180 by declaring that “remarriage” is a sin. This would include a total divorce of “remarriage adultery”. Instead, this responding writer gives the concerned reader the idea that his or her “remarriage” is valid, approved, and sanctified by God. God does not sanctify unforgiveness and unrepentance of divorce to proceed to enter into a remarriage of adultery. Obedience to God is trusting in His word and remaining faithful to His commandments and His promises. In this case, thou shall not commit and remain in remarriage adultery thus remaining single so that God can work in the lives of the disobedient.
Remarriage is not a marriage in the Lord. Remarriage is adultery and remains adultery until dissolved. The concerned reader errors into believing that his or her ‘remarriage” is lawful, and then doubly errors believing that the spouse whom they divorced are in lawful “remarriages”. He or she should be very concerned. In fact, I believe the Holy Spirit convicts everyone who seeks to remarry after divorce. Take it from someone convicted by the word of God and then sought council from someone else such as the responding writer of Christianity Today. I too believed it was “ok” to remarry a divorced woman. I too was dead wrong.
In conclusion, two wrongs do not make a right…only repentance from sin through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ makes us a child of God. If those two wrongs are not first believing divorce from a first covenant marriage was the first wrong, and the second wrong is believing remarriage is a lawful marriage ordained by God, then it is time to make things right. There is hope for the remarried adulterer. Repentance is dissolving the remarriage and making others known that you no longer trust man’s definition of marriage, divorce and remarriage. This may be the hardest act of faith you will ever have to do in your life. Nevertheless, faith is required for all those who believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of humankind; He is also the Bridegroom to His bride, the church. Marriage is His design and to enter into or exit out of must be according to His way, or no way at all.
Eph 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
In Christ’s love,