I asked you another question about a year ago and it was very helpful in my spiritual life, so I thought I would ask again. I understand that divorce/remarriage are only allowed in cases of adultery. I am in a serious relationship with a Christian lady who was divorced after adultery. However, I recently found out she was considering forgiving him for adultery, but then immediately got out after he began abusing her and attempted to kill her (so she never had the chance). She told me “that was the kicker”. (He then began stalking her after they separated.) Some Bible translations seem to say that divorce is only okay “for fornication”, but others say “in case of fornication”. Would I be okay to eventually marry her? As I see it now, the adultery was part of their downfall, but it was not necessarily the main reason for their divorce. Thank you!
Thanks for writing. We are glad you find Probe Ministries a consistently reliable source, as well as a safe place to ask your questions. That’s one of our major goals here as we aim to encourage the Body of Christ to think biblically about the whole of their lives. Your question is a difficult one. Many interpret the passages you referenced (namely Mt 5, which is repeated nearly word-for-word in Mt 19) in such a way as to say divorce is justified or okay in the case of adultery. But what Jesus is simply saying is that when we get divorced, we make ourselves and our spouses adulterers—except in the case of adultery (which is a form of fornication or sexual immorality), because you can’t make someone an adulterer who has already committed adultery. Does that make sense? Jesus goes on to say that if you marry/unite yourself with an adulterer (which includes a divorced man or woman), you too now have become an adulterer. The Message helps us un-muddy the water:
Adultery and Divorce
27-28“You know the next commandment pretty well, too: ‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed. Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body. Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.29-30“Let’s not pretend this is easier than it really is. If you want to live a morally pure life, here’s what you have to do: You have to blind your right eye the moment you catch it in a lustful leer. You have to choose to live one-eyed or else be dumped on a moral trash pile. And you have to chop off your right hand the moment you notice it raised threateningly. Better a bloody stump than your entire being discarded for good in the dump.
31-32“Remember the Scripture that says, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him do it legally, giving her divorce papers and her legal rights’? Too many of you are using that as a cover for selfishness and whim, pretending to be righteous just because you are ‘legal.’ Please, no more pretending. If you divorce your wife, you’re responsible for making her an adulteress (unless she has already made herself that by sexual promiscuity). And if you marry such a divorced adulteress, you’re automatically an adulterer yourself. You can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure.
So Jesus never justifies divorce; essentially, divorce is never right. BUT, we live in a world of necessary evil at times, and divorce as a result of abuse and adultery can often be one of those times. James calls true religion one of defending and protecting the weak, helping the helpless, sheltering the outcast (1:27). Your being able to provide real husbandly love and protection like Christ provides the Church (Eph 5) very well may be a major part of God’s path of redemption and healing and restoration in this woman’s life.
Without knowing you and the woman you’re dating and your situation personally, I cannot recommend you marry someone who has been divorced. I advise you to seek wise and godly counsel from a very select few who will be honest with you. Open yourself up to the Holy Spirit—surrender and be completely open to whatever he might say—and decide: in this case, which course of action is the redemptive course for God’s namesake and the good of those whom he loves (you and the woman you love).
I hope that is helpful. I know it is difficult.
With Christ’s affection,