Divorce, Remarriage & Adultery

I have been married 3 times. My first divorce was not caused by sexual immorality, death, or even one being an unbeliever (well, maybe I was because I wasn’t saved). Am I living in sin as an adulterer now with my current husband and causing him to live as an adulterer as well? Thank you for your comments.


Thank you for your letter. I’ve been thinking about your question; it’s a difficult question and requires time and prayer. Sin is a complex subject. (Let me take a moment to recommend Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga. It is highly helpful.) The Bible does say that remarrying after divorce is adultery (Matt 5 & 19). We must consider the context. Especially in Matthew 19, Jesus is talking to those who knew the Law and were trying to trap him in its technicalities. Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus was, and is, interested in the heart of the law; that is, God’s heart and ours. This complicates things. It’s much simpler to keep things on the page in black and white and to use the law to suit our purposes.

Consider Jesus’ two most common responses to those in the Bible who knew they were sinners: 1) “Repent and believe.” 2) “Go and sin no more.” He says this over and over and over. It sounds as though you’re just now coming across this passage in Scripture (whether it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it or the first time it’s ever struck your heart, which is really like reading it for the first time, isn’t it?). You can’t undo your past, but you can move forward with God through repentance. God hates divorce [however…], so he certainly doesn’t want you to divorce your current husband because he isn’t your first husband. Right now you may be living in adultery, but with God’s forgiveness you won’t be. All you have to do to receive God’s forgiveness is ask. Are you convicted by this Scripture? Repent and believe in Christ Jesus. Christ forgives you. Go and sin no more! Stay with your current husband; don’t get divorced and remarried ever again; move forward with God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Love your husband and love God (don’t just receive God’s forgiveness and then forget about him!) for this is the greatest commandment:

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Do you have other questions? Feel free to write again.

With affection in our Lord,


I cannot thank you enough for the insight. Yes, I had read this passage before, but I guess now that I am living for Christ it really hit home! Praise the Lord! I have repented and asked the Lord’s forgiveness and believe He has forgiven. Thank you so very much. God bless you.


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7 Responses to Divorce, Remarriage & Adultery

  1. Brian says:

    Excellent answer, Renea. Faithful to scripture in both conviction of sin and forgiveness. Thank you.

  2. Jacob says:

    “There is, to be sure, forgiveness for those who have committed adultery, divorced, and remarried.

    But there is forgiveness only in the way of repentance. And true repentance never goes on happily in the sin repented of (i.e. sleeping with another man’s wife) but rather breaks with the sin, whatever the cost…

    Grace calls and empowers the forgiven sinner to walk in holiness of life. The divorced man may not remarry. Grace will enable him to live a single life.

    Grace calls those who are already remarried to stop living in that state that Jesus describes in Matthew 19:9, Mark 10:11-12 and Luke 16:18 as continual adultery.

    Grace will enable the repentant, pardoned adulterer and adulteress to do this. It is the very nature of the grace of repentance itself that the sinner breaks with the sin that he sorrows over and confesses.

    The penitent brings forth works worthy of repentance .Only this repentance is genuine. Only this repentance finds forgiveness with God, regardless of what the churches may say.” –Professor David Engelsma

    • reneamac says:

      Here’s the timeline: 1)Marriage 2)Divorce 3)Remarriage 4)Conversion

      The remarriage has already happened. Now what? How does the sinner make it right now? What does grace require now?

    • Yvonne says:

      David Engelsma argues illogically, and this idea of leaving a remarriage is wrong. It clearly conflicts with Paul’s express teaching to remain in whatever marital state you are in at conversion (1 Cor.7, 17, 20), without qualification.

      David Engelsma argues that the exception clause applies only to divorce and that to remarry would be perpetual adultery (not supported in the grammar of the text in Matthew). What he has not considered, and which renders his view false to my mind, is that Jesus would not be saying ”don’t divorce, because it causes perpetual adultery”, then say ”ok, you can divorce for sexual immorality/ temporal adultery”, which would of course then put your divorced offending spouse in the position of taking the legal right to remarry, and end up in ‘perpetual adultery’. It is an illogical and monstrous conclusion to suggest a remarriage should end. What an enormous guilt trip to lay on someone who is repentant and wants to follow the Lord.

      • reneamac says:

        Agreed, Yvonne. Thank you for your calm and rational resopnse to something that only made me angry.

  3. Pingback: Adultery and Divorce (Matthew 5:31-32) « Anchor for the Soul

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