Hi, my name is Samantha. I am new to the group. My theological question requires a little bit of background explanation. In early August, my divorce will be finalized with my abusive husband. He was mentally, emotionally, and nearly physically abusive to me. Our entire relationship was predicated on lies. He was a con man along with being excessively jealous, controlling and angry. My pastor says that it’s ok with the Lord that I divorce such a man, but I have to remain single for the rest of my life. I cannot remarry. Otherwise, I commit adultery. I love the Lord with all that I am, but isn’t that rather harsh? Or I can go back to my abusive husband. This has come up for me because I have found a neighbor whose company I enjoy. He is kind, empathetic, funny, and respects me. He loves the Lord as well. Help! I need to know the truth about this situation.
King James Bible
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
I do not see divorce as the unforgivable sin. I have not read anywhere in the bible where it says that you cannot remarry. I am sure that God loves you and does not want to see you heart, so from my understanding it is not a sin to get a divorce, and if you do remarry make sure that you find a husband that loves and serves God. A husband that will love and treasure you, in return you also should do your very best to become that Proverbs 31 wife. Here again I do not claim to have all the answers.
In His Love Keith
Hey @samantha1 , firstly I’m so sorry to hear of your circumstances. I pray that you will find God’s restoration and healing within as you complete your divorce soon.
The best resource I’ve found on the topic of divorce and remarriage is this 3 hour Bible study by Mike Winger.
For the sake of brevity, I just wanted to summarise some of his points pertinent to your question.
The synoptic gospels all address divorce. The Jewish culture at the time permitted divorce ‘for any reason’. Jesus’ teachings are to draw the Jews back to the idea of marriage for life unless there is a justified reason to divorce. As @keith3 pointed out, even God allows for an exception to the rule occasionally. Certain circumstances of adultery or abuse are the exception to the rule.
I think that your pastor is referencing Matt 5:32 when he suggests that you’d be committing adultery if you remarried. It seems that remarriage is considered as adultery because in culture, both then and now, it was so easy for a married person to start finding another person more attractive than their current spouse. It is often easy for another person to start fulfilling the spouse role outside of the marriage. To divorce and then remarry in this instance would be adultery.
I liked how this video goes a bit deeper though. Taking a look at 1 Cor 7:15, we see that Paul is permitting an unbelieving spouse to leave the marriage if they so choose, which leaves the believing spouse free - ‘a brother or a sister is not bound in such cases’. This seems to allow for remarriage. In the situation of abuse, as you’ve suffered, there is a comparison that the abuser is the one to have broken the marriage vows. They haven’t come under the church’s guidance on this, haven’t repented of their behaviour, and haven’t submitted to Christ. They are, therefore, as the unbelieving spouse of 1 Cor 7:15 in this situation. Their behaviour and lack of repentance permits the abused spouse to be free after divorce to remarry.
Mike Winger explores the issue of abuse within marriage at this section of the video which I’ve hopefully linked at 2:08:25 in:
I know this answer is fairly brief considering the weight of the topic, but I hope it starts some helpful study of scripture for you. I know that none of this is easy, especially when it’s not a theoretical discussion but a reality for you. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on this.
I grieve the suffering you’ve endured in an abusive marriage. It sounds like a very tangled and painful situation. His abuse and habitual lying reveal that he is not a Christian, whatever he might say about any faith.
I would read 1 Corinthians 7:10-16 to say that, through his abuse, he has revealed himself to be an unbeliever who has effectively left the marriage covenant. I think in this case, you are called to live in peace.
So I support your decision to get a divorce and free yourself from him.
Whether remarriage after divorce is allowed or forbidden, you can find theologians who argue for both positions. It is a difficult ethical question.
One of the primary reasons that it is so hard to resolve is the very high value that the Scriptures place upon marriage as a lifelong bond. So there are many discouragements against adultery, divorce, and remarriage.
Think about it this way. Imagine a selfish man who doesn’t like his wife. It’s not a good reason; he simply wants to get rid of her. He has the money, the power, and the ability to do so. Perhaps he is also having an affair with someone more to his preferences. So he conjures up a reason to divorce her and marry his paramour. To protect his first wife, the Scriptures want to guard against this. Especially in the social context for the people in the Bible, to be an unmarried adult woman was extremely vulnerable, as there were very few economic opportunities available to someone in this situation. It was even worse to be a divorced adult woman. Any good Biblical ethics will see the ethical value and importance of protecting the vulnerable from how they can be harmed by the strong.
Perhaps the main passage to wrestle with is Matthew 19:3-9.
Dr. William Heth, a professor of New Testament and Greek at Taylor University, explains the majority view of evangelical scholars on this passage like this:
Matthew sees Jesus as explaining the meaning of the law. Deuteronomy’s “some indecency” = Matthew’s “sexual immorality.” In the OT, divorce for “some indecency” identified a legally valid divorce. Valid divorces always included the right to remarry. Jesus demotes Moses’ concession in Deuteronomy and subordinates it to Genesis, but valid divorces are God’s permissive will for some innocent victims of divorce.
You can find his entire article here: http://d3pi8hptl0qhh4.cloudfront.net/documents/sbjt/sbjt_2002spring2.pdf
I think you (and possibly your pastor) might find this article helpful as Dr. Heth carefully works through the various texts on this question. In addition, he formerly argued for your pastor’s position that remarriage is never allowed after divorce, but years of study on the subject led him to change his mind to what most evangelical theologians teach.
Finally, from a place of brotherly care, as a general principle, it seems that it could be wise to have some time to heal and be whole before moving into another relationship or even marriage.
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