A sad and complex situation


This is sad and complicated.

Katie married Joe, and neither were previously married. It is unknown if they were believers. Katie and Joe divorced. The reason is unknown, but it is rumored to be because Joe didn’t want kids. Katie had a child with Ken before her divorce from Joe was final.

Katie later married Tom. Tom was not previously married.

Tom met Hannah, who was not previously married. Tom and Hannah, both believers, engaged in sexual relations during his marriage to Katie. Katie and Tom divorced because of this.

Tom and Hannah got married. Tom and Hannah got divorced. It was a mutual decision due to frequent arguing and stonewalling with no lasting change from counseling. Neither have remarried, but both have engaged in sexual relations with other people after their divorce.

  • Can Tom and Hannah remarry each other?
  • Can Hannah remarry someone else?
  • Are Tom and Hannah to remain unmarried for life?
  • Is it a sin to divorce from an adulterous marriage?
  • Was Tom and Hannah’s marriage adulterous?


Whether someone is a Christian or not doesn't matter. All people are accountable to Christ's law. If not, there would be no sin. The claim that those involved are Christians just makes their sins worse because they are knowingly violating the laws of their Lord.

The marriage of Katie and Joe appears to have ended due to Katie committing adultery. If she had a child before the divorce was final (which typically takes about six months), then she was committing adultery before the divorce was filed.

Katie would then not have a right to a second marriage, and Tom's marriage to her would be considered adultery. "But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery" (Matthew 5:32).

This means that Tom and Hannah were committing fornication prior to their marriage. Since Tom's marriage was invalid due to adultery and Hannah had not been married before. Their marriage was valid. Because their divorce was not due to sexual sins with other people, neither are able to marry someone else. The fact that they are committing sexual sins after their divorce doesn't change anything. They ought to remarry each other, but that is up to them. "But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11).

If a marriage is adulterous, you can't fix the sin by remaining in the marriage. The only way to end the sin is to end the cause of the adultery, which means ending the marriage.

But there is a bigger issue that is being ignored. Tom and Hannah claim to be Christians while living worldly lives. "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). The church is required to withdraw from people who stubbornly remain in their sins. "I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one" (I Corinthians 5:11).


Thank you so much for your prompt reply!

Unfortunately, the exact reason for Katie and Joe’s divorce is unknown. Tom did not inquire deeply and thinks it was because Joe didn’t want kids. Katie did have a child with another man before the divorce from Joe was final, but it is not known if she got pregnant before the filing. I know God looks to the heart, so wouldn’t the real reason for the divorce be the actual reason the offended spouse chose to initiate the divorce? Example: if Katie had committed adultery, but their marriage was restored, but then Katie was simply disagreeable in personality, and that’s why Joe chose to divorce her, isn’t it unbiblical because the reason was actually for her attitude, not her repented adultery?

What if Katie did file for divorce from Joe bc he was adulterous (we do not know for sure), then had sex with someone else before their marriage legally ended? What prompted the divorce then would be Joe’s adultery. Would Katie be free to remarry?

So, because we do not know for sure the grounds for Katie and Joe’s divorce, we cannot know if it was biblical, so we cannot know if Katie and Tom’s marriage was valid, so we cannot know if Tom and Hannah’s marriage was valid. Is this correct? So Tom and Hannah cannot remarry each other because what if Katie and Tom’s marriage was valid (due to Joe’s infidelity and Katie filing for divorce bc of it)? If Katie and Tom’s marriage was valid, Tom and Hannah remarrying each other would be adulterous at this point, right?

So, it seems the best course of action is for no one to marry anyone in this situation. Is that right?

Neither Tom nor Hannah have engaged in sexual activity with anyone for at least nine months. Hannah is turning back to God, Who she has believed in since she can remember. She is exploring the Bible and its teachings in more depth. Sadly, divorce was all around Hannah as she was growing up -- parents, grandparents, aunts. The general belief was that people try their best, and God forgives them. Not to purposely sin, but that when you are sorrowful, God forgives. It’s a relatively new view for Hannah to see remarriages as continuous adultery. Hannah thought repentance was acknowledging the wrong before God and feeling godly sorrow over it, getting a second chance for a godly marriage, and honoring Him better this time. Hannah wants to get it right. But she also is deeply saddened that she and her daughter will live a life without a real family household. Hannah will teach her daughter more clearly about marriage so that her daughter does not suffer the heartache of making a mistake that ruins her earthly life and kills her dream of having a father figure in the home. What caused Tom and Hannah to divorce has not changed. They are more peaceful and kind to each other, living apart.


The difficulty in answering questions is that I must take the information presented and make an attempt to clarify the situation so that the Scriptures can be applied. As given, there are a large number of assumptions being made; therefore, you can't get precisely the right answer. In such situations, I attempt to show how the Scriptures are applied to the most likely situation.

No one seems to be sure why Katie and Joe divorced. I pointed out that there is evidence that Katie committed adultery. But let's assume that the divorce wasn't for adultery. Katie still would not have the right to marry again. You try to add an additional "monkey wrench" by supposing that it was Joe who committed adultery, but this supposition is made without evidence. The best anyone can do is work with the information given.

Based on that information, Tom and Hannah's marriage appears legitimate. It means neither can marry again unless their spouse proceeds them in death. Whether they remarry is up to Tom and Hannah. Yes, sin does have consequences. The commands for a husband and wife to live properly together are just as much a law to be followed as the law against lying, drunkness, or adultery. I hope they can resolve their differences, but if they choose not to, they choose to be single.

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