Question:

Dear Jeffrey,

I committed adultery with a married woman while I was married to my wife.  I told my wife, and she forgave me.  Is our marriage still right with God, or do I have to terminate our marriage?

Answer:

"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery" (Matthew 19:9).

Jesus' statement is not a requirement. The basic statement is that if two conditions are met then adultery occurs. Those two conditions are:

  1. Divorce that is not because of fornication on the spouse's part
  2. Marrying another person

While the innocent spouse may choose to divorce the spouse who is committing adultery, it is not a requirement. In fact, the better situation would be for the spouse who committed adultery to repent of his sins and return to faithfulness to God and his spouse. Sadly some people will not leave their sin and in such a case the other spouse has the option to end the marriage.

In the same way, just because a person decides to end his marriage, there is no requirement that they get married again.  The general rule is that they must remain unmarried (I Corinthians 7:10-11) until they can reconcile with their spouse. The only way they can marry again and that marriage not be adultery is because the divorce was due to fornication on the other spouse's part.

Response:

Thank you.

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