A reader asks (condensed):
I have spoken to many Pastors hear different answers about my situation: raised as Catholic… never new the meaning of Christ. I was married at 21 im going to a non believer… he cheated, I cheated… divorced. Years later we get back together… he cheated, I cheated… divorced.
In 2009, I accepted Christ and was truly saved… asked my ex-husband for forgiveness. I’ve been told I cannot remarry because I was unequally yoked, because I am divorced. I want to marry a Christian man and do all things for the glory of God and honor him in my new marriage but I want to make sure I’m obeying God’s Word. I want to feel comfortable about this issue.
First, I rarely write an answer to make someone feel “comfortable”. I want you to be CONFIDENT that you know God’s Word, and if not, I WANT you to be uncomfortable. However, I appreciate that you are interested in obedience to the degree that you are seeking out good counsel instead of just doing what you feel like doing. Before we are genuinely saved, we have no choice but to act like sinners and ignore God’s commandments. When you become a Christian, you are responsible to do what God leads you to do as a new Christian from that moment on.
Divorce is allowed for Christians for 2 reasons: abandonment and adultery. Both occurred in your marriage by both of you BEFORE you were saved. You were acting like what you were: UNSAVED. Now, as a Christian, you have two responsibilities: 1) do what God’s Word says, and 2) do what God leads you to do by your Spirit-led conscience.
You are divorced. God hates divorce. You did that as an unsaved person, a slave to sin. You are now a Christian. My pastoral advice is for you to first consider this: is there any chance that my previous marriage can be reconciled into a CHRISTIAN marriage? If he is remarried, then the answer is an easy “no”. Otherwise, you would not want to remarry him as a non-Christian because then you are certainly “unequally yoked” to an unbeliever. God never tells us to commit sin in order to obey another command or correct previous sin. So, if your ex-husband is now a Christian too (and never remarried), and wants to reconcile as Christians in Christian marriage, then I would say that is your first consideration.
If that is not possible, then your responsibility is now to have God’s mind and God’s heart about marriage. You could not have that as an unsaved person. You were incapable of it, and with regards to “Christian living” not responsible to live that way. Now you can and must. So if you remarry, you must remarry a sincere and authentic Christian only. BUT… and there’s always a “but”… you have to listen to your conscience. If God is saying clearly in your heart “no, do not remarry” then you have to be willing to obey God’s voice. I am telling you what I believe is the Truth objectively on the “outside”. Only you can know what God is saying INSIDE your heart. Remember, as a Christian our priorities are this: 1) obey God’s Word… 2) obey our conscience that is in harmony with God’s Word and led by the Holy Spirit.
I do not believe the Bible prohibits you from remarriage at this point because you were unsaved when you sinned in your previous marriage. We can expect nothing more from sinners than SIN. We cannot bind God’s commands to Christians on the unsaved. They are incapable of keeping them. Yes, they are accountable to God’s law in the sense they will be condemned for their sin if they reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ… but in the daily Christian life, we only become responsible to follow Christian teaching once we become a Christian (that is the issue of salvation not sanctification). We certainly still have consequences to deal with from our unsaved life after we become a Christian, but I find nothing in Scripture that tells us the principles/commands for the Christian life are binding and consequential to anyone BEFORE they become Christians (past the issue of being saved or not saved, heaven or hell).
You are a Christian now. Learn God’s commands by reading the Bible and do them. Obedience is the primary indicator of authentic salvation. Pray, and learn to follow your Spirit-led conscience (ie. don’t do something you KNOW God is saying “no” about…). Your responsibility as a Christian is to start RIGHT NOW doing what God tells you to do which involves learning His Word, praying and obedience.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.