Churches Of Christ/Perpetual Adultery
I was raised in the Church of Christ also and left it when I left home 44 years ago. I was married to someone for almost 25 years and then divorced. Have now been happily married for almost 17 years to a Christian man. Ok here are my concerns, Normally I am ok with why the divorce took place but from time to time, my mother, a very devout Church of Christ that refuses to look at any scripture in any way but her own, writes me all the time telling me I am going to hell and living in sin. This has been our battle from day one. With the first husband it was because he was Catholic.......I digress, My ex husband had a girlfriend for many months and was going to leave me with our three children. He said he did not sleep with his girlfriend but he lied about so many things in our life, and still does to this day, that I could not believe him. His co-workers told me he and his girlfriend were gone several hours most afternoons and when she went to a new job, he followed her..When he decided not to leave us he never said he was sorry, just that he did not want me to bring it up again. I saw his girlfriend at his work place one day and she gave me a harsh look like you would expect that she was unhappy with me getting him back. I should have gone to her in the beginning but I was very insecure then and afraid. I just wanted my family back with me. Moving forward 8 years.......he was always a mad person and seemed so unhappy. His old girlfriend called our unlisted number one day when I was home and was surprised I answered. She apologized and said she would not do it again. It was clear he still had contact with her. When I asked him about the call later that day he was smug and would not comment. And asked, "what is your problem?" I knew then I had enough and wanted a divorce. He did not try to stop it and said he would find the attorneys and let me file so I would not look bad. (later he used that to say I left him). Part of his lying. I made the horrible mistake, to get back at him, slept with a guy I knew shortly before our divorce was final. My ex was engaged to someone else right after our divorce and remarried a few months later. I waited almost 3 years to remarry. My questions are: Am I living in adultery?....I know I did wrong, but did my ex having the girlfriend without repenting make him the one who destroyed our marriage although I did the same thing later. We were not on speaking terms when we divorced so I never told him. WE both were at fault in our marriage. I am not blaming him I just need clarification for me. Over the years I did tell him I was sorry for anything I did that was not right in our past life and also with our 3 grown children. I went to God one night and poured my heart out and asked to be forgiven and that I would never do anything like that again. I cannot have a normal conversation with my mother, (she is 87 yrs. old) without her telling me to leave my current husband or I will burn in hell. I suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD due to a MVA and her harshness puts me in a dark place for days. Just now coming out of the last one this week. I only speak to her about once a year and it always ends the same The last four days have been hours on the internet searching different views on this, only from pastors and such. Please help me to understand this. I feel deeply in my heart that the vows I took with my current husband and the marriage we have would be wrong for me to divorce him. I can live by myself fine, it is not that. I just feel it would be so wrong. It has been 20 years since my ex and I divorced and I would not change that fact, I wish I had not done what I did before we divorced. I need help.............thanks
ANSWER: Hi Glenda,
Your story is very sad and yet not at all uncommon and that is also sad but you need to keep something in mind and that is the fact that not one of us can live a sinless life. We ALL need Jesus and God's Grace. There are some other things you need to understand which I believe can help you very much.
In my view, the biggest mistake you made was sharing every detail of the above story with your mother. Not everything is something she should be told. Some things should remain between you and God. Now, let me help you to better understand God's Word.
The first point I want to make to you which is probably the hardest for most in the Lord's church to accept, is that everything Jesus said regarding divorce and remarriage was Old Covenant teachings. The context in Matthew 19 and the parallel passages in other gospels is that the Pharisees were "testing" Jesus regarding the "LAW" (old covenant). They wanted to catch Jesus teaching contrary to the Law of Moses and if Jesus had done this, He would have been arrested on the spot. So, Jesus answered by correcting the Pharisee error on Deuteronomy 24:1-4.
Moses did give instructions on how a Jewish man was to divorce, but Moses never said that a man could divorce his wife for any reason whatsoever. The most popular and accepted teaching among the Jews was from the "School of Hillel" which taught a Jewish man can divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus was seeking to correct that error and explain how serious it was to do contrary to what Moses (through God) commanded. Moses said IF a man's wife loses favor in his eyes by some "uncleanness" or "shamefulness" then and only then can he divorce her. But he had to give her a certificate of divorce and then send her away. The certificate was evidence that she was free to have a new husband. Now if the second husband chooses to divorce her too for the same or a similar reason, she was again free to marry someone else with the certificate, but was forbidden to return to the first husband because that would be an abomination.
So Jesus first explains that God's original purpose for mankind (prior to the Law - from the beginning of creation) was for one man to join with one woman and the two were to become "one flesh" and what God joins together, let no man put asunder. The Pharisees asked why Moses commanded to divorce? Jesus explained it was because of the hardness of man's heart. Mankind always has had hard hearts and always will have hard hearts at times so God saw the necessity of divorce instructions even though it was contrary to God's original purpose.
Then Jesus explains that any man who divorces his wife for reasons other than fornication, and marries another - that man is guilty of adultery. Also, the woman he divorced is guilty of adultery as well as any man who marries her after she is divorced. (Keep in mind, this is explaining Deuteronomy 24:1-4) BUT, if the reason IS fornication, then no one is guilty of adultery. The man who divorces and marries someone new is not guilty. The woman he divorced is not guilty, nor is the man who marries her. Why? Well first of all because the reason which is translated as "fornication" did NOT mean adultery. We know this because adultery would result in death under the Law of Moses so no divorce would be needed. Also, when we realize Jesus is correcting the error on Deuteronomy 24, we can clearly see that fornication refers to the "uncleanness" or "shamefulness" Moses mentioned as a reason for divorce because even though it was something that made the husband feel unable to stay married to her, it was not something that prevented new marriages for either spouse.
I know all that I have written is contrary to what has been taught in most churches of Christ for most all of the Restoration history, but I am convinced my understanding is the most bible accurate understanding of it.
Also, think about this - what sin did you commit prior to your divorce? You committed adultery. Then you waited almost 3 years before you entered into your second marriage. Now, divorce in and of itself is NOT a sin. I know many will disagree with me on this but it is never mentioned in the Bible as a sin. Can you divorce for sinful reasons? Yes. Does that make the divorce not recognized as ending a marriage? I see no evidence in God's Word that there is ever a divorce that God does not accept and recognize as ending a marriage. Is marriage a sin? No, of course not. Is fornication a sin? Yes. Is adultery a sin? Yes.
Many believe and teach that if you divorced and were guilty of adultery which caused the divorce, then if you ever get married to someone new, that will be seen as an "adulterous marriage" in God's eyes for as long as you are in the marriage. The problem with this belief is that it is never stated clearly in God's Word and there is not one approved example of it either. Some will claim it is taught through necessary inference but I disagree. In fact, the only words on divorce and remarriage written for Christians are in 1 Corinthians 7.
Paul made it clear early in the chapter that one major purpose for marriage was to help us avoid committing fornication (in this passage it refers to sex when not married to someone who is also not married...but can also refer to adultery). This is why even in a marriage, Paul encourages couples not to withhold themselves from each other sexually because in marriage you belong to each other and he also said that if you mutually agree to avoid sex to focus on prayer and fasting, you should not go too long avoiding it because the temptation to have sex would grow stronger and a spouse might be more likely to cheat on the marriage to fill their desires.
Paul also only encouraged celibacy because of the current persecution the Lord's church was experiencing at that time. In verses 6-8, it is clear that Paul understood few men could live a life without sex and not sin eventually - Paul had the ability but knew few others could live like him. So, he says in verse 9 that it is better for a man to marry than to burn with passion.
Verses 10 and 11 are the most misunderstood and poorly taught verses in God's Word. Most believe and teach these verses are speaking about divorce and remarriage but I am convinced it is about separation.
One reason is because of what is said in verses 6-9. Another is verses 26-28. Paul says if someone is loosed from a wife, they should not seek a wife. Loosed means that person was once bound to a wife. Paul is speaking of both men who are divorced and men who are widowers. Paul is not concerned with how anyone got divorced or "loosed" either. He then says clearly, if the person who is loosed does marry, he does not sin. Then says if a virgin marries, she does not sin either.
So when I read verses 10 and 11, it is pretty obvious to me Paul is explaining how one should be if the wife chooses to abandon or leave her husband. She has not divorced him so she is still bound to him. She must remain alone or she should return to her husband and reconcile to him.
You are correct in stating it would be wrong for you to divorce your current husband. You've been faithful to each other for over 17 years. Two wrongs never can make a right. If it was wrong to divorce your first husband, it would also be wrong to divorce your current husband. You cannot unscramble an egg and repentance never looks backward. It looks forward. When you repented of the sins you were guilty of, you were proclaiming to God that you would turn from those sins from that day forward. You have remained true to your vow of repentance. You have not committed adultery against your current husband. God wants you to stay married. Make God center to that marriage. Live to serve God and others. Stay married.
There is no way to convince your mother of the truth on these things sadly. I know you love your mother and in her own way she loves you too. She is convinced if you remain in the marriage, you will end up in Hell. I am convinced she is wrong. My hope is that you will also see the truth on this matter and realize you are not living in sin by remaining married to your current husband. Please stay in this current marriage for life. That will please God.
I hope that I have helped you. If you have more questions or need me to better explain something, please write a follow up question and I will respond.
In Christian Love, Joe Norman
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QUESTION: Thank you so much for your speedy reply. I have read many of your comments before, as I have the other authors on this website. I know I needed someone from The Church of Christ to answer this. We belong to Oak Hills Church where Max Lucado speaks, which you know is Church of Christ, and are very happy belonging to the Lords Church. My husband and I sat last night and discussed this subject and he has always felt it was a sin that needed to be repented of, move on and sin no more. Our marriage is very strong and we focus on God. I know my Mother will never change and I should not let her views cloud mine. Finally someone has helped me to see the true light of it all. Thank you again and blessings to you.
I am very happy that I helped you to better understand this topic. But, I do not believe Max Lucado is a true Christian and I believe he is a false teacher. I also no longer believe that his congregation is part of the Lord's church. They have changed too much from what God's Word teaches regarding how to worship and how one becomes a saved Christian. I know that you are happy there and feel like it is part of the Lord's church but believe me when I tell you that they teach false doctrine. The majority of the churches of Christ are doing things according to God's Word. The only place that I differ with the majority is on the topic of divorce and remarriage. This is the only topic that I have found them to be completely wrong on. How we worship acceptable and how we organize the Lord's church must be done according to God's Word. Max Lucado teaches contrary to God's Word and that congregation also no longer believes the same things as the Lord's church regarding how one becomes saved and how to worship. I also note that they took of Christ off of the side of the building which is another indication that they just believe they are part of a denomination and they see all denominations as part of the Lord's church which is incorrect. I will pray for you and your husband and I hope that you do remain married and stay happy together but I also hope that you will find a church home that is truly standing on God's Word. If you do decide to worship somewhere else, do not tell them anything about your past because it's not their business. If they ask any questions regarding your divorce and new marriage just tell them it was all done scripturally. That is not a lie. It will be easier for you to do that then to give all the details because so many do not truly understand God's word on this topic.
In Christian love, Joe Norman