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Question
I am a divorced mother of four and currently living with a man I intend to marry within the coming year, October 2013. I have great conflicts about this from my faith stand point but now that I have no other choice from a physical view. I have attempted to live on my own, and failed each time. Also, I have great conflicts about divorcing, as I know and believe that marriage is a lifelong promise not only to my partner but to God foremost. how can I make that promise again, if I broke it the first time? Can, with my history of divorce and being unmarried to the man I am living with, I be accepted in the Lutheran faith?

Answer
Lisa:

Thank you for your question.  I appreciate your struggles to maintain a healthy, life-giving relationship while wondering how it all fits into God's plan for our lives.

IT sounds to me as you have really tried to do what is right and have now found someone with whom you can share your life.  I think God is pleased when we find love in the world, and when we give love to another person.  While many people cheapen love by finding multiple partners for short periods, it doesn't sound like this is what you are doing at all.

Yes, it is not God's intention that marriage end in divorce--that is God's law.  We are, to the best of our ability, to enter into our marriage fully, and remain faithful to that one person for the rest of our lives.  We are broken people, however, and we do break God's laws despite our best efforts.  Here is where the grace of God enters to embrace us in our brokenness. With God's grace, what is past is past, and we are now called to live in the present and into the future knowing that God's love is greater than our brokenness, and that God does desire that we live full, happy lives.

I would say, if you feel that you have found a new partner with whom you can truly give your life and love to, then by all means enter into that relationship as a "new birth" of God's grace.  I think that in most Lutheran churches, the pastor that looks to marry you would wish to talk over your past relationships, and see how they might be something from which you can learn for your present relationship and marriage.

We all are sinners and have broken God's rules many times.  While we never want to presume of God's goodness, the grace of God does understand our weaknesses, cleanse us from our guilt, and also give us the power to live a new life in his name.  

Blessings on your new year and on your life together!

I hope that this is helpful.

Martin Eldred

Lutherans

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Martin W. Eldred

Expertise

I have been a Lutheran Christian for 55 years and a Lutheran pastor for almost 27. I can answer most general questions about Luther, Lutheran History, Lutheran Theology, and a Lutheran approach to Biblical Interpretation. I am ELCA, for those who know what that means, and I tend to be moderate theologically. I hope that I can converse with those that are either more conservative or liberal than I, and especially with those who are really just seeking.

Experience

Pastors are "generalists" and generally have a working knowledge on many subjects. We are also used to working with a variety of answers from a variety of people. I teach a great deal, especially in the area ofthe New Testament. I particulalry enjoy the Pauline literature.

Organizations
I have been a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, an international gathering of biblical scholars and teachers, since the late 1980s.

Publications
I have written a few book reviews for the journal, "Lutheran Quarterly."

Education/Credentials
I have a B.A. from Pacific Lutheran University in Religion (Biblical Studies)and a Master of Divinity from Wartburg Theological Seminary, and I am currently completing a PhD in New Testament.

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