Lutherans/Divorce & remarriage


My husband has worked away from home the majority of our marriage (8-10 months/yr). He has been having an affair for almost three years but only finally admitted it a year ago. After making many attempts to save, refresh, restart our marriage I ended up filing for divorce because he felt no need and it was much easier to go on the way it was. He has been very emotionally & psychologically abusive, controlling and has used financial bribery to manipulate and control both myself and our three sons. He has managed to push our case back four times to avoid having to pay child support or spousal maintainence and to manipulate my situation.  After much prayer and working to get myself strong and confident again I was blessed with someone who admires, respects, and strengthens  me as a person, a woman and a Christian. Unfortunately we are unable to move forward with our relationship because my estranged husband is complicating matters legally. We have prayed long and hard about it and are well assured God has brought us together. My question is whether there is any way the LCMS can dissolve our "marriage" even if the "civil partnership of property" was not dissolved legally. The covenant has been broken, is there any way to allow me to be united in marriage within the church


Thank you for your question.  First, let me say how very sorry I am to hear of your situation.  I sounds as if you have been through a great deal of stress and grief. I pray things get better for your and your family.  

Second, I want to be clear and say that I am an ELCA pastor, but I believe what I have to say would be true for the LCMS as well.

Third, we as Lutherans hold marriage to be sacred, but also realize that the legal context of marriage lies with the state.  Even when we preform weddings, we pastors both bless and preside at the ceremony on behalf of the church, but sign documents with the couple on behalf of the state.  Any legal dissolution, and any unbinding of property, therefore, must come from the state.  We in the church may concur with you that your previous marriage has ended, but that ends up being our collective opinion insofar as the legality of the matter is concerned.  Only the state can fully unbind you from your previous marriage.

I pray that your situation is quickly resolved and that you can get on with what sounds to be a wonderful, healthy relationship. I also pray that your ex-husband will soften his heart and do his honorable part in allowing you to be free.

I hope that this is helpful.

Martin Eldred


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Martin W. Eldred


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.


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.

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

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

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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