Divorce question?

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Claudiu, Jan 22, 2010.

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  1. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    Here is a divorce scenario that I've been thinking about for a while (and this scenario is common in a lot of families these days).

    A woman gets married. Then she gets divorced (and it's not because of fornication or anything of that nature, its just because they didn't want to be together anymore, there is no legitimate reason), and she and her ex-husband are both still alive but didn't have any children. Later, she gets married again and has children with her new husband. Her ex-husband is still alive but never remarried. She on the other hand did remarry and now has two children. 20 years go by and the children are at a somewhat mature age.

    She is technically living in adultery according to Matthew 5:32 (But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.)

    So, if she stills lives with the 2nd husband she is still living in adultery but she can't exactly just end the relationship because both of them now have children together.

    What is the best thing for the woman to do in a situation like this. Still live in adultery for the kids sake or what other options does she have? Many people are in these circumstances and I've been wondering what the best possible option, Biblically speaking, would there be. Or does the Bible not give us enough on this topic to be able to give a definite answer?
     
  2. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    She may have committed adultery by an unlawful remarriage, but that doesn't mean she continues to live in adultery for the rest of her life. The woman at the well had 5 husbands, and the context was she had unlawfully married the other 4, but they were still husbands.

    Grace is restorative. In confessional Reformed churches the woman in your scenario would never be denied membership unless she agreed to divorce her current husband any more than someone who converted from Hinduism would be told that they were idolaters. The best thing is for them to find a confessional Reformed church to join where she won't be told that she is living in adultery. She doesn't need that sort of extra Biblical burden placed on her.
     
  3. Dieter Schneider

    Dieter Schneider Puritan Board Sophomore

    Not sure why this question is bothering you.
     
  4. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    It's not bothering me, I don't think I ever used that word. Plus this is a forum where we ask questions and have discussion, right? It's a personal question I wanted to see the Reformed position on. I won't go more in-depth than that since it is personal (although it's not about me or my immediate family).

    Tim, I think you bring up a good point I haven't thought about yet..."She may have committed adultery by an unlawful remarriage, but that doesn't mean she continues to live in adultery for the rest of her life."

    Is this the Reformed position: that one doesn't continue to live in adultery for the rest of their life but that adultery was committed by the unlawful marriage? If it is true then there is no dilemma because she would just continue the way she has.
     
  5. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I can't think of a confessional Reformed denomination that would see her as living in adultery under the circumstances you've outlined. Believe me, I've had to look at this subject, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. An informed PCA, OPC, ARP, etc.. elder would be able to explain it further.
     
  6. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    Alright Tim, thanks for your response, I appreciate it.
     
  7. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Claudiu,

    Your example lacks a few important details, but based upon what you shared, namely that they got divorced just "because they didn't want to be together anymore", it should be clarified that the first husband sinned as well (if the divorce was indeed mutual). This is so even if he never remarries, fornicates, or whatever else.

    However, this sin is not beyond the scope of forgiveness. It is a grave and heinous offense--and certainly not one to be taken lightly--but should it be followed at some point by Godly repentance, there is yet hope. Tim's reference to the woman at the well also came to my mind. Christ didn't tell her to go back to her first husband by any means.

    There is a frightening problem that exists for those who take this situation lightly though. For instance, if there is a couple who outwardly profess faith in Christ and yet grow weary of each other and pursue divorce thinking that they will just repent of it later and God will forgive...the results can be horrible. My former pastor used to call this sort of thing "attempting to swipe the grace credit card." I've seen this sort of thing happen before, and sadly what happens is that those involved so easily forget the sovereignty of God. More often than not what happens is that their hearts are hardened and before they know it there is no true desire to repent as a result.

    The simple lesson here is that God is not mocked and we are not to be so foolish as to think that we can play games to our own advantage.

    But back to the OP, for those who make their mistakes but seriously seek Christ alone as their remedy, 1 Cor 6:9-11 comes most poignantly to mind:

     
  8. louis_jp

    louis_jp Puritan Board Freshman

    I think the point of saying that you commit adultery by marrying another is to emphasize the nature of the offense against the divorced spouse -- that is to say, you have been disloyal to him/her. I don't think it was meant to provide a rule for the rest of your life. I agree with Tim, that once that offense has been committed, the damage is done. At that point, if there is repentance, there is forgiveness. Think of David and Bathsheba. He obtained her by adultery and was convicted for it, but later married her.
     
  9. BertMulder

    BertMulder Puritan Board Junior

    The PRCA would...

    http://www.prca.org/articles/family/family_12.html

    Mat. 19:

    10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.
    11But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.
     
  10. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Hey, Bert

    I'd heard about that denomination from other posts on this forum. I notice they aren't part of NAPARC, and I can see why. We confessional Reformed folk usually don't have too much time for that sort of authority to be invested in our leadership.

    PRCA synod votes to require clergy to send their children to denomination's schools | Grand Rapids Living - - MLive.com
     
  11. Claudiu

    Claudiu Puritan Board Junior

    Bottom line is that the adulterer needs to repent. Thank you all for your responses. Greatly appreciated.
     
  12. reformedminister

    reformedminister Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think that if a person finds themselves in this situation and comes to a real relationship with Christ, they should have the knowledge that they sinned. What they need to do at this point is confess their sin to God and move on with their life. When I was twenty two I got married to a Christian woman. I myself was a Christian too. However, after only a month into the marriage I got involved in a Oneness Pentecostal Church (much like a cult). After a year and a half my wife told me she would divorce me if I did not leave the church I was attending. Unfortunately because of false teaching I was led to believe that I would go to hell if I did because the belief system that I embraced was "the truth". When I sought council with my pastor, he told me to let my wife divorce me because she was an "unbeliever". I was ignorant and young in the Lord and obeyed the council that I was given. My wife obviously was given ungodly council as well. Later I came to my senses and tried to get back with my ex-wife. I admitted my sin, which was letting her divorce me. Five years had gone by and my ex-wife was living with another man. She didn't want to reconcile because she had gone through a lot of pain and was now in love with another man. The important thing for me is that my conscience was clean. I admitted my sin and tried to reconcile. Now, I have moved on with my life and have been happily married for eleven years with children. God hates divorce and so do I! My situation was messed up, as many churches and this nation when it comes to this issue.
     
  13. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    We might also say, the consequences of unbiblical divorce and subsequent remarriage by the guilty party are enormous, last a lifetime, and can have effects beyond a lifetime, to generations.

    Similarly, with true repentance and suffering to seek reconciliation as much as is within one's power, can lessen the lifetime consequences, and any effect on future generations.
     
  14. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

     
  15. louis_jp

    louis_jp Puritan Board Freshman

     
  16. Dieter Schneider

    Dieter Schneider Puritan Board Sophomore

    In response to Claudiu responding to me I think that perhaps my comments found here may be of interest. I think that the Church can often be obsessed with sexual sins! Perhaps adultery may take place when a spouse refuses to obey 1.Cor.7:1ff., and there are many examples when husbands do not live with their wives - which may be work related (see 1.Peter 3:7). I know of many professing Christians who have committed adultery (also note Mt.5:28 and the context). We need to be careful, surely, about being censorious and self-righteous, lest we fall ourselves! Notwithstanding, the Church has a duty to discipline all who live in open sin, but perhaps not without tears!
     
  17. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I respond that the author should repent and accept what the WCF says about the subject rather than use tortured reasoning.
     
  18. Nate

    Nate Puritan Board Junior

    Isn't the WCF much more explicit than the 3FU on this matter? Why should clergy in a denom that holds to the 3FU be required to subscribe to the WCF in an instance like this?
     
  19. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I should not have responded to Bert's comment. I'm sorry.
     
  20. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    As a Presbyterian we know that the Westminster Confession of faith says on marriage and divorce that the basis she ended her first marriage was not according the Westminster standards.

    V. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.[11] In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce,[12] to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.[13]

    VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:[14] wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their own case.[15]

    However, with true repentance and suffering to seek reconciliation as much as is within her power, I would say because of her long 2nd marriage and 2 grown children, God would forgive her and restore her to his grace. I think and hope her Presbytery session and the elders of her congregation would do the same.
     
  21. Galatians220

    Galatians220 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Prof. David Engelsma, in the April, 2006 issue of "Protestant Reformed Theological Journal," wrote a very eloquent, cogent, Scriptural defense of marriage based on Jeremiah 3: Protestant Reformed Theological Journal: April 2006

    I've always liked the individuals whom I know in the PRC and their churches. Might disagree with a point or practice or two of theirs (my past denomination considers the PRC to be Arminian... whatever...) but I do enjoy attending their services when we go to Grand Rapids. There are some very friendly and hospitable people in the PRC.

    Margaret
     
  22. dudley

    dudley Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Her first marriage and divorce was not according the Westminster standards

    As a Presbyterian we know that the Westminster Confession of Faith says on marriage and divorce that the basis she ended her first marriage was not according the Westminster standards.

    V. Adultery or fornication committed after a contract, being detected before marriage, gives just occasion to the innocent party to dissolve that contract.[11] In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce,[12] to marry another, as if the offending party were dead.[13]

    VI. Although the corruption of man be such as is apt to study arguments unduly to put asunder those whom God has joined together in marriage: yet, nothing but adultery, or such wilful desertion as can no way be remedied by the Church, or civil magistrate, is cause sufficient of dissolving the bond of marriage:[14] wherein, a public and orderly course of proceeding is to be observed; and the persons concerned in it not left to their own wills, and discretion, in their own case.[15]

    However, with true repentance and suffering to seek reconciliation as much as is within her power, I would say because of her long 2nd marriage and 2 grown children, God would forgive her and restore her to his grace. I think and hope her Presbytery session and the elders of her congregation would do the same.
     
  23. TeachingTulip

    TeachingTulip Puritan Board Sophomore

    :up:

    Hi Margaret,

    The PRCA being considered "Arminian" is amusing, because the most common insult hurtled their way, is that they are "Hyper-Calvinists!"

    Evangelical Committees from the PRCA have personally and generously kept us spiritually alive and hopeful for almost a decade.

    They are good folk; faithful Christian brethren; undeserving of the various criticisms and misrepresentations they endure.
     
  24. BertMulder

    BertMulder Puritan Board Junior

    lol...

    on another forum I have been accused of being arminian AND hypercalvinist, and that in one sentence...

    ---------- Post added at 08:28 PM ---------- Previous post was at 08:19 PM ----------

    I gladly accept your apology. I also often speak without putting brain in gear first.
     
  25. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    Protestant Reformed not alone

    Not a denomination, but a minority of Anglicans both high Church Anglo Catholics, and Low Church Reformed types, hold a position identical to the Protestant Reformed Church position. Engelsma's Marriage, the Mystery of Christ and the Church graces many a Rector's book shelf.
    I know many Anglican clerics that will not marry a divorced person if their former spouse is living. For that matter I know of Baptist Elders who will not marry a divorced person if their former spouse is still living.
    For the record, this is one a few issues where I disagree with the Protestant Reformed.
     
  26. louis_jp

    louis_jp Puritan Board Freshman

    When you say "identical", do you mean that they likewise advise remarried people to divorce their spouses?
     
  27. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Good question. Another one: It would be interesting to see in how many branches of the Anglican church would a church court uphold a requirement to divorce a spouse under those circumstances if a complaint were to be filed. I rather think it would be similar to excommunicating an officer for homeschooling.
     
  28. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    A minority among Anglican clerics would hold that a person may seek a divorce because of adultery/fornication. The fact of the divorce does not mean they are then free to remarry. They would hold that such a marriage is adulterous while the former spouse is living and would suspend such a person from the Lord's Table.
    I know this seems odd given the conduct of Henry VIII.
     
  29. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    The difference in opinion on this particular thread is not between what the PRCA says about remarriage as opposed to the State of Michigan, but what the PRCA says as opposed to the Westminster Confession of Faith.
     
  30. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    The question of what should be done with a clergyman who does not send his children to a good Christian School but instead chooses to educate them at home is a separate issue. A new thread would be in order to discuss this issue.
     
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