Q&A: Divorce and Adultery

Divorce and Adultery

Question

Before I became a Christian, I married, divorced and remarried. My ex-husband was physically and verbally abusive. It says in the Bible that it is committing adultery if I remarry. Does that mean that I will not go to heaven because I remarried?

Answer

As far as your divorce goes, let me begin by saying that believers can never lose their salvation. There is no sin that a believer can commit that can keep that believer out of heaven. The only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 12:31-32), and true believers cannot commit this sin. If you believe in Jesus, trusting him alone for your salvation and right standing before God, then you are going to heaven.

Second, Jesus' instructions about divorce and remarriage that equate remarriage with adultery (e.g. Matt. 19:9) apply only to believers who divorce their spouses without biblical cause (cf. 1 Cor. 7:10-16). If you were an unbeliever when you divorced your first husband, then your remarriage was not considered adultery. In any case, whatever sins you committed prior to coming to faith were forgiven when you came to faith, and whatever sins you continue to commit now that you have come to faith are also forgiven in Christ as you continue in a life of confession and repentance (1 John 1:5-2:2).

I should also add that many people think that abuse and abandonment are also legitimate grounds for biblical divorce between believers. This argument is based on the idea that to abuse or abandon makes one worse than an unbeliever (per 1 Tim. 5:8). From this point, it is argued that one who is worse than an unbeliever ought to be reckoned as an unbeliever. Also, abuse is often considered a form of abandonment. Therefore, even if the abuser or abandoner is a professing Christian, it is often argued that he/she is to be reckoned as an unbeliever for the purpose of determining whether or not his/her spouse is free to remarry.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.