If a never-been-married woman marries a divorced man, is she committing adultery?


Clarify Share Report Asked May 10 2017 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
I would say that it would depend (from a biblical point of view) on whether the grounds for the man's divorce had been adultery by his wife or (for a Christian man) desertion by an unbelieving wife, which were the permissible reasons for divorce cited by Jesus in Matthew 5:31-32 (which I would say applies equally to unfaithfulness by either spouse) and Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:15. If the man had been the wronged spouse, then re-marriage would be acceptable for both the man and his new wife.

However, if the man's divorce was for other reasons, and especially if it had resulted from his own adultery against his wife (particularly if he was now marrying a woman with whom he had committed adultery while still married to his former wife), this would not be biblically acceptable, and would constitute adultery on the part of both the man and his new wife.

May 13 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini David Placek
Yes. Mark 10:11 ‘And He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her’. Scripture explicitly says the man commits adultery, and this naturally implicated the one with whom he is committing adultery as well.

March 22 2022 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Screenshot 2024 06 12 214250 Casey Leonardo
This is not a straightforward question. There are definitely some who will have nuanced and different opinions based on their views on sacramental theology and the theology of marriage. It should be agreed upon however that to teach that divorce is fine is dishonest and blatantly disobeys Christ (Matthew 19:3-6). I will present my own beliefs (Catholicism), but I certainly invite you to consider all perspectives.

Catholic theology teaches that on receiving the Sacrament of Marriage, one's soul receives an indelible mark that cannot be removed and further becomes joined in one flesh. Thus when one is married, divorce before God is impossible - one is always married, always one flesh with that other person. So yes, to marry someone who is civilly divorced is to commit adultery, because that person is still married to someone else. 

N.B. An annulment is not a divorce, but rather the teaching that the marriage did not fulfill certain conditions and was therefore invalid. There is only civil remarriage, but before God, there will only ever be one indissoluble marriage.

May 13 2017 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Terry Galloway Christ follower, Bible lover, mission of sharing the gospel
Having studied the Scriptures on this for 13 years, and knowing personal testimonies of others who have come to understanding, there are a lot of Bible verses that tell what God's opinion is. Jesus spoke in 3 of the gospels that divorce and remarriage is adultery (Matthew 5:32, Matthew 19, Mark 10 and Luke 16). We have to be careful to realize this so called "exception clause" given in Matthew does not exist in the other gospels. The reason is that the word for adultery doesn't mean adultery but fornication/premarital sex with someone else while you are engaged. This was the original teaching as Jewish tradition considered the marriage to be from the beginning of the commitment even though it usually wasn't consummated until a year later when the groom had prepared the marriage home. (This is why Jesus said He was going to heaven to prepare a home for His Bride). So this is why Joseph was going to quietly divorce Mary when she was found to be with child because this would have been divorce for fornication. 

In Mark and Luke which are written more to the Gentiles any divorce and remarriage is adultery. John the Baptist taught this correctly to Herod and Herodias who were in adultery because Herodias was a divorced woman making Herod guilty of stealing another man's wife. This made them so angry they killed John by beheading and put his head on display on a silver platter. Jesus said John the Baptist was the greatest of all men so obviously Jesus approved of his teaching.

Romans 7:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39 also say that being married to anyone not your original one time spouse is adultery until they die. 1 Corinthians 7:11 says you may separate but in God's eyes you are still married and you should remain single or else be reconciled to your spouse. This is the prescription of God's plan if you are being abused and in physical danger. It says the husband must not divorce his wife. All of this sound doctrine is why the disciples told Jesus it would be better to never marry; Paul said it might be better to stay single and not to remarry if you are a widow but just serve the Lord freely and that believers are only to marry other believers who know the marriage is for life. However, 1 Corinthians 7 also says that if you become a born again Christian while you are married, you are to stay married and if they choose to leave, you can't make them stay, but you are still not to remarry. The word "bound" is mistranslated from the Greek and verse 39 says you are bound in that marriage for life. Malachi 2 also says that God hates divorce and the man who divorces the wife of his youth.

So if you are divorced, don't marry again. A never married person should never marry a divorced person as that really is not just adultery but also stealing the spouse and making it very difficult for God to do what He wants to do- forgiveness and reconciliation. It IS happening though. I know people who have re-joined in their covenant marriage even after 21 years or 17 years of being divorced. As a never married person, be wise and don't even date a divorced person. God will honor your obedience to His commands and bring you into a "marriage" to Jesus Christ and then a marriage that is pleasing to God of two never married people into the God ordained covenant of marriage as it was from the beginning.

June 30 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Gary Wofford
This answer is written for the practical issues, as the other answers document the important scripture references. For an understanding of this issue of divorce and remarriage, it is of utmost importance to understand the one flesh concept. This is not a legal issue, but a Biblical one of the flesh. The concept of a one flesh relationship is developed throughout the Old Testament and all of the instructions we receive in the New Testament are not an abolishment of this concept, but a fulfillment of it. The Bible is very clear in many examples that a physical union constitutes marriage. One excellent example of this is when Abraham took Sarah into his tent and "that night they were married." They didn't have a legally binding ceremony in their tent that night. The physical act constituted a one flesh relationship and the two became one flesh. 

That relationship can't be broken short of the death of one partner. When the death of a partner occurs, the one flesh relationship is broken, and the living partner is then free to remarry. There are no other clear exceptions. In Matthew, there seems to be an exception to this concept with an unfaithful spouse. The language is clear. The issue is that it is in none of the other gospels, or elsewhere, and is not present in the earliest manuscripts, so was very likely added after the original manuscripts. If this is true, then it should be considered an invalid exception. Of course, if you are attempting to avoid adultery, it is safest to dismiss this possible exception. 

Death breaks the one flesh relationship and allows remarriage. But, to avoid adultery, you must marry someone else who is pure. One of the issues here is that sex outside of marriage has been done by so many, be it pre-marital or an unfaithful act, that it is difficult to find someone else who has remained pure, in that they are virgins or have only had a relationship with their dead spouse and no one else. To find a widower and widow that are both pure would be statistically very unlikely. It can occur. Both partners have to be pure for the marriage to be condoned. When this second marriage does occur, then a one flesh relationship has been constituted between the two new partners and the whole cycle restarts, just as if this were a first marriage between two pure partners. 

One of the biggest issues is that the Bible says that lust constitutes adultery. How many can say that they have never lusted after another person? Not many. Does adultery through lust violate the one flesh relationship? Probably not, but it does constitute the spiritual condition of adultery, but without the physical consequences such as being discovered, pregnancy, or disease. 

The safest action to take is to be with only one person for life. If you find yourself a widow or widower, and feel the need to have another partner, then look for the pure among the many. That will be difficult, but if you are attempting to avoid adultery, then the search must be made with that criteria in mind. We should all attempt to avoid any sin in our lives. Sometimes it boils down to the lesser of two evils when all issues are considered. 

The Bible is very clear that if you are guilty of one sin, you are guilty of all sins, so if that principle is taken into account, we are all guilty of adultery through the commission of any sin, and we are in desperate need of a Savior. 

Thanks be to God that we have a savior that can forgive us of all sins.

And that is the "Gospel", the "Good News" of the New Testament, and why Jesus is the essential component in salvation. Without a Savior, there is no hope for any of us. Grace, not legalism, is the overwhelming message of the New Testament. In understanding these concepts, make every effort to be non-judgmental of others, not legalistic. Never condemn others, even in your own mind. There is a Savior that has come for all people, not just the few sexually pure.

February 03 2019 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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