Adultery from Luke 16:18 - Am I now an Adulterer - What can be done?

(scott beau jordan) #1

Luke 16:18
“Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

This seems straightforward teaching, however, what am I to do? When I was 20 I married a girl and did not inquire of the Lord to determine the rightness of the relationship. I said in my heart - God cannot plan each and every one of us to be with one specific person, We can but try our very best and the love born of that trying will make anything last… A foolish sentiment. And it was that after 3 years my wife tired of me and left me for better prospects. At the time I was a Youth Minister and resigned my position in disgrace, however, the elders in the church spoke to me and said we do not feel this situation means you cannot remarry as you strove to save a marriage in which your wife chose to leave.

And it took a long time to recover,

When I was 26 I met a woman in the music ministry. I myself was preparing for mission work and I felt we had again found the happiness I had always sought. I did inquire of the Lord but confessedly I was more interested in my desired future happiness than what He had to say. 3 years later she came to me and said she felt she had missed out on the wildness of her teens and twenties. She said she wished to have many partners and many fun experiences before really settling into a marriage. This grieved me greatly as we had married for 3 years! She too chose her way and left. At the time I was working in the Children’s ministry of a local church and I again resigned feeling disgraced. Again here too, the Elders spoke to me and advised that as I had strove with them to save my marriage and she in turn left without a willing heart to try, and no infidelity was found, that I consider myself free to marry again.

When I was 34 I met a divorced woman. Her husband had been unfaithful to her and continued the relationship choosing the other, over his wife. And for this reason she left him. She and I met and dated and ultimately decided to marry. I inquired of the Lord over her but did not get an exact answer. However, His spirit worked through her and her prayers in my life and together we worked in unison as I had always dreamed a relationship in the church could be. I considered that proof that the marriage was acceptable to God.

That was 5 years ago. We are still married and very happy and things are well. We strive to raise her children to know Christ and wish only to find His will and live that out.

But, now please tell me what am I to Do?

Luke 18 tells me that any man who divorces his wife is an Adulterer. I have divorced 2 wives. Though it may be said they left and refused to return and thus they divorced me and I at long last accepted. I mean that sounds better but the result is still the same.

My third wife also divorced her husband who desired to have an incestuous relationship be acceptable in his home against his wife. She then Divorced him.

Now, as I have married her, according to Luke 18 am I now 3 times over an adulterer? How shall I repent if the Lord sees me this way? I doubt that counsel and elder’s words will account for much before the judgment seat of God. How then can I proceed with God and strive towards heaven in this situation? What is it God expects from me according to His word?

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(SeanO) #2

@scottbeau If I am understanding your story correctly (and I may not be) your wife left her former spouse because they were sexually immoral. That is allowed Biblically. And you were left by both of your former spouses, which Paul says in I Cor if an unbeliever chooses to leave you may let them go, though I can’t tell whether you can then remarry or whether Paul wants you to remain single.

People interpret these texts differently, but if I understand them correctly then I think Paul’s advice would be for you to ‘be a believer in the situation that you are in’. Trust in the Lord’s mercy for your past and cleave to your current wife - be faithful and honor one another.

I will pray for Jesus to give you peace and wisdom and wise council in this matter :slight_smile:

I Cor 7:10-17 - To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.

The Bible only explicitly allows divorce for two reasons. Köstenberger, who is also the President of Biblical Foundations, summarizes: “Jesus proceeded to state one exception in which case divorce is permissible: sexual immorality on [the] part of one’s spouse, that is, in context, adultery (Matthew 19:9).” Köstenberger clarifies, “In such a case, however, divorce is not mandated or even encouraged—forgiveness and reconciliation should be extended and pursued if at all possible. But divorce is allowed, especially in cases where the sinning spouse persists in an adulterous relationship.”

Köstenberger goes on to note, “Paul adds a second exception, in instances where an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage. This would typically be the case when one of the two partners is converted to Christ at some point after marrying and the other person refuses to continue in the marriage” (see 1 Corinthians 7).

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Marrying a divorced man
(scott beau jordan) #3

I thank you for your response. I will say though that sex outside of marriage in the premarital state as you mention at the end is not to be encouraged or thought of in small account. I was a virgin when I married, but I married an unbelieving woman to my own shame.

However, later on after being left a second time I decided that I had followed God and been burnt. For a time I became rebellious and took partners whom I was not married to. What is the harm? The harm is incredible! God told us that a man should cleave to his wife and they become one flesh. Consummation of a relationship whether married or not is a binding tie to that person. You give a part of yourself away to them. If the relationship ends and you move on, there is a part of you that is broken and remains a thorn. I know. When I met my current wife I had to beg her apologies because I had not believed that God had an intended one person for me.

Today, I am married and happy… However, former partners are like ghosts in my rearview. I still feel a connection to them and its a dull ache in my soul of a time of waywardness. A wound, a consequence that will not ever fully heal until the Lord returns.

Further, to engage in what the Lord as deemed only appropriate for the marriage bed is to cheapen the institution of marriage itself. What commitment can there be if two people may sleep with whomever they choose? This erodes the definition of marriage in the heart of man and it is this erosion that has lead society to adopt the current trend of marriage meaning very little more than a temporary agreement.

God relates Marriage between a man and a woman to be likened to our relationship with Himself.

2 Corinthians 11:2
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.

Revelations 19: 7
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”

Thus, if Jesus is the Bridegroom and Matthew 25says that we do not know the hour in which He will return to collect his Bride. What will happen to those of us who are not ready? What will happen to those of us who choose to sleep with another, to not be in a relationship with Him?

Matthew 25
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise.3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.

9 “ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet And the door was shut.

11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

We cannot allow ourselves to cheapen the marriage bed.
It erodes our very soul within us.
It erodes the institution and separateness God created marriage to be.
It erodes our witness with the world around us who will see little difference between our morals and there’s.
Finally, it erodes the picture that God set forth to be a parable of His relationship to us.

Premarital Sex, Sex outside marriage between two consenting adults is a plague in our world. Worse because those involved don’t even recognize they are sick in principle. Their oil is draining away and they do not realize it. If we don’t repent of this, the Lord will not find our hearts ready to receive Him when He comes. Instead, we will find ourselves shut out with the word at the door… “I never knew you”

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(SeanO) #4

@scottbeau I think like all idols - or as Tim Keller calls them ‘counterfeit gods’ - when we give ourselves to passion or pleasure it ultimate destroys us / erodes us. It has the opposite affect of what we were hoping - leaving us empty and needing more rather than filling us. Paul does say in Corinthians that as a Christian sexual sin is different than other sins because we are one with God in spirit, so how dare we make ourselves physically one with an individual through immoral sexuality. But the reality is that all idols - money, success, food and even religiosity - ultimately leave us empty and desperately in need of a Savior.

But I think we have to balance that truth with God’s grace for sinners if they are willing to come to Him and find life. We must hold both the seriousness of sin and the power of God to make people into new creations by His Spirit and grace.

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(Andrew Bulin) #5

@scottbeau, thanks for sharing your life with us. I’m touched by the openness of your story and hope that it is able to speak into the lives of others here.

I’m mostly curious about the answers you are looking for. I’m sure you’d agree that there is little that can be done in the past. I was curious if it would be possible for you to live at peace if you encountered the Lord and He looked into your past and your current life, and said, “Go and continue sinning no more.” If I’m understanding your story rightly, it sounds like your current faith and intent is in your current marriage, and that you’ve dedicated your love to this person you are with now. Do you still see sin in your current life? Most importantly, is God first in each of your lives separately, and first and center in your marriage together as well?

We live broken lives and can only live in the present moment. I know sometimes our sins may prevent us from being something more or able to stand firmly in certain positions had we otherwise been better. But with your past, could you learn to speak to others about healing and recovery? Making the current life and marriage you have really count allowing the Lord to use that?

I hope I’ve not overstepped any boundaries, but I really feel as though you are concerned about judgement in the end, but may have a lot to consider today the life the Lord wants you to live. It also sounds like you are working to make this one really count. How could the Lord be working in the life of you and your wife today for others?

Final thought: I really liked what you said about the ghosts in your rear view. I’ve only had one person in my life, but my wife and I were a little too eager just before we got married. It seems like a ridiculously small thing, but that has tainted our relationship and that struggle sometimes pops up, even 16 years later. We still have to yield those feelings of failing over to the Lord, and allow Him to work fixing the resulting disconnectedness. Ultimately it stems all from the first desire: desire of self over Him. That’s how it works in my life, at least.

Looking forward to more of your thoughts. :slight_smile:

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(scott beau jordan) #6

As I was reading my daily scriptures, I came across the passage in Luke which speaks on Adultery… Now my first wife left me, she wanted to find greener pastures and she did. She married again years later. However, due to the elders telling me I could remarry I began dating myself about 2 years after. I have always struggled with that part as she wasn’t unfaithful, and claimed to be Christian. But how can one claim to be christian and rip her family apart? Then again Judge not lest ye be judged… So as I read I felt that the lack of proven infidelity and letting the believer go didn’t really add up. And I began to be concerned.

My second wife specifically told me she wanted to sleep around and have wild party experiences and as I was in school (at the time to be a minister) that wouldn’t jive. So she also left. Again I don’t have any hard proof that she committed infidelity, only that she said it was her intent. And as for let the non believer depart, she continued to sing leading the church praise team. Again I questioned how can one sing about love, forgiveness and following the heart of God and then leave her family to sleep around and party? And again in my mind I hear Judge not… which is hard. She a year later married another man also. Again I felt able to remarry based upon the words of my pastor there, but at the prompting of my school I left the school for ministry as they indicated a man who loses his wife cannot serve the Lord pasturing anyone.

Then I floated for a bit, disillusioned and with contempt. And I attempted to rebel, though the Lord always occupied a corner of my heart however I tried to push Him out and I could never revel in my rebellion without a profound sense of shame.

That is the past - I guess the parts that trouble me is whether I really had the ability to remarry when I met my current wife. The Elders said yes, but scripture was less conclusive. I have been told there is very little gray with me. I tend toward literal black and white. So this bothered me quite a bit.

In my current marriage, my wife is totally devoted to the Lord. It is the first time I have spent with someone who studies the world and listens to sermons and prays of her own accord. (Yeah neither other wife, including the praise and worship leader did that) My current wife’s faith is her own and it means more to her than anything. As it should be.

I myself have been a bit of a roller coaster. I can always feel the presence of God, or better I can always feel the connection to Him. From the time I was a little boy to present day. However, in my depression I developed the coping addiction of lust of the eyes to quell my griefs with passion. A passion that neither of my first 2 marriages had. The first suggested I focus on lusts because she wanted nothing to do with me. (Lived that way for 2 years) The second suggested I “do whatever i need to do” because she would see to her own sexual needs… (Another 2 years)

So I developed a habit of looking. When I felt sad or depressed, I would look at the counterfeit passion of others as a way of bolstering my own feelings in my hopelessness.

However, the eyes are the window to the soul and if the light is darkness how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:23

And so what would follow was shame, guilt, and depression. After I married my current wife I was sure that it was all behind me as we share a very passionate relationship. However, that sin has snared me again and again over the last few years adding to my sense of shame. In the last year I have cried out to the Lord and have watched him lift me out of that and place me on firmer ground which now I only credit to His name. But there is some guilt which remains. It is hard to forgive ones self.

Hmmm… guess I wrote a book… all that to say that outside of men’s words my own actions convict me before heaven. I am no longer sure I was technically as free to marry again as I thought. And so while I can’t believe the sin unforgivable I do know that the Lord requires repentance. I’m not overly sure of what form it should take. I have pleaded my case to God through our intercessor Jesus Christ. And in my own humaness It feels like its just not enough. (bad theology i know) And I continue in quiet moments to struggle with that. However, I want to be right with the Lord which is what prompted the posting.

Onto more recent things. Yes we are looking to use our story to help others. We video taped a testimony for the church, though to our knowledge its never been used. Last year we attempted to start a divorce recovery ministry. However, the church while approving the concept has over the last year not had time in the schedule to allow us to do it. I worked in the children’s ministry for a year,(Though I remember my Seminary telling me that a divorced man cannot work in Ministry) but then it began when my own two little girls were going to bed so I have stopped to spend the time at home.
I feel as though our attempts at sharing our story have been thwarted. I do not know if this is God telling me “not now” or “to wait” or perhaps I am just “unworthy of ministry”… Or if we are being tripped up by the evil one in some way. It is difficult to perceive.

I wonder at times if my brokenness and the Seminary pastors word concerning a twice divorced man in the ministry being a terrible sin. Thus are my attempts at working to help from my own story being gently turned aside as I am unworthy to lead? I struggle with that.

I do want to serve the Lord. In whatever capacity He will allow… However, I do not know what that can be now. I have given up youth, children, and adult ministry opportunities as I have felt and was told it was not appropriate. However, I still feel the call to do more than mediocrity. It tears at me tugging me both ways and I do not know which path is the right one. I also have my eyes on the Judgement of God and am fearful of making the wrong choice.

So in my paralytic state, as I have no one here to talk to or take counsel with I turned to RZIM as I have listened to ravi Zacharias. and been very impressed with his command of scripture. I felt this forum would be a possible place to air my conflicted thoughts and seek counsel.

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(Kathleen) #8

@scottbeau, brother. My heart goes out to you. I can sense the inner turmoil in the words that you write. Thank you for allowing our community to walk alongside you in this question, and I pray that you can find encouragement here. :slight_smile:

Reading back over this thread again, I am struck by the tender and admiring way you speak of your current wife, and I thank God that you have found one another. I have seen God do extraordinarily redemptive things via a second (or third) marriage, and I hope this is what you are discovering in your current marriage. Divorce, of course, is not ideal, but as @SeanO has pointed out, it is not totally forbidden.

To a question like your’s though, I would ask back: Who is not at some point an adulterer? In the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5:27-28), Jesus raises the bar of the law, ‘You shall not commit adultery’. He says:

I say to you that every [person] who looks at [another person] with lustful intent has already committed adultery with [that person] in his [or her] heart.

We all have sexual sin in our life, and we will all have to contend with the consequences of it for the rest of our earthly lives. We cannot change the past, but we can be changed. We can be transformed from the inside-out by God’s love for us and the grace He extends to us in our imperfection. We cannot forgive ourselves, so to speak; we can only daily receive the grace that God and others extend to us.

So what can you do?

  1. Receive grace. (This implies repenting, confessing, and asking for forgiveness.)
  2. Love your wife. (deeply…as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. [Eph 5:25])
  3. Follow God together.

You are being re-created, Scott. Don’t allow old labels to stick. :slight_smile:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. - 2 Cor 5:17

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(scott beau jordan) #9

Thank you, that is very soothing, will do

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(Lou Hablas) #10

Beautiful words and reminders!!

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