I get emails —
While on a CofC discussion board regarding the subject, I happened onto a link to your article, “But If I Do Remarry…” I wanted to share my personal situation with you and ask you to prayerfully give me your counsel.
Although I was baptized while very young and always attended church services, while I was a teenager I began a relationship with a young man separated from his wife. Of course looking back now, I see what a terrible sin that was, and to be honest, I really knew it at the time. But my walk was with the world and not God at that time. They divorced, she remarried, and he and I were married.
After I had children, I very much wanted to be restored to God and since then have grown substantially in my Christian walk. (Although my husband attends church services, he has never obeyed the gospel.) Having said that, I still struggle with whether or not I am forgiven since we are still married. I have spoken with several church leaders, who have said they believe I am forgiven. But for some reason, I cannot get past it. I very much want to be a good wife and mother, and I also very much want to be within God’s will, and it is frightening to me that in the end, I may find that I wasn’t.
I would very much appreciate it if you would pray for the correct counsel to offer me. Thank you so very much for your time.
You are unquestionably forgiven — and the last thing you should do is divorce your current husband.
God expects Christians to continue in their faith in Jesus and to be penitent. Tragically, some church leaders have horribly misunderstood this teaching, concluding that one cannot repent without making “restitution.” Therefore, a divorced and remarried person must divorce her current spouse and seek to re-marry her first spouse — even if this means breaking up a Godly family and bringing untold heartache to her husband and children — and even if her first husband is a wife beater. Yes, I’ve seen it taught.
Anyone who teaches such a thing is far removed from the heart of God.
(Psa 51:10-17) Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.
14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
When David sinned with Bathsheba, God forgave him. Even though their relationship was born in sin, they married and their second son was named Solomon. God did not consider Solomon illegitimate. Rather, God himself chose Solomon to be king after David.
If God required sinful relationships to be healed by ending that relationship, David would have cast Bathsheba out of the palace as a condition to being forgiven. But our God is a God of mercy and compassion. He forgave David and healed that relationship.
(Of course, David suffered very severe penalties for his sin in this life, including the death of his firstborn by Bathsheba. And anyone who has been through a divorce understands that there are often penalties to be suffered in this life.)
The way you repent from covenant breaking is by no longer breaking covenants. What God wants from you is not misery and a broken home. God wants a changed heart — a broken and contrite heart. And this sacrifice is enough. You honor God by being a good wife to your current husband and a good mother for your children. You honor God by letting the grace he’s given you transform you into a woman filled with his Spirit.
You see, another lesson from Ps 51 is that you pray to God for a pure heart and a steadfast spirit. You aren’t alone: the God who created the Universe is working in you and in your life to transform you —
(Eph 5:8) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light …
Through his Spirit, God has already washed your sins away, and he is at work in you remaking you. Indeed, when you finally realize that you are forgiven it will be by God’s Spirit that you understand —
(Eph 3:16-19) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
This is grace — a grace so great that we need supernatural power to grasp it. But it’s grace for a purpose — grace that compels you to greater obedience and service to the Lord who forgives those who love him.
This calls for a song —