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Is it a sin to marry a divorced woman?

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Dear Pastor,

I want to commend you on the outstanding job you have been doing.
I would like your opinion on my current situation. I have been dating a divorced woman for the past two years. She has been divorced from her former husband for the last 12 years. Her husband divorced her citing irreconcilable differences. {{more}}
As far as I am aware (from what I have been told) infidelity was not an issue. We are both Christians and would like to get married.
Will we be living in sin if we get married?

Wondering


Dear Wondering,

Thanks for the commendation.
Your question is one that is very loaded and often sparks a kaleidoscope of theological and social debates.
I deliberately want to start by restating what the will of the Lord is, as it relates to marriage. I know that our modern society often seeks to change what God has issued but by doing so we are spelling detriment to the very fabric of our society.
In Genesis 2:21-24, God made his will clear. Genesis chapter three saw the sin factor enter into the picture. Was that the end of God’s plan? NO! But it certainly meant that every thing he instituted would be under attack, including marriage. So now offshoots of the sin mature like selfishness, unfaithfulness and impatience, which now seek to rock the very foundation of the institution of marriage.
So now we are forced to deal with the unwanted, undesired, but certain reality of divorce.
In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus addresses the subject, highlighting unfaithfulness as the only reason for even considering divorce. Then in Mathew 19:1-9, Jesus again highlighted the father’s PERFECT WILL with the exception clause again being mentioned.
But that’s not the only counsel in scripture that needs to be considered. What about the spirit of forgiveness; how often people forget this when they are presenting what they consider to be legitimate reasons to end the covenant that they made before God and men.
When Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6, forgiveness featured: “Forgive our debts AS WE FORGIVE our debtors.” This must include a spouse who has hurt or disappointed you but is coming with a broken and contrite heart in obvious and sincere repentance.
Consider Luke 17: 3-6: after Jesus taught the disciples about forgiveness their response was very interesting in verse 5: “And the Apostle said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.” So, hard as it is at times, it is to forgive when one has been hurt that strong faith is needed – this is so in marriage. Many broken hearted spouses have cried to the Lord, “INCREASE MY FAITH” as they deal with a partner who has fallen and seeks forgiveness.
I deliberately took that long road to come to your situation because of the many questions that are often asked about the subject. I gather from what you said that your friend’s husband divorced her and she was not unfaithful to him.
Now I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding what took place 12 years ago but now you are both Christians and want to build your life together. I believe that 1 Corinthians 7:15 can apply to your friend’s situation, if not in actuality but in principle. You see, if her husband leaves her, divorces her (and if you are correct that she is more or less blameless), then I don’t believe she is bound by his actions. And now that she is a believer I sincerely believe that she is allowed to not only have her new life in Christ, but also in marriage.
Be clear, though, that this was never God’s intention. Marriage was expected to be a permanent partnership. The word cleave is used… This word cleave, found in both Genesis and Matthew, means to “stick to like glue”. Therefore, whenever there is a divorce it is a ripping apart of something stuck and it is sure to leave scars and pain.
Oh that God’s perfect plan will be established and upheld in our society; God hates divorce, he really does!!!!

Pastor Jackson

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