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Should I divorce my present wife, if I have a former wife that is still living?

q.gif (1639 bytes)   My wife and I have been married for 16 years and have 6 wonderful children. We are very conservative, homeschool, use the KJV, practice modesty, etc. etc. On the dark side of this, however, is that I was married once before (no children)and it was when I was not saved. At the time of salvation I begged my then wife to come back and restore our marriage. She wanted "nothing to do with my religion", divorced me, and was remarried within 2 months. I was helpless. After marrying again and having children, we were recently approached by some "Christians" who used scripture to back up their argument saying that my wife and I are in a "continual state of adultery" until wife #1 dies and until then we are doomed to hell. Their counsel was for she and I to separate indefinitely or until we are freed by the first woman's death. What are your thoughts on that? We've sought counsel from two pastors and they basically said, "Go and sin no more". My wife is the one who is really struggling with this and I want to help restore her. Any advice?


a.gif (1659 bytes)   The most important matter to get settled first is the one about salvation. True salvation cannot be lost, because it is based totally upon Jesus’ righteousness — not ours. Ephesians 2:8,9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that NOT OF YOURSELVES: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." Whether you have a happy marriage; a terrible marriage; or a broken marriage; is not going to send you to heaven or hell. If you go to heaven, it will only be because you have repented of your sin, and placed your total faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. II Corinthians 5:21 says, "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

Please check out two Bible Course on this site. The first is on the subject of salvation, at: "http://www.pathwaynet.com/libertyb/biblecrs/salvatio/salvatn1.htm". The second one is on the subject of eternal security, and can be viewed at: "http://www.pathwaynet.com/libertyb/biblecrs/eternal/eternal1.htm". Read them over carefully. If you would like the printed form of the booklets, we would be happy to send them to you. I would also order some of these and give them to the people who are saying that you can lose your salvation.

The second problem that you have obviously encountered is a pastor that did not give you biblical advice after you were saved (unless you and your second wife were married by someone other than a pastor). The sad truth is that many pastors do go ahead and marry people who have living spouses.

When I was in Bible College, I asked my pastor about the matter of remarriages when the person has a living mate. He said that when he graduated from Bible College, he believed that the Bible taught that people should not get remarried if they had a living spouse. Romans 7:2,3 says, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." But he went on to tell me that the pressure was too great in the ministry seeing all of those lonely people, so he changed his beliefs. That is sad. He knew what the Bible really said, but he went against it because of pressure and feelings. It is a shame that there was no honest preacher that you could have gone to at that time.

What do you do now? If you divorce your second wife, you will be sinning again. I Corinthians 7:10,11 says, "And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and LET NOT THE HUSBAND PUT AWAY HIS WIFE." I Corinthians 7:27 says, "ART THOU BOUND UNTO A WIFE? SEEK NOT TO BE LOOSED."

I assume that you vowed to stay with your present wife "till death do you part." If you walk away from this marriage, it is not going to correct the fact that you broke the vow to your first wife (even though she was evidently the one that divorced you, and legally, there was nothing you could do to keep that first vow intact). Doing another wrong (breaking the vow that you would stay with your present wife till death do you part) is not going to correct the wrong that has been done, but is only going to cause you to sin once again.

Seeming your first wife has remarried someone else (as you have also done), it is unbiblical for you and your first wife to ever remarry. Deuteronomy 24:3,4 says, "And if THE LATTER HUSBAND hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; HER FORMER HUSBAND, which sent her away, MAY NOT TAKE HER AGAIN TO BE HIS WIFE, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance."

If you walk away and break this second vow, then you will also be walking away from the responsibility that you have to those six children that you and your second wife have had together. Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." How will you be able to fulfill the responsibilities of a father if you walk away from this marriage now? Deuteronomy 6:5-7 says, "And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." The only way that you can fulfill that instruction in its fullness, is to be in the home where your children are. If you divorce your present wife, then that will not be possible.

You need to sit down with your wife, and discuss a problem. The problem is this: you have done wrong by marrying her, when you had a former wife still living. That sin is going to affect four major areas in your lives: your fellowship with God, your relationship to each other (as husband and wife); your relationship with your children; and your relationship with people outside of your family (those at church, relatives, and unsaved people).

First, acknowledge individually, and together, that you have sinned, and confess that sin to the Lord. I John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." True confession is not making any excuses for sin, even if the sin was done in ignorance.

Secondly, get your children together, and acknowledge your sin before them (sooner or later they are going to hear about it from someone, if not from you). Proverbs 28:13 says, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." Our children know when we as parents do wrong. They respect us much more when we are willing to humble ourselves and admit it to them.

When David committed sin with Bathsheba, God gave the pronouncement in II Samuel 12:9-14, "Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die." David suffered much agony through his own children, because of his sin with Bathsheba. Walk humbly with the Lord, and pray much for your children, that the Lord will help them to grow up to do right, despite your faults and failures.

Thirdly, realize the responsibility that you bear before others now. It sounds like you have a happy home right now, when you stated, "My wife and I have been married for 16 years and have 6 wonderful children. We are very conservative, homeschool, use the KJV, practice modesty, etc. etc..." It sounds like God has been very gracious to you. Because of that, you must understand that some couples in the church who have unhappy marriages will be encouraged to get a divorce, and to remarry someone else. They will be looking at you, and will think that if they could just find someone else, then they, too, could be happy in the Lord.

Here is where you are going to need great wisdom and humility. You must always be humble, ready, and willing to accept the responsibility of your example before others. If you hear of someone in the church contemplating getting a divorce, you should be one of the FIRST ones to go to the man and persuade him not to go through with it; and your wife should be one of the first ones to go to the woman and persuade her not to go through with it. You must acknowledge that there has been suffering in your life as consequences to your sin — but NEVER criticize your wife in such talks to others, and your wife should NEVER criticize you in her talks to women. Cutting down your marriage and your mate is not going to help that couple contemplating a divorce, but it will certainly destroy your own marriage. Rather, give the couple examples of how the Lord has helped you to be a better husband, and your wife can share with the woman how the Lord has helped her to be a better wife. Persuade them that their PRESENT MARRIAGE can be as happy as yours, if they will apply the same principles that you are applying to your home.

If you will take that last paragraph seriously — very seriously, then you can be a wonderful help to your church. You can have a tremendous impact in helping to prevent divorce amongst couples.

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