Am I to be single forever because this guy left me and wouldn't reconcile?

Someone emailed:
I read your book a few years ago but still haven't found an answer for myself. I was married many years ago to a man for a few months. I had just been saved. He was a Christian too, but he divorced me after a few months because he said he had made a mistake and I didn't make him happy. I tried to reconcile with him for several years but he refused. It's been many years not and I've remained single out of confusion. I don't know where I stand with God. So many people tell me I am unable to remarry and must be single. I find it hard to believe that God has consigned me to a life of singlehood but I guess I deserve it for marrying someone when I didn't have peace about it. But I was a baby Christian and didn't know too much. Am I to be single forever because this guy left me and wouldn't reconcile? I guess I do deserve it.


I am saddened to think that you have carried the guilt of this broken relationship when you were not the person who broke it up, and you are the one who tried hardest at reconciliation.

In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul addresses this problem. He tells the believer who divorces without proper grounds that they should be reconciled, and remain unmarried to make sure reconciliation remains possible (v.10-11).

But in your case, although your ex-husband was a Christian, he chose not to obey Paul's command, even when you were asking him for reconciliation. Paul addressed this situation in v.15 when he talked about someone who was divorced against their will by someone who would not obey Paul. The person Paul was talking about in v.15 was a non-believer, because at that time it was unthinkable that a believer would disobey an apostle. It applies in your situation because your ex-husband acted like an unbeliever.

Paul tells the believer in v.15 that they are "no longer bound". He didn't say what they were "no longer bound" to, because he assumes that the reader will know what this means. In the first century all of his readers would have understood this because all Jewish divorce certificates (and some non-Jewish ones) included the words "You are now free to marry anyone you wish". When Paul quotes these words in v.39 (where he says the same rights apply to a widow) he adds the restriction that the "anyone" should be a believer.

I discuss all this in "When your Partner Walks Out" in Divorce and Remarriage in the Church.

What this means in your case is that your ex-husband should not have broken his marriage vows by deserting you and divorcing you. You have already waited a very long time for him to repent and be reconciled, and there is no practical possibility that this will happen. Paul's words to the person divorced against their will by an unbeliever apply to you, because your ex-husband has acted like an unbeliever. You are now "no longer bound" – ie you are now "free to marry".


Anonymous said...

I am the original email asker/poster on this and actually have never remarried. It's been 19 years since the divorce and I still get people telling me I must remain unmarried until I die. I found out recently that my ex husband remarried in late 1995. The interesting thing is that I saw him in early 1995 in a different state than both of us live in. It was a fluke meeting.I believe God was still giving him a chance to reconcile our marriage, but he chose to marry another woman. He is/was a Christian, but told me God had said our divorce was ok. Right now, I finally have peace to open myself to a relationship if God so wills it. My ex is remarried and I waited long enough. However, if God wants me to be single, I will. Either way I have forgiven my ex. I wish I would have tried harder to reconcile but I did try my very best. I fasted, prayed, called him, and waited. I got mad at times and shut him out, especially after he said he was remarrying his first wife and that God didn't want us back together. But that was the last straw for me. Although I did call him a few years later and he was still single, yet he ignored me. I was a baby Christian when I married him and never even thought of divorce. When he left me I was stunned. I couldn't believe he would do such a thing; that he had no real fear of God. I was broken for years after that and ashamed of myself. I was ashamed of being divorced. That shame left just a few years ago when I finally realized that my ex was the one who divorced me. I had carried his sin for years. I still feel bad about the divorce because it really is so ungodly and I know it grieved God. I repented for my part of it. I shouldn't have even signed the papers. But I signed them out of anger, never thinking he'd actually do it. I thought his divorce threats were just threats. I never thought he was serious. The day he divorced me I just couldn't believe it. Anyway, I have finally got closure and think people who say that I can't remarry are wrong.

veronica said...

You mentioned a first wife. So in the first place, you should not have gotten involved with a divorced man unless you had a 100% way of knowing if his divorce was "valid". Maybe that's how your problem took root...

Also, I will tell you that once YOU sign the divorce papers, you are actually "in agrement" with him in the intention to divorce (no matter if you were angry, confused etc). If you had not, perhaps your fasting, prayers etc would have taken effect.

The above are some of my observations when dealing with similar cases as yours. Just sharing....

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Aw dear! I agree 100% there is never in anyway a valid reason for divorce and/or remarriage unless adultery was the union you shared instead of a covenant one flesh. Of this man had been married to someone also never married, it is without doubt HIS covenant for life with that woman and sadly tour marriage was adultery if the first wife was living. I feel such sorrow that churches are so infected by Satan that marriage is one of the most tainted teachings and sometimes never heard. Although I'm very familiar with what Paul says, I also want to share what I've learned with all reading- when Paul said "bound" that word in original context, from the concordance, described servant-not marital bond. God is so clear in His design for marriage. I hope you find a blessed believer God designed just for you, he may be a widow or previously married in adultey.. Research well and be prepare in Gods name to do His will, as I believe you are.. God bless

kdperezzzz said...

Read these scriptures and pray without any bias opinions.

But according to these scriptures you are free to remarry because God only considers his FIRST WIFE to be his covenant and only wife until she dies. You were never properly married under God's law. He isn't wrong for returning to his wife...just very wrong for how he left you in the way he did. Your wounds are real and still important to God but you are not bound even though he left you were never bound to begin with because he was already a married man.

1Corinthians 7:10-11
1Corinthians 7:39-40
Matthew 19:9
Mark 9:11-12
Luke 16:18
Romans 7:2-3

Helselhoff said...

You are giving this poor woman the wrong advice!

Deut 24:4. - the first covenant ended when he remarried. Please before you go spouting off your uneducated perspectives on biblical theology consider the whole context. You are meddling with a woman’s life!!! Additionally, just because she signs the paperwork does not mean she is in agreement! That is the stupidest line of reasoning. She is signing a legal document under duress. If she doesn’t sign then she might not have any say in a settlement. At that point she is at the mercy of the judge. At least by signing she still has some say as to what may happen to her. The language in divorce paperwork is cookie-cut and written by the state. It doesn’t determine the reality of the woman’s heart and the Lord knows she doesn’t support it. Honestly, it’s thoughts like these that make me so angry - when Christians have a Swiss cheese worldview and poor theology. You are screwing with a woman’s life by accusing her of your moronic conclusions. Please become more biblically literate for the sake of us all.

Record your opinion:

In what circumstances do you believe a Christian may divorce their partner? (tick one or more)