Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On murder, adultery, and divorce

Christians have long wrestled with lust, adultery, and divorce (the act of which is its own kind of adultery). We know that we should remain married once married, and yet many do get divorced. We know we should not marry another's husband or wife, and yet many do marry divorcées (or divorcés; I will henceforth use the feminine version for convenience). And many have done these things before finding their faith in Christ, or perhaps before their faith has been restored after a lapse.

So if a Christian finds themselves in this particular state (divorced and married again or married to a divorcée) what is the correct course of action?

Some will say that one is "living in sin" in this particular state and that the only way to correct the situation would be to annul the current marriage and return to the first, proper marriage. Others would say that this is too damaging and that one must get on with the current marriage and remain faithful to the current spouse.

But is one living in sin? Or, is the act of divorce/marriage of a divorcée the act of adultery itself?

If we examine another sin, murder, we will find ourselves confronted with a similar situation, though we may not recognize it quickly. A murder committed, is an act which ends a life and goes against our Creator's command. And once the person is dead, they are dead and gone. It is final. Does, then, the person who committed the crime go on living perpetually in the "sin" of murder? In a sense, yes, the state of the person being dead does persist. But, if we know anything from reading scripture it is that the Lord forgives even those who kill, so long as they humbly and honestly repent.

So then, why would we hold people who are in a state of divorce (which in a sense persists) to a different, perhaps higher standard than murder? Surely, we cannot reasonably expect someone to end a current marriage so as to return to the first marriage, for that would (in essence) be a case of two wrongs and no right outcome. If two persons divorce and have not remarried, then yes, by all means if they are able to re-join one another and continue the union they broke, then God would surely be happy with that. But to end a second marriage and cause grief and suffering (particularly to children), just for the sake of trying to return to some previous state seems to miss the point of God's command entirely.

If our Lord does forgive those who have murdered and who by consequence have created a perpetual and continued state of "dead-ness" then surely the Lord does forgive persons who have re-married or married a divorcée even though they are in a perpetual and continued state of "re-married-ness".

In conclusion, I argue that adultery is an act that occurs in the same way that murder is an act that occurs. Yes, the state of divorce does persists. The dead-ness of the murdered person does persist and can never be undone, but if the Lord forgives those in this state it hardly makes any sense to think that God would not forgive those in the other state, that of being remarried or married to a divorcee. It is the act of repentance for the sin that is of the most consequence. In fact, without repentance, nothing we do as an attempt to try and atone for the sin will be meaningful. It is only our honest and humble repentance that God desires. As the Lord has said,

For I desire loyalty and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. -Hosea 6:6