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Posts tagged ‘Infidelity’

7 Risk Factors for Having an Affair


Should I have an affair?

Hopefully, most of us would answer an emphatic No to this question. Not because we’re superhuman and never tempted, but because we know the importance of our marriage commitment. We also understand how our having an affair would harm the lives of our children.

But even with the most honorable intentions of staying true to our husband, we might unknowingly be sliding closer to some of the behaviors that could lead us to an affair.

Here are the 7 risk factors for having an affair you need to be aware of.

In his book Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It, Jerry Jenkins warns against certain attitudes and situations that may put you at risk for infidelity.

Some of the risk factors and warning signs include the following:

  1. Becoming so busy that you spend very little time with your husband and family.
  2. Having an attitude that you deserve more attention than you are getting at home.
  3. Letting the romance fade in your marriage.
  4. Using your attractiveness or personality to get attention from the opposite sex.
  5. Fantasizing about having an affair.
  6. Feeling sorry for yourself.
  7. Someone other than your husband keeps flattering you and telling you how wonderful you are.

If you find yourself in any of the above situations, do whatever you can to change them. Here’s how:


This article is based on the book Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It by Jerry Jenkins

How to Save Your Marriage After an Affair

SOURCE:  David Mejia

Little compares to the devastation people feel upon discovering that their spouses have been unfaithful. Some marriages end right away. But many others hit agonizing impasses as couples struggle to get past the intense anger, sadness and mistrust.

These hurtful interactions wreak emotional havoc on both spouses, and typically neither one has a clue how to help the marriage recover. As a result, many couples who do in fact love each other decide to call it quits.

The good news is that it’s possible to move beyond the pain, put the past in the past, rebuild trust and reconnect with your spouse both emotionally and physically. In fact, many couples who have done the hard work of repairing their marriages after affairs report that their relationships are stronger than ever.

The first weeks and months after the affair is out in the open often are the “make-or-break” stage for the marriage. Here’s what the unfaithful spouse and the betrayed spouse need to do…

Unfaithful Spouse’s Tasks

The unfaithful partner needs to rebuild his/her spouse’s trust…

End the affair. It’s not realistic to expect a marriage to improve while an affair is ongoing. Yet sometimes, when an affair has filled a void in the unfaithful spouse’s life, the unfaithful spouse feels unsettled about ending it. This is natural and not to be interpreted as a sign that ending the affair is the wrong choice. It is normal to grieve the loss of the illicit relationship even if repairing the ­marriage is decidedly the desired outcome.

Answer questions. Most betrayed spouses have many questions about what happened and the meaning the affair had to the unfaithful spouse. As difficult as it might be, it is imperative to answer these questions openly and honestly. Withholding information—even very painful information—that eventually leaks out over time retraumatizes the betrayed spouse and can cause irreparable damage. As counterintuitive as it might seem, honesty is the best policy, particularly in the early stages of recovery when the marriage is fragile and trust is being rebuilt.

Be transparent. During the crisis period, it is necessary for the unfaithful spouse to be willing to be totally transparent and allow the betrayed spouse to have access to personal information including e-mail, cell-phone records, Facebook accounts, credit card bills and so on. Demonstrating a willingness to be an “open book,” though often uncomfortable, goes a long way to rebuilding trust. This level of personal accountability is temporary—it’s not intended to become a way of life. Once trust is rebuilt, most betrayed spouses tire of the constant vigilance and wish to focus on other, more positive aspects of life.

Apologize. Betrayed spouses need to know that their partners are remorseful about the hurt they caused. Apologies must be heartfelt and include ­explanations of why the unfaithful spouse feels contrite.

Example: It will help to say, “I am very sorry that I had an affair. You’ve trusted me throughout our marriage, and I betrayed your trust. I understand why you are so devastated.”

Apologies that are defensive typically don’t work as well. For instance, “I’m sorry you’re feeling hurt. But our marriage hasn’t been going so well, and I needed some emotional support.” Keep in mind that a single apology is never enough, because a betrayed spouse’s pain comes in waves. Express your regrets often about having hurt your spouse.

Betrayed Spouse’s Tasks

After an affair, if you want your marriage to survive, you can’t leave the ball only in the unfaithful spouse’s court…

Express emotions—but constructively. The betrayed spouse often will be overwhelmed by intense feelings of hurt, anger, sadness and utter confusion. Express those feelings when they arise, but express them in helpful rather than combative ways. Rather than resorting to name calling, use “I-messages” to talk about how you feel.

Example: It’s reasonable to say, “I don’t know if I can ever trust you again because you hurt me so much. I feel like I’m dying inside.” But it simply won’t help your marriage to say, “You’re the worst person in the world. You’re a liar and have no integrity.”

Ask questions—but know when to stop. It is very common for a betrayed spouse to have questions about the affair partner, the length of the affair, the places and times they met, what took place during those times and what the relationship meant to the unfaithful spouse.

Sometimes asking questions can be very helpful—the answers often confirm long-standing suspicions, and that enables the betrayed spouse to regain trust in his/her own instincts. Plus, there usually is an overwhelming need to try to make sense of what happened and to connect the dots. Asking pertinent questions often satisfies this need.

However, knowing more and more details about the affair can cause the betrayed spouse to fume and ruminate even more. It’s important for the ­betrayed spouse to decide at some point whether these conversations are healing or hurtful…and when it’s time to stop gathering information.

In the early stages of recovery from an affair, many couples have marathon discussions about the infidelity, but eventually they must strike a balance between talking about the affair and focusing on other aspects of their lives—otherwise, the relationship will become too problem-saturated, and it simply won’t feel good to either partner. Intentionally engaging in neutral or even positive interactions will improve the relationship exponentially. That’s because what you focus on expands quickly.

If you ask your unfaithful spouse a question and the honest response is hurtful to you, it’s important not to lash out angrily. It may take courage to share hurtful information, and it’s important for the betrayed spouse to encourage honesty. Therefore, even though your mind may be roiling, state your feelings as calmly as possible by using I-messages and acknowledge the unfaithful partner’s willingness to come clean.

Keep track of what helps you. Although it may seem as if the hurt is ever-present following the discovery of an affair, the truth is, there are times when sadness and anger dissipate. It’s helpful to ask yourself, What’s different about the times during the day when I feel just a little bit better? and keep a running list of what works.

Example: Many people say that it helps to exercise, be with friends, meditate, do yoga, pray, spend time with kids if you have them, keep a journal and so on. After taking an emotional hit, knowing how to help yourself feel more at peace can be extremely empowering.

Examine what might need to change in the marriage. Although it usually doesn’t occur during the initial crisis period, it will be important for the betrayed spouse eventually to take a close look at the factors that might have contributed to the affair. Though some people stray even though they’re perfectly happy in their marriages, others feel that there has been an emotional or a physical void. Addressing these issues leads to deeper empathy and intimacy on all levels.


Source: Michele Weiner-Davis, LCSW, is founder of The Divorce Busting Center in Boulder, Colorado, that helps on-the-brink couples save their marriages. She is the best-selling author of eight books, including Healing from Infidelity, The Sex-Starved Marriage and Divorce Busting.

Healing From Infidelity

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SOURCE:  Michele Weiner-Davis, M.S.W

Life certainly has its challenges, but little compares to the monumental task of healing from infidelity.

As a marriage therapist for two decades, I’ve heard countless clients confess that the discovery of an affair was the lowest, darkest moment of their entire lives. And because affairs shatter trust, many seriously contemplate ending their marriages.

However, it’s important to know that, no matter bleak things might seem, it’s possible to revitalize a marriage wounded by infidelity. It’s not easy- there are no quick-fix, one-size-fits-all solutions- but years of experience has taught me that there are definite patterns to what people in loving relationships do to bring their marriages back from the brink of disaster.

Healing from infidelity involves teamwork; both spouses must be fully committed to the hard work of getting their marriages back on track. The unfaithful partner must be willing to end the affair and do whatever it takes to win back the trust of his or her spouse. The betrayed spouse must be willing to find ways to manage overwhelming emotions so, as a couple, they can begin to sort out how the affair happened, and more importantly, what needs to change so that it never happens again. Although no two people, marriages or paths to recovery are identical, it’s helpful to know that healing typically happens in stages.

If you recently discovered that your spouse has been unfaithful, you will undoubtedly feel a whole range of emotions- shock, rage, hurt, devastation, disillusionment, and intense sadness. You may have difficulty sleeping or eating, or feel completely obsessed with the affair. If you are an emotional person, you may cry a lot. You may want to be alone, or conversely, feel at your worst when you are. While unpleasant, these reactions are perfectly normal.

Although you might be telling yourself that your marriage will never improve, it will, but not immediately. Healing from infidelity takes a long time. Just when you think things are looking up, something reminds you of the affair and you go downhill rapidly. It’s easy to feel discouraged unless you both keep in mind that intense ups and downs are the norm. Eventually, the setbacks will be fewer and far between.

Although some people are more curious than others, it’s very common to have lots of questions about the affair, especially initially. If you have little interest in the facts, so be it. However, if you need to know what happened, ask. Although the details may be uncomfortable to hear, just knowing your spouse is willing to “come clean” helps people recover. As the unfaithful spouse, you might feel tremendous remorse and guilt, and prefer avoiding the details entirely, but experience shows that this is a formula for disaster. Sweeping negative feelings and lingering questions under the carpet makes genuine healing unlikely.

Once there is closure on what actually happened, there is typically a need to know why it happened. Betrayed spouses often believe that unless they get to the bottom of things, it could happen again. Unfortunately, since the reasons people stray can be quite complex, the “whys” aren’t always crystal clear.

No one “forces” anyone to be unfaithful. Infidelity is a decision, even if doesn’t feel that way. If you were unfaithful, it’s important to examine why you allowed yourself to do something that could threaten your marriage. Were you satisfying a need to feel attractive? Are you having a mid-life crisis? Did you grow up in a family where infidelity was a way of life? Do you have a sexual addiction?

It’s equally important to explore whether your marriage is significantly lacking. Although no marriage is perfect, sometimes people feel so unhappy, they look to others for a stronger emotional or physical connection. They complain of feeling taken for granted, unloved, resentful, or ignored. Sometimes there is a lack of intimacy or sexuality in the marriage.

If unhappiness with your spouse contributed to your decision to have an affair, you need to address your feelings openly and honestly so that together you can make some changes. If open communication is a problem, consider seeking help from a qualified marital therapist or taking a communication skill-building class. There are many available through religious organizations, community colleges and mental health settings.

Another necessary ingredient for rebuilding a marriage involves the willingness of unfaithful spouses to demonstrate sincere regret and remorse. You can’t apologize often enough. You need to tell your spouse that you will never commit adultery again. Although, since you are working diligently to repair your relationship, you might think your intentions to be monogamous are obvious, they aren’t. Tell your spouse of your plans to take your commitment to your marriage to heart. This will be particularly important during the early stages of recovery when mistrust is rampant.

Conversely, talking about the affair can’t be the only thing you do. Couples who successfully rebuild their marriages recognize the importance of both talking about their difficulties and spending time together without discussing painful topics. They intentionally create opportunities to reconnect and nurture their friendship. They take walks, go out to eat or to a movie, develop new mutual interests and so on. Betrayed spouses will be more interested in spending discussion-free time after the initial shock of the affair has dissipated.

Ultimately, the key to healing from infidelity involves forgiveness, which is frequently the last step in the healing process. The unfaithful spouse can do everything right- be forthcoming, express remorse, listen lovingly and act trustworthy, and still, the marriage won’t mend unless the betrayed person forgives his or her spouse and the unfaithful spouse forgives him or herself. Forgiveness opens the door to real intimacy and connection.

But forgiveness doesn’t just happen. It is a conscious decision to stop blaming, make peace, and start tomorrow with a clean slate. If the past has had you in its clutches, why not take the next step to having more love in your life?

Decide to forgive today.

Affair Proof Your Marriage

SOURCE: Dennis Rainey/Family Life

I remember the day I learned a hero of mine had fallen. His spiritual influence had been tarnished by adultery. I was nauseated when the news came, for I had drunk deeply from the well of his writings, preaching, and life.

I’ve done a lot of thinking since then.

I’ve pondered the tragedy to his ministry. I’ve winced at the shame to him, his family, and the name of Christ. I’ve asked myself, How many like him must fall before we who are Christians come out of our sanctified closets and admit that sexual temptation does exist? I’ve grappled over the growing number of Christians who’ve lost their marriages, families, and ministries due to sexual infidelity.

As a result, I have determined that we need to start asking one another some tough questions. Like a man asking another man, “Are you being the leader of your family and taking care of your wife’s needs—spiritually? Emotionally? Sexually? Are you being sexually faithful to your wife? Are you being faithful mentally? Are you reading stuff you shouldn’t?” And wife to wife: “Are you sending your husband into the world hungry, with his sexual needs unmet? Are you a ‘marriage bed magnet’ that causes him to daydream at work about you!?”

I’ve concluded that it’s time we stop assuming we are all beyond temptation and start exhorting husbands and wives to pay more attention to taking care of one another’s physical needs.

But for some, any open admission about the sexual dimension of life is strictly taboo. I love to quote Dr. Howard Hendricks’ powerful statement about sex, “We should not be ashamed to discuss that which God was not ashamed to create.” If God isn’t blushing about what takes place in our bedrooms, then why should we?

Here are eight exhortations to affair proof your marriage:

1. Make your marriage bed your priority. Exhaustion is the great zapper of passion. In this on-the-go, always-plugged-in culture, our lives are hectic and our schedules are packed. The result is we have little time and energy to share, give, or receive. Fatigue does not fuel passion.

Practically, some couples could go their own independent way indefinitely, denying their need of one another. But God gave us sex as a drive to merge, to force us out of our isolation.

Am I suggesting that you should write down “sex” on your calendar? I’ll let you decide. But some of you don’t need a reminder on your smartphone—you just need to say NO to some good things and go to bed early; say about 8 p.m. or so.

2. Talk together about what pleases one another. I once spoke to a group of wives whose husbands are in the ministry. During the message I took a few minutes to address the subject of intimacy and how so many men bomb out of the ministry because of sexual sin.

Afterwards, a young wife came up to tell me about a conversation that she had had with her husband. As they were driving home after he had spoken at church one night, she turned to him and asked, “Sweetheart, what do you want me to do that would help you become a great man of God?” There was a moment of contemplative silence, then his reply came, “When I come home from work, meet me at the door with no clothes on!”

She was dumb-founded! Was he being silly or serious? She has since concluded that he was very serious!

Why not do something tonight that you know would truly please your mate?

3. Fan the flames (or flickers) of romance. When our children were at home, Barbara and I had a small table in our bedroom set with dishes for special evenings. (No, our bedroom isn’t that big, it was just that crowded!)  We would put the kids to bed with a book or rent a kids’ movie as we shared a candlelight dinner, alone. We fanned the flames by re-introducing ourselves and talking.

What setting enables your love for your mate to spark or even ignite? Feed the flames—don’t starve them.

4. Have fun with your spouse. Some of us are so serious about “the objective” that we’ve lost the fun of the relationship. Grins, giggles, and laughter ought to drift out of our bedrooms occasionally. (So what if the kids find out—it’ll be good for them to know that Mom and Dad have fun in bed!)

The Lord God, who created 40,000 different kinds of butterflies, never intended that our marriage bed become boring! But some are. Consider just one problem–the clothes many of us wear to bed. Men really aren’t excluded here, but I’ve had some tell me privately that they’d like to burn some of the burlap sacks their wives sleep in. Snap out of the rut–why not have fun shopping together for some new lingerie?

5. Add the element of surprise to your marriage bed. Why not take one of your lunch hours at work to add some sizzle and creativity to your marriage bed? Caution: If the sexual area of your marriage has been a struggle, then it might be good to ask permission before cooking up something you think is wonderful, but might be offensive to your spouse (Romans 15:1-7).

6. Be patient with your spouse. Remember, the Christian life is the process of becoming like Christ. This area of married love and commitment demands that we are continually growing and learning about one another (see 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15).

7. Protect your intimacy by avoiding emotional adultery. Emotional adultery is friendship with the opposite sex that has progressed too far. When you begin to tell a friend of the opposite sex about your intimate struggles, doubts, or feelings, you are sharing your soul in a way that God intended exclusively for the marriage relationship, and it often leads to physical involvement. To avoid it, set strict limits about the time you spend with those of the opposite sex, particularly in work situations. And reserve some subjects for your spouse—Barbara and I are careful to share our deepest feelings, needs, and difficulties only with each other.

8. Beware of bitterness. Perhaps nothing should be feared more than that of becoming resentful of your mate’s sexual drive or apparent lack of sexual appetite. Bitterness quenches the fires of romance. Keep short accounts and ask forgiveness when you fail or if you have become bitter (Ephesians 4:26-27).

I love what Vonette Bright, wife of the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ said about sex, “It’s just as important to be filled with the Holy Spirit in bed as it is in witnessing to another about Jesus Christ.”

Why not pull the plug and turn out the lights early tonight?

Forgiving Your Spouse After Adultery

SOURCE:  Cindy Beall

Four lessons from my journey of regaining trust in my husband.

Editor’s Note: In 2002, Cindy Beall was a happily married wife to Chris, her husband of nine years. Chris had been on staff with a church in Oklahoma City for only six weeks when he made a confession that would change their lives forever: He had been unfaithful with multiple women over the course of two and a half years, and he was pretty sure one of those women was now pregnant with his child. He also admitted an addiction to pornography. 

His complete inability to control his addiction had left Chris utterly broken, humbled, and repentant. Over the course of several weeks and much prayer, Cindy sensed God calling her to stay in her marriage. The following is an excerpt from her book, Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken, which tells the story of how God redeemed their marriage, making it “better than new.”

Every week I receive e-mails from women who ask many questions about getting through infidelity in their marriage.  Of all the questions I am asked, one of the most common is, “How did you learn to trust him again?”

And every time I give the same answer: “I am still learning.”

I would love to be able to come up with the perfect algebraic formula that shows exactly how to restore trust. But that isn’t going to happen—not because I barely squeezed out of algebra with a 71 percent, but because trust and forgiveness don’t exist in the land of numbers. They are born of God’s grace, mercy, and healing.

You don’t have to have endured infidelity in your marriage to lose trust. Trust can be broken in many different ways. I am still on my journey of having my trust restored in my husband, but I have learned a few things that I hope you will find helpful.

1. Trust means taking a risk.

My husband works hard to regain my trust, but I still struggle. I wish I could say otherwise, but I’d be lying.

Isn’t that the way it is with all of us? I’ve come to realize that we are all capable of doing things we never imagined we’d do. So trusting a person is a risk. We must learn to trust people, but we must also realize that people will fail us. It’s part of life. But if we place our utmost trust in our heavenly Father, we will never be let down.

There is a mental battle going on inside me as I strive to trust my husband more every day. I engage in this battle on a regular basis, and it can be exhausting. But the more I do it and believe what God has shown me, the easier it becomes.

I stand on the one thing that is trustworthy and never fails. I stand on the Word of God. Praise Him that His words are sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). There is power in them, and when we claim them, believe in them, stand on them, and trust in them, we will be lifted up. We will find peace.

2. Replace anger with forgiveness.

We’ve all been wounded. I am no stranger to the pain I see in the eyes of so many people. We can try to cover it up and “get over it,” but if we don’t truly forgive, we will be stunted individuals going about our lives and becoming more and more embittered. Forgiveness is essential. It’s also possible.

The Bible doesn’t mince words when it comes to forgiveness. We don’t have to wonder what our heavenly Father thinks about the idea. He’s the author of forgiveness, and we’d do well to follow His commands. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.”

Ouch. That stings a bit, doesn’t it? Especially when you’ve been wounded by someone you’ve loved as unconditionally as possible. It sounds like a cruel joke to expect us to just let it go, doesn’t it?

Colossians 3:13 says, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” If you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you know that you have a sinful nature. If we don’t recognize that nature, we won’t recognize our need for a Savior. We also need to understand and remember the true meaning of God’s love. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If we truly understand God’s forgiveness, can we really withhold our forgiveness from those who have hurt us?

3. Stop nursing your wounds.

It can become second nature to tend to our wounds with such care that we begin to identify only with the wound and not with a life of healing or restoration. When something reminds us of our pain, we nurse the hurt and then just can’t get past it. It’s almost as if we forget that we, too, need a Savior. We’re so busy saying, “Look at my hurt!” that we forget to give it over to God.

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sure, I haven’t been unfaithful to my husband physically, but I have committed sins, too. And when we sin, we are not just sinning against one person; we are also sinning against our heavenly Father.

I know how hard this is. I am profoundly aware of how badly my flesh wants to throw my husband’s sin back in his face when he gets mad at me for something small. I know how easily I could remind him of his failures and make sure he knows just how picture-perfect my marital resume is. But reacting like that will never bring about forgiveness.

4. Don’t wait until you feel like forgiving.

One of the harder parts of forgiveness is that we don’t always feel like forgiving. The problem is that feelings are often misleading and erratic. I learned a long time ago that you rarely feel your way into positive actions, but you can act your way into better feelings. You may not really want to wake up at five for that morning run, but you do it anyway. Afterward, you are so glad you made the extra effort because you feel good and have more energy. There is great satisfaction in making a choice to do something that your flesh was yelling at you not to do! You acted your way into a feeling.

How to know you’re healing

The results of forgiveness look different for everyone. Some relationships will be mended in spite of betrayal, and some will end because of it. The key, though, is to make sure you are healing from this wound. You don’t want to get a knot in your stomach every time you think about this person, especially if he or she is your spouse.

Here’s one way you can know you have healed from a wound caused by someone else: You cease to feel resentment against your offender. My mentor says, “You know you’ve healed from the hurt that someone else’s actions have caused when you can look back on the situation and it’s just a fact.”

We all make mistakes. We all have done things we regret. We all need forgiveness. And we all need to extend that same forgiveness to others—not just today, but every day.

It’s time to forgive.


Taken from: Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken. Copyright © 2011 by Cindy Beall.  Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR.  Used by permission.

Cindy Beall is a writer, speaker, and mentor to women. She and her husband, Chris, share openly about their journey of redemption through Chris’s infidelity and pornography addiction.

Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views

SOURCE:  Adapted from the book by Carl Laney, William Heth, Thomas Edgar and Larry Richards

The following are summary notes gleaned by Dr. Randall Johnson from the book, Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views.

The authors of this book each present one of four standard arguments about the validity of divorce and/or remarriage based on Scriptural support.  You can overview the following notes about each position and assess your own position about this important and complicated topic.  It is suggested you consider obtaining the book for greater detail and insight into these positions.

No Divorce, No Remarriage (Laney)

Three Requirements for Marriage:

-a public act of leaving one’s family to establish a new home

-a permanent bond or partnership as husband and wife

-sexual union to become one flesh (sexual union does not make a marriage without the preceding requirements, but all sexual union results in two people becoming one flesh; sexual gratification is not an end in itself but designed to produce children)

Definition of Marriage:  God’s act of joining a man and a woman in a permanent, covenanted, one-flesh relationship.

The vow or promise makes the obligation binding, making faithfulness to one’s word a priority in spite of the personal cost.

Deuteronomy 24

Increased laxity regarding divorce and remarriage among the Hebrews necessitated this legislation.

The legislation does not institute or approve divorce, but merely treats it as a practice already known and existing.

Its intent is not to give legal sanction to divorce but to prohibit the remarriage of a man to his divorced wife if there is an intervening marriage on her part.

It’s unlikely that the matter of indecency (nakedness) refers to adultery because was punishable by death.

Her second marriage defiles her making it similar to adultery.

A certificate of divorce (which typically read “you are free to marry any man”) was not required by the text but noted as the custom to protect the rejected wife from further responsibility to her husband and from his interference in a subsequent marriage.

The prohibition against remarrying the divorced wife after her second marriage is to prevent bringing guilt of sin upon the land of Israel because it would be tantamount to marrying his sister (a one flesh relationship still existing in some sense) and that this was designed to discourage divorces.

Other Passages on Divorce in the Old Testament

A divorced woman could not marry a priest (Lev. 21:7) suggesting that there was a measure of moral or ceremonial defilement associated with her.

In Ezra 10, the word “put away” could mean merely a legal separation rather than a divorce.  We should not assume that the Gentile wives remarried or that the Jewish men remarried.  Either way, this passage is not designed to provide us with a Biblical pattern for divorce and remarriage.  We cannot conclude that it is okay to divorce an unbelieving spouse because this would contradict 1 Cor. 7:12,13.

God hates divorce, not the divorced person, because it comes from treachery toward women and violation of one’s vows, and makes raising a godly family very difficult.

Jesus’ Teaching

Because Jesus rejects both the Hillel (more liberal view of Dt. 24) and Shammai (adultery only view of Dt. 24) schools by pointing out that God’s original intent was no divorce period, we should focus on God’s original plan instead of the concession Moses (and God?) makes because of hard hearts.

Jesus opposed the teachers of his day by labeling divorce and remarriage as adultery, since the legal divorce does not dissolve the actual marriage created by God, except in the case of porneia.

Porneia does not mean adultery (this would make Jesus’ view the same as the school of Shammai), nor general sexual sin (this would make his view more liberal than Shammai), nor violation of the betrothal period (the context is consummated marriage, not betrothal), but marriage within the prohibited relationships of Lev. 18:6-18.

Even in the case of divorce for porneia there is no allowance for remarriage.  Jesus’ remarks about becoming a eunuch for the kingdom may refer to remaining unmarried after divorce.

The adultery of marrying a divorced person is not a continual sin, but a one-time transgression.  Confessing the sin but continuing the marriage is the least guilty course of action, though those who choose to end their wrongfully created marriage are to be respected.

Paul’s Teaching

1 Cor. 7:10-11 is Paul’s interpretation of Jesus that divorce (the words “leave” and “send away” both mean divorce) is not permitted.

Paul recognized however that believers do divorce and so he left them only the options of remaining unmarried (for life) or remarrying one another.

A believer is not to divorce his unbelieving spouse, but if the unbeliever refuses to live with the believer he or she is not under obligation to prevent it, and is not free to remarry another.

Remarriage is only allowed if the former partner dies.

Divorce, But No Remarriage (Heth)

Genesis 1&2

The words “leave” and “cleave” are covenant terminology (Hosea did not divorce his wife but stopped living together with her as husband and wife, and so neither did God abandon the covenant with Israel); “one flesh” does not refer primarily to the sexual union nor the child from their relationship, but speaks of the husband and wife becoming closely related in kinship (marriage requires both covenant and consummation).

The aloneness that marriage is designed to take away is not “loneliness” or lack of companionship, but the need for help in perpetuating the human race and cultivating and governing the earth.

Leviticus 18

These forbidden unions (whether marital or otherwise) for affinities of marriage (also described as “flesh of his flesh” in the Hebrew) indicate that the one flesh of Gen. 2:24 equals becoming one kin or blood relation through marriage.

Though the kinship aspect of marriage does not continue after the death of a spouse, the circle of relationships established by marriage endure beyond death.  If that is the case, they continue beyond divorce, also.  The only exception is the law of levirate marriage (Dt. 25) or sororate marriage (Lev. 18:18).

Deuteronomy 24

The words for divorce here do not carry the weight of the view that the marriage bond is completely dissolved.

The issue at stake in this legislation is a man divorcing his wife legally (for some uncleanness short of adultery) and not being required to pay her dowry back, and then remarrying her after she has been divorced illegally (her husband dislikes her) or her second husband dying, resulting in her receiving her dowry back and other penalties, thus trying to profit from her new-found wealth after he had declared her unclean.  He cannot now declare that wrong and remarry her.  This is an abomination because it is a violation of the law, Thou shalt not steal.  Thus the legislation says nothing about the ability of divorce to “dissolve” the one-flesh relationship and make remarriage allowable.

Ezra 9 & 10

This is not a justification for remarriage because Ezra did not view these intermarriages as real marriages.  They were strictly forbidden by the Law.  The evils which flow from such unions are the responsibility of those who make them.  This was a nullification of illegitimate relationships.

These unions posed a threat to the nation of Israel of incurring God’s wrath.

Ezra does not use the normal word for marry but talks about the men “taking” wives and “giving them a dwelling” though they were foreigners.

Ezra’s prayer (9:2 with 9:14) shows he did not consider intermarriage to have actually occurred.  They could not put away legal “wives” if they had made a covenant in the presence of God.  Ezra might have been justified in asking for death for taking a foreign wife (Numbers 25:6-15) but mercifully only asked for divorce.

Just because the Old Covenant allowed for remarriage, this does not speak to the New Testament restrictions stemming from Jesus’ teaching.

Jesus’ Teaching

Jesus’ disciples responded to his teachings with shock at how strict they were.

Matthew 5 merely indicates that the man who divorces his wife who is already unfaithful has not caused her to commit adultery by marrying her next partner.  She did that.  It does not grant him permission to remarry.  Jesus’ statement immediately following that whoever marries the divorced woman commits adultery suggests that Jesus never sanctioned remarriage after divorce even for marital unfaithfulness.

The modern notion of divorce as a “dissolution” of the marital relationship with the possibility of remarriage afterwards was unheard of in the early Christian centuries.  This view must have gone back to Jesus himself.

Sexual sin in marriage does not dissolve the marriage bond.  If it did, divorce would be a requirement in such cases, or, if the spouse forgave the offender and wanted to take him or her back, a new marriage covenant would be required.  But marriage is not constituted solely on the basis of sexual union, and unfaithfulness is not even the most detrimental impact possible on the marriage relationship (consider battering).

The exceptive clause means, in light of the first century Jewish marriage laws and the ongoing debate between Hillel and Shammai, that the man is relieved of responsibility for the divorce and its consequences if his wife is adulterous.  It does not sanction remarriage.

Jesus is not saying that porneia is the only grounds for separating from a spouse but is only taking note of a situation that his disciples would encounter in the face of Jewish marriage customs that did not permit but demanded the divorce of an unfaithful wife.  If someone divorced a spouse for a single act of marital unfaithfulness today Jesus would call that person hard-hearted.

The exception clause in 19:9, “except for marital unfaithfulness,” does not have to be applied to both parts of the statement, divorce and remarriage, except if one presupposes already that Jesus permits remarriage.  The early Greek fathers did limit it to the divorce segment.

The discussion that follows Jesus’ statement seems to confirm Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of marriage in verses 4-9.  Unbelievers cannot accept Jesus’ teaching, he says, but when his disciples act like unbelievers in their objection to his strict teaching, they must understand that he will give them help to accept and obey it.  Continence in the face of a broken marriage is possible, just as it is possible for eunuchs to do so, especially with God’s help, as is given to those who become eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom.

The Mark and Luke accounts of Jesus’ teaching do not include the exception clause because the general tenor of Jesus’ teaching is that there is no right to remarry.

Paul’s teaching

Paul does not mention sexual sin as a valid reason for remarriage for the believer.  He or she must remain unmarried or be reconciled.

The believer whose unbelieving spouse does not want to be married is not under bondage to remain married or prevent the breaking up of a mixed marriage with all the means at his disposal, but this does not give freedom to remarry for the following reasons: (1) church fathers did not see this as permission to remarry. (2) Paul never uses douloō in reference to the biblical-legal aspect of marriage that can only be broken by death, he uses deō. (3) if Paul did not permit a Christian divorced by a Christian to remarry, why would he allow a Christian divorced by a non-Christian to remarry.  The bond is a creation ordinance that cannot be broken. (4) Paul’s whole argument centers on his strict adherence to the Lord’s command that a believer should not divorce. (5) Paul uses the same word for divorce in v.15 as he does in v.11 where it is clear that remarriage is not permitted. (6) Just as v.11 offers the hope of reconciliation if there is not remarriage, v.16 offers hope of the unbeliever’s conversion if there no remarriage. (7) The principle of vv.17-24 immediately following is the one should not change his or her status, which should include remarriage.

Divorce & Remarriage for Adultery or Desertion (Edgar)

Common Misconceptions

The Bible clearly prohibits divorce.  In fact, of the nine passages usually referred to on this subject (Genesis 2:24; Deuteronomy 24:1-4; Malachi 2:6-16; Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1-6, and 1 Corinthians 7:10-15) four seem to allow for some kind of divorce and remarriage and none definitively states that divorce and remarriage are never allowable.

Marriage is unbreakable or indissoluble.  No biblical passage directly states such a concept.  The concept of “one flesh” being equivalent to “blood relative” and therefore permanent is an invalid inference.  Its use in 1 Cor. 6:6 to describe sexual relations with a prostitute can hardly be referring to an indissoluble relationship, especially one which disallows marriage to another.  If it means “blood relative” then marriage creates an incestuous relationship, so it cannot be equivalent to it in the full sense and therefore cannot be used to argue for the indissolubility of marriage.  Even if it did mean “blood relative” and implied a permanent relationship, the fact that persons are blood relatives does not restrict them from marriage to others.  Dt. 24 clearly teaches that a divorced woman is so completely severed from her first husband that she can marry anyone else but her first husband without incurring God’s displeasure.

Matthew 19:9

It is a clear statement, not complex or strange.

Those who would exclude remarriage from Jesus’ exception would have the verse refer to both some who divorce (all those except for fornication) and all who divorce and then remarry, but this is grammatically impossible.  The main verb is “commits adultery” and is described by the relative clause “whoever divorces is wife except for fornication and marries another.”  These have to be the same individual.  Thus, the one who divorces his wife except for fornication is the same one who commits adultery.  This verse does not discuss the individual who merely divorces and does not remarry.  The fact that the church fathers denied remarriage is poor proof since they were frequently unreliable on matters of marriage and Scripture is our only authority.

Consider the sentence, “Whoever drives on this road except an ambulance driver on call and exceeds the speed limit is breaking the law.”  If interpreted as the no divorce/no remarriage view does, it would contain two propositions:  (a) anyone who drives on this road except an ambulance driver on call is breaking the law, and (b) to drive on this road and exceed the speed limit (including ambulance drivers on call) is breaking the law.  But both statements are actually contrary to the real meaning.  The problem is trying to interpret this statement with two different individuals in mind.  But that is grammatically impossible.  It is just as wrong to teach from Mt. 19 that all who remarry (including those divorced for fornication) are adulterers.  Jesus definitely states that the subject of the verb “divorces” is someone who divorces for some reason other than fornication.  One who divorces for fornication is not mentioned.  The verse can only say, therefore, “Some (not all) divorcees who remarry commit adultery.”  The one who divorces due to the exception and the marries another does not commit adultery.

The exception refers to adultery.  Even though porneia can mean any form of illicit sex, because it is used in this context of illicit sex on the part of the wife, it most probably refers to adultery.  The common word used for women in illicit sex is porneia, whereas the most common term used for men in illicit sex is moichao.  The words are therefore synonyms in this context.  It is unreasonable to imply that the term porneia indicates a meaning other than adultery.

There is no negative implication that the person who divorces his wife for adultery is spiritually deficient and should have forgiven his spouse.  But Jesus teaches that it is not wrong.  Jesus does not require divorce, but it is without stigma.  Jesus regards fidelity in marriage as far more important than the formal institution itself.

To argue that the exception clause is only recorded in Matthew because of his Jewish audience and Mark omits it because it does not apply to Gentiles loses sight of the fact that Jesus said it to the Pharisees, and implies that Mark is giving a false impression.  Mark must be assuming the exception even though he does not state it.  When in Mark 8:12 Jesus says, “There shall no sign be given to this generation,” but in Matthew he adds, “except the sign of the prophet Jonah,” these do not contradict each other and the normal response is to note that Matthew has the more full account.  The clearest account is the longer account.

Porneia cannot refer to an invalid mixed marriage because to allow divorce on such grounds contradicts Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 7 that such marriages are valid and should not be dissolved.  Nor can it refer to unfaithfulness during betrothal because the question being answered and the passages appealed to are all talking about marriage, not pre-marriage, and if it is argued that betrothal was as binding as marriage, then what Jesus teaches applies as well to marriage.  It cannot refer to an invalid incestuous marriage because if no dissolution of a one flesh relationship is possible, on their view of things, neither could this one flesh relationship be dissolved, even if it is considered immoral.  So is the “one flesh” relationship with the prostitute (1 Cor. 6), but God still considers it “one flesh.”  And would Jesus allow that the husband is not guilty if he divorces her when he must have known she was a blood relative?  Besides, there is no evidence to link the meaning of porneia to incestuous marriage.

Divorce and Remarriage for Desertion

Though the verb deō is used and not douloō the two verbs are approximately the same and deō is possibly stronger and its meaning must be determined by context.  Because Paul states the if the unbeliever is willing to stay you must not divorce him, it is reasonable to assume that if the unbeliever is unwilling to stay you may divorce him.  Besides, if the unbeliever chooses to leave, the believer hardly has a choice to stop a divorce.  And a biblically valid divorce should allow for remarriage.  Though it is not definitely stated that desertion by a believing spouse would allow for remarriage there is no substantial difference between the validity of marriage to a believer compared to an unbeliever.

The following teaching that one is not to change his or her status does not pertain to remarriage but to any marriage.  But if you desire to marry you do not sin.

Divorce & Remarriage under a Variety of Circumstances (Richards)

Malachi 2

It is not the case that God hates every divorce, but the divorce of a wife by his partner that is motivated by selfishness and is disloyal to his devoted wife.

Matthew 19

The context of this passage indicates that Jesus’ intent is to dispose of their legalism as a ground of spiritual pride and expose the shallowness of every Pharisee-like approach to faith.

“Is it lawful?”  Instead of asking what grounds legitimize divorce they should have asked, “How can a troubled marriage be saved?”  If we who minister the Word of God did a better job preaching how to live with others in God’s way we might not have the plague of divorces.

“In the beginning the Creator”  This was God’s ideal for marriage, a gift to bond two people together in a wondrous unity that enables each to enrich the life of the other.  He did not go back to creation to lay the foundation for a new, stricter law.

“Because your hearts were hard”  God has given permission in Moses’ law for human beings to take a course of action that actually goes against his own ideal.  If God treated human frailty so graciously in the old covenant, how can we in the age of grace treat it so legalistically?  How can we deny divorce to those few whose suffering cries out that their marriages, too, should end?

“Let not man separate”  This is not spoken to couples considering divorce but to leaders who assumed that divorce was a matter for an ecclesiastical court.  Human judges are not competent and have no right to say “this marriage can or can’t be put asunder.”  Dt. 24 indicates that the couple did not need to come to a court but determined the divorce on their own.  Modern pastors similarly have no right to make these judgments.  It must be a personal decision only as a last resort and with a heartfelt desire to know God’s will.

“Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery”  A comparison with Mt. 5 indicates that Jesus is teaching that though divorce and remarriage are permissible, they are sinful.  Since we cannot be sure what porneia means, we must view any divorce and remarriage as involving sin and adultery.  We must not justify ourselves or pretend that something terrible has not happened.  Just as Jesus, however, does not recommend legislation prohibiting lust or anger (what motivates adultery and murder), so he does not here create legislation against divorce and remarriage.  It does not result in an adulterous state, only an act, and it is forgivable.

Though 1 Cor. 7:10 seems to allow no exceptions for divorce, v.11 immediately begins discussion of exceptions and how to handle it if you divorce.

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