Why I Repented of a
Marriage that God
(This is a copy of a letter Cheryl sent to her friends, relatives, and to pastors)
To friends & family
I'm writing to let you know why I have left my husband (name deleted)
It's not that I don't love him, and it's not that he has wronged me. I don't know what you may have already heard through the grapevine, probably that I've done something weird, crazy, inexplicable, stupid (take your pick). And I'm sure that to most people it may seem that way. So I'm writing to explain, to set the record straight and to let you know how I feel and what I think. . .though after reading this most of you will probably still think I'm crazy, or whatever. . .
After much prayer and stress on my soul I have concluded I must write this. I wish with all my heart that I didn't have to. . .that the church would teach biblical truth in this matter, as the early church once taught up to about a half a century ago.
The plane fact of the matter is that the Christian church of yesteryear taught that remarriage while a previous spouse was living is adultery. And that adulterers would not inherit the Kingdom of heaven.
However, today there are hardly any churches of pastors left who teach this. Why? There are many reasons, but perhaps the main one is that pastors are afraid of having people leave their congregation. For if they teach this truth today many would be offended and leave. So they teach something else, and over many decades they have come to believe themselves that what they teach is the truth. They do not actually lie, since they don't know the truth, but what they teach is a lie, and it causes enormous grief in society and in the church. . . to the point where it must be asked whether most churches in America still deserve to be called Christians, or whether they have become something else.
Yes, I know these are fighting words, and many will be hurt by them, but they need to be said. I don't mean to hurt anyone or cause anyone grief, but I can't keep quiet while this truth is being suppressed everywhere. I know that this is a very lengthy letter, but I hope you will read it all. To make it more accessible I have divided it up into three parts:
* What happened
* Why I did it
* Who convinced me
Part One: What happened
I married a divorced man with a previous wife living. On November 16, 2004, after three years of marriage while studding the bible and many other sources about the subject, the Holy Spirit convicted me of being in a state of adultery. I felt as if I had been struck by lightening.
I did not want to make a quick or rash decision about the matter, I wanted to make sure that this was of the Lord. But the more I searched the more I found that I had not misunderstood. . .that this was indeed the truth. And as I wept and prayed before the Lord. Asking Him to forgive me of not obeying Him. He had brought it to my attention before I married. He had tried to show me in His word that marrying a divorced person was wrong. But I chose to listen to the popular belief of the modern church and most modern pastors that remarriage was allowed under certain circumstances. . .such as adultery or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse. I went into this marriage believing that you could be remarried because of the so called 'fornication clause' that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 19:9 and because of the supposed unbelieving spouse abandonment clause that Paul stated in Corinthians.
I have since repented of my adulterous marriage. I have left (name deleted). It hurt so much to do so, but I could not stay in a state of adultery. To civil society and to current law what I have done is divorced, but the way I see it. . .and the way Christians through out the ages have seen it. . .I have stopped living in adultery. The adulterous relationship was not (name deleted)'s fault, he didn't know about this any more than I did. Though I should have known, and would have known if I had listened to the Lord a few years ago.
So why can't I repent of the marriage and go on with my marriage to (name deleted)?
The Holy Spirit showed me that you can not get forgiveness until you forsake the sin.
Which simply means to stop doing it. . .or at the very least try to stop doing it, for there are sins into which we fall and stumble, which aren't so easy to stop doing. But marriage is not something you stumble into. When you wake up in the morning, in the cold light of day, you are still married. The only way to forsake the sin of remarriage is to stop being married. I challenge you, find in the bible where you can ask Christ to forgive you and at the same time deliberately continue in sin.
Many falsely believe that you are allowed to remarry if your previous spouse committed adultery. I believed this to, but after careful study of the Scriptures I discovered that this simply was not so. As I struggled with this issue, some tried to comfort me by saying that I was forgiven. But I had no peace with it. The conviction of the Holy Spirit was upon me until I repented. Some told me that I was adding works to salvation. Where in the Holy Scripture is repentance and turning from a sin works. Scripture tells us that if we don't repent and forsake the sin we will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
While working through this, I have found some other Christian couples who have fallen under the same conviction of the Holy Spirit. . .and they have also repented of their adulterous remarriages. I have received e-mails with their testimonies. I thought I was all alone in this repentance, but now I see God is beginning to wake up not only me but perhaps many Christians in America and through out the world. Waking us up to the plight of this culture of divorce and remarriage which He hates.
I have found instances where pastors have repented of what they used to teach, and are now boldly preaching the truth about divorce and remarriage. One pastor said that he had been compromising in this area all his life, and that he spent a full night on his knees repenting to God. These repenting pastors are risking it all. . .their careers, their pay checks, their reputation, their friends. . .to stand and preach the truth on this issue. Praise God!
Part Two Why I did what I did
Of course, I have said some of this already. What I believe about remarriage. . .that it is adultery. . .is clear from what I have written above. But there is more to be said. . .about why I changed my mind, why I no longer think as I use to. I don't expect anyone to be convinced by what I write simply because I say so, but I hope that this might serve as an introduction to the issue, and a starting point from where to read more. For there is more much more.
There is no way that I can cover all the scriptures and arguments in this letter, but here are a few:
In Romans 7: 2,3 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress, But if her husband dies, she is released from the law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man.
Almost all modern day pastors think that because of the 'fornication' clause in Matthew you can remarry because of adultery:
And I say to you who ever divorces his wife, except for fornication ( Porneia) and marries another woman commits adultery. (Moicheia)
Notice the Greek word for fornication is 'Porneia' and the Greek word for adultery is 'Moicheia'. Also note that this 'except for fornication' clause is not found in Mark or Luke. This is because Matthew was writing to the Jews. The Jews had a betrothal period before the marriage. This is somewhat like our engagement period today, but legally binding.
I'm sure you know the story how Mary was found to be with child before they were married, and Joseph was going to put her away until the angel of the Lord intervened.
Joseph assumed Mary had committed fornication because he knew he wasn't responsible for her pregnancy. Therefore he could have put away his fiancee because of her fornication. Notice the bible refers to Mary as Joseph's wife before they were married:
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife,
Matthew 1:20 Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
The Jewish betrothal was begun with a proposal and a commitment made in the presence of witnesses. It was beyond a private promise we make in our modern engagements, it was considered legally binding. Espousal partners were referred to as husband and wife. Therefore to break an espousal in Jewish society required a legal separation. . . a writing of divorcement equivalent to that required of married couples.
Jesus' exception, quote found only in Matthew, was aimed at their Jewish betrothal laws. He was saying that divorce is wrong, except when you are putting away an espoused partner who has been unfaithful before marriage.
However, Mark and Luke were written to the Gentiles. That's us. We have no betrothal laws to deal with so this fornication clause doesn't apply to us.
Check out Mark 10: 11-12 & Luke 16:18 written to the Gentiles.
(Note: no mention of the fornication clause)
It doesn't take an education at a seminary or a degree in Greek to understand what the bible plainly teaches us about divorce and remarriage while our previous spouse is still alive. The Bible says nothing about killing an unborn baby, but no Christian would argue that it is wrong. There are very few places in the new Testament which speaks of homosexuality, but we plead with the homosexual to repent of their sinful relationships.
But the bible especially the New Testament, contain many passages concerning marriage and divorce, yet the church today is so confused about this issue.
There are many objections:
One is, "God didn't consider my marriage valid since my partner and I weren't Christians."
Where does scripture teach this? It is simply not taught anywhere. There are many places in scripture where God recognizes sinners' marriages.
Another common objection is, that God would not want a happy marriage to end!
Really God will justify sin if it makes you happy? Where in scripture does God look for happiness instead of holiness? I'm not saying that God doesn't want us happy, but He wants us happy on His terms. He is able to supply us with all the happiness we need. Our happiness is His concern. As Americans we have a right to 'the pursuit of happiness', but as Christians we must pursue holiness. If we pursue holiness He will supply the happiness.
Christ was acquainted with many sorrows. The disciples and the apostles also suffered greatly for Christ's sake. The 'happiness and feel good doctrine' preached about in our modern churches is not Christianity. Jesus never promised us our Christian walk would be easy, just the opposite. God demands our complete obedience even when it flies in the face of our modern churches and society, or our own happiness. Christ didn't die to make us happy, He died to make us holy like Him, not apply a band aide of grace so we could keep on sinning.
I could certainly have found some scriptural excuse to stay in my marriage. Does anyone think I wanted to leave a man I loved with all my heart? But I had chosen to enter into a doubtful marriage, not listening to God telling me through the Holy Spirit and His word that it was wrong. So I had to repent I had to leave. I was definitely not happy about it, but my happiness was not the issue. Obedience is the issue, and still is. Above all I want to do the will of God, and send eternity with Him in heaven. The bible clearly says no adulterer will enter the Kingdom of heaven. Remarriage while a former spouse lives is adultery and must be repented of.
Part Three Who convinced me?
Of course, I believe the Holy Spirit was the one who convinced me. He would not let me go until I saw the truth. But as He often does He will use human helpers.
I'm sure that most truly born again remarried Christians with their spouses still living have doubted at some point about the spiritual validity of their remarriage because they have heard enough from Scripture that put a little doubt in their hearts. Those who took those doubts seriously, as I finally did, will want to review the same material I did.
This material is not easy to find, as opposed to the multitude of sermons, articles, and books that try explaining away the truth, which can be found almost anywhere.
I wish with all my heart that some pastor or preacher could have preached Dr. Webb's sermon to me before I remarried. He refutes the reasons and excuses pastors give to allow divorced people to remarry. He put to rest any remaining doubts I had about the remarriage of divorced people in light of Holy Scripture. Had I heard this before remarrying, it would have saved me much heartache and despair.
I guarantee that you've never heard a preacher in your local church preach what Dr. Webb preaches. I hope you get a chance to listen to his CD's. I also hope the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the many falsehoods that are being preached about divorce and remarriage in our modern churches today. There are many others besides Dr. Webb who taught me truth I needed to hear.
Check out my web site for the many resources I have available for you to discover the Truth that will set you free. www.cadz.net/mdr.html
Thanks for reading my confession. . .
Yours in Christ, Cheryl Chrisman