Bible Question:

If I committed adultery and repented of my sin but my wife does not want to reconcile and remarry me, can I marry someone else in the future?

Bible Answer:

It is very common for a person to divorce a spouse who has committed adultery.  Another common situation is that the spouse, who has committed adultery, wants to remarry, when their ex-spouse refuses to remarry him or her. The question that many ex-spouses ask is, “Does the Bible say I can remarry after I committed adultery?” The following will answer this question.

If I committed adultery and my wife divorced me, can I marry again?

Correct Response To God’s Answer

On occasions a spouse, who has committed adultery, declares that they will remarry even if God says no. The reason that they give is, “God is loving and He forgives sin.” Such an answer presumptuously assumes that God will not discipline them for their flagrant disobedience. They say that God is loving and gracious and they are confident that God would not want them to live the rest of their life alone.

The true reason for their disobedience is that they want to remarry. They fail to realize that God is not a fool and is not deceived by their tears and pleading. Galatians 6:7 is a warning!

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. Galatians 6:7 (NASB)

The Greek word that is translated as “mocked” is mykterizo. It has the idea of not making a fool of someone. That is, we cannot fool God. Scripture repeats this principle in other places (Proverbs 1:31; 22:8; Hosea 8:7; 10:12). Here is Proverbs 11:18,

The wicked earns deceptive wages,
But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward. Proverbs 11:18 (NASB)

This Proverb states that we can do evil and the result may seem to be okay; but the individual will never know the blessing he or he missed. Notice that he or she earns “deceptive wages.” The individual may like the reward they received for their disobedience, but it is not “a true reward.” Therefore, the correct response is always to obey God. The correct response to God’s answer to the question, “Can I remarry with God’s blessing?” is always obedience.

When Remarriage Is Permitted

Remarriage is permitted by God in only three situations. The first situation is that your ex-spouse dies (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:39).

A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only  in the Lord.  1 Corinthians 7:39 (NASB)

First Situation Allowing Remarriage

This verse teaches us that when a spouse dies the other spouse is free to remarry. But the apostle Paul says that there is a better way, remain single and serve the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 7:27 echoes the same truth.

Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 1 Corinthians 7:27 (NASB)

However in verse 38, the apostle says that a Christian is free to remarry; but it is better to not remarry and serve Christ.

Second Situation Allowing Remarriage

The second situation in which remarriage can occur is when a Christian spouse is divorced by a non-Christian. The Christian is to let the non-Christian leave. In this situation, the Christian is allowed to remarry, but only in the Lord  (1 Corinthians 7:15). That is, the Christian can only marry a Christian (1 Corinthians 7:39).

Third Situation Allowing Remarriage

The final situation in which remarriage is permitted is when one spouse commits some form of sexual sin. This is the command of Christ in Matthew 5:31-32.

It was said, “WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE”; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery. Matthew 5:31-32 (NASB)

The Greek word for “unchastity” is porneia. It is recommended that the reader visit “What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?” for an explanation of porneia.  In brief, porneia covers a wide range of various sexual sins that a spouse could commit that gives the “offended” spouse the right to a biblical divorce. When divorce occurs because of adultery, the divorce is called a biblical divorce. Please visit,  “Why does one have the “right to remarry” after a “Biblical Divorce”?  for a more complete explanation of a biblical divorce. In summary, the “innocent spouse” can divorce the “offending spouse.” The “offending spouse” is the one who committed porneia.

How To Reap A True Reward

Therefore, a Christian is permitted to marry again when 1) the ex-spouse dies, 2) the ex-spouse was a non-Christian and chose to leave the marriage and 3) if one is divorced because the other spouse committed porneia. Notice that Jesus does not give the adulterous spouse or “offending spouse” the right to divorce the “innocent spouse.” Consequently, Jesus never gives the “offending spouse” the right to remarry. In fact, in the Old Testament era the “offending spouse” would have been killed.

If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. Deuteronomy 22:22 (NASB)

The reverse of the principle also applies when a woman has sex with a married man. The message is clear that God never intended for the adulterous to remarry.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, if a man or a woman commits adultery and the “innocent spouse” can divorce him or her and subsequently refuses to remarry him or her, then the “offending spouse” may not remarry.

Reference Links:

If you are divorced and remarry, are you living in adultery?
A Biblical Divorce
Biblical Divorce and Remarriage
Why does one have the “right to remarry” after a “Biblical Divorce”?
What is the meaning of the Greek word porneia in the Bible?