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Can Divorce Be Forgiven?



Marriage Is a Unique Relationship

One of the most important passages in the Bible that has to do with the family is Genesis 2:18 (NIV) “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” After God created Adam, He saw that Adam would be a very lonely creature unless he had someone of his own kind to be with him.

Notice what God said about this second creature. This next creation would be “a helper” for Adam. It would not be an exact duplicate of Adam but rather someone who would complement him and be a companion for him.

“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” Genesis 2:21-23 (NIV) 

Notice what Genesis 2:24 (NIV) says: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Husbands and wives are no longer two individuals living in the same house. They are united, through marriage, as a special creation of their own. This does not mean that either of them loses their individual identities. However, it does mean that together, they become a unique entity.


In marriage, there is a spiritual bond that is formed but it is made manifest through a physical bond. This physical bond is through the act of sexual intercourse. This is why the seventh commandment is “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) Adultery was not tolerated in the Old Testament because they were living under the law.

Adultery is so terrible in God’s eyes that it says in Leviticus 20:10 (NIV): “’If a man commits adultery with another man's wife--with the wife of his neighbor--both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”

Even though we are not living under the law, but under grace, we still need to realize where adultery stands with God. He will not tolerate it. This is why we must promptly seek forgiveness if we have committed it.

God also says in Proverbs 6:32-33 (NIV): “But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself. Blows and disgrace are his lot, and his shame will never be wiped away;”

This is why sexual infidelity causes such turmoil in a marriage, even a non-Christian marriage. No other problems in a marriage bring about such rage and hate. We may not understand why adultery is so destructive, but we certainly see the results of it. We may not understand why God created some of His laws, but we certainly need to obey them.

Can Adultery Be Forgiven?

Will God forgive me if I have committed adultery? Yes, God will forgive all sin. But the secret for forgiveness is true repentance. This means that I have to be sorry for committing the adultery in the first place. I have to be willing to completely turn my life around and commit to never doing it again.

But Proverbs 6:33 says: “his shame will never be wiped away;” Doesn’t this mean that God will not forgive adultery? No! This would contradict Acts 3:19 (NIV) where it says: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” God will forgive when you are truly repentant. Proverbs 6:33 means that what you did will remain with you as long as you live on the earth. Your life will never be the same.

Through repentance, you will receive eternal life and spiritual refreshing from Jesus. But what you did will never be forgotten, either by you or by those who know you. If you are still married, your marriage will never be the same. Even if your spouse truly forgives you, your marriage will never be what it could have been. This will be true even if you consider your marriage after forgiveness to be great.

This is what sin does to us, it changes our life. It keeps us from receiving many of the earthly benefits that God want us to have. If we have committed a crime against society we will have to pay the price to society. This can include paying fines, jail time or even death. Even though God will forgive all sin, it is much better not to sin in the first place.


Will God forgive me if I have divorced my wife (or my husband)? Yes, God will forgive all sin. But remember, forgiveness only comes through true repentance. If I am sorry for divorcing my spouse, then I will want to reunite that bond, if at all possible. Remember, repentance involves a desire to make right the wrong that you committed.

But what if my spouse has already remarried? Then he/she is responsible for breaking the marriage bond and God will release you from your obligation.

To further understand how to receive forgiveness, read the article “Can Divorce Be Forgiven?”

Jesus tells us that adultery is the only justification for divorce. Matthew 19:9 (NIV): “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” God hates divorce but adultery is so bad in God’s eyes, that He will automatically forgive divorce if adultery is involved.   

Malachi 2:13-14 (NIV) says: “Another thing you do: You flood the Lord's altar with tears. You weep and wail because he no longer pays attention to your offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands. You ask, ‘Why?’ It is because the Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”

God is telling us that once that unique bond is created, it is not to be broken. Until you seek repentance for your divorce, you will feel disconnected from God. No matter how hard you try, you will feel alienated from God.

Pre-Marital Sex

Sexual intimacy creates a special bond between the man and woman. This is to be a permanent bond. It creates a unique relationship between the man and woman. Outside of marriage there is no way to keep it permanent. This is why pre-marital sex is against God’s law. God created us to be bonded with this special relationship with only one other person. When we are bonded with multiple partners, we will create turmoil in our life.

Marriage Is Also a Commitment to God

Marriage is not only a commitment to our spouse; it is a commitment to God. It is a bond that cannot be truly broken, as long as we are alive on the earth. We are only freed from our commitment after death. This is what Jesus taught us in Matthew 22:30 (NIV): “At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” And again in Mark 12:25 (NIV): “When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.”

Until then, treat your marriage as a sacred obligation to your spouse and to God. You may have difficult times in your marriage. No marriage is perfect. But God will bless you as you strive to make it the best that you possibly can. Just follow God’s commandments concerning your relationships with each other.