By Larry Ray Hafley
From Ohio: “A person who had never been married, marries, unaware that their mate has been involved in an unscriptural divorce. This relationship is then shattered by divorce. May the person who was deceived ever marry?”
A brief review of some New Testament passages may help to answer this question.
1. Matthew 14:1-4; Mark 6:14-18: Herod had “married” his “brother’s wife.” Though he had “married” Herodias, she was still “Philip’s wife.” God did not recognize the union. It was adultery, therefore, it was “not lawful” for Herod to have her.
2. Romans 7:1-3: A woman who married another man while her husband lives “shall be called an adulteress.” In other words, without benefit of the exception of fornication (Matt. 19:9), the woman “is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth.”
The case mentioned by our querist can be answered in the affirmative. The one deceived can marry. The one deceived was involved in a relationship with one who was already joined to a mate. It was not lawful for the married one who was unscripturally divorced to have another. In God’s sight, this one had a marriage partner. God did not accept the union with the one who was deceived.
James P. Needham received an identical question. Though worded a bit differently, it doubtless referred to the same situation. His response was, “On the basis of the information supplied, therefore, I would say that the deceived person would have the right to remarry. Since God does the joining in marriage (Mt. 19:6), and does not join or recognize unions between unscriptural partners, these two persons were never married in the sight of God. That being the case, the deceived partner has never been married in the sight of God. He/she has been guilty of unintentional fornication, of which he/she should repent.
“In reality, the ignorance of the deceived party has no bearing upon whether God recognized the union. He would not have recognized it if the person had walked into it with eyes open. Thus the results and the solution to the problem would remain the same.”
These remarks cannot assist the ones mentioned by our querist, but let problems like this be a lesson to those who are not entangled in marital difficulties. Parents must teach their children the soberness and seriousness of the marriage relationship. Those contemplating marriage must weigh the consequences of a mistake. It is not an idle fling. Beware! Be careful!
Truth Magazine, XX:15, p. 2
April 8, 1976