“I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
-Matthew 19:9, NIV
I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin…or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
-I Corinthians 5:11a,c, NLT
Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.
-Hebrews 13:4, NIV
What is a pastor to do when confronted with a situation where a known adulterer wants the pastor to marry him and the Other Woman?
These three verses–just choosing a few–ought to make that decision clear:
A true minister of Christ cannot marry a known adulterous person to his/her lover without acting contrary to God’s direction and will in the matter.
God does not bless sin. Neither ought His ministers.
The cheater and the offending other party can always go to a civil authority to get married. What a pastor taking a stance against marrying the adulterous couple is doing is denying them the appearance of God’s approval of such a union.
The denial of a church wedding is actually an act of tough love where the pastor is teaching this couple of God’s true view regarding what they are doing–i.e. continuing in such a direction is spiritually perilous (e.g. I Cor. 6:9-10). Consider it another reminder that they need to repent, not double-down on their adulterous sin.
When pastors marry adulterous couples, they are sending a false message to the church and the community. They are blessing a union God considers dishonoring to the institution of marriage (see Hebrews 13:4). Such a minister is saying by marrying the adulterous couple that God approves of something God clearly does not. God has spoken clearly on adultery, and He absolutely forbids it (see The Ten Commandments–e.g. Ex. 20:15).
Now, I understand circumstances exist that can muddy the water greatly in these matters. A pastor might not know the real history or may have been flatly lied to regarding the relationship’s origins.
Liars lie. Cheaters cheat. Deceivers deceive.
These things happen. We live in a world full of sinners–present company included. However, I think most people–God included–is merciful and gracious understanding our human limitations. Failing to uncover the truth is different than dismissing the truth and doing what God finds morally reprehensible–i.e. blessing adultery.
Like the “friend” blaming me for the marriage falling apart prior to knowledge of the cheating (and lying, of course) on the part of my spouse, I am willing to extend grace the first time. However, if that “friend” decides to double-down on their assessment assigning blame to me knowing the truth, then I cut that person free.
I want true friends. I want friends who believe and walk in the truth even if that means they have to admit being wrong. The last thing I need is a prideful person willing to exchange a hard truth for a more comfortable, to him, lie–i.e. “The Shared Responsibility Lie.”
So, if you missed it…
To marry an adulterous couple or not?
The answer is “Not. Definitely, not.”