|Vol. 1, No. 8||Page 6||August 1999|
Adultery And Repentance
Let us suppose that a person divorces and remarries without the scriptural grounds of fornication (Matthew 19:9). Let’s suppose that this person begins a new life with his new wife. They build a wonderful relationship, are happy and have three children. As time progresses, they desire to became Christians or return to faithfulness if they already were baptized. Question: Does their baptism or their prayer allow them to pick up where they are and continue together in a sexual relationship? Has their prior adulterous relationship suddenly become a sanctified and holy relationship? In response to these questions some today are eager and vocal in answering in the affirmative. However, let us examine several points.
First of all, there is no question that baptism or prayer will wash away one’s sins (providing one repents of his sins). But repentance demands a resolve to cease from a sinful activity. A couple in an adulterous relationship must resolve to cease from the sinful sexual activity in which they engage if they desire the forgiveness that comes through repentance.
Some suggest that baptism washes away their former adulterous relationship and allows them to continue together after baptism. However, does baptism or prayer for that matter, sanction as holy that which prior to baptism or prayer was unholy? Can you name one that is sinful before baptism, but which after baptism is not sinful? What was sinful before baptism is still sinful after baptism. Baptism or prayer is not some kind of magic that performs marriage ceremonies for adulterers.
Some have suggested that such a position on adultery makes the Gospel “bad news” rather than “good news” to a great and growing number of divorced and remarried people. However, to suggest that the Gospel would not be good news to a couple living in adultery is very short sighted. The message of salvation is always good news! At times, it might require some very difficult decisions to be made, but it is still good news. Could one not also argue that the Gospel would be “bad news” to the drunkard, homosexual and liar? Would it be considered bad news for a doctor to tell a concerned patient that with a few weeks of radiation (which will have some painful side effects) he can be totally cured?
Some will also claim that God could not possibly ask a
man and a woman to break up their relationship if children were involved.
While I would never attempt to minimize the difficulty of such situations,
the hardship cannot be allowed to determine what is right or wrong.
One must remember that the hardship was not brought on by God, but by man’s
disobedience to God’s warning. In the past, God has demanded such
separations (Ezra 10:11, 44).