What the Bible Says about
Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

John Coblentz

What if there are children?
Pages 70 - 71

This question poses a practical dilemma, for on the one hand there is sin in the adulterous relationship, and on the other there seems to be sin in the neglect and hurt of the children if the couple should decide to separate.

There is no direct Scripture stating just how this is to be handled. In the Book of Ezra, the people of Israel had begun to take wives of the heathen, contrary to God's direction. When they wished to repent of this, they were asked to separate from their wives and their children (see Chapters 9 and 10). We are not told exactly how they did this, or if there was any support or contact with them later, but likely, these women were sent back with their children to their parents' home. While there certainly are differences between that culture and ours, and between that situation and the present problem of divorce and remarriage, there is the similarity in that both represent marriages contrary to God's will. And we can be sure God was no less compassionate then than He is today, nor is He less desiring of holiness today among His people than He was in that day.

Two basic principles must be kept in focus in working out a solution. First, the adulterous relationship is wrong; it must be discontinued. God's Word is clear that adulterers "shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (I Corinthians 6:9). We might call this the principle of righteousness. Second, the children are eternal beings who need love and training in a godly home setting. This might be called the principle of responsibility. Somewhere in the practical working out of this difficult situation, the principles of righteousness and responsibility must be satisfied.

Every situation will have its variables, and therefore, obedience to God must be bathed in prayer. Some couples work out an arrangement where the husband continues to provide for the material needs and continues to relate to the children regularly, but lives in separate quarters. The wife, then, is responsible for the day-by-day care of the children, sometimes with the help of relatives. This has the advantages of a clear testimony and of a continued father image for the children, but it takes resolve and cooperation and needs the support of the church and the extended family.

Ideally, both partners should be working together in finding a solution. Unfortunately, these kinds of situations are seldom ideal. The further anyone goes down the path of disobedience from God's standards for marriage, the more entangled they become, and the more difficult it is to turn back to the path of obedience.

Obedience is possible, however, for those who are committed.

Previous Table of Contents Next

[Anabaptists: The Web Page]