My Spouse Isn't "The Person I Believed" I Was Marrying... Do I Have Grounds For Divorce?

Dear Dr. Roger,
What do you think about the following marriage situation:
An unbeliever commits numerous acts of adul-tery while single, then deceives a believer into getting married. Does the unbeliever carry the sin over into the marriage? If so, does the believer have biblical grounds for divorce?
- DK

Below is Dr. Roger's reply:

Dear DK,
“What do I think about the situation?” I think that it is sad and painful. Nevertheless, it’s possible, if the right things fall into place, to have a great marriage even under these circumstances.

You asked, “Does the deceitful, s*xually sinful individual carry those sins over into the marriage?” Yes, without a doubt.

Whether or not you have biblical grounds for divorce depends on whether or not the unbeliever becomes a believer, as well as the following factors:

First, you may choose to stay married. There is nothing that says that you must get a divorce even if you have justifiable reasons.

Second, if the unbeliever repents of his/her past sins, confesses and receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then grace covers and forgiveness cleanses. The foundation for a successful Christian marriage is now in place. Of course, both partners have much psychological healing to do because of the hurts, real and/or imagined, which exist both within and between the couple. There are no grounds for a biblical divorce in this situation.

Third, Paul taught in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 that if an unbelieving spouse wants out of the marriage, then the believer has grounds for a biblical divorce.

Fourth, Paul taught in the same 1 Corinthians chapter 7 that if an unbeliever is married to a believer and the unbeliever wants to stay married, then the believer has no grounds for divorce. Hopefully he/she may guide their partner into a salvation relationship with Jesus.

Fifth, marriage is a contract which is based on honesty and trust between two parties. A contract which is entered into based on deception and deceit is a fraud. Therefore, it is not a valid contract and cannot be legally binding or enforced.

The Bible is filled with contracts. In the Old Testament they are often identified as covenants. God made many covenants with Israel and when Israel sinned, and failed to hold up their end of the contract, God felt no obligation to hold up his end either.

Although it is never strictly said, following the biblical guidelines of a covenant, there is no valid contract between you two since your marriage was based on a deceitful lie. You can get divorced with a clear conscience.

I’m sorry, DK, for the awkwardness in which you find yourself. I do understand that you might be asking this question for another, and if so, I hope that my answer is helpful for your friend as well.

Sincerely, Roger

[by Dr. Roger Barrier