Should Christians leave their spouses?

When King David sinned, by committed adultery with Bathsheba and by killing Uriah her husband, the Lord was angry with him. He sent a prophet (well-known to David), Nathan, to rebuke him. Nathan did as instructed, and David repented right then and there.

Then the judgment followed – yes, even though David had sincerely repented.

The judgment was severe.

David lost his kingdom, lost loyalty in many of his followers, and lost the child born to Bathsheba. In the end, he also lost his son Absalom. He was openly ridiculed and put to shame. However, because David’s repentance was sincere, the Lord saw fit to restore him to his kingdom. After this, David took Bathsheba as his wife, and the Lord did not rebuke him for this.

How is it that David was able to take Bathsheba as his wife, and the Lord did not rebuke him for this? Here are a couple of thoughts.

First, Bathsheba was bereaved of her husband on account of David, who deliberately had him killed. This put an accountability on David to look after Bathsheba (but not to marry her). This is point number one.

Second, Bathsheba was now “single” and now eligible to get married. I’m afraid I still can’t justify, Scripturally, king David getting married to more than one wife, though! According to the Bible (in Genesis 3), the pattern for marriage is ONE man and ONE wife. One “justification” for David marrying more than one wife (since he married about seven in all) is essentially that it was “overlooked” by God, on account of this custom being deeply entrenched into society. The practice leads to real problems. Solomon followed in his father’s footsteps and married many wives and it was the stated cause of his heart being led astray. For we read,

“For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods; and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” (1 Kings 11:4)

This led to a divided kingdom. Not following God’s laws has certainly caused overwhelming problems for Israel. One can only imagine what would have happened if David had not sinned with Bathsheba or had her husband killed – and if he had only married one wife. If Solomon had married one wife, and had been faithful to her, and so forth, the entire nation of Israel would be different today.

Putting aside the “one man, one wife” issue (which is a rather large issue, I admit), did David then have the right to marry Bathsheba after he had sinned and repented? The answer is evidently “yes.” This definitely solved the accountability issue in terms of providing for Bathsheba’s needs. This had the potential to provide for her relationship/emotional needs, as well. God blessed the marriage (at that point) and blessed them with a son, Solomon (who later erred, but the birth is described as a blessing).

So looking at it, we see that marrying Bathsheba was “OK” at that point (again, putting aside the “one man, one wife” issue).

How about today? Can we, in the church, use the “King David and Bathsheba” adultery-repentance-marriage issue to “justify” sinful behavior? Let’s take an example. A man does not like his wife and decides to start an extra marital relationship. This is sin. The man then decides to divorce his wife. The man (a Christian, we will say) believes and teaches that it’s okay to remarry the “new lady” that he had committed adultery with, because King David did so and the union was blessed by God.

But let’s look at the difference. The difference in the case of king David is that he joined himself to his former mistress in humility, knowing that he could not turn back the clock and bring back her husband. Thus, his act is one of eliminating (or greatly reducing) the bereavement of his former mistress. This is why we read the following verses: “Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the LORD loved him and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for the LORD’S sake.” (2 Samuel 12:24-25)

Thus, we have a clear picture here of David comforting Bathsheba for all of the harm that he caused her.

Do you see the difference between what some men and women do today, and the case of David and Bathsheba? The men or women today leave their spouses and, in doing so, bereave them. This is sin. These adulterers then marry and say, “It is sanctioned by God because king David’s marriage to Bathsheba was sanctioned by God” – but it is not the same thing at all. In David’s case, he was bringing comfort to a grieving heart. But in their case, they are bringing grief to the heart of God and to their spouse who is still living. In fact, according to the Bible, the right and the wrong of it all hinges on the fact that their spouse is still alive.

“A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39)

Clearly, the corollary to this is also true, that a husband is bound as long as his wife lives. Jesus made this clear when He said,

“And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:9)

So then, while they are joined together, as long as their former spouse is still alive, they are committing adultery. They are in sin. This is the teaching of the Bible. I am only repeating what is clearly written in the word of God. To not get this point is to simply ignore God’s commandments. It is clear. It could not be clearer.

Christians who leave their spouses who are still living, and join themselves to another while their spouses are still living – except for the case of adultery (that is, by their spouses and not by themselves) – are bringing judgment into their own families. These things ought not to be. What’s more, they are bringing ridicule and shame into the lives of any children they may have had by their still living spouse, whom they have divorced.

All of this is wrong.

And all of this brings judgment.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)