So what about divorce and adultery? Adultery is the first-stated of the grounds in the law of England and Wales for petitioning for a divorce. Straightforward, and (possibly with a bit of cooperation) easily established or arranged.
But real life is rarely straightforward, and with adultery legally defined as “sexual intercourse with a person of the opposite gender other than a spouse” a number of the possible permutations of extramarital sex don’t count on their own as grounds without something else reprehensible in addition.
Maybe that’s just a matter of the detail of the law catching up with practice in society so that in all cases it would be the breaking of the commitment to sexual fidelity within any marriage that provides legal grounds for dissolving that marriage.
Legalities aside, some Christians believe within their understanding of their faith that nothing can justify the dissolution of a marriage. For such, any form of sexual relationship or intercourse after divorce would necessarily constitute adultery and would be breaking the commandment. One has to respect their integrity.
Other Christians believe within their understanding of their faith that remarriage of an individual after divorce from a spouse who had committed adultery would not necessarily lead to sexual intercourse breaking the commandment. One has to respect their integrity.
Yet other Christians believe within their understanding of their faith that remarriage of an individual after divorce for any reason would not necessarily lead to sexual intercourse breaking the commandment. One has to respect their integrity.
One has to respect the integrity of each understanding because the bounds of God’s grace and the directing of the Spirit are truly inexplicable.
Caring God, when we interpret Scripture, may we do so with integrity.
Loving God, when we seek to understand human relationships, may we do so with respect.
Supportive God, when we are faced with complexity, help us to cut through the complexity with patience and kindness so that your deep love shines through and illuminates our lives and the lives of those with whom we interact.
The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon. He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC