If A Couple Finds Out That They Are In An Unscriptural Marriage, Can They Be Forgiven?
Yes, but it is based on certain conditions stipulated by God. God is willing to forgive any sin of which one is willing to repent (Luke 17:3; Acts 8:22; 17:30; 1 John 1:9). In these types of sinful relationships, God states that these relationships must cease to exist.
By implication we learn from 2 Corinthians 2 that the brother who was unlawfully married to his father's wife (his stepmother) in 1 Corinthians 5:1 repented of his sin of fornication, which means he ceased the sin (namely, being unlawfully married, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). He had to get out of his sinful relationship (compare: Herod Antipas who married Herodias, the wife of Phillip, was told by John the Immerser to give up unlawful, sinful marriage (Mark 6:17,18). What would Herod Antipas have to do if he wanted to show true, genuine repentance? He must get out of that unlawful relationship).
When a person repents (and if they are not a Christian - is baptized, Acts 2:38), his SINS are washed away - NOT his lasting consequences. One can repent and be forgiven of murder; but that does not bring the murdered one back from the dead. It does not take away the permanent pain of the victim's loved ones, etc. One can unscripturally separate what God has joined together and unscripturally remarry another, thus violating Matthew 19:6, 9. He then can repent (change his heart/mind) and do works corresponding with his repentance (which means giving up the adulterous marriage, Acts 26:20). By doing so, his SINS of separating the God-joined marriage and of contracting an adulterous marriage are forgiven. But his permanent consequences are that he will always be one who was divorced and remarried unscripturally and therefore no longer a scriptural candidate for remarriage (to continue in a marriage with another causes one to be classified as an adulterer/adulteress, Romans 7:3). Only the scriptural marriage bed is undefiled; all other marriages are classified as fornication or adultery (Hebrews 13:4).
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