An old friend posed an interesting question on Facebook: “If you are divorced from your husband & you decide to have an intimate relationship with him after the divorce...how is that viewed biblically?” It’s a question I’d never discussed with anyone before, but I had thought about it, and I have fairly clear ideas on the topic, so I was surprised that once again I was the only one who seemed to think the way I did.
To simplify the question, assume that neither party has remarried and that the divorce was not because of marital unfaithfulness (which is the only exception Jesus gave to the biblical prohibition against divorce). What do you think? Is it okay to sleep with your ex-husband or ex-wife? What Bible passages would you use to support your answer?
Here’s what I think: It’s not a sin to sleep with your ex-spouse. In talking about marriage and divorce, Jesus said, “… they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6). It seems to me that divorce is, in essence, man trying to separate what God has joined. Can we ever be successful at trying to undo something God has done?
I believe that once you are married, God views you as married until one of you dies -- whether or not the law agrees. Further biblical statements that someone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 19:9) support the idea that God still recognizes marriages that the world has attempted to dissolve under “no-fault” divorce laws.
Whether or not it is wise to sleep with your ex-spouse is a different question. If you do so simply to satisfy your libido, with no intent to reconcile, you are likely to make matters worse. I’m not suggesting that married couples always have sex for the purpose of building their relationship, but sex does bring you together, and if you are sexually intimate without recognizing a commitment to each other, it may make continued separation more painful. Although, on second thought, sex is so powerful that it may draw you and your ex together in a way you don’t expect. Reconciliation and healing are good things.
Jesus came to restore our relationship with God, and I believe that restored marriage relationships (with a few exceptions) are part of what He wants to see happening among His people. Sex is one gift God has given married couples to draw them together; I don’t believe He rescinds that gift just because two people have tried to destroy the bond He has created.