Questions about marriage, remarriage, annulment, divorce and happiness
By Ardy Roberto ● December 27, 2017
Between Miriam and I, we’ve been married four times.
That’s twice for each of us.
My first marriage lasted 17 years and was ended by the death of my first wife, the wonderful Margot “Tingting” Pelaez Linsangan Roberto. She was 50 when she passed away after battling Systemic Lupus. (Read about her and our story featured in GMA News online here.)
My second marriage came quickly and quite supernaturally. So many friends were praying for me and my grief, and so my widower-hood was short lived. I got married one year and 3 months after my first wife died. That stirred up quite a storm of both celebratory and negative vibes, plus lots of questions about the timing and the person I married, Miriam Quiambao, a celebrity/actress/TV Host/beauty queen…and divorcee.
Miriam’s first marriage lasted two years and was ended by a request for divorce from her Italian, businessman husband. She was just 29 or 30 years old when this happened. (Read her story here.)
Her second marriage came after waiting for eight years and quite supernaturally, I must say objectively speaking.
Being both professed followers of Christ, Miriam and I did have to field questions from time to time about the “biblical basis” of our remarriage. Usually, in the Christian church, remarriage is a touchy issue. Even if you’re previous marriage has been annulled, some churches will encourage reconciliation.
There were a couple of sincere questions from fellow Christians asking if my marrying Miriam, a divorced woman, didn’t amount to “adultery”. A couple of good friends, excused themselves from being my “Ninongs” and from attending my wedding because, well, it was “complicated” for them. (They didn’t want to be seen as endorsing the idea of remarriage with a divorcee or separated person. Just to clarify, there is no divorce in the Philippines. There is only annulment.)
Anyway, how did I answer those questions and handle the touchiness of the situation?
I asked the Senior Pastor and founder of our church to write down why they–the Board of Trustees of our Christian church (Christ’s Commission Fellowship – CCF) –did not “object” to our remarriage but indeed gave their “permission” for a CCF Pastor, my friend and discipler, Joby Soriano, to co-officiate our wedding.
In a nutshell, Pastor Peter, wrote the following:
June 9, 2014
It is CCF’s position that certain situations justify remarriage of a divorcee. While this position gives no specific descriptions or illustrations as to what these certain situations are, the principles stated are twofold: where reconciliation is not humanly possible and when the victims of divorce are exposed to greater sexual temptation.
In the case of your wife, Miriam, the Board made the following observations:
1. Miriam was a victim of divorce because she was not the one who filed the petition for divorce, but her former husband.
2. As a divorcee and a celebrity, she certainly was exposed to greater sexual temptation than she would have been if she was married.
3. Her former husband remarried four years ago and now has a child by his present wife which makes reconciliation humanly impossible.
As Miriam met the requirements of the CCF policy on divorce and remarriage, the Board posed no objection to her marriage to you.
As to the Biblical support for CCF’s permission for you and Miriam to marry, the Board made the following declarations:
1. Divorce per se is not a sin as there are qualifying circumstances for its permissibility. The Old Testament provides for a law on divorce and remarriage (Deuteronomy 24:1-4), Jesus recognized divorce although under one condition (Matthew 19:7-9) and so did Paul (1 Corinthians 7:15), and God used the concept of divorce to illustrate His judgment on Israel (Jeremiah 3:8).
2. If the Bible recognizes divorce, then, by extension, it must also allow for the remarriage of a divorced person which is an inherent privilege granted by his or her status.
3. As to the Biblical teachings on remarriage, 1 Corinthians 7:39 and Romans 7:1-3 address only the situation of a normal marriage. If a married woman remarries while her husband still lives then she commits adultery; but if her husband is dead, she does not commit adultery. This is plain and simple. But what about divorced or separated women? The cited passages do not address these situations. A possible verse to support the remarriage of divorced persons is 1 Corinthians 7:27-28, which contain the statement, “But even if you (someone who is “loosed from a wife”, presumably a divorced person) do marry, you have not sinned”. In any case, there is no clear passage of Scripture that prohibits, without exception, the remarriage of all divorced persons.
4. At the very least, the issue on divorce and remarriage may be treated as an “adiaphorism”, which is the view that anything that is not explicitly forbidden in Scripture may be treated with indifference. This means that people who consider divorce or remarriage an adiaphorism will not endorse these acts, but they will not condemn it either. CCF, however, has chosen to make a stand, which is embodied in the following statement: As a general rule, we will not actively participate in second marriages when the former spouse is still alive. However, we recognize that there are situations where reconciliation is no longer humanly possible and where the victims of the divorce are exposed to greater sexual temptation. In such cases, the Elders may review requests for remarriages and, on unanimous agreement, accede to the requests.
I hope this reply will help you answer queries on your marriage. May God continue to bless you and your family and your ministry.
Behind the scenes, before the board of Trustees of my church and Miriam’s church gave us their blessings and “permission” to remarry, they got the opinion of a respected biblical scholar, teacher and counsellor: Dr Nomer Bernardino.
We realised that many, many others are in the same boat but with different situations. Some are more complicated than others.
We seek happiness in our relationships–and many times it is through a marriage relationship. But what if the first time doesn’t work out and ends in legal separation? What are the options of a bible believing, Christian man or woman?
We invited, who else, Dr Nomer Bernardino to answer those questions at a forum/seminar called “Happiness, Marriage & Remarriage”.
So that it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Come and join us.
Register through bit.ly/happiness102 or email Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org or just get a ticket directly at eventbrite.com
It’s going to be a happy day for many as questions you’ve always wanted to ask will be answered. God bless!