“Clue” on Yahoo Answers asks: Is it considered cheating if I divorce my husband to date another man?
I met a man 5 months ago and we are good friends, nothing sexual, I do not allow this to happen b/c I am married but I have been falling in love with him and since I don’t want to have extramarital sex I am thinking about divorcing my husband. Would this be cheating?
And would it be cheating If I finally have sex with this other man 1 day before my divorce is final for example?
Isn’t this just a convention?
This is an excellent question, and something which many are likely wrestling with. In the past marriage was for life and this left serial monogamists in a moral bind. However, now the rules have changed. Under the new definition of marriage so long as she waits until it is “official” she is fully within the letter and spirit of marriage to jump to another man. Those who are moral sticklers would of course insist that she marry this new man before having sex with him, and when she is ready for the next man after that divorce husband number two and then marry husband number three, etc.
The above however only represents the modern secular/legal perspective. We should also consider the modern Christian perspective. Here the rules are fundamentally the same, but you need to work up a biblical cause if you are a Protestant or declare that the marriage never occurred if you are a Catholic.
Sheila Gregoire explained the Protestant view in a comment responding to my post Promiscuity is good, so long as it is on the woman’s terms.
And so in the movie Fireproof, she was in a relationship where divorce was permitted, and she was planning on divorcing, and planning on remarrying. Thus, I wouldn’t say that’s whorish. He’s the one who cheated.
I’m just uncomfortable with you saying that Christians are allowing people to “whore” around because we’re permitting divorce, when I don’t think that’s the case. I believe there are very narrow grounds for divorce: abuse, affairs, and in some cases, addictions.
Protestant aficionados of serial monogamy may initially be disheartened by Sheila’s apparent strictness in what constitutes biblical grounds for divorce. However, there is no need to be concerned. Nearly everything is now considered abuse, and in the case in question Sheila was explaining that the husband viewing pornography was adultery. The key thing for Protestant serial monogamists who want to avoid the sins of fornication and adultery is to legally marry first and then gin up suitable pretext for divorce when you are ready for the next “commitment”. Otherwise the same strict moral rules which apply to marriage 2.0 are in effect.
Catholic serial monogamists would seem to be in a tighter bind here, since the RCC position on divorce is that it is never allowed. Civil divorce is allowed in some situations, but this doesn’t release Catholic serial monogamists to jump to the next stone in the path via remarriage. However, Catholic lawyers have discovered that perhaps as often as 90% of the time people who thought they got married really didn’t. This is especially common for Catholics thinking they were married in the US, because roughly 80% of RCC annulments are granted in the US, which accounts for only roughly 5% of Catholics worldwide. In these cases remarriage is permitted, and this is so common that one Catholic priest advises couples who fear they divorced in sin to go through the annulment process as a form of healing.
So many people misunderstand the Church’s teaching of divorce, annulments and remarriage. I encouraged those in the congregation to speak to me or another priest about getting an annulment to help move on with their lives. I’ve heard of so many people staying away from the Eucharist because they are divorced and as a result cannot receive communion. NO! Divorce in and of itself is not a sin, is not a reason to stay away from the Eucharist. Being remarried outside of the Church would be a reason one should not receive Holy Communion. The Church recognizes the difficulty that so many people have when it comes to this area of life. She stands ready to assist those who are in pain.
This just leaves the question of all of the sex which occurred after your wedding and before your divorce when you weren’t actually married. You may be concerned that this sex outside of marriage was fornication. However, you are covered here as well. Since you mistakenly thought you were married it turns out all of that unmarried sex wasn’t fornication.
I’m not the final authority on finding the appropriate moral rationalizations for serial monogamy, but hopefully this post has helped my readers start thinking about the right way to engage in serial monogamy. As always, consult your local divorce attorney/pastor/priest for guidance on the proper way to engage in serial monogamy to make sure you aren’t accidentally doing something immoral.