One Man, One Wife, For Life?

Kate is a senior single in her church, dedicated to the service of God, and always radiating joyful contentment instead of the usual desperation to marry that is common among sisters of her age.

John on the other hand is a brother everyone called “married bachelor” as he is married but raising two children all alone. His wife left him and ran away with another man. She told him she was done with the marriage and asked him to move on and find another wife. He had gone to look for her in the home of her lover, only to be walked out by the man. Broken, John had confided in his pastor, who prayed with him and encouraged him. “God will comfort you,” his pastor said.

Four years after his wife left, John informed the church and the pastor that he wanted to remarry. His pastor told him that since his wife was still living, he could not remarry.  The church had a policy of one man, one wife, for life. However, John was insistent. He said he just could not go on without a wife anymore, lest he fall into sin. John continued to mount pressure on the church leaders to consider his plight, and after much persuasion, the leaders finally gave in, on the condition that he would have to forfeit all his leadership positions in the church.

John agreed to this condition and promptly approached Kate, who was receptive to him. As their courtship progressed, it became apparent to all around them that it was a match made in heaven. Soon, they were engaged.

Their traditional wedding was very colourful. Due to the fact that it was John’s second marriage, their leaders had decided to do a church blessing for them in the children’s section of the church upon their return from Kate’s hometown.  Then the unimaginable happened. Just two weeks to the church blessing, John’s first wife showed up with tears in her eyes. She had learned the error of her ways, repented, and now craved her husband’s forgiveness and the restoration of their marriage bond.

John was never legally divorced from his wife. When he decided he wanted to get another wife, he simply went to his wife’s family, explained the situation to them, and informed them that he was no longer interested in the marriage. Since John and his first wife never got a divorce, he is in a fix. The church council has however informed John that he has to stay with his first wife. They told Kate that John would return her bride price, and God would bring her own husband.
Church- wants John to stay with his first wife
Kate- wants John to divorce his first wife and stay with her. She feels betrayed by the church.
1st wife- wants her marriage restored, and Kate out of her husband’s life
John- is in a tight corner. He seems to want both women; he’s unable to let go of either
Readers, what do you think? Does the first wife have any right to come back in this way? Is Kate being fairly treated by the church? What should John do?


9 thoughts on “One Man, One Wife, For Life?

  1. My views, first John after his experience needs to ask God for direction on how to handle his affairs and allow God direct.

    Kate needs to also ask God for direction and be prepared for the outcome

    For the church my view is that most leaders walk with their views on a matter without allowing God to speak because the bible talks deeply on marriage and also makes reference to a troublesome wife and how a man should rather be away.

    Lastly the wife who ran away without clear reasons for 4yrs without the thought of how her children would be raised has some questions to answer and what has changed that will not make her leave again


  2. This is really simple, John and his first wife have been separated for four years. The lack of conjugal rights coupled with the infidelity is more than enough grounds for a divorce. Abeg, what is John confused about. Its either he wants to be with the first wife or not.Anybody who judges him for divorcing the wife is a nut case (pastor or not). As for Kate, she should stay clear and let John make up his mind. Not the one that after marriage every small fight will be an excuse for him to remind her of how he did her a favour by marrying her.


  3. Just to add, at the end of the day we will be judged individually. As far as you have talked with God and you have that inner peace, then I think we should let them do what they want. People will always be judgmental, that is the way of the world. At the end of the day the only relationships that really matter is between you, your God and your family.


  4. This is quite a complicated story however somethings do stand out..
    1) John did not divorce his first wife so she is still recognized as his wife by both God and man (legal system) before whom they took their vows.

    2) Kate, no matter how sour this has turned out for her, should have insisted that John should make things right for her to come in to his life. His marrying her is simply taking a 2nd wife as the first is neither deceased nor divorced.

    3) I Cor 7 v 10
    'Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be RECONCILED to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.'

    She has come back repentant and according to the God's instruction, they both should be reconciled.

    Regarding Kate, I agree it is extremely unfair that she be disappointed in this manner but we ought to be thorough in all our dealings. If one deals a sloppy hand, it would come right back at you. They should NEVER have gotten together while he was still married to another.

    The other tentative option (I do not recommend) would be for him to complete the ceremonies and have two wives. The bible does not state categorically that it is a SIN to do this but it strongly discourages it (indirectly). Scripture only requires the one-wife for Church Overseers, Deacons, ministers as a matter of ruling their homes better so that they could be seen to be blameless and beyond reproach (1 TIM 3:10) as they discharge their church duties. Hence the church was right in stripping him of all his church titles.

    This does not mean John can no longer serve God as a christian.. It's just NOT in those capacities.

    Paul also, in I Cor 7:28b,35, states his reasons for the instructions he gives on marriage:
    '…However, those who get married at this time will have TROUBLES, and I am trying to SPARE you those PROBLEMS.'
    35 'I am saying this for your benefit, NOT to place RESTRICTIONS on you. I want you to do whatever will help you SERVE the Lord BEST, with as few DISTRACTIONS as possible.'

    The above scriptures show the Scripture's perspective regarding marriage. Taking on two wives, though not a SIN, will be very very challenging and filled with many troubles. God does not want anything that will rob you of focus on Him and ultimately make you lose out on ETERNITY. If a christian is serious about his/her walk with God, they would be of the same mindset and put all other things (including marriage) second place to God.

    Also there is the women's opinions.. they may not even want to be married to the same man.

    My final opinion is that John forgives his first wife and be reconciled to her. Kate never even had a place to begin with as John was ALWAYS married to his first wife. Had he annulled it, this would be a different conversation.
    John therefore must make it right with her by apologizing profusely for leading her on without taking the proper steps. She also has some responsibility in this and should forgive John.

    Let the Holy Spirit lift all grievances and comfort all hurts.


  5. While reconciliation is what the bible advises in this situation as the comment above has stated, the parties involved should be pragmatic abeg..

    These questions should be asked:

    1) Has the first wife really repented or she was forced to return because conditions outside were no longer favorable i.e. there is no real change of heart and she is just using John to recuperate for the time being?

    2) What did she really engage in while she was away.. Was it just with one man or multiple partners? Any kids invoived? We don't want someone showing up in the future on their doorstep saying 'madam, you forgot your pikin'.. Or any man showing up claiming some form of entitlement or the other..

    3) Does she owe anyone money?. John and the kids should not be victims to whatever fallout that may come as a result any incurred debt on her part..

    4) Is she sick? Did she contract any disease during her time away spent in 'God knows what'? Is it because of this that she is returning?

    John / the Church needs to be thorough with these questions so that if he is getting her back, he would be doing so with his eyes OPEN or if he comes to the conclusion that there is no real change of heart on her part meaning she may still have immoral proclivities, then he divorces her like Jesus said, 'except for sexual immorality' and marry Kate.

    The worst thing is for John to take her in and she runs off again with the same person or with another.. Or she even brings this kind of activity into the home. God forbid!

    If the first wife is truly repentant, she must submit herself to be tested in all these areas before John makes a move..

    Abeg, a little wisdom and direction won't hurt in this matter.


  6. How I wish Kate had ensured that John secured a divorce before marrying John! No matter how bad the first wife was or how long she was away, as long as there was no divorce, Kate attempted to marry a married man! According to law, John has only one wife and that's his first wife. I feel very bad for Kate, but due diligence would have avoided this. Her position is not secure unless John divorces his first wife- he has grounds, as she was unfaithful.

    Chai, after going home to do traditional wedding. I hope her parents can withstand the trauma. God have mercy o, please let's be careful. Marriage is not to be entered into lightly.

    As for that first wife, hmmm. Only God will judge.

    John should lean into God now and decide which of them he wants. Keeping both is not ideal, as Kate cannot be legally married to a man who is not divorced. That's bigamy and it is punishable by law.

    Poor Kate 😦


  7. The church brother and sister have fallen prey to an ignorant church. How come no one in the church counselled on proper divorce b4 giving the go-ahead? As many as are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God, not as many as are led by the pastor. We all need the grace and patience to wait on God and not man for directions.


  8. Thank you for all your comments, they have been enlightening! We must indeed be led by God and His word.

    Considering God’s perspective on the issue, the question is, “Can a man divorce his wife or is it one man one wife for life, no matter the circumstances?”

    Jesus said in Matthew 5:32 that a man can divorce his wife only on grounds of sexual immorality. Some older translations like KJV render it “fornication” but the original Greek work actually translates to “sexual immorality” as can be seen in the NIV and other translations. That is the only condition for divorce.

    Nevertheless, we must note that there is room for forgiveness; it is not compulsory that infidelity should lead to divorce. It is simply allowed, not mandatory.

    In view of this, I believe that is it is John’s prerogative to stay with his first wife or to be with the 2nd wife. However, if the two women agree to stay with him, he has to do things with the help of the Holy Spirit. If he is going to be with the second wife he should divorce her properly and state the reason for the divorce.

    However, now that she is repentant, he has to seek the face of God Almighty and know what He is saying, not what He has said before; what He is saying now in this situation, before taking any step.

    Till next time, always remember that God’s love for you is abundant and overflowing.



  9. I think John is quite silly for wanting that woman back.
    She is a selfish individual and wants to eat her cake and have it.
    And I think the church has a way of messing people's relationships,that woman left!! He didn't send her out, she left.
    You cannot hurt people and think you will waltz back in because forgive and forget, actions come with consequences.
    In all of this, its Kate that I pity the most.


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