Marriage to a divorced woman


In Luke 16:18 it reads: “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery."

Unfortunately, I did this primarily before my faith was rooted well. I know ignorance is no excuse, especially to God.

But I clearly, by this verse, have committed adultery. Of course I have been to confession and thus this sin should be washed clean. I have made my atonement and my penance.

However, I cannot undo this sin and need to know that unlike suicide, this sin can and will be forgiven, because it is my understanding that I am now in a state of perpetual sin.

I know that God will wash away all sin when one asks for forgiveness, but if I am perpetually in a state of sin, I can never and will never be able to be forgiven. I am truly having a crisis. I also know that God can and will enact venerable judgment upon those whom he so chooses for reasons beyond us, and I feel that I am now doomed to hell for my mistake.


if she is willing, try to get an annulment.



There are LOTS of issues to be sorted out, and a good priest can help you do this.

First, you need to agree with your wife that you will live as brother and sister - no sex - until you have figured out exactly what her marital status is.

Second, if the Church recognizes that her marriage MIGHT be valid, then it will be necessary to have this matter investigated to see whether an annulment of her first marriage is possible. There are many reasons why her previous marriage might be considered invalid, but you need to be prepared for the possibility that she was in a valid Christian marriage.

Finally, how were you married to her without these things being worked out previously? :shrug:

This will not be a pleasant time for either of you, but you will be much happier with an official decision.

God bless.


Sorry, I failed to mention in my original post that she had her marriage annulled by the Catholic Church, so according to the CC she was no longer married before we were married in the CC.

And I suppose that because the CC has put this into its law, that I should feel comfortable with the decision, trusting that CC is right on this matter, even though her previous marriage did not include any sexual infidelity from her former husband (which I believe is the one reason “out” that Jesus provided for divorce to be not sinful).

Her marriage was annulled for other reasons.


If a valid marriage never existed, then you married a woman who had never been married before.

Enjoy your marriage bed with a clear conscience, dude! :dancing:


So your wife’s marriage was declared null, and presumably you were free to marry. Further, you were married in the Catholic Church.

So let’s see.

Your wife’s first marriage was declared null, therefore she was free to marry.
You were presumably free to marry.
You were married according to the Catholic form.

So it appears that your marriage to your wife is valid and sacramental.

What’s the problem then, and where is the sin here?



My concern is that the Catholic Church annulled the marriage, but Christ only gives one, and one only, reason for divorce, and that is infidelity, and her marriage did not include any infidelity. So therefore, if the CC annulled her marriage, but done so wrongly, (because it was based on another premise besides the only one provided by Christ), then it is truly not annulled.

That is why I am worried.


That’s just it. You’re not an adulterer. Why would you even think this?


Where are you getting your ideas from? Why can’t you trust the Catholic church on the annulment and keep coming back to a fundamentalist ideas concerning the verses you have quoted here? Jesus have the keys of the kingdom to St. Peter which translates that Jesus gave authority to the Catholic church which has built upon the quotes of Jesus here.


There is no divorce, because there is no marriage. You judge your wife unfairly, and uncharitably, by calling her a divorced woman.

Jesus established the Church, not the bible. The Church established the bible. Connect the dots and decide who you will follow.


Going thru annulment myself right now.
Your problem Joe is you are using the wrong terms.
Did Christ offer but one exception in the case of divorce? Yes he did. Was infidelity the exception? Yes it was.
Your getting hung up on the word divorce. That’s incorrect. No divorce has occurred, understand that. You are confusing civil law and Church doctrine. Divorce is a civil procedure. The Church does not recognize divorce. . .period.
Annulment means that spiritual marriage never happened. There was no marriage. This is determined by investigating to see if the criteria for a valid, spiritual marriage were met. If they were not then no marriage occurred. No marriage? Then no divorce occurred. Your wife lived with someone and nothing more.
Get yourself in front of a good priest, soon, cause you have a head full of bad information.


I think you are misunderstanding exactly what a declaration of nullity from the Church is. It is NOT a divorce. It does NOT dissolve an existing marriage. Jesus established the Church and gave the Church authority…Scripture says: Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. These words were first directed to St. Peter in Matthew 16 and then to all of the Apostles in Matthew 18. St. Peter’s successor the Pope and his brothers the bishops, who succeed the Apostles, exercise this same authority. When an annulment is granted the Church is declaring by her authority that a valid, sacramental marriage never existed in the first place. Thus your wife, while she thought she was married, never was truly married in the eyes of God or of the Church. Thus Our Lord’s words do not apply. Her marriage to you was her first true sacramental marriage before God and His Church. Rest easy and trust the Church. As Catholics we know that Christ speaks to us through the Church…the Bible is the Church’s book and must be interpreted in light of her teachings and laws.


Christ also established the Church and gave her the authority to teach on faith and morals. The Catholic Church determined that your wife’s first putative marriage was null FROM THE BEGINNING, which is to say that certain essential components were lacking which meant the marriage bond was never formed. A civil divorce has no bearing at all on the sacrament of marriage. If the marriage was valid and sacramental, no amount of divorce will change that, because a sacramental marriage is broken only by death. Even if one of the spouses were to be unfaithful and they divorce, they are still not free to marry other people because the bond exists.

If a marriage was invalid to begin with, then divorce is moot because it just dissolves the civil aspect of the contract. In fact, two divorced people who were validly married to begin with can still engage in sexual intercourse with each other without sin.

The Church has declared by her authority that your wife was never truly married to begin with. And only the Church has the authority to decide on matters like these. Because the Church has determined that her first marriage was invalid, the civil divorce has absolutely no effect on her or you. In fact, the Church usually requires a civil divorce before she would even begin anullment proceedings.

You therefore have no right to even question your wife’s eligibility to marry you, or to question the validity of your marriage, or the authority of the Church. She is free to marry you because she was not bound by a previous marriage to begin with.

And further, stop interpreting the Bible on your own outside the Church’s own teaching. Between the Church and your private interpretation, if there is a contradiction, you will always be in the wrong. And that goes for all of us.


Many people don’t understand what an annulment is and what it means. The Church did nothing with you marriage, other than make a determination based on the evidence that the marriage was not valid.

Also important is to understand that a “divorce” in the Catholic sense and “divorce” in the legal sense. They are not the same. Yes a legal divorce took place. But as far as the Church is concerned, the marriage was invalid at the outset, and one cannot divorce one they are not marriage to.

and that is infidelity,

Be careful with that. The Catholic Church does not allow for divorce for infidelity. Many non-Catholic Christians do. The reason has to do with the translation of the original Biblical documents.


Joe, no matter what non-Catholics might say, an annulment is not a divorce.

When a person receives an annulment, it means that a sacramental marriage never took place (not a legal one). Even if your wife was previously married in the Catholic Church, there can be reasons why the Sacrament didn’t take place.

Marriage is a Sacrament when both parties are (1) Baptized and (2) truly understand and mean what they are doing. Sometimes people get married, but one spouse doesn’t believe in the Sacrament of Marriage, etc. Or sometimes, people get married out of obligation (i.e. when the girlfriend is pregnant) rather than true desire.

Anyway, if the Church issued an annulment, then the Church determined that a sacramental marriage never took hold.

If you still have questions, I would suggest either speaking with your priest or calling the Catholic Answers apologetics line at: 619-387-7200 M-F from 9am to 4:45 US Pacific Time.

God Bless


DUDE! Relax and enjoy your wife ! She is your wife!

You trust the church right? That whole keys of the kingdom thing and the power to bind and loose?

The church said she is unmarried therefore she is. Just like the church declared canon law and the canon of the bible and any other thing.

Be at peace


Thanks to everyone who has responded. I appreciate it. Your responses have helped me come to a deeper understanding and in fact, I even called the Father at church to help me walk through this as well.

God bless.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit