Question 2: Marriage and Family Life

There is a brother who 17 years ago promised to marry a woman and even made it a promise to the parent of the woman and then traveled abroad.  Along the line communication between the two broke. In the meanwhile, the brother became a Christian and eventually got married to a Christian woman. But in his greatest surprise, he went home after 17 years and found out that the woman he promised to marry is still waiting for him. Tell me whether this brother should marry this woman as a second wife or neglect her plea? What does the Bible say and what can I advise this brother who is seeking my help?

                Thanks for your question and concern for the brother and the woman whom he promised to marry 17 years back. This is an unfortunate situation. It is also unfortunate that this brother had not communicated his new found faith to the woman he promised to marry. If she is not a believer, he should have told her that unless she accepts Jesus as her personal Savior and Lord, the Bible would not let him marry her (2 Corinthians 6:14-16). But if she also became a born again believer, he ought to have kept his promise. This is a breach of verbal agreement between them which he may confess to her. But it seems 17 years have elapsed since the promise was given and it is unfortunate that there was no communication between them during this period.  It seems that he found a new love in the new land where he was living and willfully or conveniently forgotten the person to whom he gave a promise. But the woman seems to be intensely loyal and committed to him and waited for him for all these years and it must have been a great shock to her to find out that he is already married to another person.  But it seems strange that she kept waiting for him even in the wake of his silence for the long 17 years. But now that he is married, God’s Word would not permit his marriage to be separated (Malachi 2:16 & Matthew 19:6). So on the basis of the Bible, there is absolutely no room for him to divorce his wife to marry the person to whom he gave a promise 17 years back. Secondly there is no biblical basis for a second wife for a believer which is expressly forbidden by God (Genesis 2:24; Romans 7:2). So how can we resolve this crisis on the basis of the Bible?

                It seems to me that this bother has to meet the first woman and her family and ask for forgiveness for not keeping his vow to marry her. If she has not become a Christian believer, then that should be given as a genuine Biblical reason why he would not have married her because of his newly found faith. But it was his responsibility to communicate this to that woman and her family which was not done. This was a great mistake and a matter of great negligence. So it should be confessed in no unequivocal manner and with true humility and patience. In the event that they do not accept his confession, he may approach a pastor or elder of his church or a Christian counselor to counsel that woman’s family to accept this confession and the reality that he is already married which cannot be changed nor should he take a second wife which breaks Biblical teaching. He should fervently pray that God would speak to the family of this woman and help them to accept his confession. He should also sincerely pray that God would open the door for her to be married appropriately in the nearest future. 

                Hope you will be able to communicate this to your friend. It would be good if you would play the role of a Christian counselor to help this family to understand the unchangeable scenario because you know the scenario best. May God help you and your friend to thus put an end to this unfortunate situation for the glory of God! 
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