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Divorce   [ Menu ]


About "Legal Divorce" of First Wives

Most Christians who would identify themselves as being within Christian Polygamy recognize that marriage is defined by the Lord alone and not (actually legitimately) defined by the false god of government. With that view, it is therefore reasonably understood by such Christians that government-given "marriage licenses" really have no binding authority whatsoever on the actual and true definition of marriage as according to the LORD God.

As such, with that rational understanding, of course, it is also therefore logical that such Christians likewise have the view that government-based "divorces", or simply the voiding of government-given "marriage licences", also have no authority on the legitimacy of Christian marriages as according to the LORD God. (That is, the false god of government has no authority to define God-defined marriages as either whether the God-defined marriages are "existing" or are "voided". What government chooses to define has no meaning or bearing in terms of God-defined marriages.)

So, with that rational understanding, this then raises the important question of whether or not it is acceptable for a Christian polygamist husband to get a "legal divorce" with a first wife, so that he may then get "legally married" to a second wife, even though he is not really divorcing his first wife in terms of the God-defined marriage.

The logic here is based on the view that, since he is not actually divorcing the first wife in actuality in terms of the Lord, but rather he is only voiding the government-given "marriage licence", which has no authority either way in terms of God-defined marriage anyway, this idea then could seem to be a very good way in order to give a second wife the man's last name and to likewise assure her of marital "rights" within the secular society, just as the first wife would have such marital "rights".

Along these lines of very reasonable logic, this question was indeed asked by a first wife, in a post she made at the FRIENDS AND FELLOWHELPERS listserv (aka, "FAF").

What now follows is her original question and then the reply from the Founder of this ministry.

May this be a blessing for all who read it.

-----Original Message-----
From: [[woman asking question]]
Date: Friday, January 21, 2000 3:23 PM
Subject: Here's another ???

I have been considering getting a "legal" divorce from my husband, so that he may marry [[another woman already in our life]]. I'm not leaving or anything, I just don't feel it would be right for her and her children to be legally single. Being married would protect them under the law, give them insurance, etc. It would also change her name, which she wants to do. Will this course of action cause us legal problems later on?? And also will it cause us problems spiritually? We have had some verses thrown in our face about writing off your wife in divorce and I am not sure how to respond.

I want to also say thank you for all of the support you all have given us.

It means so much I cannot put it into words. Bless you all.

Peace & Love in Jesus Christ,

[[woman asking question]]

What now follows is the reply which the Founder of this ministry posted back, at the FRIENDS AND FELLOWHELPERS listserv (aka, "FAF"):

-----Original Message-----
From: ! . . . TRUTH BEARER
To: FAF listserv
Date: Monday, January 24, 2000 2:06 PM
Subject: About "Legal Divorce" of 1st Wives    Re: Here's another ??

Greetings in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ the Wondrous Saviour!

Dear FellowHELPERS,

While this post here is addressed to [[woman asking question]] (who raised this important issue with her very good question ), my post here is likely to be another "full" post, which might be of some interest to others here as well. (At least, I pray it be of some value to all who are able to read it.)

Dear [[woman asking question]],

Good question to consider!

Alongside my post here to you, I have also included a REPOST of something I sent to FAF last June (1999). The original title of that item reposted is
"last names".

You might find it informative (at least, I pray it might be of some small help or insight for you).

In addition to that, here are some more of my thoughts on this matter, as you have raised the additional matter of a first wife getting a "legal divorce" so that a second wife may then obtain "legal status".

Marriage Definitions

First off, I would say that marriage is not defined by government but rather at the consummation between two believers in Christ Jesus.

The defining moment of being actually "married" was not at the celebration or feast, as Jacob was NOT married to Rachel, for whom he THOUGHT he was marrying and celebrating in that feast, in Genesis 29:23,18-28. But rather, because of the consummation (vs 23), Jacob was married to Leah **NOT RACHEL** in the morning. He would not be married to Rachel for another week afterward (vs 28).

With that said, so that you know, there are some denominational variations here among us who believe marriage is defined in other ways.

There is one denominational view which believes that marriage is instead defined at the time of oath-making.

Moreover, there is also another minority view which believes that marriage is defined as being when a father "gives/assigns" his daughter to a man.

While I, myself, do not hold to those other denominational views, I felt, in all fairness, that it was important to let you know that these other views do exist, and that some do indeed believe them.

Perhaps even you might believe them, too, and that's no problem! :-)

With that clarified, now, I would say that...

I, myself, take the view that consummation between two believers in Christ Jesus IS the defining moment of marriage in Christ Jesus. (It is irrelevant what UNbelievers do because, without Christ, there is only condemnation of sin for unbelievers, for we are all sinners in need of Christ's salvation until we receive the gospel and become believers, becoming "new creatures" in Christ Jesus, per 2_Corinthians 5:17.) Anyway, I, myself, hold to the view of marriage being defined at consummation between two believers, as this prevents any possibility of fornication among believers. Period. Believers do not fornicate with believers. They are married (as Jacob was with Leah), or they have committed adultery if she be another believer's wife. And 2_Corinthians 6:14 preaches to us to not unequally yoke ourselves with unbelievers, so we should not be marrying unbelievers. For more details on all this particular matter, I would encourage you to read the 6 part series at TRUTH BEARER, titled,     "Remarriage of a Woman",
as linked from the "START" page at

Anyway, though, as we have gone round and round on the various denominational views on this matter (of when is a marriage a marriage?) previously here at FAF, we do not need to go into THAT discussion again. :-)   I simply needed to clarify the basis of where I am "coming from" in sharing my thoughts here for you, so that you would be better enabled to understand my thoughts here.

So, with all that said, marriage between two believers is not defined by a government "license" (but is, instead, as I said above, in my view, at the consummation between two believers).

Government "Marriage License"

The only reason for getting the "license" is for getting benefits when contracting with governments and other organizations. That is, a married couple might want to be "recognized" as being defined as "legally" married only for the purpose of "qualifying" for the various opportunities in secular society.

(This is also why I am adamantly opposed

    *** adamantly, adamantly, adamantly opposed ***

to the idea of would-be polygamists exploiting their government's NON-recognition of second (et al) wives in order to qualify for receiving money from their government for which they would NOT qualify to receive if their government viewed them as indeed "legally married" and which such government would otherwise thus use their combined incomes as to DISqualify the handout money from being distributed to them. Without my even getting into my own political views against unconstitutional redistribution from a false god of government, even so, a would-be polygamist misrepresenting his family in order to "qualify" for redistributions for which his family would not receive if the government DID "legally recognize" all the marriages, that is advancing deceptive falsehood, and can be considered fraud and even outright theft of tax-dollars. Please don't misunderstand me here, I'm not even talking about those who have needs. Rather, this here specifically is only talking about fraudulent misrepresentation which is dishonest and not the sort of thing in which Christians should be involving themselves.)


Spiritually speaking, the government really has NO authority whatsoever to be defining marriage in the first place. (In the U.S., this is a violation of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as marriage is a religious issue because marriage is given and ordained by God alone, and not by the false god of government.) Indeed, if government had never got involved in violating the 1st Amendment (in the U.S.) in defining marriage, we would not now be seeing the political advance of the Scripture-defined abomination of legalized so-called "same-sex marriages". If the false god of government had never gotten involved in defining marriage in the first place, then these kinds of things wouldn't even be an issue today. So, what we actually see is that, by the false god of government thinking it had authority to define marriage in the first place, that actually paved the way for the abominable things we are now seeing being advanced as so-called "marriage" these days. (God help us!)

(Now mind you, my heart goes out to the sad and hurting homosexual-behavior-choosing-individuals who have allowed themselves to be deceived into "normalizing" their behaviors and thinking incorrectly that such chosen practices are supposedly not sinful, for which will instead come the wages of death. Also, the idea that so-called "same-sex marriages" should be supposedly legitimate in the society, sadly, only goes that much further to therewith sadly deceive such sad and hurting ones to remain in their sin, rather than to seek the healing of Christ. So, please let this be understood that this is not "bashing" anyone, while this IS recognizing that the "normalizing" of Scripture-defined sin is actually hurtful to those who have chosen to participate in such sinful practices. This is why my heart truly does go out to such sad and hurting homosexual-behavior-choosing-individuals as the false god of government ends up further deceiving their souls with the idea of legitimizing so-called "same-sex marriages".)

So, I said all that to say this, the "marriage license" of a married couple of believers is not spiritual or Scriptural, and it has no bearing on the authority of their being married in the Lord.

(And indeed, for anti-polygynists who say Christians are exhorted to "obey the law of the land" as a supposed argument for getting the marriage license in order for marriage to supposedly be defined, the question to bring back to them is, "What law of the land are we breaking to choose to not use the government to recognize our polygynous marriages?" This is also the purpose of the QUESTIONS TO PONDER, section at the site of TRUTH BEARER, which asks,
Was Braveheart Right to Marry His Wife "in Secret"?)

As I said, therefore, marriage is not defined by government, and there is not a single example in the Scriptures which says that marriage is defined by government. (If marriage is defined by government, then all the patriarchs in the Scripture were not married! God forbid.)

Yet Be That As It May....

Yet, despite all this...

I would say that I am still very uncomfortable with the concept of then applying that understanding to then justify a first wife being technically "divorced" by the "legal process", so that the husband may then "legally marry" a second wife. In fact, I would be inclined to discourage that idea, actually.

Here's why....

(although I would not be all that critical of those who chose to do so)...

As many know, the exclusive TRUTH BEARER Mission is that of
Bringing Christian Polygamy to the Churches.
And the means by which that is possible is by way of the
TRUTH BEARER Vision, the message of love-not-force. (The TRUTH BEARER Vision is the message that a husband should grow in love so profoundly that he thereby helps his first wife be able to gladly embrace Christian Polygamy, rather than hurting and terrifying her by forcing it upon her before she is ready. Christian Polygamy is about MEN growing in profound love as Christ's love for the Churches, not about merely "expecting" women to "just accept it" because some "dictator" told them to.)

The TRUTH BEARER Vision of love-not-force both

  • PERSUADES the Churches that Christian Polygamy really IS only about profound Christ-like selfless love for women, and

  • PROTECTS us in Christian Polygamy from otherwise being misdefined by the bitter and hurting divorced first wives whose husbands instead FORCED polygamy on them so that such hurting women then join the anti-polygyny political groups to try wreak havoc among us in Christian Polygamy.

Our enemy to Christian Polyamy are not women, nor even the anti-polygyny groups, but rather, our real enemies are the

two spirits of self-exaltation and self-justification
which would rise up within the men AMONG US, who terrify their first wives by these spirits' view of self-justified FORCE of polygamy on the first wife. She leaves, thinking that polygyny is the reason, yet not realizing that the real issue terrifying her are those two spirits in her husband.

So, we have to be careful in all that we do in Christian Polygamy, that we truly walk humbly and gently and lovingly.

And all that then relates to this discussion here about husbands getting "legal divorces" with their first wives, for "last name" issues only (notwithstanding that they still intend to view themselves as married with the first wife even afterward).

1st Wife thereafter "Labelled"

First off, even though a first wife can come to the understanding of how the "legal divorce" really is not a divorce, as per the eyes of God, for some dear women, there can always be that little seed of doubt or sense of "loss", the sense of her still feeling as though she indeed had been "divorced" from her husband. It may have only been a "legal" matter, but she might still always feel that adjective, the word, "divorced", would still apply to her. And in some circumsances in secular society, she would be having to identify herself that way, in order to be honest.

It's one thing for a second wife to overcome a sense of not needing government to be defined as being married to her polygynous husband, but it is another thing for a first wife to forever after have a "label" attached to her as being "divorced", in all future contracts and other things in which she participates in the offerings of secular society.

Yes, my heart goes out to the second wives who are not able to identify themselves ---YET, anyway--- as "wives" of their husbands in secular society. And we are hoping that could be overcome by way of the TRUTH BEARER Mission.    J

But the difference here is that the second wife is NOT being able to identify herself as a married wife, while the idea of the first wife HAVING to identify herself as a "divorced" wife is a permanent thing, and brings much sense of loss and perhaps even stigma of "failure" or some other like thing.

And this little seed in a first wife can then possibly germinate unto becoming a full-blown emotional issue of resentment later on, making things in the marriage difficult later. (The permanent label of being "divorced" in secular situatons will always be there to remind her.)

So, myself, I would instead seek ways to help a second wife be able to GAIN "rights", but I would not want to use ways to make a first wife feel as though she has LOST some "rights".

And moreover, as such a seed of loss and lost "rights" might grow in a first wife unto her one day even feeling so hurt that she then leaves the family, thinking that she has no legal hesitation to do so, because, HEY!, she's already "legally divorced". Then what is a possible thing to happen from that?

Preventing Bitter Divorced 1st Wives

We would have another bitter and hurting divorced first wife. (This always breaks my heart.)

And she might very possibly take that hurt straight to the anti-polygyny political groups. And she could be telling them that we in Christian Polygamy supposedly advocate divorce. (God forbid.)

(And, of course, this is why and how this all here connects to the TRUTH BEARER Mission and Vision, as we need to help and love first wives in Christian Polygamy, that we be ever careful to not plant seeds which would could cause potential hurt or divorce.)

But if we here start advancing the idea of "legal divorces" of first wives, that is exactly what we would appear to be preaching, if we start advancing this otherwise understandable idea of only getting "legal divorces" on paper, but not in reality according to God.

Of course, that implication (i.e., that we in Christian Polygamy are supposedly advocating and preaching divorce) would not be the whole truth, but it would not wholly false either.

And that in itself would easily empower anti-polygyny propaganda, and the Christian Churches would accept that propaganda without letting us explain how truly ANTI-divorce we really are.

All they would see is that we appeared to be advocating divorce. (God forbid.)

And that would sabotage our Mission of Bringing Christian Polygamy to the Churches. And it could even potentially be used in order to say that we in Christian Polygamy are not really living up to the message of the TRUTH BEARER Vision love-not-force, for the love for women.

Now, I realize that we're talking about possibilities here, but we really do need be

"therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves". (Matthew 10:16c-d.)

As such, I perceive that it is not a good thing for men to give too much thought to getting mere "legal divorces" with previous wives, in order to "legally marry" others.

I understand the good rationale for the idea, and I even agree that "legal divorce" of mere "legal marriage" carries no spiritual unrighteousness in terms of adultery doctrine, but even in doing it for those good reasons, it still ends up that the gain is so small anyway, namely, it is still that only one wife at a time would have "legal recognition" anyway. And all that with the cost of making a "divorced wife" permanently HAVE to identify herself as a "divorced" woman to secular situations.

To me, the costs for the "legal divorce" route far outweigh what little "gain" we might receive in going that route.

Possible Alternatives

So, while I am not an attorney (and so my advice here may NOT be construed as having any "legal authority"), here are my thoughts on what actually MIGHT be able to be done instead.

As far as children coming in to a family are concerned, they can be adopted. Thus, they can quickly have the family's father's last name, and be part of inheritance upon the father's decease. The first wife (and her children) would still have the same last name and inheritance rights, as no "legal divorce" occurred.

That only leaves the issue of last names and inheritance rights (and such other corresponding rights as a wife) for all wives, except for the first wife who has them already.

As I said in the other REPOST about "last names", it would not be too difficult to simply go to court and get a "legal name change". That is, it would be far much faster and less expensive for each new wife to get a "name change" (so that her last name is then her husband's last name) rather than to go through the timely and expensive "legal divorce" process with the previous wife and "legal marriage" process with the new wife. (Mind you, though, one should thereafter be careful, when dealing with legal documents, that they not misrepresent such name change as though it were "recognized" as her being her husband's "legally recognized" wife. That could immediately initiate the "bigamy laws" into enforcement actions, and potentially bring prosecution [which is a main reason why they were created, to prevent fraud], if not a potential charge of fraud.) But, as long as that carefulness is observed, then the simple name change in court can resolve the name issue. :-)

So, that only leaves the issue of inheritance rights (and all the related rights pertaining to being a wife).

Again, while I am not an attorney, I can not here give legal counsel. But I CAN say what I think here, and then encourage you here to take my thoughts and run them by some attorney whom you trust, and go from there.

To address the wife-rights issue, it is possible to create some form of a legal partnership, wherein "shares" of "ownership" and authority within the partnership may be established. (This is how financial matters such as bank accounts may be established.) There is also the possibility of establishing "power of attorney", wherein the family can assign who is authorized to make important decisions etc. And one can assign "beneficiary" status to others, such as in life insurance policies, etc.

Of course, these things might not fully overcome all the hurdles which secular society has placed in front of the Christian Polygamous family, but these are some possible ways to address some of the issues.

And one more time, I have to say it, I am not an attorney, so none of my thoughts here may be construed as "official legal advice or legal counsel". I would simply encourage anyone reading this to bring these possibilities to their own attorney whom they trust, and proceed from the attorney's counsel, not mine. :-)

To Now Conclude

So, to conclude this....

Obviously, while I fully recognise and appreciate the rationale of the idea of you getting a "legal divorce" so that your husband may then "legally marry" his second wife, [[ the woman already in your life ]], and I even applaud your heart for being willing to do so, I would not be inclined to recommend that course of action. As explained above, I am more inclined to actually discourage the idea.

Mind you, of course, as I do understand the rational thinking behind your willingness to take such a course of action, I would not be all that critical of you either.

These are my thoughts anyway. :-)

Dear [[woman asking question]], I do pray that this post here has been of some value to you, and I pray that the other REPOST which I have sent alongside this here is helpful for you, as well.

Thank you for raising such a very good question.

Your posts here at FAF are truly good for all of us here.

Praise the Lord for you and your family.

May the love of the Lord Christ Jesus be with you!

YHWH bless...

   Acts 24:14

© January 24, 2000,
P.O. Box 765, O.O.B., ME 04064
Legal Divorce of First Wives
Last Names for Second Wives
Clarifying Marriage Doctrine for Women


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