I am a thirty-six-year-old man. Thirteen years ago, I met the woman that I live with now. She was married when I met her, with three children, and separated from her husband. Back then I didn’t know anything about Biblical teachings. Now that I am a follower of Christ, I realize that I shouldn’t have gotten together with a married woman.

We have two children together…. What should I do? Should I leave the relationship with her, since it would be adultery if I were to marry her?

Dear Friend,

Yours is a very complicated situation, and we are very glad that you have asked our advice. Many others, living in a situation much like yours, may be confused as well, and hopefully we can help.

While it is true that the Bible says that it is adultery to have a physical relationship with someone who is married to another, it also says that it is sexual sin to have a physical relationship with someone to whom you are not married. And that is exactly what you have been doing for the past thirteen years by living with the mother of your two children. You have been committing sexual sin because you are not married to her. However, that is not the end of the story.

You mention that you could marry her. That makes us think that she is no longer married to her former husband and that she is available to marry you. We also assume that she has become a follower of Christ, as you have.

We believe that the sin you committed before you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior was totally forgiven and forgotten when you asked Him to take away your sins. The Apostle Paul taught: “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” (1) So what you did before you knew the truth is not something that you need to feel guilty for now. You are forgiven. The mother of your children is also forgiven if she has asked Christ to come into her life and to forgive her sins.

However, the problem is that you are currently living with a woman to whom you are not married, and that is sexual sin. But you can resolve the issue very easily! We recommend that you get married this week. You don’t need a party, a dinner, or fancy clothes. You just need to get a marriage license and then have your pastor perform a brief private ceremony with family only. Once you are married, you can serve God together with no shame.

Jesus Christ gave up His life on the cross so that you might have new life in Him. Don’t waste another day making the same mistakes you made in the past. And don’t be tempted to delay because someone thinks that getting married requires a party.

We wish you well,

1 1 Co 5:17 (NLT)