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When Is It Technically No Longer Adultery?


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As Mormons we take a serious view of marriage and don't consider divorce lightly. But suppose a marriage is definitely over, its just a matter of the final paperwork being signed. At what point could each spouse begin a relationship with someone of the opposite sex that is romantic, but not sexual. Is it okay to find a new 'friend' if the spouse has moved out and is officially separated?

And do Mormons hold their members to a higher standard than other religions?

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Marriage is a legally binding contract; it is also a spiritual one. At times, the spiritual bond is broken prior to the legal bond. It is always best, it is the high road, to never begin a new relationship until the current marriage is over in all respects. It is never healthy to have a roving eye.

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I knew a really great lady who's hubby left her later in life. She met a wonderful new man fairly quickly (months later but divorce was not yet final). She told me that her bishop called her in and warned her that regardless of what her husband was doing, in the eyes of God she was still married and that she could not have any kind of a romanitc relationship with the new guy without sinning (and risking her church membership, as she had been through the temple) until her divorce was completely final.

She was grateful for the counsel because she had honestly never considered, due to the fact that her husband had left her and her marriage had been very much over for months, that having a boyfriend before the papers were signed would be considered adultery by God and to the church.

That is the only experience i've ever had with the topic and can't speak to more than my friend's experience. Hope it helped in some way.

Edited by bluebell
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The temple commitment is suprisingly clear as to the meaning of adultery. I suppose that when the divorce is final,it is no longer adultery and becomes fornication.

Not in the eyes of the church. That would seem to imply that it's not fornication in God's eyes either. (If the temple ceremony really is of God, of course.)

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As Mormons we take a serious view of marriage and don't consider divorce lightly. But suppose a marriage is definitely over, its just a matter of the final paperwork being signed. At what point could each spouse begin a relationship with someone of the opposite sex that is romantic, but not sexual. Is it okay to find a new 'friend' if the spouse has moved out and is officially separated?

And do Mormons hold their members to a higher standard than other religions?

I am not sure about other religions, but when I was in the Single adults no one could attend the singles activities until their divorces were final (legally signed etc) As far as I know that is the rule in the Church. I am not sure what the GHI says but I think that it close.
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I was told I couldn't "officially" date anyone until my divorce was finalized, I could be interested in someone else after everything hit the fan but couldn't and I wouldn't do anything about it

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You are either married or you are available. You are never both at the same time. And God knows your heart so wordplay doesn't fix it. Shut it down.

I see a tension in your response. On the one hand you seem to be saying that married is married and the whole question is determined by some combination of sematics or legal definitions. In this view there are no gray areas.

On the other hand, in the same breath, you say that God "knows your heart" which makes it sound (rightly in my opinion) like it is less a matter of definitions and law and more a matter of intentions, love, betrayal, and circumstance.

For example, my wife divorced her ex before she married me. But she is from Spain and the divorce was not recognized in Spain (and not recognized by her church). So when we visited Spain we slept in the same bed while from the point of view of the local law I am not even sure if we were married or if she was still married to her ex. The point would be that there could be lots of special cases. Perhaps one lives in a culture where divorce is de facto impossible and yet the other partner has moved on and you have a new love. Then what?

Also--and this is closer to the OP question--I had a long separation from my ex wife during which time I met my current wife. Our lips met slightly before the pen hit the divorce papers. Does anyone really care?

Edited by Tarski
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I am not sure about other religions, but when I was in the Single adults no one could attend the singles activities until their divorces were final (legally signed etc) As far as I know that is the rule in the Church. I am not sure what the GHI says but I think that it close.

I think it might depend on the leader, I know people in the process of divorce in my area could attend Institute and go to some of the activities such as Conferences. But I don't think they could attend the Singles Branch or go to dances.

As for my personal opinion, I agree with Storm Rider, it's best to wait until the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted before moving on in that respect.

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most single adult activity flyers include "All divorces must be final" Christ described adultery as lusting, do you have thoughts about this special friend?

But I suppose since you want a technicality, what are the covenants we make regarding Law of Chastity? What you do prior to final decree is your business, and you will be held accountable for you actions.

you should also consider how you current activities will influence a final ruling on your divorce. I say you are playing fire and almost want someone else to push you in. I have not gone through a divorce but I imagine it is a heartwrenching experience that affects ones good judgment.

Edited by treehugger
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I see a tension in your response. On the one hand you seem to be saying that married is married and the whole question is determined by some combination of sematics or legal definitions. In this view there are no gray areas.

On the other hand, in the same breath, you say that God "knows your heart" which makes it sound (rightly in my opinion) like it is less a matter of definitions and law and more a matter of intentions, love, betrayal, and circumstance.

For example, my wife divorced her ex before she married me. But she is from Spain and the divorce was not recognized in Spain (and not recognized by her church). So when we visited Spain we slept in the same bed while from the point of view of the local law I am not even sure if we were married or if she was still married to her ex. The point would be that there could be lots of special cases. Perhaps one lives in a culture where divorce is de facto impossible and yet the other partner has moved on and you have a new love. Then what?

Also--and this is closer to the OP question--I had a long separation from my ex wife during which time I met my current wife. Our lips met slightly before the pen hit the divorce papers. Does anyone really care?

I see what you mean in your observation of the difference between it just being the law and it being more because God knows our hearts. Let me try to better express my views.

First, it is the law and we, as LDS, have committed to abide by the law. It is most basic in our beliefs.

Article of Faith #12 ~We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

So, it really is that black and white. There is no gray area here.

Regarding the fact that God knows our hearts, my reason in sharing this in my short statement above was to respond to the word "friend" that had been put in the OP. Calling your romantic interest a 'friend' to others or even in your own mind only makes a fool of you, not God and not others. God knows your interest is romantic regardless of what efforts you might make to disguise it. Still further, God knowing the hearts of men does not in way lessen our obligation to obey the law. Gray area may well exist in the heart but the law remains black and white which is why ONLY God knows the heart and only God judges according to it. Man judges according to the law because we are not capable of the righteous judgement of God. It is the law that we abide no matter the heart.

As for your comments about you wife from Spain, thank you for sharing your personal experience with us. It reminds me of another thread on this board right now, Exclusion. The discussion speaks to the differences in laws regarding marriage ceremonies in the UK vs USA. I believe that these things do need to be taken into consideration as the laws are not the same everywhere you go. But as with temple ordinances, we abide by the law of the land that we live in. If you are in Spain, you abide by the laws of Spain. If you have moved to the USA, you abide by the laws of the USA. Seems easy to understand to me. It is not hard to live God's laws in righteousness. It does get complicated though when manipulation, deception, covetousness, or lust are introduced. From what you provided here, I assume that you married in the USA. If she was completely and legally divorced, then you did not break the law.

If one lives in a culture where divorce is impossible, be VERY careful about who marry because you will be held accountable to God's law for your actions. No married person should have new love no matter the separation.

Our lips met slightly before the pen hit the divorce papers. Does anyone really care?

A very emphatic YES!

Regards, Naomi

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As Mormons we take a serious view of marriage and don't consider divorce lightly. But suppose a marriage is definitely over, its just a matter of the final paperwork being signed. At what point could each spouse begin a relationship with someone of the opposite sex that is romantic, but not sexual. Is it okay to find a new 'friend' if the spouse has moved out and is officially separated?

And do Mormons hold their members to a higher standard than other religions?

You mean how close can you get to sinning without actually doing it?

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Don't assume that I'm the one with the friend. My wife has criticized me often for not baptizing our oldest two kids and not wanting to go to church. I didn't want to baptize our kids because I felt it would be disrespectful to everyone involved, and the church itself, if I were to perform baptisms in a church that I had such serious doubts about. When I went to Sunday school I invariably caused a stir by my pointed comments about doctrine and church history. It became clear to me that my going to church added no value for me or other attendees. My wife wanted me there because she didn't want to be 'one of those wives who sits alone with the kids' like her mother had done when she was a girl.

So, since I'm the one who isn't a good Mormon anymore, and clearly my wife is, I figure I might not clearly understand the rules for divorce and wanted to check with the folks on this board.

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A very emphatic YES!

Who?

Certainly not my current wife or my ex-wife who already had her own boyfriend whom she somehow married in the temple.

No judge or police officer or even Bishop seemed to care either. Perhaps God cared. But then I might have expected him to at least strike me with a sense of guilt. Sometime legalities are really only technicalities. If I had kissed her one second before the signing or one second after would it have mattered?

I understand that some people find comfort in legalism but I am not one of them.

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Who?

Certainly not my current wife or my ex-wife who already had her own boyfriend whom she somehow married in the temple.

No judge or police officer or even Bishop seemed to care either. Perhaps God cared. But then I might have expected him to at least strike me with a sense of guilt. Sometime legalities are really only technicalities. If I had kissed her one second before the signing or one second after would it have mattered?

I understand that some people find comfort in legalism but I am not one of them.

I don't know your circumstances, so don't want to pass judgement. I think the church is so firm because our natural tendency would be to start dating as soon as we are not under the same roof and proceedings are underway. Outside the church, you certainly see a lot of couples breaking up because hubby and wife are going to try to make it work again.

As an aside, if you had a temple marriage, and your wife left you for this boyfriend who she later married (I'm assuming there was adultery involved, which admittedly is quite an assumption), there must have been deception involved on their part to get married in the temple. According to the CHI, temple marriages under such circumstances must be signed off on by the President of the Church, and more than one President has come out and said that they will not sign off on those marriages. Ever. President Kimball came out and said that if someone committs adultery in a temple marriage and then later seeks a sealing with the partner is adultery, it cannot happen "Worlds without end". Pretty strong statement, but a pretty serious situation.

I believe that few of us totally understand the power and meaning of the sealing powers as exersized in the temple, nor the full consequenses of treating them lightly.

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First, it is the law and we, as LDS, have committed to abide by the law. It is most basic in our beliefs.

Article of Faith #12 ~We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

So, it really is that black and white. There is no gray area here.

Even if I accepted the idea that obedience to all laws is virtue (I don't and I don't think Joseph or Brigham did either) you are going a little far with the interpretation. To my knowledge it is not a crime in any jurisdiction in the United States to kiss someone who is not your spouse.

Is it a sin? Possibly. I would even say usually. But always? No.

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My understanding is that before divorce became legal in certain South American countries, the Church would baptize people who were technically married to someone else, but living as spouses with someone else. In some cases, the former spouse had abandoned the innocent spouse decades ago. I also understood that while someone could become a member in that situation, their relationship could not be sealed in the temple.

As to adultery and subsequent sealings of the participants in the adultery, the First Presidency must sign off on such a sealing, and the current handbook requires that the new couple have been married at least five years before such application can be made.

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Even if I accepted the idea that obedience to all laws is virtue (I don't and I don't think Joseph or Brigham did either) you are going a little far with the interpretation. To my knowledge it is not a crime in any jurisdiction in the United States to kiss someone who is not your spouse.

Is it a sin? Possibly. I would even say usually. But always? No.

What?! Nehor! It is against God's law to even lust after someone other than your spouse IN YOUR MIND! It is of course against God's law to kiss someone other than your spouse when you are still married! Honestly, you may be right, adultery may not be illegal in the United States but it is still adultery.

I realize you are focusing on the laws of the land. However, when it is asked whether anyone cares and I said yes! I am referring to God and his people. If the world's approval is the only approval that matters then no biggie for one on the subject. For me, God's approval matters. I believe that we all answer to Heavenly Father whether we respect his authority or not.

Just sayin' that the scriptures are pretty clear about what is adultery and what isn't. But I suppose anything can appear gray if you want it to.

~ Naomi

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What?! Nehor! It is against God's law to even lust after someone other than your spouse IN YOUR MIND! It is of course against God's law to kiss someone other than your spouse when you are still married! Honestly, you may be right, adultery may not be illegal in the United States but it is still adultery.

So when I kissed my niece on top of her head I was committing fornication and presumably incest?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I am so going to hell. :sorry:

I realize you are focusing on the laws of the land.

Yes, because you quoted that Article of Faith and then talked about law.

However, when it is asked whether anyone cares and I said yes! I am referring to God and his people. If the world's approval is the only approval that matters then no biggie for one on the subject.

I prefer self-approval to the world's approval, God's approval over self-approval, and the approval of my invisible friend the most.

For me, God's approval matters. I believe that we all answer to Heavenly Father whether we respect his authority or not.

Minor quibble but I would say that we all WILL answer. We certainly aren't now, definitely not in full.

Just sayin' that the scriptures are pretty clear about what is adultery and what isn't. But I suppose anything can appear gray if you want it to.

The scriptures almost never refer to kissing at all actually. Well, there was that one kiss by Judas and the holy kiss in the Epistles which Paul advises brethren to give to each other on meeting. It's probably best not to combine that with President Kimball's definition of french-kissing as a 'holy kiss'. :diablo:

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I am not sure about other religions, ....

Most here know my story as a Catholic and my marriage to my LDS wife. There are civil matters and religious matters in regards to divorce. Wife applied for a civil divorce over 2 years ago and it was granted 6 months later. She remarried in April of this year and I'm sure she will be sealed in the LDS Temple sometimes next year. In the RCC's eyes (and mine), I'm still married to her. I can't say that I recommend this type of marriage... :mega_shok:

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