Years ago I found Jesus, was baptized and studied the Word for a while. I then fell away from the Church. I married and my wife and I were not Christians. Later my wife became mentally ill, I divorced her, citing that money and incompatibility were the primary reasons. Now I have rekindled my faith and am in a dilemma of wanting to marry a Christian woman (if I should ever find her) and not knowing if I am "technically" permitted to remarry.
I guess I don't understand what "finding Jesus" means, certainly the water baptism doesn't save, and studying the Word also does not save. That you "fell away from the church" is simply what most religious unbelievers do in time. The statement that you and "your wife were not Christians" is very telling.
To divorce your wife was a major sin, for whether you are a Christian or an unbeliever, God has created marriage to last until death, in fact, when you were married you made a covenant before God that you would never leave her. To be very frank, to divorce someone because of money or incompatibility is not allowed in God's divorce exceptions. When she became "mentally ill" you needed to stand by her side, not walk out on her.
To say that you have "rekindled your faith" is interesting, since you either have the faith or you do not. Having saving faith means you will repent of your sins, believe who Christ claimed to be, and submit to His commands. You can't "rekindle" faith. Most likely, this was when you originally got saved, if it was genuine.
Let me address your dilemma of wanting to marry a Christian woman and not knowing if you are "technically" permitted to remarry. To start with, what about your ex-wife? Is she still available? Are you willing to go back to her, take her back as your wife? Technically, God still considers you married to her, for you were not divorced biblically. If she is available (not married again), then you must be willing to take her back if that would please God. In other words, you must not focus on getting a different wife, but pray, seeking that God will restore your first marriage, which would honor Him. It may be that He will close the door, but He makes that call.
Normally, if God has called someone to be married, as evidence by a strong desire for a mate, then one is safe by trying to fulfill that desire. However, in your case, reconciliation with your first wife is what must be tried first. If you say that you don't want that, even though she is available, then you have to examine your heart and see if it is fully submitted to God's will.
Honestly, if your ex-wife has not married, and is still available, and you go to her and make a full confession of your sin of divorcing her, and express your desire to rekindle your love relationship, realizing that now you can truly love her because you have received the love of Christ--and if she accepts, then you should remarry her. However, if you have made a truly honest effort (preceded by lots of prayer) and she rejects you, says that she would not remarry you, then I believe that you are free to remarry someone else.
I don't mean to sound harsh, for I was in your exact circumstances once. I was married and divorced as an unbeliever, and then became a Christian. My ex-wife and I hated each other, but God had to get me to the point where I sought reconciliation, and was deeply praying about it--within weeks she married another man, which was God's way of closing the door forever, but He had to bring me to the point that I was willing to remarry her if it would bring Him greater glory.
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Tony Capoccia's Questions and Answers" by:
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