The Bible is very clear as to WHO the believer shouldn’t marry and who he should marry. In 2nd Corinthians 6:14 we read, “Do not be unequally yoked together with UNBELIEVERS.” A believer should NOT marry an UNBELIEVER. In 1st Corinthians 7:39 we read, “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband dies, she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes, ONLY IN THE LORD.” A believer should marry a FELLOW-BELIEVER who is owning the LORDSHIP OF CHRIST.

Regarding your specific question, if the woman is “not a believer” the man shouldn’t marry her whether she has given birth to children out of wedlock or not. If the woman had these children out of wedlock and was then saved and is living a godly life in submission to the Lord, the man would be free to marry her. The woman in this case is not the same woman who had been living in sexual immorality. In 1st Corinthians 6:9 the apostle Paul says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” He then goes on to mention that sinful lifestyles of the unrighteous and the first one mentioned is FORNICATORS. That is the particular sin of the woman who gives birth to children out of wedlock. But then Paul goes on to say in verse 11, “And such WERE SOME OF YOU. But you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” Once a person repents of their sinful behavior and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, they are a NEW CREATION in God’s sight, as we see in 2nd Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is IN CHRIST, he is a NEW CREATION; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” God sees the believer “in Christ” and thus he no longer looks upon him as “unrighteous.” He is now JUSTIFIED, which means “declared righteous before God” (see Romans 3:21-4:8). That is the believer’s POSITION before God and it is based on Christ’s finished work on the cross and his faith in Him and the work He accomplished. If the woman is also submitting to the Lord and living a life that is pleasing to Him, she is PRACTICING what she believes. Thus, her PRACTICAL LIFE corresponds to her POSITION IN CHRIST and a Christian man is free to marry her for he would then be marrying “in the Lord.”

There is also the possibility that the woman in question was a true believer when she bore children out of wedlock. In that case she was NOT submitting to the Lord during that period in her life and if she is still in that sad, spiritual state a Christian man should NOT marry her. But she may come to judge her sin and confess it before the Lord, resulting in a restoration of fellowship with the Lord. We see this in 1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This verse is definitely dealing with believers who have fallen into sin and once they confess it God, the Father will forgive His child and cleanse him/her with His Word (see John 15:3 with Ephesians 5:25-26). They can then resume living a righteous life for the Lord. King David expressed this truth in these well-known words, “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:3). In this case too, a Christian man is free to marry her and they would be marrying “in the Lord.”  (484.3)  (DO)