Divorce and Remarriage Doctrines
There is not a family in existence today that has not been touched by divorce and in many cases remarriage. As society continously degrades itself into deeper worldliness and rebellion towards God, there has always been a reciprocal effect upon God's people. Many of the current day problems concerning this doctrine have arisen due to complex situations in the lives of all people. There was not as much controversy in times past, because the problem was not so prevelant. If you will examine an almanac, you will notice that divorce rates started to skyrocket in the sixties and have only recently slowed down it's pace. Thats what happens when you have fewer people getting married. Most people just experiment and live together for a while without commitment.
I'm sure that every child of God has come across these doctrines and has studied the Bible to determine what the scriptures actually teach. In the end, most people decide for themselves what they determine to be the truth. Many will agree with them and many will dis-agree with them. How do we know what is right and wrong in these discussions? Can we allow anyone to teach any doctrine they want, and it not affect all others?
Most of the strife and factions (Gal 5:20) of today are kept within the boundaries of the Church of Christ. This is where we are trying to keep the battle. We do not want to show our weaknesses to the denominations. Well for that, it is too late. Some have suggested that our constant bickering and fighting has detracted us from our primary responsibility of evangelism. This is true. For most of the brethren in the Church are faithful in many matters. Most of the brethren in the Church would be able to preach sermons acceptable and scriptural to most without argument. So why is this particular doctrine getting so much attention?
As christians, we are duty bound to preach the word in its purity and soundness. We are duty bound to defend the truth against all error and misrepresentation. We are duty bound to support and hold up the brethren that are faithful, and we are duty bound to reprimand those who have digressed or departed from the true faith.
Of the various doctrines, each person who ventures to state his or her opinions publicly risk the chance that those in opposition will challenge them to restudy their positions. In the various debates and discussions that most of us are familiar with, each side always teaches that they have the truth on their side, and that their opponent needs to repent and turn to God for forgivness. It does not matter which side you represent, you believe that your teaching is scriptural and reasonable, and those who disagree with you are in error. If those in opposition teach their error, you have no choice but to label them a false teacher. Remember that we are not debating or discussing these things with the denominational churches but with our very own brethren. Believe it or not, even the denominations are having similar discussions concerning this doctrine.
Many of us have a great fear of apostasy. Why? Because it has happened over and over, time and time again. When people begin to play friends with the world, their allegiance shifts focus from Christ to themselves. By focusing on themselves instead of Christ, they have left the love that Christ demands. Col 1:18 "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. When these of our brethren start to teach doctrines which we perceive to be in error, we assume that they have fallen from grace and need our help to return to their first love.
Another point of emphasis in this matter concerns the souls of all who stand accountable to God. Those who teach the doctrines and those who hear these doctrines and those who accept these doctrines. Everyone is so concerned with souls that this becomes a standard test of faithfulness for many. If the doctrine that you teach is promoted and accepted, you would feel that those listeners and followers of this doctrine are acceptable to God. However if the doctrine of your opponents is taught, you must position yourself as a type of savior for those who might be lost because of the error being taught.
Where does this bring us? It brings us to the point of division, controversies, jealosies, strife, contention and most of the other sins of the flesh described in Gal 5:19-21.
If it was just so simple to let the Bible speak in this matter, we could all solve our problems and we all would enjoy our unity in Christ for which He prayed. But if the divinely inspired apostles and prophets of the first century had problems, we are only naive to think that we have a better program. As in the first century, we have those who promote their doctrines at the expense of souls being lost. Some teach these doctrines out of sincerity, and some teach these doctrines out of rebellion.
The Cause of the Controversy
When trying to determine causes for division, we are really left with two options. Rebellion or Ignorance. 1 Tim 6:3-5 "If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth,...... As we progress through this study, please try to determine who is promoting godliness and who is conceited with little or no understanding of the things of God.
Some have probably figured out that if they speak the truth, very few would challenge them on the various subjects. However they have found out that if they teach error, then more than a few people would start to pay attention to them. They have found out that many are requesting their opinion and offers to write in various publications and formats. Some like to have the pre-eminence (3 John 9). They keep coming up with controversial questions and especially the disputes about words. 1 Tim 6:3-5 (above) is a perfect example of these people.
As I have stated that there are those in opposition to sound doctrine, please keep in mind that during this discussion we will be using such phrases as we, they, them, those. etc. The use of personal pronouns will be kept to a minimum and will be attempted to be avoided. I know that there are many who believe as I do, so I will be making my arguments based upon what we (those in agreement with me) accept as sound biblical doctrine. We will not attempt to assign motives to those in opposition. Whether their motives are out of jealousy, strife, contention, rebellion, pride, or whatever, we will try to leave accusations out of this discussion.
God said in Hosea 4:6 "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
Some of our brethren are ignorant by the negligence of others. Thus leaving a gap in the hearts of the people that make them receptive to error. Many of our brethrens papers are filled with psycological babble that the attention needs of the listeners should mandate the type of preaching that should be presented. It is suggested that unless the listeners are comfortable, that nothing good will come from a sermon and will be wasted effort no matter how well it is presented. Over and over, our preachers are being told to limit their sermons to shorter time frames, and to make them simple and sweet. We are told that the comfort levels of the listeners should be based upon the setting of the air conditioner and soft plush pews, and not by the severity of the preaching.
Some of our brethren are ignorant by choice. In most cases the members in the pews have determined who will preach for them.2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires;4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.
Rather than be embarrassed for their lack of study and knowledge, they find a preacher that will do it for them.
However you look at it, the scriptures teach that is is the individual responsibility of each member (male and female) to study God's word 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. They should do so with diligence so that they can handle the word of God correctly. they should do this in such a way that they are prepared to answer any questions regarding the hope that is in us. 1 Peter 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; They should know their bibles well enough to recognize false teaching. We should be able to test the spirits to see if they are from God
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
Many have shirked their duties and turned the study of God's word over to their preacher. As long as their preacher boldly proclaims what they believe, they let him do all the work.
Ignorance is an open invitation to doctrinal error. There are many congregations that demonstrate the effects of spiritual ignorance. Many local churches are not growing numerically nor spiritually. Many local churches seem to be spiritually dead. Apathy is a big problem with many people who call themselves christians. There is a lack of zeal for spiritual matters. There is very little (if any) bible study for these people. These people are "ripe for the picking" as far as error is concerned. A preacher can go into one of these apathetic groups and just teach whatever he wants. If the people state objections or concerns, the preacher may back off for a while but will return to his agenda. The preacher will eventually tell the ignorant that they are ignorant and do not know what they are talking about, and this preacher will kindly tell the brother to "butt-out" of these doctrinal discourses.
Worldliness is the second contributing factor for these new doctrines. We have been bombarded by humanism and worldliness from every facet of society. The entertainment, recreation, scholistic, civil, and social fields all are taking a direct aim at the souls of christians everywhere. And many are not faithful to stand up for Jesus but cave-in to the pressures from without the church.
For many years, this subject was ignored because of the problems and controversy associated with it. Now we reap the results of not declaring the whole coucil of God (Acts 20:27).
As long as people allow false doctrines, emotions, feelings and error to be introduced we will have these problems. Eventually those who are wrong will be allowed by God to believe their false ways and they must suffer the consequences for it 2 Thessalonians 2:11 And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false,12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. Our problem is determining who these people are, and to make sure that we are not one of them.
One of our more serious problems is the love affair with the world that so many members hold on to. James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Of course our members do not want to be enemies of God. But notice what John says of those who want to maintain their love affair with worldly things. 1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God;3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.5 They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them.6 We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
The most miserable people on the face of this planet are those who are not willing to give up the world, yet they know they are supposed to serve God. They try to live their lives in such a way as they can have both. These people like to (as we say) straddle the fence. But if you play with fire, you just might get burned. Also if you play in the pigpen, you will start to smell like a pig and the smell will not offend you as it would others who stay away. Some people want to get as close to worldliness as possible without getting sucked in all the way. The Bible tells us; 1 Thessalonians 5:22 abstain from every form of evil.and it also tells us Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.
The point of emphasis is that we should get our minds out of the gutter and place our emphasis on doing what God wants us to do. That thing we call righteousness. All brethren in the church realize that many things of which we deem acceptable to us, would have been unacceptable to our parents generation. How long must this tread continue before we all are apostasized from God?
Failure To Preach On This Subject
Our preachers have neglected to preach on this subject because of the controversial nature it produces. Some of us know first hand that there are preachers who might believe the truth on the subject but will withold speaking anything about it. Once when questioned why a preacher would ignore a false doctrine that he was aware of, the answer came back; "If I preach on that (MDR) subject, I will not be invited back for another meeting"
Any doctrine that has the consequences of leading a person to hell is important enough to be preached about on a regular basis. However, salvation is dependant upon our meeting the standards that have been established by God. If and when we change the standards to accomodate some who might be in an adultrous relationship to continue in that sin, we have defiled God's word and have denied it's power. Remember 2 Peter 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. His word has granted to us everything pertaining to salvation. We have warnings to abide in the doctrine.2 John 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.
In some ways, we are responsible for our own problems. Because many of us have avoided and looked the other way for so long. Now we are having to put up with the stench. Now we are having to deal with error. Now we are having to decide who is worthy to be called a brother, and who must be called a false teacher. Once again, division is on the horizon for the people of God. We will have to make choices and hold to them. All the rest we will have to leave to the power and providence of God.
A Short Study of Authority
Remember, when we challenge these false doctrines, we are challenging the faith of those who promote them. As we would zealously stand up and contend for the truth (as we see it), they also have the same zeal to stand up for what they believe. In most avenues of discussion and debate, both parties are hard-headed, convinced, not willing to cave-in, ready to use any means necessary that their doctrine is promoted and the other is defeated. Those who try to treat their opponent with kindness, will be harmed, insulted, and poorly treated. Many of these people are vicious, cunning, and certainly use reason and logic to promote their rhetoric. Many of them manipulate the scriptures to teach what they want.
I would imagine at least fifteen to forty positions are taken by various brethren in various ways. For many of these doctrines, the only thing that they all have in common is the subject and the announcement that their belief is right. Even in the conservative church, we have many who take differing various positions. Therefore it comes down to the fact of what we allow ourselves to tolerate in light of what the Bible has to say on this matter.
Many times we just like to think that this is a matter of you go your way and I'll go my way. But therein lies a problem. If the person who is promoting a false doctrine happens to be a brother in Christ, how can you fellowship that brother? If a preacher for the Church of Christ is promoting false doctrine, do we respect church autonomy and ignore what they are teaching?
We are supposed to be recoginzed by the world for our unity.1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. Of course, we should be accomodative to allow people of like faith to have their opinions and that should never cause division. It becomes a real problem when their opinions are different from doctrine. Therefore when we accept these people, we are leaving the bounds of fellowship that God has established and join them in their ways which for the most part would be acceptable, but any false doctrine will keep us out of heaven.James 2:9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. Because a member of the church of which we are a member starts to declare false teaching, we are also associated with that false doctrine. Everyone represents that of which they are a part of. We all know and understand that we are a part of Christ and we represent Christ to the world. We are also a part of each other (Rom 12:12-27). If they as a member are speaking, they are speaking on our behalf. If their message is not correct, we must publicly expose the false doctrine and distance ourselves from those who will not repent and confess error. Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them.18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
An indepth study of authority will do much to help in this discussion, however time does not permit a great deal of details. Many of us are familiar with the subject of how to determine authority.
How To Determine False Doctrine
God is not the author of confusion. So if there is confusion, rest assured that man is guilty of causing it. During the course of this study, you should notice that these points will be used in one way or another.
A Short Review Of Some Of The Doctrines
The doctrines are many by which some or many have adopted as their standard of truth. Many of our doctrines can be traced back through history to find a seed in either the Catholic or some Protestant church creed. These did not originate in these places but were instrumental in establishing creeds for such. A study of God's word will find that the institution of marriage has been under constant attack since the early generations of mankind (Gen 4:19). Abraham certainly knew God's law of marriage (Gen 12:10-20). Abimelech was told God's law (Gen 20:1-7) It must have been a problem in the days of Moses, because certain behaviors had to be regulated. In the days of Jesus, there were different methods of thinking on this subject. The only reason Jesus was asked about his ideas, was so that they could get Him into trouble with someone else (Matt 19:3) Paul answered some questions that the Corinthians had written to him (1 Cor 7:1)
For generations the church has traditionally taught certain things that it has assumed to be correct. Many of the things we do, we do by tradition. Though the action is approved by Scriptural authority, our actions are by tradition. Some traditions are acceptable, but some become the standard of righteousness. Just as many of the pharisees questioned why the disciples did not wash their hands "according to the tradition of the elders". So we also can be guilty of teaching traditions as doctrine. For many years, many in the church accepted a particular view concerning marriage, divorce, and re-marriage. Then all of a sudden different doctrines were starting to appear within the ranks. Most of our brethren quickly reproved these doctrines because they just were not right. But when it came time to prove book,chapter,verse; most of the brethren were lacking.
Many of us have had to re-examine our beliefs in this doctrine in the past few years. The reason, is because we needed to confirm to ourselves that what we were teaching and supporting was the truth and not just a tradition of which we were accused of holding on to. Many people have done what we call "Re-think" their positions. Many of the mainline conservatives will quickly condemn those who re-think their position, but that is not the right thing to do. We all have to constantly re-think our various positions, just so that we can confirm to ourselves that our faith is not lacking in anything.
Many situations have arisen that caused some brethren to re-think their position. Many of them being guided (unintentionally) by denominational teachings. As many of the denominations have been through this controversy, some of our brethren have adopted the same thinking and line of reasoning to promote their doctrines.
Also keep in mind that there is no dividing of these positions based upon "conservative/liberal" or "institutional/non-institutional" There are brethren in each group that holds to truth and others that promote error. It is not associated with any particular group. In this doctrine there are some liberals who are more conservative than some of the conservative brethren.
Each of these doctrines needs to be examined in light of the whole context of scripture. If you will keep making reference to the section above about the false doctrines, you will see how these doctrines are promoted. You will also notice how easy by use (or mis-use) of the scriptures a false doctrine can be generated in the minds of men.
It is our intention to present an overview of several of these doctrines. We do not mean to mis-represent any position. There will not be time for a complete review of each doctrine, but there are avenues or agendas that we can follow to discuss each one more fully. Keep in mind that these descriptions will be from a personal perspective by what has been read or heard by the writer. I know that some who have tried to promote some of these doctrines, have been novice and did their position a great injustice; but there are also some mighty smooth talkers out there that really have developed themselves to present their beliefs with all the reasoning that comes with years of development.
I would really like to present this overview without any prejudice or position, but that would not serve the purpose that this magazine or faithful brethren would promote. By inclusion in this discussion, I believe that these doctrines presented are false. Therefore the position that I hold to, will become evident during this discussion. As J.D.Tant concluded most of his articles in the papers "Brethren, think on these things" Phil 4:8
There is a doctrine held by a few that sex is the binding tie to marriage.
Genesis 2:24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. This was the way God established it from the beginning. Jesus quoted this and so did Paul.
1 Corinthians 6:16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, "The two will become one flesh." Some people teach that to join bodies is in fact the marriage that God approves of.Matthew 19:6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."
Any marriage to another party constitutes adultery. The foolishness of this doctrine does not take into account non-commitment sex. These people teach that if a young girl is raped by a man, that she is prohibited by God for marriage unless the rapist dies, by which Rom 7:3 would allow her to be free. The promiscuity of two young people is described in the scriptures as fornication. Which in itself is sin. Yet fornication is not the tie that binds. If a man has relations with a prostitute, these people teach that they are married, and have no right to a second marriage, unless the first party dies. These people also teach part of what Jesus said. To divorce a spouse and marry another constitutes adultery. They ignore the exception of Matthew. Any remarriage while the other spouse is living constitutes adultery, regardless of guilt or innocence.
There is a doctrine which originated with the Catholic church and has been adopted by several in the church. 2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Consider this in connection with 1 John 1:5 And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. This doctrine teaches that to marry a non-believer is grounds for disfellowshiping the christian. This doctrine teaches that unless both parties are believers, that God has not joined them together. Because God cannot fellowship unbelievers, they teach that His children also cannot fellowship unbelievers. If therefore God has not joined them, they have never been bound and thus have a right to marry. But, only a believer. This does not harmonize with 1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, let him not send her away.13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, let her not send her husband away.14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace.16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? These who promote this doctrine teach that 1 Cor 7 regulates the actions of one who becomes a believer and their spouse remains a non-believer only. Or this covers if one of the two has become a non-believer.
There is a new teaching that what Jesus taught was Old Testament doctrine and thus not binding upon us today. This writer first heard this doctrine presented last November. Never before had I heard any discussion that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were not supposed to be a part of the New Testament. Some brethren have taken the position that the Catholic church was responsible for putting a New Testament Title page in front of Matthew instead of Acts where it belongs. They teach that the Catholics placed it there in order to deceive the people, and to keep most of their ordinances before the people as binding today. Since we first heard of this doctrine, it has exclusively been used in the MDR discussions. Not one other doctrine is treated the same way.
These people teach that we are to "rightly divide" the scriptures. They teach that we are guilty of allowing the catholic doctrines to influence us in these matters. They are correct in some matters we believe, but not in everything. If there is a particular Catholic doctrine that happens to be truth, we accept it. Not because it comes from the Catholics, but because we have a "thus saith the Lord". We should not discard all doctrines, only the portion or ones that are false.
Since this is very new to me, I lack the wisdom to see the ultimate goal or agenda of these people. Obviously they have discounted what Jesus said in MDR, How long will it be before they discount His other teachings. I fear not long.
They also teach that Jesus was only teaching the things of the Old Covenant law. This includes His marriage doctrine. They teach that unless the apostles presented the doctrine, we must leave it in Old Testament doctrine. Because the apostles never made the exception allowances, then that law is not binding upon us today. Further examination of this doctrine is sure to come in the future days.
One other point I would like to make here. Whether MMLJ is O.T. or N.T. should not change the fact that they are the Gospel accounts of Jesus on this earth. Should not change the fact that they were written for our instruction. Should not change the fact that the writers were guided by the pen of inspiriation of the Holy Spirit. Should not change the fact that Jesus is Lord, God, Savior, and King (and a host of other things). This doctrine should not take from the fact that Jesus taught that His words will judge us. John 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me.45 "And he who beholds Me beholds the One who sent Me.46 "I have come as light into the world, that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.47 "And if anyone hears My sayings, and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.48 "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day.49 "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.50 "And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me."
The alien sinner is not amenable to the laws of Christ. As many of you know, this is one of the more prominent positions. The main point of this teaching is that the ignorant of God's laws cannot be held accountable for their promiscuity, and are only held accountable for unbelief. They would teach that a person who had previous marriages, would be released from them by their individual baptism. Thus making them a new creature. The new convert would then be taught that their current spouse is the one that they are bound to for life.
As Jesus taught Matthew 19:4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,5 and said, 'For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh'?6 "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." Jesus taught that God's marriage laws transcended all laws. The New Covenant laws, the Mosaic Covenant laws, the Abrahamic Covenant laws, and the Laws of Morality recoginzied by faithful gentiles. A study of Authority will demonstrate that the soverignty of God applies to all people. The authority of Christ applies to all people Ephesians 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.
There is a doctrine that teaches that if the marriage bond is broken for the innocent party, then the bond also is broken for the guilty party. Thus, if the innocent has a right to be married again, because the bond is broken, the guilty has the right to remarriage, because no bond exist. 1 Cor 7:27-28 is their proof text. 1 Corinthians 7:27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.28 But if you should marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin should marry, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. This demonstrates a mis-use of scripture and also is an assumption. If we examine the principle passages of what Jesus was talking about we will see these assumptions.
Matt 19:9 cannot be correct because the adultery is against the first wife and not the current wife which God says is lawful.Mark 10:11 And He *said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; So you see, the adultery is against the first wife and not the second. The doctrine assumes that the second marriage is binding and lawful in God's eyes. This doctrine teaches that only when you break the bond of marriage against your first spouse, are you guilty of adultery. Because marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled. An assumption has to be made here because the scriptures are plain. Matthew 19:9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery. These people actually ignore one statement of Jesus but hold very strongly to another statement. This is not consistent. Notice Mark 10:12 and if she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery." Jesus says she is "committing" adultery. Once again the assumption has to be made that this adultery is against the first husband. However notice the word committing. That word is a present active tense verb of action. For their doctrine to be supported by scripture the verse would have to read "she committed adultery against him". These people want to pick and choose the scriptures that suit their doctrine. Why can't they just take all of what Jesus said? Why do they have to pick it apart? I will tell you why. Because what Jesus said does not coincide with their belief. Therefore they must reason and assume around what Jesus said in order to allow their doctrine to continue.
They also play upon the silence of scripture to promote their teachings. But in order to do that, they must ignore some of the other passages. They teach that since there is no statement about re-marriage for the guilty, the silence of scripture allows for it.
Baptism changes an adulterous relationship. Since baptism washes away "all" sins, a person living in an adultrous relationship, when baptized, may remain in the now sanctified relationship. If God forgives all sins, why should he remember a past sin of adultery. God forgives people.
Although it is true that sin is washed away during our baptism, certain facts must be pointed out. Usually baptism is preceded by repentance. Some sort of sorrowful turning away from those things which are contrary to God, and starting a life of acceptable behavior. Once a person is baptized, they are a new creature and their old sins and behaviors should not continue. Baptism does not change a sinful relationship into a right one. That only works upon the internal individuals heart. All external relationships still are governed by God's laws. Baptism does not change a sinful act into a righteous one. What is sinful behavior before baptism is sinful behavior after baptism. Baptism washes away the guilt of past sins, but does not wash away the guilt of future sins. How can you be forgiven for something that has not taken place. What has happened in the past has absolutly no bearing upon our souls condition. It is the present relationship that we are in which will determine our relationship with God. Ezekiel 18:25 "Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not right.' Hear now, O house of Israel! Is My way not right? Is it not your ways that are not right?26 "When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies because of it, for his iniquity which he has committed he will die.27 "Again, when a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life.28 "Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die.
Although we have liberty in Christ, we do not have license to keep sinning. According to Jesus, one is an adulterer or adulteress as long as the first spouse is alive except in the case where the first spouse committed fornication. One will not know when they become a christian everything that is a sin. But as they grow and develop and have the attitude of service to Christ, they will change all things in their life that is against God's laws. If they learn of any sin that they are committing, they must remove it from themselves.Proverbs 28:13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. When the Corinthians became christians, they quit their particular sins. 1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.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 Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.
Notice the phrase And such were some of you; This indicates that they no longer were guilty of practicing the things of which they formerly practiced.
We have no New Testament example of anyone being told that they must separate from an unlawful relationship, either by the apostles or other inspired writers. Therefore, we should give up the sinful practice of telling people in a second (unlawful) marriage that they should separate. Peter did not tell anyone on Pentecost that they had to give up their wives. They lived in a time in which divorce and remarriage was commonplace, and certainly some if not many of the three thousand must have been in this sinful relationship.
Why should we highlight this one fact when in fact there are many things Peter did not tell people on Pentecost. Do we assume by the silence that the sinful practices were acceptable to God? We have other passages in scripture that regulate this practice. This is a very weak doctrinal point. Peter did not teach the people about the Lord's supper, did he? Peter did not discuss the qualifications of elders and deacons, did he? Peter did not discuss the return of Christ, did he? What did he discuss? Let us notice what these false promoters are ignoring. Acts 2:40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!"41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. What were these many other words? No one knows for sure. But even if Peter did not discuss adulterous relationships, the silence of scripture does not authorize or allow them in this passage. We have other passages which deal with this subject.
There is the doctrine that ALL marriages are scriptural. In order to show this doctrine, they must use human logic and deductive reasoning.
1 Corinthians 7:2 But because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Genesis 2:18 Then the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him. Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. 1 Corinthians 7:9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn. By taking a few select verses and combining them, we have the doctrine that since God says "It is not good for the man to be alone" and since the Hebrews writer said "Let marriage be held in honor" the contention of this doctrine is that we are wrong to assume that a marriage relationship could be anything but honorable. These people teach that we mis-use the scriptures when we say that a second (un-scriptural) marriage is adultery. These people use a limited definition of adultery to say that one cannot commit adultery with his own wife. You can only commit adultery with someone who is not your wife.
For this doctrine to be held up, certain passages of scripture have to be removed from God's word or ignored. We have seen where some have taught that the words of Jesus do not apply to us. Now they have to ignore what the apostles taught, change the interpretation, or find another application other than what we are discussing. I have read some teach that Rom 7:2-3 is not discussing MDR but is only discussing the christians lifelong faithfulness to God, and that the passage must not be used in argumentation for a position in MDR as we hold.
Like we said earlier, if you take portions of scripture out of context, you can teach anything possible. I know that there are many who read this article that have the ability to use the same outline that these people use and justify anything including sin of the worst kind. Of course, if we do, they will charge us with taking scripture out of context, and mis-using the scriptures. Now who did we call Pharisees?
And Many More
These are but a few of the many doctrines. Some of these inter-relate to each other. Some of the teachers of one doctrine have adopted the ideas from other doctrines. Many of these people employ emotion and feelings to teach that we who are faithful are hurting and causing unjust pain. They teach that we are cruel to break up a home, to cause suffering, to cause further society problems by removing a father or mother from a home.
The Traditional View
These people teach that we have held to traditions for so long, that we have been blinded to the truth. These people teach that for us to keep our traditions, we have to ignore scriptures and use unscriptural terminology. They teach that we have the following problems with teaching the traditional view.
1. The use of a non biblical vocabulary. "re-marriage", "innocent party",
"guilty party", "scriptural marriage", "Unscriptural marriage", "Scriptural divorce",
"unscriptural divorce"," in the eyes of God", Living in adultery", "christian celibacy", "legal marriage"
2. The problem of which option to teach if one found themselves in this state of adultery. The writer of one book found six different scenarios in which to choose from.
3. They could not teach baptism removes all sin.
4. They teach that early preaching did not cover this, so assumption has to be made if there was any teaching at all.
5. The problem of deciding who is guilty or innocent at all.
6. The problem of practicing what they preach.
7. The problem of not having an example in scripture of one being told to live a celibate life.
8. The problem of not saying what Jesus said without adding phrases or statements.
There are other statements as well associated with the traditional view, but these should suffice to let all see where this is leading.
The question of fellowship also has to come into play with these doctrines. Remember that I said that many of our friends and close associates are teaching some of these doctrines. If we believe them to be false, how long can we tolerate this error? How can we sit back and allow them to teach souls something that will bring about eternal punishment?
Each of us must ultimately decide for ourselves if we are going to fellowship those who we determine to be teaching error. My only question is why would you want to associate with error? Many have thought that they could do so for the purpose of having the opportunity to teach the offending brother. In most cases, we have come to accept the thinking that fellowship is acceptance and that we are in agreement with everything about them.2 John 9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting;11 for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.
Who can marry?
Any other situation is wrong according to scripture.
Whom can they marry?
Any other situation is wrong according to scripture.
Who cannot marry?
Anyone who does not meet the above requirements.
This study is by no means exhaustive or complete. Many of the doctrines have different positions, and even those who hold the same positions usually dis-agree on certain scriptures and use of such.
Anytime we have a doctrine that has eternal consequences, it is deserving of our attention. We must be concerned with the souls of those who are being taught. They must be taught that committment to God and Christ is a total one. They cannot be allowed to continue in sin, and be found acceptable. It is in the interest of souls that we must discuss these issues.
If this is causing the church to split and divide, then so be it. The salvation of souls and the upholding of the truth are the two most important things that Christ came to this earth to establish. Sin can no more be tolerated by God than those who promote and accept it.
Since there is a judgement for each of us, we all stand accountable to God for the things we do, teach, say, and practice. We must be sure, because "whatever is not of faith is sin". Rom 14:23
Once again, Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
By Carey Scott
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