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False Ideas on Divorce

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This study is a rebuttal and critique of a typical error promoted by certain Christians. The error is in saying that we may not divorce for any reason. The article I look at was sent to me by a ministry I have had dealings with, and have had to oppose, because, frankly, the one leading the ministry appears to be a very bitter man, who ignored all and any scriptural evidence sent to him, and who sends nasty communications to those who disagree with him.

Again typically, such a person will gather all manner of ‘evidence’ to prove his erroneous case, only accepting the views of certain writers who agree with his stance, whilst casting out anything that legitimately goes against it! In this case the argument put forward by him is weak, but used to attack those who disagree.

In the examination of his article, I wish ONLY to look at the article and not at the person who wrote it or his ministry (which I question because it is askew). The man who wrote it is ‘C’, who heads a ‘ministry’. I will not give his name or the ministry, because he is only repeating a well-worn theory – it is the theory we must oppose, not the man (unless he decides to make his error more public). You will note that he masks his bitterness with words such as ‘Christ is Lord’. True words, but used to hide his inner feelings of wrath against Christians who refuse to be bullied by his personal conclusions. It is the way many ‘Christians’ use their ‘evangelical smile’ to hide this kind of ‘holy bullying’.

The issue of divorce has been manipulated and aired by some because they have an axe to grind. You can tell this is so because the resultant articles written by them are bitter and selective in texts used. Normally, I just ignore such writings, but in this case I cannot, because the article I am critiquing was deliberately sent to me to provoke, and because it was also sent to others for the same reason. Such material is very upsetting to Christians whose divorces were legitimate in God’s eyes.

Yes, many today divorce without proper scriptural reason and this is acknowledged, but we cannot simply blast away at other Christians because some are acting improperly. We are not at liberty to denounce fellow Christians without real reason… and the article I am critical of has no real reason; it is an example of how deviant thinking can become when a topic is approached from a partisan, prejudiced stance.

Sadly, the author of the article in question sent it out to those he knew would oppose what he said, and it contains the mark of triumphalism, for he obviously thinks he is right! But, a man who ignores all the scriptures in favour of an invented viewpoint is doomed to failure…. There is no triumph, for the argument he uses is doomed by lack of genuine evidence and by a lack of understanding of the process of argumentation itself.

Divorce and Remarriage – a Brief Reminder

Some legalistic people, calling themselves ‘Christian’, are telling others, with much virulence and spite, that no person may divorce, quoting Romans 7:2… but conveniently forgetting other texts that give two concessions for divorce! I have heard short sermons on this matter, and they do NOT mention the concessions! Rather, some use these sermons as a springboard to utter hatred for those who rightly divorce, because they have a Pharisaical frame of mind.

It is noted that some who insist on just Romans 7:2 appear to have a preoccupation with sex itself. It causes one to ask if they have guilt within about sex, or have themselves thought, or acted, adulterously, or have a very wrong perception of sex.

If a man or woman leaves and divorces a spouse for no reason and remarries, then he or she is an adulterer. But, if a believer’s spouse commits adultery, he or she may divorce the adulterer and remarry. Or, if the spouse is an unbeliever and decides to leave, the Christian may divorce. (I will not enter into details here because it is not the aim of the article. A separate paper is available dealing with these two exceptions).

It is my personal view, concurrent with scripture, that marriage is for life. Indeed, it is the view of many whose marriages have been ruined by adulterous spouses. But, I cannot ignore the whole counsel of God, some of which tells us, in the New Testament, that God allows two reasons for divorce. It is very wrong for some to impose their jaundiced view of scripture, and their hatred for fellow believers, on others, when they have such a poor understanding of God’s word. I recently went onto the website of one with such a bad attitude (the same person who wrote the following article), to listen to a mini-sermon on divorce… it was completely one-sided and does not even mention the two concessions! This is not acceptable ministry, nor is it truthful Bible research. Such a ‘ministry’ is not a true ministry at all, but only a vehicle used to grind personal axes!

The following is the text of the article under consideration. It was preceded by a brief greeting. The reason ‘C’ was ‘delighted’ is not that he had conclusive proof that what he says is correct, but only that he thinks he has found yet another way to beat down his opponents. Note also his reliance not on scripture, but on those who tend to agree with his position. This is always a give-away, showing an author’s unbalanced views. Any true Bible teacher centres on scripture, not on the writings on an human being, even if that person is a Christian.

Note how he uses words to imply orthodoxy: “faithful discourse” – implying that all others are not; “apostasy” – implying that non-compliance is wicked. He also infers that what he is saying is “clearly taught” in scripture… even though many scholars disagree! Let us see how his argument stands up to scrutiny.

The original text of the offending article is given below. My responses are given in bold italics, following certain passages. Note that I have corrected grammatical errors, etc., made by the author, to enhance his article. It is evident that the writer lacks a disciplined process of thinking… there is much to be said for receiving an academic training. I am saying this because arguing against random thinking is often fruitless. No doubt that statement will draw the accusation that I am only a ‘professor’ of religion, but I expect that, because the original argument he uses is not accurate.

You will notice that he flits from one argument to another, confusing the issue and not dealing adequately with any of them. Especially, he ignores the texts that give two reasons for divorce. Note that Philpot, who he refers to, is a sound man. The argument given by Philpot below is correct – but ‘C’ uses it to apply to ALL divorce! That is, he is misusing the argument to fit his own. Philpot’s words are correct in the matter they refer to, but says nothing of the two exceptions!


Dear Friends,

I am delighted to be able to show you this day that brother J.C. Philpot, as was the case with and has always been the position of the Gospel Standard Strict Baptists and the old school predestinarian Primitive baptists (as Gilbert Beebe pointed out on his faithful discourse against remarriage as adultery) prior to much apostasy in many primitive baptist churches from the truth of scripture and therefore departing from gospel order in our day - understood what is clearly taught in the Word of God.

1) That a woman is bound in marriage to Her husband as long as he lives

2) To enter into remarriage with another man while her husband still lived was adultery.

Both teachings are true – but Philpot ignores other texts that allow for divorce. The reason is very simple – he is not dealing with them at that moment!

3) Not only a one-time act of adultery, but an unrepentant lifestyle/practice of adultery until repentance was forthcoming.

I cannot understand this sentence – it makes no sense in its current form.

Oh, how different it is in our day where this blessed truth is manipulated, deviously by professors of religion, who seek all means to manipulate the Word of God to allow for such wickedness to be practices in the churches.

I know that ‘C’ includes me as a ‘professor of religion’, because I do not accept his arguments and have challenged him previously. He had no useful counter-argument but is now repeating his old one… the same one I have already challenged! He is deviously saying that we ‘manipulate… blessed truth’, yet all we have done is point out to him his flawed thinking. That such flaws are repeated by others does not make the flaws correct! Far from seeking to manipulate the word of God, we are reading it as it is written and tell others what it says – which is the task given to us by God. What this man is doing is giving the views of other men that agree with him – thinking that their view is the best and correct version. All others are just ‘professors’ who ‘manipulate’ God’s word. Do you find this as suspicious as I say it is? Also remember that Philpot is only dealing with one part of scripture, and not with the rest.

 May those who love God and His Word stay faithful and continue to faithfully teach the wonderful scriptural truth that marriage is a picture of Christ and His church and let us not allow antinomians, followers of the Westminster confession of filth (and others who may be genuine Christians who have been taught this error by "teachers" and "pastors") to try and teach contrary to this with their lies without fighting against them with the sword - THE WORD OF GOD!

‘C’s anger is showing. He is again denigrating opposers, suggesting they are enemies of Christ. He is referring to genuine believers who teach scripture properly, but who do not agree with him. Calling them names will not somehow make his own arguments better or correct. And marriage is not a picture of Christ and His Church – rather, Christ and His Church are sometimes depicted as similar to marriage, which is rather different. If all marriages were a picture of Christ and His Church, we can get into trouble if we view unsaved marriages and marriages built upon things like pornography or perversion! Get the symbolism the right way around, please. To say that we are ‘antinomians’ because we do not accept ‘C’s tenuous teachings, is not acceptable. He finishes his paragraph by insisting that only he is teaching the WORD OF GOD!

Notice, what the WCF did. The men understood as any honest person who understands a basic English sentence, that God Almighty in His Word teaches that only death breaks the marriage bond.

It is precisely by reading ‘basic English sentence(s)’ that we do not accept this man’s arguments!

So what did they do? They INVENTED the "pretend they are dead" heretical LIE from their own imaginations.

This is very naughty and again shows his underlying bitterness. We have invented nothing. What we say is found in the same scriptures that ‘C’ is twisting. His task is NOT to just throw out accusations and falsities, but to provide us with more detailed and accurate arguments. If he cannot do that, he ought to withdraw from the arena of discussion.

The following statements are made by J C Philpot.

Inquiry

The following case has been submitted to us for our opinion.

It might sound pedantic to say so, but I am not interested in ‘opinion’, only in what God says. However, a view based on what God says is acceptable as a view, if not as a genuine teaching. If scripture gives us no final answer, then neither can we.

A married female was deserted by her husband. After the lapse of thirteen years she marries again, supposing he was dead; but after six or seven years' time the first husband returns.

Can this female consistently continue a member of a gospel church?

There are two issues here – remarriage and church attendance, but he is choosing to mix them up as one.

Answer

In the case, as thus stated, no mention is made of one important feature:

Does the woman now live with either of the men?

The Word of God is most distinctly against her returning to her first husband; (Deuteronomy 24:3-4; Jeremiah 3:1) and to live with the second during the life-time of the first is adultery. (Romans 7:3).

As a Christian woman, therefore, she must withdraw herself from both, and consider herself a widow.

Her case is deeply to be pitied, especially if she be poor and dependent for support upon the man with whom she has been lately living, or if there be children.

But the Word of God is clear, and we think that the church cannot consistently allow her to sit down with them unless there be a complete and absolute separation on her part from both the men with whom she has lived.

By J.C. Philpot

Mr Philpot teaches in an excellent manner. Let us see what ‘C’ makes of it. Will he be legalistic or loving?


Now notice here how faithful brother Philpot was. He didn't merely say, 'well you can remain in your adultery but you won’t be fit for church membership.' or as someone recently told me "well yes it is practicing adultery but we're all sinners" - the latter being the antinomian lie of "let us sin, that grace may abound".

No – this is NOT antinomianism! It is just a remark made by someone who knows little of scripture or of God’s character… much like ‘C’. He has not proved that the person who made the comment is adamant because of a theological error, or just making an –off-the-cuff remark, silly and thoughtless.

NO, he stayed with the Word of God, and said..."and to live with the second during the life-time of the first is adultery (Romans 7:3). As a Christian woman, therefore, she must withdraw herself"

The following month the enemies of marriage and promoters of adultery came out in full force against Mr Philpot.

‘C’ will not like it, but his argument here is weak. There is need for much greater clarification and better-defined postulation. For example, did the woman have every reason to think the man was dead; did she marry the second man, and so on. ‘C’ is so busy trying to score points against his opposition that he does not bother to make his case clear.

Here is brother Philpot's faithful response to the promoters of adultery.


"We fully admit that it is a very painful and pitiable case, but in the things of God natural feelings are not to be our rule and guide, but the unerring Word of truth.

This at least is true!

Now we fearlessly assert that, according to God's word, nothing but death...can dissolve the tie between man and wife.

IF we conclude that the only reason for the parting is death! He is ignoring the rest of scripture.

The Lord Jesus has settled this point with his own lips.

"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?

He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.

And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery; and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery."(Matthew 19:3-9)

...We assert, therefore, that neither by the law of God or man can a woman marry again in the lifetime of her first Husband, without committing adultery.

The writer misses the facts! He also misconstrues and limits the meaning of ‘fornication’ (see my article on this) so that he can maintain his argument. See rebuttal below.

How express is Paul here!

"For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he-liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." (Romans 7:2-3)

So far so good, but the writer is only looking at part of Bible teaching, because he chooses to ignore the rest of scripture!

Absence or desertion is cruel and ungodly conduct, and most truly pitiable is a woman's case, to be abandoned for years and left in ignorance whether her legitimate husband and protector is dead or alive; but neither his desertion nor her uncertainty dissolves the tie.

The case is very different if the woman truly believes he is dead. The argument was written in the Victorian period, when many men died abroad and relatives did not know, or, their disappearance led to a belief he was dead because communications were poor in those days. I am not making an excuse for anyone, but pointing out that the argument as presented is not sufficient to come to a proper conclusion. And – do you notice – ‘C’ is very nasty in the way he speaks of people in his writing.

If absence or desertion break the marriage tie, it may be asked, How long must that absence or desertion be to have this effect?

Shall it be 'a week', 'a month', or a year's absence that shall do it?

And if these terms are too short, where are we to put the limit?

If one year's desertion cannot break the marriage tie, can it be broken by ten or twenty years' absence?

His argument is again flawed, because the original statement was that the woman truly believed the husband was dead. The writer’s words only have meaning if they are based on the original argument. Here I am showing that flawed argumentation leads to flawed arguments!

R.P. is not only out in law, but in Scripture, and quite misunderstands the, meaning of 1 Corinthians 7:15. The apostle is speaking in the context of a believing wife united to an unbelieving husband.

I am at a loss, because I do not know who ‘RP’ is, and the writer does not tell us. Thus, I do not know why he is ‘out in law’. Note that the previous text by Paul (above) refers to married couples, but not especially to believers.

He assumes on this point two cases.

1. That the unbelieving husband wishes to continue to live with his believing wife.

In that case, "Let her not leave him," says the apostle, (ver. 13.)

But 2. The unbelieving husband may depart and desert her on account of her religion.

In that case, he decides that she is not bound to follow him and insist still to live with him:

"Let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases;" that is, to follow him and, press to live with him if he has deserted her.

But does he say anything about or sanction her marrying again?

Where does he say that desertion dissolves the marriage tie?

The writer now allows his argument to fall apart, for his form of argumentation is not accurate. He is making several assumptions because he has no actual proof. The words ‘under bondage’ refers to a situation where the woman is ‘not constrained by law or necessity’. For the writer to assume this does not speak of her marriage is acceptable – but not as a basis for insisting that this is the actual meaning. In Jewish marriages wives were in bondage to the legal position – hence the fact that the man could easily get rid of her with a divorce paper or even by disowning her three times verbally! The words themselves do not speak of remarriage or about divorce, but the usual usage of the term in those days does! In many ways the woman was regarded merely as a chattel. It is odd to bind one’s views to Philpot, when someone like Matthew Henry disagrees with such a view! What makes Philpot better than Henry? Only one’s predisposition. Like any man, Philpot can make mistakes… but ‘C’ is basing his whole argument on a partial teaching by Philpot, who does not mention the two exceptions!

On the contrary, in the very same chapter he decides the exact opposite:

"The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but, if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 7:39)

Again, we see the legalistic side of the writer who, not content to try to persuade by argument uses the graphic method of enlarging the text, as if this proves anything! All it proves is that ‘C’ has become angry because his argument is not sound.

How clearly he decides the matter that death alone dissolves the marriage tie!

Once more, the writer goes outside what the text actually says. Paul is simply stating that in ordinary circumstances a married couple may not divorce. This does not in any way negate his earlier instruction in the case of an unbeliever abandoning his marriage, leaving the partner freedom to remarry.

The number of years "that he has deserted her," her ignorance where he is, the belief she entertains that he is dead, her desolate condition, her poverty and necessity, her unprotected condition all these pitiable circumstances do not, cannot alter the law of God and man.

He is her husband and she is his wife till death...dissolve the tie.

Here, as in numberless other cases, the sovereign will of God...overrule the suffering of individuals.

And though this may occasion individual hardship, yet what a general benefit to married women accrues from it!

You will have noticed a glaring fault here – that the writer has gone from the text he was referring to and is misusing it by applying it to a much earlier one! Thus, his argument, if we can call it that, is mixing two separate texts to ‘prove’ the his case. But, without the benefit of understanding how argumentation should be conducted, ‘C’ fails miserably to prove anything at all, by repeating what is a mistaken judgment.

If desertion could dissolve marriage, thousands of unprincipled husbands would avail themselves of it, and no wife could be sure, as now, that she should continue such till 'her own or her husband's decease.

Once more the writer is not arguing correctly. Today, desertion is better known because of communications and the law. It is very unlikely that a modern wife would not know if her husband was dead or alive. But, even if he were, it does not prove anything, because the writer has not adhered to proper argumentation.

We should be ashamed to take so much pain to prove what is so plain and clear, did we not know what lax views and feelings prevail, in the minds of many concerning the marriage tie.

We have a specimen of this in the letter of R. P.

Who is ‘RP’ and where is his letter?

And the texts he refers to are not “plain and clear” in the sense of proving his case. The proofs he wants are only in his own mind. Or, at least this is how ‘C’ has presented it. Has he left out words or sentences?

Here is a man maintaining he has "the law of our country, the most well-taught men in the word of truth, and also the mind of the Spirit" on his side in asserting that the poor woman was justified in marrying a second time without proof of her husband's decease, and that his desertion of her was a sufficient warrant for her taking such a step.

We cannot wonder that carnal people entertain such lax views about the sanctity of the marriage tie, when professors of religion advocate such unscriptural sentiments.

Yes, today we would require proof… but it does not give ‘C’ credibility.

But the question put to us was, whether the church should allow a woman to continue in church membership who has married a second time in the life-time of her first husband?

We adhere to our original opinion and say, "No."

Let the following reasons be weighed in the balances of the sanctuary:

It is evidently, as we have shown, unscriptural... for a woman to marry a second husband in the life-time of her first.

No – the writer has NOT ‘shown’. Also, he concludes without genuine warrant that the woman in Paul’s letter, who was deserted by her husband because of her faith, was also not free to marry. Unless ‘C’ proves his case on that, he cannot come to the conclusions he has reached.

His long absence and her consequent belief of his death, though they diminish her guilt in remarrying, do not, as we have proved, disannul her first marriage. By allowing her, therefore, to continue in church membership, the church would sanction what is forbidden by the laws of God...

The example is too unclear for the argument to work properly. For example, the man may have run off because of his wife’s faith! In which case she is free to remarry anyway. (But not according to’C’s personalized interpretation).

2. It would open the mouth of the world, always ready enough to spy out inconsistencies. A church is bound by the strongest motives to put away every stumbling-block and cause of reproach.

This is a vital truth – but not in this case, because the writer’s argument remains unproved.

Though not mentioned, yet it. seems almost implied, that the woman is still living with the second husband. If this were sanctioned by the "church", would it not justly be a matter of reproach?

There seems to be no compassion in ‘C’ for repeating this – we can teach truth without resorting to condemnation as such. It is sufficient to counsel a person that he or she is sinning. He or she may only be cast out if counsel is consistently refused and ignored, and, even then, it must be with compassion, prayer, and a willingness to accept her back if she repents.

3. It would probably be the source of perpetual strife and heartburning, as it is evident the circumstance has already much tried the minds of the church, and become a question of dispute amongst them.

4. It would rob some, if not many, of the members of all comfort and profit at the ordinance, even if their views were not fully decided on the point; as we well know that when the mind is tossed up and down with doubts and suspicions, there is little but disquietude at the Lord's Supper.

All true – but if the writer’s assumptions were right, the whole church would need to sort out not just the woman’s position, but also their own lack of love and the need for compassion. She is not, after all, a prostitute or a woman who deliberately remarried knowing her husband was alive and wanting to return. We can challenge and even cast out someone from a local church without becoming bitter or judgmental. There is a vast difference between judgmentalism and judgment. And there is a big difference between doctrine and actual counsel of real persons. Ask any pastor! We must retain fidelity to scripture… which includes showing compassion, as Jesus did. There is NEVER room for a spiteful hitting-out, as ‘C’ seems to relish.

5. If the poor woman be of a tender conscience it might lead hereafter, if not now, to much distress of mind lest she should have received the Lord's Supper to her own condemnation.

This is an apparent attribution to the Lord’s Supper that has not been properly discussed.

Thus we adhere to our original opinion that, assuming the woman to be living with either of the men, and most probably, if with either, it is with the last husband, it is not consistent with gospel order that she should continue in church membership.

Though this is generally true, the case shown is too vague for a proper conclusion. Loss of membership (though formal membership is not required by God) may only occur if the woman repeatedly refused genuine counsel and the local church has taken the proper Biblical steps of rebuke, etc.

But let us suppose that she sees and mourns over her sin, and that, as a proof of her repentance, she separates herself from both men, why then, we think, if the church is satisfied of the reality of her repentance, she may be, after a time, restored.

“After a time” infers a time of penalty for a woman who married in good faith, without any wish to be sinful! Such a penalty is unjust. ‘C’ is punitive, showing no real love for brethren who fail.

We have almost a parallel instance in the New Testament, in the case of the man who had his father's wife. (1 Corinthians 5)

The operative word is ‘almost’!

 This, of course, was not his own mother, which is too dreadful to think of, but his father's second wife, whom the father had divorced or deserted.

Again, the writer flits from one situation to another, without any real reason. These are two different cases!

The son, considering the former marriage disannulled, takes her to wife. Of course, the circumstance that she had been his father's wife much aggravated the case, being forbidden by the Levitical law, (Leviticus 18:8, Amos 2:7,) as well as being most revolting to nature. The apostle, therefore; directs the church to "put him away from among themselves;" that is, separate him from church fellowship.

This is an acceptable judgment.

But he is brought to sincere and deep repentance, and then the apostle directs his restoration:

"Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you- that ye would confirm, your love toward him."(2 Corinthians 2:6-8)

But can we believe that he continued afterwards to live with her?

Would he not, as a proof of his repentance, put her away, and continue to live separate from her?

So would we say if the poor woman manifest repentance of her unhappy step, to use no harsher, term, and the church is satisfied of the genuineness of her repentance, and she evidence it by withdrawing from the company of both men, and continue to live separated from them, then we consider that the church may scripturally allow her to sit down with them.

An objection has been also advanced to our-opinion that the woman should separate from both of the men. It is argued that as the first is still her husband, the second being no valid marriage, she might, and indeed ought to return to, and live with him.

In a legal point of view, this might not be wrong, but we believe it is not in accordance with the word of truth.

That is IF the woman was deliberately sinful and knew her husband was alive. It also depends on whether or not the husband left her because of her faith. In which case the resultant judgment should be different. The writer (Philpot) is presenting the case without proper differentiation. And ‘C’ is repeating the example, so is similarly at fault.

To prove this we brought forward two passages of God's word.

But objections have been made to our view of Deuteronomy 24:4, and Jeremiah 3:1, as not applicable to the case and being a law confined to the Levitical dispensation.

Now, to clear up this point, we must bear in mind that some of the laws and prohibitions of the old dispensation were of temporary, and others of perpetual obligation.

For instance, circumcision, sacrifice, unclean meats, & c, were obligatory for a time; but the prohibitions of theft, murder, adultery, false swearing, are of perpetual obligation. Which enactments are temporary and which perpetual may be generally decided by the nature of the case and the peculiar language employed.

True.

Now we believe if the passages we quoted be carefully read, it will appear that the prohibition of a woman's returning to her first husband, after being possessed by a second, is grounded on the very nature of the case, and is not a mere temporary enactment. It is spoken of as "an abomination to the Lord," and "polluting that land" in-which it is a common practice.

It is indeed repugnant to every feeling of nature that a man should take back a woman who has been possessed by another man. It is therefore a prohibition grounded on unalterable circumstances.

If our readers will examine those passages where "the land is said to be polluted" or anything is called "an abomination to the Lord," they will find mention made of some crime in itself revolting to the natural mind and conscience.

But it may be said, the first is still her husband, the second being no marriage.

Granted; but is the poor woman as she would have been had she contracted no second marriage?

Has she been faithful to the marriage tie?

She has lived with "another man", and thus violated the marriage bed.

If her husband deserted her, she has been unfaithful to him.

Not if he left her because of her faith, in which case the deliberation must be different.

We will even advance a step further, and say we cannot, but, believe that a woman of truly delicate feelings and chaste mind would, apart from all higher considerations, shrink from living with either husband, as feeling that as regards the first she had been unfaithful to his bed, and, with regard to the second, that she could not live with him in adultery.

Nay further, whether our views of the passages quoted be right or wrong, we believe,were the Christian wives and mothers who read our pages polled, we should have a large majority of voices in favour of our opinion that the poor woman should inflict on herself the penalty of widowhood.

Too much conjecture!

By J.C. Philpot


The following is written by ‘C’:

I will finish with excerpts from a short article by Gilbert Beebe....

We are requested by a correspondent to give our views on Romans 7: 2-3.

“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.”

From this apostolic exposition of the law of God upon the subject of matrimony, we are fully sustained in asserting that nothing short of the death of the husband can so exonerate the wife from her marriage obligations as to leave her at liberty to marry another man...

Cases may occur in which a separation may take place against the will of one of the parties, and not for the cause mentioned, Matt. 19:9; but in such cases the parties are forbidden to marry again.

“But unto the married I COMMAND, yet not I, BUT THE LORD, let not the wife depart from her husband; but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:10, 11)

“The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband Liveth.” (I Cor. 7:39)

Yes, this is true – but not in the way presented to us by ‘C’… who mixes up various texts to prove his case, which he does not. He again refuses to mention or discuss the two exceptions! Therefore his argument, which is very poor, does not deserve consideration.

From the plain testimony of the Scriptures as referred to above, we give it as our decided conviction that no married wife can, under any circumstances whatever, marry another man while her husband is living, without involving herself in the crime of adultery...

If the man leaves because of his wife’s faith, and they are then divorced, there is no adultery. Therefore the ensuing statement is not true, as scripture shows.

A bill of divorcement, legally obtained, may in the eye of our civil code disannul a former marriage contract, so that, as far as the civil law is concerned, the parties may contract to live in adultery with impunity, and their issue be legally their heirs; but the Bible gives them no such liberty. Nor has the God of heaven given any authority to any earthly legislature to divide asunder what God has joined together.

This is true where a couple depart from each other for no good reason spoken of in scripture. However, it does not in any way prove the writer’s case! As a school teacher might say – “Can do better; must try harder”.

We could as soon extend our fellowship and approbation to the direct crime of adultery, where no separation has taken place between the husband and wife, as where such separation has taken place, a divorce obtained and the new connection legalized by the marriage of parties where one or both have a living wife or husband.

We know there is a difference of opinion among professors of religion on this subject; but we have ever refused to perform the marriage service, in any such case, as we should as soon connive directly at or countenance the sin of adultery.

We hope never to hear of an instance among old school baptists; nor can we hold any as Old School Baptists who would thus live in adultery.

(By Gilbert Beebe, September 15, 1840)

In my above comments I refer to ‘the writer’, which applies to both the original writer and the one now misusing the writing and God’s text, ‘C’. Scripture tells us there are reasons to divorce, even though God does not like people to divorce. The writer prefers to ignore these cases in favour of his own bitter accusation that all who reject his argument are only ‘professors’ and not genuine, and all who remarry are adulterers… something he has failed miserably to prove.

Just as cooks who do not like the heat of the kitchen should get out, so those who pretend to understand and teach theology badly should stop their activities, rather than mislead others.

I have shown that the writer of this article has poor understanding and his conclusions are false because they are too mixed-up, transposing one text onto another without reason, and because he does not deal with the two exceptions. He does not deal with them because he cannot – his knowledge and ability to apply it are seriously in question. And, even if ‘C’ were right, we cannot accept his attitude or his nastiness towards brethren.

For further details on the two exceptions, see separate article by K B Napier, entitled ‘Biblical Reasons for Divorce’.

For further details to show that ‘fornication’ and ‘adultery’ are not necessarily different, see article ‘Definition of Fornication and Adultery’. And remember – those who repent of either are immediately forgiven by the Father.

© July 2010

Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

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