Before We Start Our Book Series: WHO Owns / Defines / Dissolves Marriage?

10408814_453207841449543_1964885213437975732_nby Standerinfamilycourt

On Tuesday, April 28, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court will enter their chamber for perhaps the most pivotal day in the nation’s modern history.   It will be a day when we will either decide nationally to yield to God’s law or continue to rebel against it, and quite possibly find ourselves running out of opportunities to repent and restore our nation.    “Standerinfamilycourt” is so grateful to have had the opportunity to kneel and pray with 10,000 other believers in front of the Supreme Court building on March 26, 2013, the last time marriage redefinition / defense-of-marriage arguments were heard.   The Lord could have delivered us in 2013 and spared us of the national catastrophe of having the very separation-of-powers so basic to upholding our Constitution totally break down due to our national thirst for ever-increasing immorality and universal sexual license.

Putting it bluntly, marriage redefinition was established in the U.S.  with the stroke of Ronald Reagan’s pen on September 5, 1969.     Instead of speaking out, marching, fasting and praying as we’ve done against the sodomization of marriage, the Church got comfortable with the resulting system of consecutive polygamy.   That tragically, through the removal of God’s hand of divine favor and protection,  put an end to the days wherein state, local and Federal governments could balance their budgets, protect national borders, elect national leadership that was both competent and virtuous at the same time, win wars, assimilate its immigrants or accomplish much of anything else that used to mark us as a nation under God.    We totally forgot that an offended God was watching (and was being overly patient with us).

The enactment of unilateral divorce and legalized adultery also contributed to the destruction of another great empire, the Roman Empire, and it occurred within two generations of enactment.    Why should we expect that God would be more patient with us than He was with the Byzantine-Rome co-emperors?

In the 16th century, Martin Luther and several other key figures of the Reformation set in motion the circumstances we find ourselves in today.    We love to say in the evangelical church, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s”.   We love to assert that God defines and owns marriage.   In 2009, the Manhattan Declaration was offered up for the signatures of well over half a million signers, also boldly saying this.    SIFC was among the first 100,000 signers, and proudly so.    Yet, many evangelicals celebrate that Martin Luther and his cohort deliberately yielded the legal ownership of “that which belongs to God” over to civil government.    Ironically, today’s leading voices in the evangelical church  are highly reluctant to take it back, even though civil government has proven to be such a poor steward of the sacred trust called holy matrimony.   It seems the Church, which has grown so corrupt in the last 45 years since enactment of unilateral divorce,  is also nowhere near ready in its unrepentant state to resume stewardship or accountability, because doing so will demand that they deal with the immoral dissolution of what Jesus said was indissoluble, and also with the righteous dissolution of that which Jesus unequivocally said was ongoing adultery (Luke 16:18).

Taking marriage back from the state, for example, by clergy refusing to sign off on state marriage certificates, will ultimately mean they will have to also accept accountability for dealing with the God-forbidden dissolution of original marriage, which in reality is the only authentic form of holy matrimony, according to the teaching of Jesus.    There’s no question that any legalization of homosexual “marriage” is only going to hasten the decline in heterosexual demand for civil marriage already designed by civil libertarians as part and parcel of the enactment of unilateral divorce.   The civil “piece of paper” is substantially-devalued versus 1969, save for tax benefits, and is further losing value with each iteration of social engineering.

As we all know, Martin Luther and his cohort took unscriptural issue with those highly unpalatable teachings of Jesus Christ, thanks to some very poor application of hermeneutics (the disciplined, scholarly rules of biblical interpretation that accompanies the assistance of the Holy Spirit).    As a result, the Protestant church, with the exception of the Anabaptist tradition,  was founded on a doctrine of marital heresy.   As Jesus states in Rev. 2: 20, they “tolerate that woman, Jezebel“!

Martin Luther, and most other Protestant church leaders, are or were adherents of what author Milton T. Wells, a former president of the Eastern Bible Institute in the 1950’s, called the “Five Word School” of liberal divorce theology, which arbitrarily chooses to center their divorce and remarriage rationalizing doctrine around a misinterpretation of Matthew 19:9, instead of the much clearer passage,  Luke 16:18 which already is consistent with the vast body of additional scripture on the matter.   Today, this heresy is broadly considered “orthodox” across the Protestant Church despite its open contradiction of the vast body of scripture that speaks to the contrary, including the accounts of two probable eyewitnesses of Christ’s actual teaching, Luke (who traveled and ministered with Paul), and Mark (who became Peter’s right-hand man).

In 1957, when Dr. Wells first authored this book, “Does Divorce Dissolve Marriage?”  he complained of a civil divorce rate that was approaching 25% some 12 years ahead of the enactment of unilateral divorce in the first of the fifty states.   He lamented that the divorce rate in the church was approaching the divorce rate outside of the church.    He made some eerily prophetic additional statements that page fans are going to have to read the installments to discover.     Dr. Wells finished his race and was promoted to heaven in 1975, never conceiving that even the front end of God’s definition of marriage (Matt. 19:4) would be hanging in the balance 40 years after his death, as he grieved over the relentless attacks on the back end (Matt. 19:6) that inspired his disciplined, scholarly examination of the hermeneutics of Protestant doctrine on the indissolubility of original marriage, and the utter illegitimacy in God’s eyes of remarriage while an estranged covenant spouse is still living.

Anyone can find an out-of-print book that has passed into the public domain that agrees with their particular stance on a topic.   Why choose this one?    It happens that this blogger’s pastor is big on hermeneutics, and getting the flock to dig deeply into scripture; to emulate the “Bereans” of Acts 17.    His sermon series on this is called “Killing the Sacred Cows (of scripture)”, but his student would dub this particular application of what she’s learned, “Sacrificing the Prize Bull” (pun fully intended).    Indeed, today the average disciple without a theology degree, who craves the truth, has access to amazing online bible study tools such as interlinear language translation guides and cultural references.  The silver lining of our challenging age is that the day is drawing to a rapid close when scriptural heresies can continue to propagate because the layperson can’t know any better! This blogger had just discovered those tools when another pastor friend pointed her to this book.    By the time the reader is two chapters in, it becomes obvious that this book is a scholarly, disciplined hermeneutic treasure.   Even if it were not, it would be well worth reading just for the rich church history within.

This book is excellent but not perfect.   Dr. Wells is visionary in recognizing the irrevocability of the biblical one-flesh relationship, that it is exclusively and supernaturally formed by God in joining husband and wife of youth or widowhood, and that it is entirely absent from unscriptural remarriage because it accompanies sexual union (rather than arising from it).   He is every bit as clear and unequivocal as Jesus was that physical death alone dissolves “that which GOD has joined”, not civil divorce, not adultery, not abandonment, and not subsequent civil marriage, nor children born into an adulterous union.    He rigorously proves it in a way that would equip a lay person to go confidently toe-to-toe with an errant theologian.   He expertly dispatches the other two of the trio of abused scriptures, Deut. 24:1-4 and 1 Cor. 7:15, that make up the evangelical Asherah Pole of “sanctified” serial polygamy.

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In my view, his book has a couple of serious flaws that nevertheless don’t take anything away from the importance of his work.    I believe these flaws are largely in context with the time in which Dr. Wells lived and worked, but not entirely.    Dr. Wells has counterparts today who reach substantially the same scriptural conclusions, such as Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon of the Pittsburg Theological Seminary, and Dr. John Piper, recently retired senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, MN, and founder of the ministry DesiringGod.     Like Drs. Gagnon and Piper, who freely assert in their writings the scriptural truth that remarriage while an estranged covenant spouse is still living creates a state of  ongoing adultery in the eyes of God, Dr. Wells stops short of advocating that such unions be civilly dissolved in order for repentance to be completed by full reconciliation with the wronged covenant spouse, and restoration of the covenant marriage for the sake of the generations of that family, and for the sake of witness to everyone around them.    Unlike Drs. Gagnon and Piper, Dr. Wells is quite forceful in stating with sound scriptural evidence that adulterous civil remarriages imperil real souls and that repentance from that state demands more than heart-felt sorrow and fidelity to the biblically-adulterous relationship.    Even so, Dr. Wells comes off as such a lover of eternal souls that had he lived long enough to see the obvious double-standard that would arise with the adoption of sodomous civil “marriage” that sometimes claims spouses and children from covenant marriages, or had he lived long enough to witness the spectacle of heterosexual spouses being enabled to cheaply and unilaterally dissolve a succession of marriages without just cause and without economic consequence,  one gets the sense that he would have taken a much stronger position.    (There is subtle evidence in the text that there was some measure of disagreement between himself and the Assemblies of God General Superintendant who wrote the Foreword to his book.)

Dr. Wells also didn’t live long enough to see the birth and explosive growth of the covenant marriage standers’ movement in response to the ravages of unilateral divorce, which increasingly can  hit after decades of successful Christian marriage.    There is a very high marriage restoration rate with this group, which necessitates, by the hand of God, exactly what these reticent pastors are so loath to see, the dissolution of adulterous unions as a first step of true repentance, and divine arrangements that generally are not toxic to the children involved within the family of God.    This development is very similar to the ex-gay move of God (and is treated by the current wayward church in similar fashion as the LGBT community treats the latter).    They are arguing with God Himself. 

Dr. Wells’ scholarly work is vitally, important, as is Dr. Gagnon’s more recent rebuttal of Dr. David Instone-Brewer (a classic contemporary member of the disingenuous “Five-Word School”).     Until the Church is able to broadly grasp the hard truth that remarriage adultery is defiance of Jesus Christ that dooms real souls to the risk of hearing (along with the legion of pastors who perform such ceremonies): “you are a goat, not a sheep: depart from me, I never knew you”, we have little chance of the church getting politically behind the repeal of unilateral divorce, as it should do.   As it stands now, the Assemblies of God has archived this book of truth, while heinously revising their official position paper to reflect the unscriptural teaching of the “Five-Word School”, and requiring their pastors to perform adulterous remarriages where the denomination policy used to disfellowship pastors just 42 years ago who did so.

Introduction:   “DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE” by Rev. / Dr.  Milton T. Wells.

 

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

Book Series – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE? – Summary and Appendix

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain) DDDM_PagePic5 FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge. Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”. The author uses the term “Five-Word-School”  for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” (except it be for fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.   It might seem tempting to skip the Appendix which follows this SUMMARY, however doing so will cause the reader to miss some very “meaty” materials not presented earlier by the author, Rev.  Wells.    Links to the earliers chapters are found at the end of this post, and where specifically referenced within.   

XII – THE SUMMARY

A. The Cumulative Evidence in Review Establishes the Indissolubility of Mar­riage.

    1. Matt. 5:32 provides no evidence for the right of a chaste mate to marry another when putting away an unchaste mate, neither does it affirm that an in­nocent party has the right to divorce an adulterous mate.
    2. Christ abrogated the divorce permission of Moses by His statements of Matt. 5:32; 19:9 (A. V.), and Luke 16:18. Moses’ law permitted a man to put away his wife for ·causes other than adultery and released the innocent wife to marry another man, whether or not her first husband had married again .Christ’s statements said that he who married such an innocent woman committed adultery in doing so. Amazingly enough notwithstanding Christ’s clear abrogation of Moses’ divorce permission, the FIVE WORD School persists in saying that Christ has released all innocent parties from spouses who, after divorcing them, marry again,   because in marrying again they commit adultery.
    3. The harmony of Christ’s great parallel divorce accounts shows unequivo­cally Mark 10:11, 12 to be His last clarifying commentary on His divorce dis­course with the Pharisees (Matt. 19:3-9 and Mark 10:2-9). Mark 10: 11,12 spe­cifically forbids either a chaste mate or an unchaste mate to marry another after divorcing a spouse for whatever cause.
    4. The twelve principle points of the harmony of Matt. 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12 prove conclusively that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of mar­riage for any cause, including adultery.
    5. The divorce texts of the Epistles (Rom.7;2, 3 and 1 Cor.7:10, 11, 39), which are as equally inspired as Christ’s divorce statements in the Gospels, are in agreement with the word of the Lord Jesus respecting divorce in the inspired Gospels. They confirm the statements both of the Genesis and Gospel divorce accounts, namely, that the dissolution of the marriage union has been disallowed for any man for any cause other than death from the beginning, as reaffirmed by Christ.
    6. Of all the divorce texts of the New Testament. only one (Matt. 19:9 A. V.), seems on its surface to authorize an innocent party to divorce an unchaste mate and marry another. Six of the divorce texts specifically forbid remarriage for divorce for any cause while a former mate is living. One shows that a spouse who puts away a chaste mate causes her to commit adultery. The followers of the FIVE WORD School persist in building their doctrine of divorce on this isolated text, despite the fact that the context of Matt.19:9 does not support the inter­pretation of that text and despite the fact that Matt. 19:9 was not quoted by the early Church in the first five centuries of the Christian era in support of the lib­eral school’s view of divorce.
    7. No court would support a case which was based on the testimony of witness when contradicted by the testimony of six or more witnesses; nor would the side which had only one witness be helped if that one witness’ testimony was questionable, as is true of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) because of its variant reading which virtually nullifies its support of the FIVE WORD view.   The fact that the early Church did not see in this verse the right to divorce a chaste mate with the inherent right to marry another  further weakens the testimony of this text for the FIVE WORD School. It ls probable that Matt. 19:9 was, in its original text, virtually like Matt.5:32, which would account for Matt. 19:9’s not being quoted in the early centuries in support of divorce and remarriage for adultery or any other cause. In any case, there is no law of Greek grammar demanding that an exceptive clause modify both the clause before and after it. and no compe­tent Greek grammarian can say that it is proper to determine the meaning of the grammar of an isolated text without reference to its context if there is room for uncertainty in the matter. Further, no outstanding textual scholar would pre­sume to say that the Greek text supporting Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) has been or pres­ently could be proven to be the original text of Matt. 19:9. and thus the only approved text.
    8. The strange and unorthodox principles of interpretation of the follower of the FIVE WORD School confirm the fact that their conclusions and their doc­trine of divorce are unsound. The first example of this is revealed by their in­sistence that Matt.5:32 and Luke16:18, not to mention Mark 10:11,12; Rom.7:2, 3, and I Cor. 7: 10, 11 and 39, must be modified and qualified by their interpretation of one isolated text, Matt. 19:9 (A. V.).   Both Matt. 5:31, 32 and Luke16:18 have within their text an innocent woman in the major thrust who may not marry another, even though her husband makes himself an adulterous hus­band by divorcing his innocent mate and marrying another. Surely it is presumption to set at nought two clear contexts and texts prohibiting innocent mates to remarry because another isolated text appears superficially to permit an in­nocent spouse to divorce an unchaste spouse to marry another.   This method of the FIVE WORD School’s interpretation becomes more reprehensible when one observes the facts of the harmony of the two divorce accounts (Matt. 19:1-12 and Mark 10: 1-12), for they reveal that the context of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) with the text itself provides twelve points which prove that the context of Matt. 19:9 does not support the FIVE WORD view of Matt.19:9.
    9. The FIVE WORD School’s erroneous view of the alleged right of the inno­cent wife of the major thrust of Matt.5:32 (19:9 or Luke16:18) to marry another after her husband had remarried explodes its doctrine! On the one hand, the ad­herents of this school say that a man who puts away a chaste wife and marries another is living in adultery because he has not dissolved his union with his first (chaste) wife by marrying another.   On the   other hand, these adherents say that the same innocent (chaste) wife has a right to marry another because her husband commits adultery in marrying again, and by that adultery brings (the FIVE WORD 19:9  view of) the exceptive clause of Matt. into action.   How amazingly con­tradictory is this school’s reasoning!   In one breath its followers say that the remarried husband of the major thrust of the above texts is living in adultery because he is still before God married to his first, chaste wife; and in the next breath, they say that the first wife may get a divorce from him (dissolve the marriage) and marry another because he has committed adultery.  If he is still married to his first wife, she (the first wife) must still be married to him!   The bible knows of no marriage that is a one-way union!!  How can the husband in question be living in adultery if it is not because he is still before God married to his first wife?   Indeed to accept the FIVE WORD doctrine of divorce is to return presumptuously to the divorce permission of Moses (Deut. 24:1-4) which Christ so clearly and forever abrogated! In Matt. 5:32b;19:9b and Luke16: 18b, He said that such wives who marry another are caused to commit adultery and that those who marry them commit adultery!Indeed Moses permitted such wives (Deut. 24: 1-4) to be married to another when put away by their husbands, BUT Christ DID NOT! The truth of this paragraph is virtually sufficient of itself to dissolve FIVE WORD theology: for if the innocent wife of the major thrust of the three divorce texts (above) cannot dissolve her marriage so that she may marry another, it is inconsistent to believe that the innocent husband of the sec­ondary thrust can do so.
    10. The frightening, evil fruits of the FIVE WORD School’s divorce doctrine and its many strange and false assumptions given in the Appendix confirm the fact that the FIVE WORD School’s interpretation of Matt. 19:9 is false.

B.   A Brief Summary of the Whole Argument of the Conservative School Follows:

  1. The following texts on their face agree completely in teaching the absolute indissolubility of marriage:
  1. Genesis 2:21-2 2.
  2. Malachi 2:16 5.
  3. Mark 10: 1 -12
  4. Matthew 5:32
  5. Matthew 19:3-8
  6. Luke 16:18
  7. Romans 7:1-4
  8. I Corinthians 7: 10, 11, 39.

2.  The only problematical text is Matt. 19:9. Any difficulty arising from that text may be resolved as follows: a . A careful integration of Matthew’s account with Mark’s account of Christ’s answers to the question the Pharisees and His Disciples shows conclusively that Christ there taught the complete indissolubility of marriage. b. If the reading of the Authorized Version (i.e., “except it be for fornica­tion”) be preferred, it is clear that Christ there sanctioned only the right of a spouse to a legal separation or limited divorce (a mensa et thoro) on the grounds of fornication. c. If the variant reading of Westcott and Hort is preferred, Matt.19:9 is sim­ply a restatement of Christ’s teaching in Matt. 5:32, i.e., that the divorcing husband sins by thrusting his innocent spouse into an adulterous relationship.   3. The many false assumptions of the FIVE WORD School are based on an ap­peal to human reason rather than on Divine Revelation.

C.   A Summarizing Admonition is Presented.

A criminal is not sent to prison on evidence that he is guilty unless such guilt can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Certainly the FIVE WORD School’s doctrine has not been proven to that extent. To the contrary, their position has been proven incredible by a multitude of facts and evidences. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”’ (Rom. 14:23).

Certainly a devout Christian cannot accept a rule of divorce and remarriage which has been proven in many positive ways to contradict the clear teaching of Christ and His Apostles, who taught the complete indissolubility of marriage. Clearly a consecrated believer cannot be long in doubt about which of the two views of divorce would bring the greater peace of God to his heart. Reader, which of the two, if followed by a born again believer, would bring him the as­surance of following implicitly in the law of Christ, that is, to love his spouse as Christ loved the Church (Eph.5:25), not only when she was worthy, but un­worthy, and thus thereby go the second mile, turn the other cheek, and forgive the one who has deeply wronged him until seventy times seven?   Which of the two views, if accepted by God ‘s people everywhere, would bring the greater good to little children born and yet unborn (think of the millions of innocent children of broken homes)?   Which of the two, if followed universally, would bring the greater good to society and to the Church of God?   Which of the two would bring the greater glory to God, both in time and for eternity?

Reader, would you determine the right or wrong of a given action in other moral matters affecting your eternal destiny, or that of others, on the contro­versial meaning of ONE isolated text having a strong variant reading, when the variant reading, the context of the isolated text, and all other texts bearing on the same subject contradicted the presumed meaning of that ONE text?’ The first portion of this book was written to give a thorough exegesis of the divorce texts of the Bible; the latter portion was written to expose the fallacious assumptions of the FIVE WORD School. The latter portion is in the Appendix.

One erroneous assumption is that a proper understanding of the word divorce automat­ically resolves the divorce problem of Matt. 19:9. Most of the false assumptions are an effort to persuade men that Matt. 19:9 MUST be interpreted to suit the distressing circumstances of innocent mates and of spouses of unscriptural unions who profess Christ as their Saviour.  The followers of the FIVE WORD School have been largely won through an appeal for sympathy for innocent mates and con­verted divorcee spouses and their mates and the consequent amazing accommo­dation of Scripture to implement that sympathy. The principle of sympathy has been followed by some religious sects to justify ungodly men in their sinful prac­tices and falsely to alleviate heaven-born fears of the judgment to come. Such reasoning is tantamount to saying that one should, for sympathy for sinning men, find an accommodation of Scripture to alter the strict teaching of Christ con­cerning the eternal punishment of lost souls.  Is not the doctrine of the eternal state of unregenerate heathen settled by many nominal Christians by an appeal or sympathy for such men rather than by the fiat of the “thus saith the Lord” of Scripture? Surely innocent mates and spouses of unscriptural unions need the earnest sympathy of Christians and Christian churches, but that sympathy must first flow out of a proper understanding of Scripture as based on an objective exegesis of all texts relating to such individuals. A true Christian must never let his heart-felt sympathy nor his regard for alleged Christian experience of any man, cause him to wrest the Scriptures to suit what appears to be Christ’s treat­ment of erring mankind. The proper method of establishing a doctrine is not to bring one’s exegesis of Scripture in line with his sympathy and human reason but to bring his sympathy and human reason in line with divine revelation.

An ex­ample of the accommodation of Scripture to natural sympathy and human reason is seen in the erroneous doctrine of the annihilation of the wicked dead. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12). Because it is so important to his argument, the author of this book preferred to include within the body of his work the material presented in the Appendix, but he realized that it would have encumbered the flow and movement of his exegesis of the divorce texts. One cannot get the full force of the author’s argu-ment, however, unless he studies the content of the Appendix. Since it specific­ally answers the major objections of the FIVE WORD School to the Conservative School’s position. It provides a rebuttal to the superficial foundations of human sympathy and human reason, upon which the doctrine of the FIVE WORD School so largely rests.

Mere emotional thinking in the matter of the doctrine of divorce can be avoid­ed if one will follow the advice in the quotation below: The next time you get into an argument, stop the discussion a moment and, for an experiment, institute this rule:  Each person can speak for himself only after he has first re-stated the ideas and feelings of the previous speaker ac­curately and to that speaker’s satisfaction. Sounds simple, but it is one of the most difficult things to do. Once you have been able to see the other’s point of view, your own comments will have to be drastically revised. You will find the emotion going out of the discussion, the differences being reduced, and those remaining being of rational and un­derstandable sort.

(Rogers and Roethlisberger:   Quote, Vol. 32, No. 8, Col. No.37, p. 11, (July 15, 1956), Indianapolis.   DDDM_diagram_p121_appx

THE APPENDIX

 

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A. Charge to Jury of Readers

 

  1. ACCEPT EVIDENCE ONLY ON THE SOUND RULES OF INTERPRETATION AND GRAMMAR. See pages 9 through 12, and 41 through 42

 

2. CONSIDER WELL THE SOURCE OF THE CONTROVERSY: MATT. 19:1-12 and MARK 10: 1-12.

You must know the harmony of these two accounts before you accept evidence on either side of this controversial subject. See pages 79 through 91 which present this feature for your study.

3.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT IS BASED UPON DIVINE REVELATION RATHERTHAN UPON·THE PRIOR BELIEFS AND TRADITIONS OF THE JEWS AND THEIR CONCEPT OF THE MEANING OF DIVORCE.

That the Pharisees understood the word apoluo to mean the dissolution of a marriage so that one might be married to another is beside the point. The Phari­sees of Christ’s day knew nothing of the right to pluck kernels of corn (wheat) on the Sabbath day (Matt.12:1-8) or the right to minister healing on the Sabbath day (Matt.12:9-14) but Christ did. They could not grasp Christ’s statement, “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile him” (Mark 7:15). Christ did not water down his concepts of ethics and doctrine to accommo­date the views of the Pharisees.     The FIVE WORD School not only presumes to settle the “right” of an innocent party to divorce and marry another on the “exceptive clause” of ONE isolated verse of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.), but erroneously assumes that the meaning of one word apoluo (divorce) in one text establishes the former beyond question.   The word apoluo is understood by the Seventh Day Adventists to mean “annihilate” and they proceed to build a doctrine of the annihilation of the wicked dead in part on that definition.   The word apoluo is translated “mar” in the Authorized Version when Christ speaks of the danger of putting new wine into old skins lest they be “marred” and the wine be lost (Mark2:22).   Obviously the wineskins were not annihilated when they burst; they were no longer useful for their in­ tended purpose.   The same Greek word apoluo is translated “lose” in Luke 15: 24, 32 and 19:10.The father of the prodigal upon the prodigal’s return said, “he was lost (apoluo) and is found.” Certainly he was not “annihilated.” A divorce mars a marriage; it does not today, so far as Christ is concerned, annihilate a marriage bond. The guilty wife and the innocent wife may not remarry (Matt. 5:32) because the original union is still intact.

 

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The FIVE WORD School insists that because the Jews knew of no divorce that did not carry with it the right to remarry, that Christ was not considering the matter of divorce as separate from remarriage when He discussed the matter with the Pharisees (Matt. 19:1- 12; Mark 10: 11- 12). If this be so. why then did He on every occasion but one when speaking on the subject of divorce say that he who “puts away” (divorced) his wife “and marries” another “committeth adultery”? See Matt. 19:9 (A. V.): Mark 10: 11, 12, and Luke 16: 18. Note the emphasis on “and marrieth” another. The Greek word for “and” in these passages is KAI which speaks of the connection of different things. Thayer’s Greek lexicon says, “KAI ”  introduces something new under the same aspect yet as an external addi­tion, whereas “TE  ”  marks it as having an inner connection with what precedes.

(Joseph Henry Thayer: Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Edin­burgh,   T. and T. Clark,   1887. p.616)

Christ rejected divorce as a dissolution of marriage in toto in His reply to the Pharisees’ question, “Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorce­ment, and to put her away?” He replied, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away [divorce] your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.” Thus He cut away all support for divorce (dissolution of marriage) of a general character, as taught by the school of Hillel, or for adultery, as taught by the school of Shammai; the latter obviously based their right to divorce for unchastity on Deut.24:1-4, the very portion to which the Pharisees alluded in their question above (Matt.19:7).

Indeed, if Christ spoke the very words of the Greek text which supports the Authorized Version of Matt. 19:9 (over which there is great uncertainty among the Church’s great scholars), He taught that there was a divorce which did not permit remarriage. The twelve points of the Harmony of Matt. 19: 1- 12 and Mark 10: 1-12 given on pages 92 through 107 verify that fact.

The Pharisees could have known of a divorce in the Old Testament which did not DISSOLVE the marriage bond had they studied its pages more than their tra­ditions which were superimposed upon it. A specific giving of a bill of divorce­ment is mentioned twice in Deut. 24: 1-4, to which Christ said, “FROM THE BEGINNING IT WAS NOT SO” (Matt. 19:8)! Christ knew of a bill of divorce­ment in the Old Testament that did not in God’s sight constitute dissolution of marriage.   The passage is Jer. 3: 8-14.

Of the LORD’S divorcing Israel, it is written in Jer. 3:8:

And I saw, when for the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorcement; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

 

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 The phrase, bill of divorcement, above is the same wording in the Hebrew in Deut. 24: 1-14. His bill of divorcement must have therefore been valid in Jer. 3:8. Did it dissolve the marriage bond between Him and Israel? No! Here is the proof. In the very same chapter of Jeremiah where it is stated, “I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorcement” (Jer. 3: 8), the LORD, the Change­less One, says:

Return thou backsliding Israel, . . . and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful saith the LORD, and I will not keep anger forever.   . . .   Turn, O backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you!!”   (Jer.3:12,14).

The American Revised Version of 1901 says,

Return, O backsliding children, saith Jehovah; for I am a husband unto you ..(Jer. 3:14).   The LORD did not close the door to Israel. He did not cast her off forever by dissolving His marriage union with her so that she might be free to go and be another ‘s wife.     He said:   They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the LORD (Jer. 3,l).

 

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The following from a sermon by William I. Evans, late dean of Central Bible Institute, was presented in the Pentecostal Evangel of May 6, 1956:

If you will turn to Ephesians 5, you will see that God intended to teach through husband and wife a lesson on spiritual relationship. The apostle tells us that a husband and wife living together on earth typify a heavenly rela­tionship that shall go on eternally. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it.” The love of husbands and wives is a picture displayed to the world, of God’s love for man. God is love, but He is invisible. He has no way of disclosing or revealing Himself; there­fore He created the marriage relationship as a portrayal of His unchanging and eternal love for human beings. But when divorce takes place the picture is distorted; it is reversed it testifies that God’s established order is not that beautiful steadfast love that is kind, considerate, and unselfish, but it is vac­illating. selfish, unkind,  and inconsiderate.   When divorce takes place, the husband and wife separate in defiance of God’s established order. They are saying to the world that God isn’t the kind of God that he represents Himself to be.

(William I. Evans: Christ’s Teaching on Family Life.”, The Pentecostal Evangel, (May 6, 1956), Springfield,· Missouri. )

Christ’s love for His Church did not end at Calvary. ”For if when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom.5:10). Has He, the changeless. LORD, rejected every Christian who has been guilty of spiritual adultery? Certainly James 4:4 has been true of many born-again Christ­ians:

Ye adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore would be a friend of the world maketh himself an enemy of God (James 4:4 R.V.).

The FIVE WORD School is quick to say that Jer. 3: 8 and James 4:4 are an analogy. This is true, but is the sin of adultery less evil than the sin of idolatry, which is spiritual adultery? Idolatry is exchanging the truth of God for a lie and worshipping and serving “the creature more than the Creator who is blessed forever. Amen” (Rom. 1 :25). With the exception of the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, can one think of a sin more dreadful? Is it not strange that, whereas the followers of the FIVE WORD School reject the force of Jer. 3:14,   “I am married unto you,” by asserting that the passage is purely an analogy, yet they turn to the context of Jer, 3, where the words for un­chastity are used strictly in an analogous sense, and allegedly find support for their view that “fornication” and “adultery”..are always synonymous? They cite not only Jer.3:8,9 allegedly to prove this point, but they cite Hosea 2:4,6,7, which is also an analogy. to strengthen this concept.

 

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The fact of the LORD’S love, and the commandment that we love as He loved, ought to reveal that some basic error persists in the teaching of the FIVE WORD School. Since the Greek text of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) cannot be proven beyond doubt to be Christ’s original statement, inasmuch as a strong variant reading is accepted by many Greek scholars as preferable, one should re-examine its strength and force in connection with the topic immediately under discussion. The study of the variant reading is given on pages 65 through 76.

The passage of Eph. 5:28 quoted above states that husbands “ought to love their wives as their own bodies.” Men of sanity do not rend asunder their own bodies. The Lord Jesus in Matt.19:8 is obviously referring to His reiteration of what the Scripture said in Genesis: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but ONE FLESH. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”(Matt. 19:6).   The LORD was joined as ONE FLESH to Israel. Such a union could not be dissolved, even though a bill of divorcement was given. True, Moses permitted, but did not command,   the Israelites to secure and give bills of di­vorcement. However, the LORD did not, “from the beginning” approve of the dissolution of any marriage union, because spouses of such a union are ONE FLESH until death parts them. Neither adultery nor fornication COMPEL divorce, nor do they automatically render a marriage null and void. The better way is the way of forgiveness, with which God for Christ’s sake has forgiven believers; then the marriage relation is fully restored and perpetuated. Divorce is a Mosaic concession to hardness of heart. Indeed, special grace will be needed, but God has promised, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” The heart of the true Christian will find rest only as he retains the high and unsullied standards of the New Covenant, and lives by them. Even when the unfaithfulness of a spouse has provided grounds for separation (I Cor. 7: 10, 11) [a mensa et thoro], this kind of divorce (as it may be called under state law) does not provide for remarriage for either party. This is made plain by I Cor. 7, 10, 11; Matt. 5:32b: 19:9b, and Luke 16,18b.

The LORD, the changeless One, has loved us with an everlasting love (Jer.31:3). The LORD receives back the erring, unchaste spouse. The Christian’s love is to be like His love: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved that also love one another”  (John13:34).

 

Indeed, the LORD of the Old Testament  put away (divorced) Israel, but He did not thereby dissolve the marriage union as we have seen above. The Scrip­tures say, “I AM THE LORD, I change not” ( Mal. 3:6). Would we expect the LORD of the New Covenant, who was likewise the LORD of the Old Covenant, to command what was contrary to His own nature in the New Testament? Christ did certainly restrict the innocent wife of Matt. 5:32; 19:9, and Luke 16:18 from marrying another after her husband had married another.  The remarriage of the husband was in each case the sin of adultery because each man was before God still ­married to his former wife.   If innocent wife could not remarry because the earlier marriage was still binding, it is certain that the innocent husband of the minor thrust of Matt.19:9 could not remarry after divorce. How could Christ, the changeless LORD, advise His children of the New Testament to do what He would not do to His wife? The teachings of the New Testament sustain the spirit of Jer. 3: 14. Christ bids the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the Church.   Husbands, love your wife, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it…. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself (Eph. 5:25, 28).

 

That the Pharisees understood the word apoluo to mean the dissolution of a marriage so that one might be married to another is beside the point. The Phari­sees of Christ’s day knew nothing of the right to pluck kernels of corn (wheat) on the Sabbath day (Matt.12:1-8) or the right to minister healing on the Sabbath day (Matt.12:9-14) but Christ did. They could not grasp Christ’s statement, “There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile him” (Mark 7:15). Christ did not water down his concepts of ethics and doctrine to accommo­date the views of the Pharisees.     The FIVE WORD School not only presumes to settle the “right” of an innocent party to divorce and marry another on the “exceptive clause” of ONE isolated verse of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.), but erroneously assumes that the meaning of one word apoluo (divorce) in one text establishes the former beyond question.   The word apoluo is understood by the Seventh Day Adventists to mean “annihilate” and they proceed to build a doctrine of the annihilation of the wicked dead in part on that definition.   The word apoluo is translated “mar” in the Authorized Version when Christ speaks of the danger of putting new wine into old skins lest they be “marred” and the wine be lost (Mark2:22).   Obviously the wineskins were not annihilated when they burst; they were no longer useful for their in­ tended purpose.   The same Greek word apoluo is translated “lose” in Luke 15: 24, 32 and 19:10.The father of the prodigal upon the prodigal’s return said, “he was lost (apoluo) and is found.” Certainly he was not “annihilated.” A divorce mars a marriage; it does not today, so far as Christ is concerned, annihilate a marriage bond. The guilty wife and the innocent wife may not

 

 

4.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT RECOGNIZES THE FACT THAT THE SCRIPTURES DO NOT TEACH THAT MARRIAGE IS AUTOMATICALLY DIS­SOLVED BY THE SIN OF ADULTERY.

It is important to observe that Matt. 5:32b; 19:9b, and Luke 16:18b prohibit an innocent wife from marrying again, even though the husband has committed adultery by marrying another. This is certain, as the previous study of these several texts has demonstrated.   See also pages 24 through 29  for a detailed study of this problem.

 

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5. GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT WILL AVOID THE FRIGHTENING, EVIL EF­FECTS OF THE DIVORCE DOCTRINE OF THE FIVE WORD SCHOOL.

The evil effects of divorce should not settle the doctrinal issue in question, but they should cause one to pause to re-evaluate the teachings of Christ and the Apostles respecting same. It would seem most unlikely that Christ would have presented a view of divorce and remarriage that would have multiplied divorces and brought such tragic consequences to future generations. Some awful results of the FIVE WORD view of divorce follow:

The forced and ungrammatical modification of the two clauses of Matt.19:9b by the earlier exceptive clause, as taught by the FIVE WORD School, of necessity releases the unchaste mate of the secondary thrust of the verse as well as the chaste wife of the main thrust of the verse to marry another. This kind of exegesis breeds moral corruption for it provides encouragement for the collusion of some couples in arranging by mutual agreement that one or the other or both shall commit adultery, or give the appearance of committing same, so that a FIVE WORD divorce may be legitimate, thus allowing both of them to marry other lovers. This kind of theology fits well the divorce spirit of Hollywood.

The teaching of the FIVE WORD School encourages many Christian spouses to accede to a divorce requested by their mates even when FORNICATION has not been involved on either side. Such so-called innocent spouses may be the cause of their mates desiring to be divorced because of their exhibitions of indiscretion with those of the opposite sex, even though open adultery may have been avoided. The divorce desired may be acceded to by such innocent spouses so that they may marry the one of their preference when the other is married; for according to FIVE WORD theology.a spouse may marry another when the other spouse remarries, because by that remarriage the sin of adultery has been committed, and thus the “exceptive clause” of Matt.19:9(A.V.) allegedly brings release to that party whether or not the so-called innocent spouse is free of scheming and plan­ning for the ultimate release described.

The FIVE WORD School believes that I Cor. 7: 15 provides for remarriage of a spouse whose mate deserts him. This is a natural conclusion for any who hold that Matt. 19:9 provides for the dissolution of a marriage for adultery. How­ever, the evil of such a doctrine becomes apparent upon brief consideration of same. According to this teaching. an unhappy spouse: whether regenerate or unregenerate, needs only to desert his mate sufficiently long to provoke him to divorce him and, presto, the unhappy spouse is free to marry another when his mate has done the same. The text of I Cor. 7: 15 is discussed detailedly on pages 183 through 186.   Most conservatives of the divorce question do not believe that this text provides for divorce and remarriage.  For many years “desertion” has been one of the principal grounds for securing a divorce.   This is surely significant.

 

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FIVE WORD divorce theology weakens and annuls any incentive to forgive marital infidelity, and thus negates in the mind and heart of a Christian the true spirit of Christ. This in itself should show that any encouragement that may be given to a so-called innocent party to divorce an unchaste mate and marry another is sin, for the Scriptures say:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Eph.5:25).   Return, thou backsliding [adulterous] Israel, saith the LORD . . . . for I am married unto you (Jer. 3:12,14). Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye (Col.3:13).   Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God (I Pet. 3:18).

Surely, almost without exception, the adulterous mate who is put away will re­marry when the so-called innocent remarries, and thus will such an one add sin to sin, and in the bitterness of his soul will cry out against the alleged Christian spirit of his spouse who claims, perhaps, to be Christlike and zealous for the sal­vation of souls. The Scriptures bid the true Christian not to go to the courts of the world for redress against those in the Church.

Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? Why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?     (I Cor.6:7).

God ‘s Word says that there is no forgiveness for one who himself does not forgive another (Mark 11:25, 26). Can a true Christian seriously regard these verses and proceed to divorce an unchaste mate and marry another, even though he has waited long for the erring spouse to repent and entreat his forgiveness? Has Christ not borne long with the innocent one or ones who for long seasons have been adulterous in loving the world more than they love their Redeemer? Can such a Christian presume to close the door to the return of the spouse for reconciliation at some future time when such an one awakens to his evil and turns from sin to God? Is not God longsuffering with a  sinning world?  Is the forgiveness of an un­chaste mate by a chaste spouse to be without suffering? Is it a thing of the lip in church, or a thing of the heart in life’s bitter trials and tests? ls it a human for­giveness, or a forgiveness like their Lord’s by the power of the Holy Ghost? Is the Christian told in the Scriptures to refuse to forgive some sins? God is reconciled to a wicked world already (II Cor.5: 18-21) through Jesus Christ. The sinner’s repentance does not reconcile God to him; that was accomplished at Calvary. God waits and bids men to be reconciled to Himself. If there is a breach between them, it is on man’s side, not on God’s side.   The Lord is…longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9)

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Can the Christian innocent one determine how long it will take for the guilty one to come to his senses, or will he hastily proceed with the divorce and remarry, thus slamming the door to reconciliation in the face of the one for whom Christ died? Christ had great compassion for the adulterous people of His day. Is Christ’s new commandment to be rejected by believers? Will they refuse to suffer wrong­fully? Will such Christians accept the Cross of Christ as the way of atonement but refuse to accept it as the way of life (Matt. 16:24)?

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John13:34). For this is thank worthy if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. ..For even here unto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (I Pet.2: 19, 21). The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost (Rom.5:5).

Would a pastor of the FIVE WORD School who has acquiesced to the divorce and remarriage of an “innocent party,” a husband of his church, be able to have sincere compassion for the “guilty mate,” the wife, who, still unmarried, might come months later to his church to find Christ as her Saviour? Could he sincere­ly assure her that she could receive grace to be a matrimonial exile the rest of her life? Would he conscientiously believe that such a woman could come to him at such a time for counsel and help? Would he believe she could not re­ceive grace to be an overcomer? The “innocent spouse” who contemplates divorce and remarriage ought sober­ly to realize that such a course of action may push the erring mate further into sin and immorality. Will not his or her burning be greater than that of the “chaste mate” who may have always been pure and temperate? Does the innocent hus­band who puts away his unchaste wife and marries another to some degree com­mit adultery against her (Mark 10: 11,12)? Does he by marrying another ”cause her” (the first wife) to commit ADULTERY again?   If the argument to the effect that it is “better to marry than to burn” is valid for “innocent parties,” as the FIVE WORD School asserts, is it not more needful for “adulterous spouses” who may be tempted to add sin to sin?

The blight of divorce upon children is appalling. The facts which are given below should make every supposed innocent party pause before he divorces his spouse and marries another. The following are some of the facts which were pre­sented in This Week Magazine of The Sunday Star of Washington, D. C., of July15, 1956, by Edward A. Strecker, M. D.:

We Americans are terribly concerned over the 30,000 children struck down by polio each year and the 30,000 who annually become semi-invalids with rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease. Yet each year the delicate emotional structures of over 150,000 American children are injured by di­vorce.   There are now five million such children under the age of 18 in this country.   • •

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I have known children to get along happily with one parent where they had formerly been miserable with two. I have seen second marriages in which the children were obviously living in a healthier mental environment than before.   But in most cases I have long observed that in terms of their future emotional life the children whose parents stick it out and make the best of it have by far the greater edge.   The result: figures from a number of sources show that children from broken homes (rich or poor, respectable or otherwise) commit a disproportionately large number of delinquent acts. And finally, the children of divorced par­ents are three times as likely to resort to divorce themselves!   And case histories which I have compiled during the last 25 years indicate that men and women whose parents were divorced are more subject than av­erage to creeping alcoholism, chronic functional disorders and a dangerous tendency to ally themselves with extremist organizations.90

(Edward A. Strecker: “Does Divorce Really Hurt the Children?” This Week Magazine,   The Sunday Star, July 15, 1956, Washington, D. C. pg. 8)

Are you an innocent party contemplating divorce? Which is more important, your personal happiness or the happiness and welfare of your innocent children; but more momentous, which is more important, your personal happiness or the happiness and welfare of the countless innocent children of the present and future generations who will be directly or indirectly affected by your action and ex­ample? The Apostle Paul in the following words warned the Roman Christians to be very careful of their example:

For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. . . . Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one..:may edify another. . . It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, for anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak (Rom.14:7,19,21).

The Lord Jesus said:

But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea (Matt.18:6).

The Literary Digest of May 2, 1931 presented the following under the head­ing, “The Chief Victims of Divorce“:   (Reprinted from THIS WEEK Magazine. Copyright 1956 by the United News­papers Magazine Corporation)

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Another sad result of divorce is that the children of divorced parents are apt to fail at school, and grow up without education.

Indeed, the fact is so well known, according to Dean Christian Gauss of Princeton University that many headmasters of preparatory schools exclude children who are “orphaned” through divorce.

“They refuse to accept such children,” he said in a recent address, “because they feel that the careers of the children are doomed to failure.”

Dean Gauss said further:   “The child living in such a home tends to become a “lone wolf” at school. He has no loyalty to either parent, and is acutely unhappy.

“This unhappiness, of course, is a sign of maladjustment. When the school accepts the boy, it cannot in two or three years undo the evil effects of his entire life in such a household.   . ,   .

“The situation of children made unhappy by divorce of their parents is becom­ing aggravated through the increasing popularity of divorce.   . . .

(“The Chief Victims of Divorce,” The Literary Digest, (May2, 1931).

The FIVE WORD view of divorce for one cause, namely adultery, has led and will lead ultimately to divorce for other causes. If the divorce dike breaks at the point of adultery, it will certainly break at many other points with an in­creasing disregard of Christ’s marriage law, which prohibits anyone to marry another while having a living partner. The divorce dike may be closed only by the teaching of the indissolubility of marriage presented by Christ and the divine­ly inspired Apostle Paul.

The influence of the divorce laws of England spurred our divorce increase in America.   Until 1857 there were no general divorce courts in England.   At the time when divorce courts were set up in that land, divorce was granted only for adultery, and judicial separation (a mensa et thoro) was allowed for cruelty or two years’ desertion.   In 1890 in the United States, the ratio of divorce to mar­riage had grown from one to ten, and in some states to a more alarming propor­tion. Within the twenty years prior to 1890, within one state the ratio rose from one to fifty-one to more than one to twenty-nine.   Here are the figures for the sharp increase in divorces in England:

In 1871 there were 190,112 marriages and 171 divorces.

In 1910 there were 267,721 marriages and 596 divorces.

In 1920 there were 379,982 marriages and 3,000 divorces.

In 1933 there were 318,191 marriages and 4, 042 divorces.

In 1953 there were 344,488 marriages and 30,326 divorces.

(Geoffrey Francis Fisher, op. cit.. p. 13.)

 

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In 1937, England passed the so-called “Herbert Act,” which provided for ad­ditional causes for divorce, allowing such for three years’ desertion, five years’ insanity, and cruelty, as well as for adultery. As a result, many considered di­vorce action who, in the days when divorce was frowned upon, would not have thought of doing so. It is difficult to believe that there was only an average of one divorce per year in England in the three hundred years prior to 1857.

(Canon Hugh C. Warner: Divorce and Remarriage, London, George Allen and Unwin Ltd.,   1954.   p. 11.)

Today there is one divorce for every four marriages in the United States. In Chicago and other large cities of the country it is one in three. It is no wonder when one knows that most of the larger denominational churches condone divorce and re­marriage for adultery, desertion, and not infrequently for other causes. Christ ordained that the Church should be the “salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men” ( Matt. 5: 13).

William E. Gladstone, the eminent prime minister of England, strongly opposed the change of the English divorce laws in 1857. He said that he had read everything he could discover on the subject of divorce, and nothing had shaken him from the conclusion to which he had come, namely, the absolute perpetuity of the mar­riage tie. Would that England had listened to its God-fearing prime minister. History is full of lessons of warning and instruction. Most people believe these lessons of experience to be true but few regard them.

One may readily see the rapid and frightening increase of divorce in America through the first half of the twentieth century by observing the graph given below, which was taken from the Christian Life magazine of November, 1955:

YEAR1900 PER CENT OF MARRIAGES ENDING IN DIVORCE0000000000     7.9%
1910 00000000000       8.8%
1920 0000000000000000                13.4%
1930 00000000000000000000       17.4%
1940 0000000000000000000     16.5%
1950 00000000000000000000000000     23.1%
1953 00000000000000000000000000000     25.2%

 

(“Divorce: Dilemma of the Church.” Christian Life, (November 1955), Chi­cago.   p.19).

Divorce increased 800% in the United States from 1860 to 1955.   When the divorce dike is broken for one cause, it is broken for many causes as has been shown above. A church which accepts the doctrine of the right of an innocent party to remarry after divorcing an adulterous mate starts a chain reac­tion which will multiply divorces both within her congregations and within the society within which she dwells.   The reason for this chain reaction is described fully on pages 32 through 33. Such a church cannot honorably ask its youth who come to its marriage altars to take the vow, “until death do us part”..

 

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PreachRom7_3

The evils which flow from divorce are given as follows by Canon Hugh C. Warner:

a. It distorts ideals. Easy divorce creates an atmosphere in which young peo­ple grow up with totally distorted ideas of marriage, and with a complete lack of realization of the idea of lifelong dutifulness.

 

b. It fosters lawlessness. Easy divorce fosters the innate lawlessness of human affections, by adding power to temptation to infidelity.

 

 c.  It encourages self-will:   Easy divorce creates opportunities for selfish peo­ple who have quarreled with a partner or transferred their affections else­where to refuse the spiritual discipline of meeting and overcoming diffi­culties in their personal relations. . . Divorce may have enabled them to indulge their own weakness, instead of conquering it, and making a suc­cess of their first union. So divorce may breed divorce.

 

d.  It weakens the sense of obligation: Easy divorce weakens any incentive to forgive infidelity, and prompts rather the grasping of any opportunity of­fered for release from obligations felt to be irksome.

 

e.  It offers a cloak of respectability to sin: Easy divorce holds out the possibil­ity of combining gratification of immoral desire with respectability. The moment any real strain arises in domestic relations, the partners feel themselves at liberty to look around for more amiable or attractive mates, secure in the conviction that, if they dissolve their union and seek a second (or even a third or fourth) marriage elsewhere, society will not hold them greatly to blame.   A potent social preventive of divorce is thus removed.

f. It encourages extra-marital affairs: Easy divorce paves the way for the en­gaging qualities of a chance-met third party at once to arouse a desire to win his or her affections, with a view to entering into a new and more de­lightful union than the existing one.

g. It encourages evasion of parenthoodEasy divorce encourages an exchange of partners, and the more this becomes a practical possibility, the more an evasion of parenthood will be fostered, for children cannot but create a bond which renders the dissolution of the partnership more difficult. So absence of children leads to a weakening of an important line in the mar­riage relationship.

h. It contributes to family instability: Easy divorce creates a public opinion which offers no social condemnation upon the easy exchange of one partner for another. .. Where the marriage bond is recognized as permanent, self-discipline is more easily imposed, tolerance more easily granted, and harmony and companionship more patiently sought…

i.  It offers children a precedent for divorce: Children who, when they get married, are able to look back to the example of their own parents who were divorced, find it hard to do other than follow the example of thosetowhom they have been emotionally so closely tied when difficulties in their married life occur, unless there is a strong public opinion to support them in their determination to overcome them.

(Canon Hugh C. Warner, op. cit. , pp. 69-71)

 

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6.  GIVE A JUDGMENT BASED ON DIVINE REVELATION RATHER THAN UPON AN ACCOMMODATION OF SCRIPTURE TO THE APPARENT NECESSITIES OF INNOCENT MATES OF STRONG SEX NATURE.

God forbid that the divorce issue will be settled doctrinally by an accommoda­tion of Scripture to the seeming necessities of modern innocent spouses. How amazing it is to observe that at the turn of the century, and for more than a decade thereafter, divorce was frowned upon in almost every community of America.  During those days a divorcee was a social outcast in thousands of localities. Today, it is far otherwise as all know. C. M. Ward quotes Time Mag­azine as follows: “Kinsey’s work expresses and strengthens an attitude that can be dangerous: The idea that there is morality in numbers. “

In referring to the above, C. M. Ward said that such a statement is tantamount to saying, “That because a  lot of people do a thing, that thing must be right.”  

(C. M. Ward:   Marriage Insurance, Springfield, Missouri, Assemblies of God, 1956, pp. 5,6).

Does that view or standard express the reason why the Church in the last two decades, and es­pecially since World War II, seems determined to lean over backwards to ac­commodate the Scriptures, right or wrong, to the trying and unfortunate circum­stances of divorcees? The Bible should be examined objectively and independent­ly of the involved divorcee problems facing the Church today. Then, and only then, upon the basis of the true, objective teachings of Christ and the Scriptures should the issues of such difficult cases be decided. It is true that in recent years a Christian’s views, chameleon-like, may change because of his personal marital problems or those of his relatives or friends? May God help us all to be honest in this matter and desire the truth for truth’s sake and for His sake who is THE TRUTH! “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

The FIVE WORD School alleges that the flame of nature in innocent mates who have put away adulterous mates necessitates a doctrine providing for their remarriage lest they “burn.” This School presumes to apply I Cor. 7:9, “it is better to marry than to burn,” to innocent mates, whereas the context of this text shows it to apply to single people who as yet have not married. If one thinks that there is an area of life in which victory over sin is impossi­ble, he will meet defeat in that very thing. Let a young man nineteen years of age be inducted into military service believe that because he is of a strong sex nature he cannot remain pure until God brings the girl of His choice into hislife, and he will commit unchastity before many months.

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Or let a man who is a divorced “innocent party, ” who may not scripturally remarr y, allow himself to be agitated and distressed because he cannot now enjoy the gratification of his person as he did while he was married, and he will breed his own pollution and moral breakdown. Many a single young man of strong physical constitution has “purposed in his heart” that he would not be defiled while dwelling for many months or a longer period away from home and has maintained his moral integ­rity, even though he was unregenerate.

God through His Spirit kept Joseph and Daniel from moral defilement in the courts of licentious kings. Surely He can keep any of His children by His in­dwelling Spirit.  FIVE WORD theology puts more emphasis upon the strength of the flesh than upon the indwelling Spirit.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (I Cor. 10:13).

If continence is possible only to special individuals, then the Christian sex ethics of Scripture are wrong. Apart from divorce, there are some cases where it is necessary, while two spouses are living together as husband and wife in the same house or in the same room, for each to maintain continence over a con­siderable period. There are many instances where youths of strong physical con­stitution are prevented for very long periods from marrying; yet many of these individuals preserve their chastity without a personal knowledge of Christ. How much more should Christians keep their moral integrity!

The FIVE WORD School alleges that the phrase .. “causeth her to commit adul­tery” in Matt.5:32 indicates that Christ’s sympathy for the innocent party of the text was so great that He said in effect, ..HER HUSBAND FORCED HER TO COMMIT ADULTERY, ” because she was driven by her flame of nature to marry again. This, the FIVE WORD School insists, shows that Christ has the same sympathy for any innocent party today whose spouse commits adultery, and that He agrees thereby that such an innocent party of necessity has the right to marry another to satisfy the sex drive of his nature. This reasoning seems utterly sound and conclusive until a careful examination is made of the whole text in question. Upon examining Matt. 5:32, one will observe that although the heart of Christ was indeed full of compassion for the innocent wife of the major thrust of the verse, He did not free her to marry another when her husband divorced her; for although Moses said that such a woman upon receiving the bill of divorcement “MAY GO AND BE ANOTHER MAN’S WIFE”..(Deut.24:2), Christ declared:

It was said also whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: but I say unto you, that everyone that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery (Matt.5:31,32 R.V.).

 

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In this statement, Christ abrogated the Mosaic right of this innocent wife to marry another. Further, Christ specifically said that the kind of innocent wife in question could not marry another when her husband committed adultery by marrying another.   This is clearly stated in Luke 16: 18 (R. V.) below:

Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband commit­teth adultery.  

The text of Matt.5:32 has been treated in detail earlier in this book. See pages18 through 29. [hyperlink:http://www.standerinfamilycourt.com/?p=1898] To say that “innocent parties” who have divorced their adulterous mates can­not maintain their purity because of their flame of nature is a fearful indictment of ALL married people, whether they be regenerate or unregenerate, an indict­ment that a great company of them would reject. It is also a fearful indictment of the power of the Spirit of God who inhabits every child of God and who is eager to inhabit every unregenerate who will turn to Christ.

Many mates of the kind described under a, b, c, and d below must maintain their lonely lives in purity, despite the fact that their mates have not committed adultery. They may not remarry while their long absent spouses live. Are the so-called innocent mates of Matt.19:9(A.V.) to be given special preference by God? If those of the FIVE WORD School would follow their reasoning respecting this problem to its logical conclusion, they would have to search the Word of God and provide an unscriptural doctrine of divorce and remarriage for the fol­lowing:

a.   A wife whose husband has been in an insane institution for many years, and who. according to the best medical advice, will be there for many more years.

b.  A wife whose husband has been imprisoned for life.

c.  A robust young husband whose wife has been incapacitated for marital union by a terrible accident or sickness. Must the flame of nature burn away his vow, “until death us do part”?   To such a young husband, the eunuch necessity of Matt.19:11,12 will be pertinent.

d.  A young husband stationed in an army of occupation for two years, thousands of miles from home, or in a similar situation during open warfare.

e. The innocent wife of the character described in Matt.5:32. The Scriptures state that she may not remarry, asserting that whoso marrieth her committeth adultery. See also Luke 16: 18 for this type of innocent spouse.

f.  Even the FIVE WORD School allows that there are some innocent spouses who have been divorced who may not marry while their former mates remain un­married.   Will not their flame of nature require the FIVE WORD School to ac­commodate the Scriptures to their need by providing a doctrine of desertion, like the alleged doctrine of desertion of I Cor. 7: 15, to meet the requirement of these innocents?

 

[Page 136 of original text]

The teachers of this divorce doctrine begin with divorce only “for fornication” and spread it out for “desertion” also. Once the dike is broken for the flame of nature, there can be no stopping point in practice, despite a church’s doctrine, permission to divorce a mate for desertion will extend to the permis­sion to do so for cruelty, drunkenness, etc. The FIVE WORD School suggests that the Conservative School imposes upon an INNOCENT MATE a life of temptation, and should such an one fail, he is allegedly forced into the flames of hell. If this kind of theology were consist­ent, it would have to allow that there are many other innocents, so-called, who by their flame of nature will be coerced into the flames of hell, the LAKE OF FIRE! Indeed. if the teaching of this school is disseminated widely, it will en­courage some of the “unfortunate mates” listed above to remarry and thus com­mit adultery and meet the doom of hell. Further, it will provide an excuse for many unmarried ones to commit unchastity, since it will focus their attention on their weak flesh rather than upon the grace of God, gumption, and grit.

But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the LAKE which burneth with fire and brimstone which is the second death. (Rev. 21:8)

Fornicators and adulterers are also listed in the roll call of the damned in I Cor. 6:9.

The following is an excerpt from the article entitled “Divorce: Dilemma of the Church” which appeared in the November 1955 issue of Christian Life maga­zine:   Not long ago Dr. Edman [President of Wheaton College] counselled a Christian who learned through the birth of an imbecilic son (who providentially died very quickly) that his wife was syphilitic. Her condition was hereditary. Was he entitled to divorce?   “By Christian standards you are not entitled to divorce,” Dr. Edman answered.” Your wife’s illness is unfortunate, even tragic – but no more than that of a wife who becomes mentally deranged.”

(“Divorce: Dilemma of the Church, ” loc. cit.)

 

7.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT IS BASED ON THE STANDARDS OF GRACE RATHER THAN UPON THE LAW OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.

The FIVE WORD School insists that necessarily grace should be more consid­erate of “innocent parties” than the law, because the law would have released an innocent spouse from an adulterous mate by stoning.

 

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To the contrary, men should view what Christ would have us do under grace. First, it is important to notice that grace is always more longsuffering with the wicked than the law. The emphasis of grace is on going the “second mile,” “turning the other cheek,” and “loving one’s enemies.”   Observe particularly the context of Christ’s reference to His standards of marriage (Matt.5:31,32) in the Sermon on the Mount.  This is dealt with on pages 18 through19.

The fornicator and adulteress were indeed stoned under Moses’ law of the Old Testament, but how different reads the grace of the New Testament:

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38,39). The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17).

In John 8, it is written that the Scribes and Pharisees brought unto Jesus “a woman taken in adultery.” When they had set her in the midst of the group to worn Jesus was ministering, they said:

Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou (John 8:5) ?

Those familiar with the Scriptures will remember that Christ challenged each of her accusers to be the first to cast a stone at her; yet not one presumed to act upon His word, but each went out convicted by his own conscience. Thank God, Christ’s word to the Woman was: “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”

The spirit which the Lord Jesus manifested to the adulterous woman of John 8 He manifested also to the woman who had had five husbands in John 4, and to the harlot of Luke 7, who washed   his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. He said to the harlot, “Thy sins are forgiven.. . . Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace” (Luke7:48,50). Christ’s grace provided that an adulterous one might live out: his or her normal life if perchance he or she might repent and be reconciled to Him. The FIVE WORD School appeals urgently for grace to be shown to the “inno­cent”.  Christ of the New Covenant appeals urgently for men and women to show His grace to sinning men. His grace abounded to sinful men. His whole life bore testimony to ·that fact.  His death at Calvary was the painful breaking of His alabaster – box of love upon sinful mankind who were unworthy of His love. Many want the Cross of Christ as a  way of atonement; few want it as a  way of life.  We are so ready to accept freely the grace of Christ but unwilling to share it richly and daily when it means suffering.

[Page 138 of original text]

….Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God . . . Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an ex­ample that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin. neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again: when he suffered, he threatened not: but committed himself to him that judgeth right­eously (I Pet 3:18; 2:21-23).

The Cross-way of life is contrary to the thinking of the natural man, be he an unregenerate or a carnal regenerate. The natural man cries out for the ad­ministration of strict justice against his enemies. Christ calls for the extension of mercy and grace by believers to those who are unfaithful and who despise and injure them. Christians would all be hopeless and eternally doomed for their unfaithfulness and enmity toward the Lord were it not for His abounding grace and patience toward them. A true “innocent mate” may at some time be forced, because of circumstances, to put away (a mensa et thoro) an “unchaste mate,” but may he by the grace of God ever keep the door ajar for the return of the unfaithful one.   May he be gracious to the erring one as was the LORD ofthe Old Testament and the LORD Jesus of the New Testament. May the Cross marks of Calvary love be upon all of our hearts! God did not close the door to His adulterous wife ISRAEL!

8.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT WILL BE BASED ON DIVINE REVELATION RATHER THAN UPON MAN’S RATIONALIZED CONCEPT OF MORAL LAW.

Some of the FIVE WORD School teach that moral law does not conflict with the law of man’s inherent nature.   They hold I Cor.7:9 to be such a law.

The author has shown earlier that the biological drive of man must be curbed, whether before or after marriage. Certainly, the unfortunate mates mentioned above would have to curb this driving impulse of nature within.

Would not the reasoning of the FIVE WORD School, if followed to its logical conclusion, make God chargeable for the unchastity of young unmarried men who under government orders have to serve for two years or more overseas with­out the privilege of marriage?   This situation was a real one during World War II. However, were there not multitudes of these young men of strong sex drive who came home unsullied, even though they did not know Christ as Saviour?

What of the millions of young men of every decade from fourteen years of age to their early or middle twenties, and some later, who because of their ed­ucational preparation delay marriage until they are ready to begin their profes­sional career? Are not these young men required by God to keep themselves pure during those years? Or does God make some special dispensation for them, giving them license to commit unchastity until they are married, since condi­tions did not warrant their marrying earlier? Is the flame of nature to decide the divorce issue, or will a sound exegesis of what “SAITH THE LORD”   provide the answer?

 

[Page 139 of original text]

Some of the FIVE WORD School believe that moral law is never unreasonable, that it is always reasonable to man.   Consequently, they fervently believe that it would be an unreasonable law to restrict an “innocent mate” from the right to remarry. How can anyone trust man’s idea of reason when his very reason is vitiated by sin? Mankind must depend upon the revelation of God in order to know what “ideas of reason” are valid. Let us see where an evangelical would arrive if he followed man’s idea of reason:

a.  Is vicarious suffering reasonable? Of course not!! Therefore Christ’s atonement is of no use and is diabolical.

b.  Is imputation of guilt and righteousness reasonable?  Of course not!! There­fore men have neither the sin of Adam nor the righteousness of Christ.

c.  Is eternal punishment for temporal sin reasonable?  Of course not!  Then neither is eternal bliss for simple faith in Christ reasonable. Therefore an eternal heaven and hell are myths!

Human reasoning without God and the Holy Scriptures leads only to moral chaos and spiritual disaster. Witness the effect of the teachings of Nietzsche upon Germany and the world, and the teachings of Kant upon: the Christian Church. Both of these philosophies were built on pure HUMAN REASON of brilliant intellects without the light of divine TRUTH.

Mankind is obligated to the moral law, not on the basis of logic or human reason but on the basis of the source of moral law; it comes from God who shall judge us by it. Man does not by human reason find God. God discloses Himself to man through the Scriptures and Jesus Christ, or man could not find Him; neither could man know His divine requirements without a divine revelation from heaven.

Strangely enough, some of the FIVE WORD School conclude that moral law can never cause unhappiness. They believe that the teaching that marriage is indissoluble, as presented by Christ, would cause unhappiness to “innocent spouses” and therefore is contrary to moral law. They believe that every moral law of God will bring happiness to all who obey it. They do not believe that an “innocent mate” can find God-given happiness by obeying the indissoluble mar­riage law of Christ (Matt. 19:8). Often a faithful Christian is subjected to abuse in factory, office, or home be­cause of his steadfast regard for all the commandments of God. In many coun­tries, devotion and obedience to Christ mean loss of job and ostracism from so­ciety and home. Note the following Scriptures:

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Tim­othy 3:12).

 

[Page 140 of original text]

….Cain, who was of that wicked one . . . slew his brother. And where­fore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s right­eous (IJohn 3:12)

The slave of the Apostle Peter’s day could not cancel the slave-bondbecausea master was cruel tohim.

Servants [Greek-slaves], be subject to your masters with all fear; not onlytothe good and gentle, but also to the froward (I Pet.2:18).

 

The Christian’s attitude toward such suffering is described by the Apostle Peter:

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.   For what glory is it, if when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently, but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God  (I Pet.2:19-20)

There are many innocent victims today who suffer because of the wicked deeds of evil men. Think of faithful wives who sorrow because of the deeds of drunken husbands, and faithful mothers who grieve because of the misdeeds of wayward children.  Think of the tens of thousands of innocent children who endure hardship because of the sins of their parents or of their foster parents, or because of the bestial cruelty they exercise over them.  The last situation is frequently  caused by broken homes resulting from divorce.  Neither can we forget the unfortunate mates described on pages 135 through 136.  Most of the suffering inthe world today is brought on mankind by the sin of former generations or of other men about them.  Think of the awful suffering of the many millions during World Wars I and II.   In such, the godly suffered with the wicked.

 

Once we breach the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage our thinking becomes blurred, our moral sense loses clarity, and mere emotionalism and sentimentality run away with us. Nearly all believers are confronted at sometime with the type of argument that brings to them cases of real suffering, suchasgenuine incompatability, drunkenness, cruelty, insanity, desertion, non-support, etc. These sad circumstances should awaken in every child of God a deep sympathy and compassion. But cases of real suffering, even of “innocent mates” is not a sound argument for departing from a divine principle and altering a fundamental law of God.

The wisest of laws many times inflicts suffering upon innocent individuals.Insome areas, the compulsory clearance of slum sections adversely affects property owners; others suffer when compelled to move because of the location of anewhighway; still others experience the loss of a business without adequatecompen­sation. Whole families are brought to grief because of compulsory military service regulations.   Because of these facts. some would clamor for the prevention of laws providing for the clearance of slum areas, for the building of new highways, and for the government’s right to draft their sons for military service.

 

[Page 141 of original text]

The great majority, however, would acquiesce, knowing that they exist for the general welfare of all. Certainly all thoughtful men regard the extreme suffering and sacrifice of their country’s soldiers in the time of national peril as of utmost im­portance for the preservation of life and liberty.

It is a dangerous position to argue that divorce should be provided on the basis of cases of individual suffering. God has ordained that marriage should be indissoluble for the sake of the greatest good for the greatest number, even though some individual innocent mates must suffer as a result. Actually, it is an awful fallacy to view marriage as concerned only with the happiness of the spouses who enter wedlock.   Herein lies the shallow thinking of our time.

The Christian world sorely needs to return to Calvary and there in its light properly estimate the essential need of individual suffering to maintain the high standards of Christian righteousness for the sake of the general welfare of society and the glory of God.

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteous­ness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:20).   Ye are the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13).

 

The Christian world is the saving salt of society. It is amazing how little salt, comparatively speaking, is needed to preserve meats. It would be astounding to know the tremendous, restraining influence against wickedness which is exert­ed by the godly few in any community.   God grant that the evangelical church of today shall return to the high standards of Christian marriage bequeathed to it by the early Church and the Apostles and thus save society from the awful moral degeneration brought about by the dissolution of a large percentage of its mar­riages.

 

9.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT CONSIDERS FIRST THE GLORY OF GOD, THE WELFARE OF SOCIETY, AND THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, RATHER THAN THE INDIVIDUAL HAPPINESS OF INNOCENT MATES.

 

See Charge number 5 on [Appendix] pages 126 through 132 for a full coverage of this problem.

 

10.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT IS BASED UPON DIVINE REVELATION RATHERTHAN UPON THE RESPONSES OF PERSONAL EMOTIONS TO THE PLEAS FOR THE ALLEGED   INNOCENT MATES.

 

See Charge number 8 on [Appendix] pages 140 through141 for discussion of this prob­lem.

 

[page 142 of original text]

11.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT WILL NOT OVERLOOK THE COMPASSION OF THE TRIUNE GOD FOR THE UNCHASTE MATE.

See pages 25 through 26 and [Appendix] pages 122 through 124 for discussion on this.

 

12.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT IS BASED ON PRINCIPLE AND CHARACTER RATHER THAN UPON THE SUCCESSES OF A PERSON OR GROUP OFA RELIGIOUS PERSUASION OR UPON ALLEGED CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.

 

The FIVE WORD School believes that because “an innocent spouse” who has married again is successful in establishing churches and winning souls to Christ this is strong evidence that Matt. 19:9 provides for the dissolution of marriage for innocent spouses whose mates have committed adultery.

The whole evangelical movement has always refused to build a doctrine on Christian experience or experiences or upon the successes of men who labor for the kingdom of God. Too often followers of the FIVE WORD School assume that because a divorcee who has a living former partner, or his mate, has been born again, or has been remarkably filled with the Spirit of God, or has won souls to Christ, or has had some unusual Christian experience, he should have equal status in the church with every other believer. The richest and most scriptural Christian experiences are not given to endorse present practices or states of the recipient, but rather to impart further light and provide for a greater receptivity for more light for greater obedience to God. Any reader can think of a number of evil habits or practices or states in which men and women are found when God meets them in a new and rich experience. It is obvious that evil practices can­not persist if the recipient of the rich experience is to continue in the will of God and in the full light and blessing of God.   The cleansing of the soul is con­ditioned upon walking in all the light of divine Truth when it is revealed to the heart.

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleans­eth us from all sin (I John 1:6,7).

The fallacy of establishing a doctrine of divorce upon Christian experience is readily illustrated by a typical example. Two divorced spouses enter a church and shortly thereafter find Christ as Saviour; one has been divorced as a chaste wife, the other as a chaste husband. Later the two fall in love and the man tells his pastor that he will not be able to live a pure and devoted life before God unless he marries again.   The pastor entreats him not to do so, since all would agree that Christ has positively forbidden such people who have living mates to marry again (in this case neither former mate had remarried) and Christ has warned that such people will be living in adultery if they do so (Matt. 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke16:18b).

 

[page 143 of original text]

However, despite the entreaty, the couple marry. A few months later, both testify to having been wonderfully filled with the Spirit of God. Soon board members of the church discuss the matter and press the pastor to take these people into membership of the church and make them eligible for teaching in the Sunday school and holding other offices, despite their having brazenly sinned as be­lievers against the clear light of God. The board and church approve, because they believe that the richer experience in God of each spouse testifies that the marriage is approved of God.

Is it not amazing that such boards and churches do not question the experience or the possible purpose of God in blessing such individuals but rather question the validity and truth of the clear teaching of Christ, which unequivocally declares that such spouses are partners in an illicit, pretended marriage before God, and therefore are continuing examples of spouses whose marriage is disapproved by God? Such a couple as described above would doubtless find other churches in the same denomination or other denominations which would accept them into good standing if the local church where they were converted refused to receive them. Many of these churches would of course welcome them into good standing because they regard more highly the testimony of Christian experience than the testimony of the immutable and eternal Word of God. When other distressing sins and practices are discovered in the lives of believers who have subsequently had remarkable Christian experiences, the evangelical church of which they are members demands thorough repentance. It requests and insists that such believ­ers shall desist from their former wicked associations and practices. Is the fact that the adultery of divorce and remarriage, of the kind mentioned, is a “re­spectable sin” in our society the reason why many evangelical churches wink at this glaring and continuing immorality? A church’s accommodation of her di­vorce doctrine to the modern standards of our time may be “churchianity”; it is not Biblical Christianity.

Presumptive divorcees of the kind described above, when accepted into mem­bership of the church, will conclude that believers of the congregation look upon the state’s license to remarry as virtually a document of the church, providing a sort of medieval indulgence to presumptive Christian divorcees to commit and continue in adultery with impunity from heaven. Other Christian divorcees within the church or denomination who are not yet remarried can then conclude that any hesitancy of conscience about remarrying may be personally dismissed and erased by remarriage. They are assured by the practice of their church and denomination that, although the contemplated remarriage of divorcees is sinful when held in the imagination as an intention before marriage, it is not sinful when the remarriage is consummated. Unconverted married youth who have been brought up within the same church will not hesitate to divorce and remarry in view of such beliefs and practices of the church. They will be persuaded that upon their confession of faith after remarriage they will also be given full status within the church.

 

[page 144 of original text]

A fait accompli (an accomplished fact) is the important thing!! Once the marriage is completed, the remarried divorcees described above will have no doubt about their acceptance in the local church and in many other churches which magnify Christian experience above the “THUS SAITH THE LORD” of Jesus Christ. How awful it would be for believers to have the same eagerness for a fait accompli respecting other comparable grievous sins! May the compromising church speedily realize that the accepted and “re­spectable sin” of adultery, continuing unchastity, in divorce and remarriage of presumptive divorcees is as heinous in the sight of God as continuing prostitution or repeated murder. If one is shocked by that statement, it is because the Church of Christ is rapidly conditioning her conscience for the toleration of many sins committed by her people which she would not have tolerated a decade ago. According to the New Testament, what is adultery before God in one generation is adultery before God in all generations to the end of time. “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).

The fallacy of building a doctrine of divorce on Christian experience is the greatest single cause for so many evangelical churches of this generation alter­ing or flouting Christ’s doctrine of marriage and divorce to fit the circumstances of converted divorcees. May God help churches which accept into good standing such couples as described above to realize that if their practice is persistently followed, it will as effectively destroy all barriers to divorce as the teaching and practice of Hollywood! Oh that the Church of Christ would heed the Scrip­ture which follows:

 What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words be­hind thee. When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentest with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. . . . These things hast thou done, and I kept silence: Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: But I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes (Ps. 50: 16-18.21).

In many instances, those having seemingly great success as clergymen or other leaders in the Christian Church are lacking in moral integrity. The Lord Jesus said:

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inward­ly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit (Matt. 7:15-17).

The Apostle Paul did not equate faithful preaching of the Gospel with good fruit.   He said:

Some indeed preach Christ of envy and strife; and some also of goodwill: The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add afflic­tion to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the de­fense of the gospel. What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yes, and will rejoice ( Phil. 1:15-18).

 

[page 145 of original text]

Men of questionable character have frequently been successful in God’s work. In fact, some of these men have been known to win souls to Christ while living dishonest, immoral, and dishonorable lives. Souls have even been won through the preaching of a drunkard. God indeed honors His Word, despite the character of the speaker. The Truth sets men free irrespective of the unworthy vessel who handles it. Such a person will be required to give an account before God’s judg­ment bar in the world to come.

Does God anywhere in the Scripture allow a man’s outward ministry and re­ligious experience, however remarkable and splendid, to double for his character? Certainly Baalam’s outward ministry and remarkable prophecy   (Num. 22 through 24) before Balak appeared to certify that he was a true and faithful prophet of the LORD. Yet II Pet. 2: 15 and Rev. 2:14 establish the fact that Baalam was inwardly a “lover of the wages of unrighteousness, ” and that he “taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Are there not Christian teachers, today, who teach others to commit unchastity by condoning divorce and remarriage by Christians within the Church?

“The gifts and callings of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). Saul of the Old Testament prophesied under the Spirit of the LORD while seeking to kill David (I Sam. 19:23. 24). His prophesying did not gloss over the fact that he was disapproved by God and rejected as king (I Sam. 15:26), nor did it gloss over the murderous spirit he was manifesting toward David (I Sam. 20:30-33). The griev­ous condition of Saul when he tried to kill David is revealed in the following texts:

The Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him(I Sam.16:14). And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped?. . . And it was told Saul saying, Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.   And Saul sent mes­sengers to take David . . .And he [Saul] went thither to Naioth in Ramah: and the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on, and prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. . . And he. . prophesied before Samuel (I Sam.19:17,19, 2 0a, 23,24a) . . . .And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, Wherefore shall he be slain? what hath he done? And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that it was determined of his father to slay David (I Sam.20:32,33).

Observe carefully that Saul was on his way to kill David when the Spirit of God fell on him and prophesied through him. Note also that he proceeded im­mediately thereafter to express his desire to kill David. The prophesying of Saul did not in the slightest indicate that he was right with God at the time.

 

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It cer­tainly was not an evidence that his effort to kill David was approved of God. Murder was in the heart of Saul. although God providentially prevented him from the overt act. His bitter hatred toward David reveals that be was a murderer in the sight of God despite his failure to kill David. The statement of I John3:14,15 leaves no doubt that this is true:

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the breth­ren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.   Whosoever HATETH his brother is a MURDERER: and ye know that no murderer bath eternal life abiding in him.

An individual’s supernatural utterance or prophecy does not of itself indicate that such a one is right before God.   Caiaphas, the high priest prophesied that “. . . it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50). The Scripture continues,   “And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; and not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad” (John 11: 51,52). Caiaphas gave this prophecy despite the fact that he despised the Lord Jesus Christ.   When Christ stood before him in the judgment hall, Caiaphas said, “He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy” (Matt.26,65). On another occasion Christ said to the Jews, “. . . if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:24).

Certainly the Apostle Paul taught that it was possible for a Corinthian church member to speak supernaturally in tongues, prophesy by the Spirit, understand profound mysteries of the kingdom of God, work miracles through unusual faith, be the most generous man in the Church and yet be rejected by God. When will branches of the evangelical church recognize that the Holy Scriptures do not equate Christian experience with Christian character? When will they see that Christian experience does not prove that a man is presently right before God? In I Corinthians 13 Paul shows that LOVE is requisite to approvedness before God.

 

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [1ove], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [love], I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity love, it profiteth me nothing” (I Cor.13:1-3).

The love of God described in I Cor. 13 in reality is character. “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God ls love” (I John 4:8).

 

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The quality of love required by God is described by the Apostle in Rom. 13:8-10.

. . . He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.   For this, THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY [the continuing sin of unchastity in divorcees and their mates who marry while one or the other has a living mate], Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment it is briefly comprehend­ed in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.   LOVE WORKETH NO ILL TO HIS NEIGHBOUR: therefore LOVE IS THE FULFILLING OF THE LAW.

Love does not break the commandments of God. Love does not commit or con­tinue in adultery! “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it” (Eph.5:25).

He who despises the commandments of God and breaks them is not right be­fore God. Our generation and many of its ministers call drunkenness, alcohol­ism; fornication, an unfortunate slip of average folk; and divorce and remarriage (adultery) an acceptable and necessary social practice, a respectable sin both within and without the church. Paul called this sin adultery (Rom. 7:2,3). John, the beloved disciple said:

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgres­sion of the law. . . . Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that cormmitteth sin is of the devil. . . . In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. . . . he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him (I John 3:4, 7, 8a, 24).

The Apostle Paul revealed who the unrighteous are who will not enter the kingdom ofGod:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers . . . nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, . . . shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you . . . (I Cor.6:9-11).

Notice that fornicators and adulterers are classed with idolators, thieves and drunkards. Indeed some Christians used to be such kind of sinners, but Paul is emphatic in saying, “And such were some of you . . , ” They could not con­tinue in these sins and expect to enter the kingdom of God! Note the Apostle’s warning in Eph. 5:5,6.

Christ insisted that a man might prophesy and perform miracles and yet not be right before Him.   He said:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shalI enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me. Ye that work iniquity. (Matt.7:21-23).

 

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The Lord Jesus equated the fruit of a man with his character. Note that He said,

Depart from me,   ye that work iniquity…”

Outward exhibitions of supernatural ministries and successes are never ac­cepted by the Lord in the Scriptures as a substitute for character or obedience. Even the fact that Moses brought forth water miraculously from the rock the sec­ond time by smiting it, did not gloss over his serious disobedience in the manner in which he brought it forth (Num.20:9). If results and amazing Christian ex­periences alone are the divine criteria of success and approbation in Christian living and ministry, if these only count, regardless of character and conformity to the will of God, then God should not have forbidden Moses to lead Israel across Jordan into the promised land because of his transgression (Num. 20:12; Deut.3:23-27), neither should He have described the prophet Baalam, who gave a true prophecy of Israel, as a grievous sinner (Rev.2:14). The evil of Moses’ dis­obedience was that he did not sanctify the Lord before the eyes of Israel in the manner in which he obtained water out of the rock (Num. 20: 12). A divorcee with a former living partner, or one who is married to a divorcee, may be suc­cessful in the work of the Lord, but He does not thereby sanctify the Lord in the sight of men. On the one hand he presumes to exalt the Word of God, but in actuality he reflects against God by presuming to be an elder in the church when God forbids it (Tit. l :5,6). God Is more concerned with the honor of His Name than with the apparent successes of those who presume to take places of leader­ship in the church when He forbids it.

Indeed, there are ministers of the Gospel who have been married the second time while having a living former partner, whose ministry is successful by ordin­ary Christian standards. These men may be men of deep sincerity and otherwise good character.   This does not, however, change the fact that they are disobeying­ God in presuming to be elders in the church when His Word decries it. Uzziah was sincere when he put forth his hand to stay the ark of the LORD (II Sam.6:3), but He was disobedient to God, and God smote him because of it.

Let no man judge the worth of another by the outward fruit of his ministerial labors or by his apparent Christian experiences to the exclusion of his true charac­ter in the everyday relationships of life. Above all, let him be true to the standards of the Scriptures even when they contradict what seems to be right in the sight of the church. Let him not fail to call the sin of divorce and remarriage adultery for the same reasons Christ did. Surely neither the Church nor any in­dividual ever has the right to do evil that good may come.

 

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13.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT WILL GIVE THE TRUE STATUS OF A RE·MARRIED DIVORCEE (OR HIS MATE) WITHIN THE CHURCH, AS BASED ON SCRIPTURE AND NOT ON HUMAN LOGIC

One must remember that a presentation of doctrine may appear to the majority of a group to be logically powerful while actually it is scripturally wrong. In­deed, logic based on wrong foundations may be “an organized procedure forgoing wrong with confidence and certainty…”

(Charles Kettering,   loc. cit.)

Men of God who have much light in many areas of truth may be blinded to the plain truth of Scripture in other areas because of their personal sympathies, prejudices, traditions, practices of many churches or principles of expediency. A denomination’s doctrines are ultimately more affected by its tolerated practices than by the doctrinal statement of its creed. Doctrine follows per­sistent practice more readily than practice follows doctrine. A denomination which tolerates loose, unscriptural divorce practices in its churches will ultim­ately alter its divorce doctrines to conform to its permitted practices. If a church’s doctrines bear the stamp of “thus saith the Lord” it will be imperative that it bring its ecclesiastical practices into conformity with its Scriptural doctrines; otherwise, the church will drift rapidly into error and apostasy. A church is spiritually doomed if its practices deny its Scriptural doctrines.   The voice of an unscriptural practice of the many in the Church is never the, voice of God.

 

a. Churches and Christian Leaders View Differently the Status of Converted Divorcees Within the Church.

 

Among evangelicals who permit an innocent mate to divorce an adulterous spouse and remarry, there is a great difference of opinion respecting the status within the Church of a divorcee of an unscriptural union. The FIVE WORD School teaches that such a person has just as much right to be an elder (bishop) in the Church as a converted thief. This is a superficial conclusion based on human reasoning and supposed logic to the exclusion of the conclusions which are ob­tained by a thorough study of all the divorce texts of Scripture.

Even among conservatives who believe that Christ taught the complete indis­solubility of marriage for any cause, including adultery, and that the Scriptures teach that spouses of unscriptural unions may not be elders in the Church (I Tim.3:2), there is a wide divergence of judgment respecting the general status of re­married divorcees within the Church.

The questions which follow will reflect the difference of view respecting the Scriptural right of a spouse of an unscriptural union to remain with his second (or later) mate while his true spouse is living. The first section of questions will reveal the view of those who look upon converted divorcees within the Church with great tolerance.

 

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If God forgives the sins of others, which were committed in their ignorance when they were unconverted (I Tim. 1 :13), does He not forgive converted spouses of unscriptural unions for their adultery? Have they committed unpardonable sins? Does not God count the new birth of a sinner as a new beginning, regardless of the complications of his life which overtook him before he knew Christ as his Saviour? Does not sin tangle the lives of some to such an extent that though par­don can be obtained, some things can never be fully straightened out? David was responsible for the killing of Uriah (II Sam. 12:9), yet be could not bring back Uriah’s wife, although God forgave him for his sin (II Sam. 12: 13) when he con­fessed it. Does not God tell us to forget those things which are behind and press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Christ (Phil. 3: 13. 14)? Did Christ condemn the woman at the well who had her sixth alleged husband? Did he tell her to leave her present husband, who in reality was not her husband? Did not Christ say to the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee: go. And sin no more” (John 8: 11)? If God has forgiven and accepted spouses of unscrip­tural unions of divorcees, as evidenced by their changed lives and by their mighty infillings of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:47), what right has any church to reject such people from full status within the Church; is any church wiser than God?

Should not a church, if consistent, be just as ready to accept into full status converted divorced and remarried spouses, guilty of adultery by virtue of their disallowed marriages, as it would accept adulterers who have never left their true spouses, or as it would accept converted fornicators who have never married? Does not the fact that the Apostle Paul restricted the office of an elder (bishop) to those who had but one wife, indicate that converted divorcees and their mates had full privileges within the Church apart from that high office?

Are there not tangles of diverse character in the past lives of many converts, which cannot now be resolved, no matter how eagerly they would desire such a resolution? Would not the leaving of an unconverted spouse (of an unscriptural divorcee union) by his converted mate make for more complication than it would resolve, and might it not jeopardize his (or her) salvation? Does not God see that? Would not the break-up of such unscriptural marriages by the converted spouse of such unions do more harm than good by hindering the unsaved spouse and by marring the lives of the children of the union? Would not the break-up of such a union by both converted parents do more harm than good by robbing the children of the tender love, care, and Christian nurture of both parents? Would not the spiritual, moral, and social advantages resulting from the continuation of the union far outweigh the possible good to the personal conscience of volun­tary separation? Would there not be legal difficulties in such a separation that would make the separation virtually impossible before the laws of many states? Would not a legal divorce be difficult for a converted spouse of an unscriptural union to obtain who wanted to return to his first mate, if his unconverted spouse contested it? Would not a legal remarriage of a spouse to his first mate (if he or she had not remarried) be difficult in some instances, in some states? If a tender hearted wife should want to leave her unregenerate husband under these circumstances when he refused, what would happen to the children?

 

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Would they be likely to receive under court order any financial help should they go with the mother, if the court did not forbid the children to join their mother?   Might not a slavish obedience to what is apparently the letter of the law of marriage plunge either or both mates into equal sin with their present state, and might it not press them into temptation too great to be borne? Would not a double divorce frequently break up two homes and cause heartache and distress beyond that al­ready created by the twisted polluted second (or later) unscriptural marriage? Is not God more ready to forgive and forget the past than some ecclesiastical leaders?

Does not God’s pardoning graces far outweigh His strict justice? Did not God in His grace frequently tolerate conditions among His people Israel that He did not approve, and did He not bless them despite their sinful practices? Did He not permit Israel to have a king, although earlier He forbade it (I Sam. 8:5-20)? Did not God tolerate divorce and remarriage under Moses against His higher will because of the hardness of the hearts of Israel? Are not all unconverted divorcees in a hardness of heart state before they are converted?   Is not God more realistic and compassionate respecting the difficult problems of divorcees than some over­-conscientious believers? Do not verses 20 and 27 of I Cor.7 teach that such di­vorcees and their spouses are to remain in the disapproved marriages wherein God found them when He called them to salvation?

 

The questions frequently asked by another group of equally conscientious con­servatives follow. This group looks upon the continued union of spouses of an unscriptural marriage of a divorcee or divorcees with considerably more gravity, and it poses the following questions:

Must not the above questions be answered by the “thus saith the LORD” of the Scriptures rather than by human judgment and human logic motivated by human sympathy and expediency? Did not Christ unequivocally abrogate the divorce permission of Moses’ law, which was given to Israel because of the hardness of their hearts? Did He not do this by saying that divorce for hardness of heart was “from the beginning not so” (Matt. 19:8), and by His earlier statement, “It hath been said, That whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, sav­ing for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:31,32), and by His subsequent statement in Luke 16: 18? Do not these and other verses indicate clearly that Christ no longer tolerates divorce for hardness of heart?   Further, do they not indicate that such marriages as described are invalid and merely pretended marriages before God?

Is any church’s statement of expediency respecting divorcees more authorita­tive and final than the statements of Christ in Matt. 5:31,32; 19:1-12;Mark 10:1-12, and Luke 16:18, which emphatically declare that marriage is indisso­luble for any cause?   Billy Graham and others have courageously said that the re-married divorcees (and their mates) of Hollywood are living in adultery.

 

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John the Baptist said to Herod, respecting his unscriptural wife, “It is not law­ful for thee to have her” (Matt.14:4). Josephus tells us that the wife in question, Herodias, had divorced her husband Philip, the brother of Herod, and that Herod had divorced his first wife that they (Herod and Herodias) might be joined to­gether. May a church of today or its pastor change the standards of God Almighty? Would any church leader of today have the temerity to say to a Hollywood star in the same marital status as Herod, “It is not lawful for thee to have her,” and then turn, in the man’s presence, and say to a converted remarried divorcee in the identical marital status, “It is lawful and right for you to have your wife and to maintain your union with her?”

Does God have a double standard which permits Him to tolerate continuing adultery in His children which He could not and would not tolerate in unbeliev­ers? Could the LORD have said to idolatrous Israel, “You have committed adul­tery by your initial worship of idols, but your subsequent and continued devotion to idols is not a continuing state of adultery and is not sinful in my sight because you have asked me to forgive your first act of spiritual adultery? “Does one, by his first act of adultery in consummating an unscriptural union, absolve himself of guilt in succeeding acts of adultery in the continuation of an invalid, pretend­ed marriage before God? May a thief find forgiveness for his first robbery and then continue his career as a thief because the first forgiveness of theft absolves him before God of any further guilt for the repeated thefts which follow? Could Christ have said to the woman taken in adultery, “Neither do I condemn thee go, and sin no more” (John 8:11), and yet contradictorily have permitted her (if she was a remarried converted divorcee having a former living mate) to commit adultery repeatedly thereafter in a pretended marriage He disallowed, and seven times said was a state of continuing adultery? May a church say that a pretended marriage (the remarriage of a divorcee while having a former mate) is an ap­proved marriage before heaven because the spouses are forgiven for their first adultery (the act of consummation of their unscriptural union) and because they were wonderfully filled with the Holy Spirit while in that marriage union?

May any Christian or Christian minister scripturally say that because a con­vert to Christ has entered the LlFE of a NEW BEGINNING that he has, therefore, no tie or relationship to his past? May any believer assume that because the Scripture says that “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold, all things are become new,” that he need not make restitution of his wicked past or break any evil ties that were and are obviously dis­approved by God? May he maintain the status quo, of former associations that now are recognized as forbidden by God? If that which was forbidden before he was converted now made holy by his conversion? Were Zaccheus (Luke19:8) and Onesimus (Philemon 18,19), under Paul’s direction, wrong in making· restitution? If restitution is not necessary would not Onesimus have recognized that his NEW LIFE was a NEW BEGINNING, so that as a run-away slave he need not have felt compelled to return to his bonds under Philemon?

 

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Should not the experience of Israel in putting away strange wives to recover the blessing of God in the time of Ezra (Ezra 10:3, 4, 10, 11, 18, 19, 44) be pondered by spouses of scripturally dis­allowed marriages? How far does the cleansing blood of Christ dissolve the past? Did not the Lord Jesus say, “. . . And they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.. ” (Matt. 19:5,6) ?   Can a decision of a church or pastor sever the one-flesh union made by God? Does the fact that the remarriage of a divorcee is a respectable marriage in modern society make such a marriage automatically valid within the church?

Does an unusual experience of a soul before God indicate that God is pleased with all the life patterns and practices of that believer at that time? Would a church say that the fact that one was soundly converted and filled with the Spirit while possessing stolen goods shows that God approves of theft? Does not further light compel a Christian to put away his now recognized evil, if God and he are to walk together (Amos 3:3), and if he is rightfully to claim I John 1:7? If a spouse, of the kind in question, enters into an adulterous state before conversion by contracting a marriage disallowed by Christ, does the fact of his later con­version validate that adulterous union? If the adultery of an unscriptural union is but the isolated past act of the consummation of that marriage, will not even Christians be emboldened to remarry while having living mates, and will not the world by their example, teaching, and practice be encouraged to divorce their mates and remarry despite Christ’s warning against this sinful practice?

Is not a church’s error in giving full status to converted spouses of unscriptural unions of divorcees caused by its failure to recognize the real reason why Christ said that a spouse who either marries a divorcee who has a living mate or who divorces his true spouse and marries another committeth adultery.  Can one deny that Christ’s reason for so speaking was the fact that the spouse who remarried (Matt. 5: 32) was yet before God united to his first mate? If the first act of adul­tery in such an illicit union did not dissolve the marriage, would the second, third, or any subsequent act of adultery of such an illicit union dissolve his first marriage? Surely Christ made this matter very clear in the above texts, in Matt.19:1-12, and in Mark 10: 1-12; the Apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit did likewise in Rom.7:2, 3 and I Cor.7: 10, 11, 39. Why does a man who marries another af­ter putting away a chaste wife commit adultery and continue in adultery by that remarriage? Does not the FIVE WORD School agree that it is because he is still married to his innocent wife because his divorce is not valid? If he is still mar­ried to his first wife, is not the first wife still married to him? Does the Bible anywhere state that marriage is a one-way union? Did not Christ say that such a husband was the cause of his innocent wife’s committing adultery, and that he who marries such a wife commits adultery in doing so? Could it be adultery (Luke16: 18) to marry this woman if she was not still joined to her first husband despite his adulterous second (or subsequent) marriage? Did not Christ strictly forbid such a wife to marry again (Matt.5:31,32; 19:9; Luke 16:18)?

 

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Should one not heed the weight of three texts (not to say five if Rom. 7:2,3 and I Cor.7:39 are included) rather than one obscure text whose context contradicts FIVE WORD theology? Since an innocent wife is forbidden by Christ to marry another when her husband commits adultery by remarrying, must not an innocent husband abide by the same rule when his wife commits adultery by marrying another or by anoth­er manner? Does God have one rule for innocent husbands and another for inno­cent wives? If the alleged marriage (declared invalid by Christ) has not or cannot dissolve the first union of one or both spouses (of a later unscriprural union) as long as one or the other has a former, living mate (Rom. 7:2, 3; I Cor. 7: 10, 11,39), then how can a church assume the prerogative to declare that disallowed unions of divorcees are valid unions before God, or that the continued marriages are not continuing adulterous unions?

Is it therefore right for a church to say that it is just to allow a converted adulterer of an unscriptural union to have a full status within a church as to al­low a converted fornicator, or a converted adulterer who never left his true spouse, to have full status in the house of God? Obviously, the two sins are not identical. Since the first is the continuing sin of adultery by repeated acts of adultery in an unscriptural, illicit union, while either the second or last is a single act of past unchastity which has been forgiven; and further, the two individuals mentioned last did not repeat the same sin! Are not the Scriptures clear in asserting that the divorcee (or his mate) of an unscriptural union is an adulterer while he main­tains his illicit union in repeated acts of adultery, while the first union of him­self or his wife (or both) is still undissolved, as it will be until death separates them (Rom. 7:2,3)? Would not a spouse who had been remarried unlawfully, ac­cording to the law of a state, while having a former living mate, be considered before the courts of the land to be in a state of an illicit, invalid union?   Would churches take spouses of such unions who were later converted into their mem­bership while the state refused to recognize such spouses as husband and wife? Should a Christian leader or church refuse to approve unions disallowed by the state and then presume to take spouses of marriages disallowed by Christ (under the laws of the kingdom of God) into membership? Has a church the right to nul­lify by its legislation and decrees the marriage laws of Christ as the Pharisees nullified the commandments of God by their tradition of “corban” (Mark7:10-12)? Will any church presume to disapprove the marriage laws of Christ while approving the unscriptural laws of states?

American society accepts the sin of divorce and remarriage while one or the other spouse has a living mate as a “respectable sin” because it occurs so fre­quently and because so many churches and Christians approve of it. Is this, how­ever, sufficient reason for the Church of Christ tacitly to approve these unscrip­tural unions of divorcees by accepting spouses of such into membership and of­ficial positions, even though such spouses are continuing examples of mates of adulterous unions? Can the Church of Christ excuse herself by saying that the sin of divorce and remarriage is now so universal it would be impractical to frown on such unions within the Church?

 

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Has the extent to which a moral code instituted by God has broken down in a given society anything to do with the ap­proval of that degenerated standard by the Church? Are not many guilt ridden persons (including divorcees) relieved by the thought that “everybody is now doing it within and without the Church; therefore, it must be all right for me to do it or continue in it”?  Are the laws of Christ variable and changing in a changing world, or eternal and immutable? Was the sin of adultery a grave transgression before God in the apostolic period, but is not so today? Must the Church in order to please God pipe to the tune of the moral standards of its particular generation?

Must any church consider a strict exegesis of texts of Scripture to be import­ant and final in establishing its doctrines of salvation and unimportant in the mat­ter of divorce and marriage? Will the laws of expediency, human sympathy, human judgment, and Christian experience supersede the laws of God and of His Christ? Will a church presume to build a doctrine on the Christian experiences of converted divorcees or the alleged Christian experience of any other person or group within the Christian Church? Do not evangelical churches insist that its members desist from former wicked associations and practices even though they may subsequently have amazing Christian experiences? Do these churches allow any Christian experience to cover and condone continuing sin in a believer? Would they allow remarkable Christian experiences to give license to a believer to continue a life of stealing, lying. fornication, bigamy or adultery in a first marriage? Every Christian shrinks at the thought of a church allowing a bigamist who finds Christ to continue living with the woman who is not his real wife? Is not the remarriage of a divorcee of Hollywood virtually the same sin before God as the sin of the continuing adultery of an unconverted bigamist?   Each of them is living with a spouse who is not his true spouse, (husband or wife). Is a Christian’s bigamy less evil than the bigamy of the divorce and remarriage of a sinner who has a former living mate? True the divorce and remarriage of an unfaithful spouse is not legally identical with the sin of a bigamist but is it not the equivalent be­fore God? Although no one denies that God saves fornicators and adulterers, does God, or may any church scripturally allow these to continue their unchaste rela­tions in the face of the clear divorce teachings of Jesus Christ? Is the adultery of a scripturally disallowed marriage of the kind in question less heinous in God’s sight than the adultery of a man who although yet not remarried is still unfaith­ful to his first wife? Where is there the slightest scriptural support for an alleged difference between the two?   Do states’ marriage laws wipe out God’s marriage laws? Where did Christ declare that adulterous spouses when converted could continue a union which, before they found divine forgiveness, was declared by Him to be an adulterous union? Had Christ done so, would He not have stultified Himself and thereby encouraged many to flout his doctrine of the complete in­ dissolubility of marriage for any cause? However, may there not be reason to believe that Christ might approve such spouses maintaining their home for the good of the children if they would live together as brother and sister since in such a relationship they would not be repeating the sin of adultery which consummat­ed their sinful and adulterous union?

 

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May liberals in theology justify their rejection of Christ’s doctrine of the e­ternal punishment of the wicked because He was so exceedingly compassionate in His dealings with the wicked? May anyone of the FIVE WORD School con­clude that Christ would approve of the marriage and continued union of a di­vorcee with a second spouse while his first spouse was still living BECAUSE He manifested a remarkable love to immoral men and women who came to Him? May Christians reject Christ’s severe and scorching ethic because of Christ’s amazing compassion?   May they reject the holy Christ for a tolerant Christ of their imaginations? Is there not a grave danger that many believers will make a JESUSoftheirowncarnalmusingsiftheydonotkeeptheirBiblesopentolearn accurately what Christ really taught? Will anyone presume to deny the truth of the assertions which follow?  A JESUS WHO WILL ALLOW YOU TO DO THINGS FORBIDDEN BY THE BOOK IS A JESUS OF YOUR IMAGINATION. A JESUS WHO PERMITS YOU TO LIVE BY A LOWER STANDARD THAN BY HIS ACTUAL TEACHINGS IS A FALSE CHRIST PRESENTED TO YOU BY  SATAN.

When Christ by His seven-fold use of the present tense   of moichaomai  (committethadultery)declares that spouses of adulterous unions continue to practice adultery if they maintain their illicit union in repeated acts of adultery,  how may any part of the Christian Church presume to say that such continued unions are not continuing states of adultery?  Can any rite, or majority decision of a church body or ruling of its leaders, or any Christian experience destroy Christ’s Word respecting the complete indissolubility of marriage?  If God tolerates the continuation of an adulterous marriage within the Church, why should He not logically tolerate divorce and remarriage for every cause without the Church?  Does it not appear that toleration for the continuance of adulterous unions for some  must consistently mean toleration of adulterous unions for all,  especially in an age in which men’s hearts appear to be as wicked and hard as in the days of Moses? Does not any thoughtful person see that laxity in the Church respecting its standards  for converted spouses,  of a disallowed marriage of a divorcee or divorcees, of necessity leads to the utter break-down of the standards of marriage taught by the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul?   How may any unconverted  spouse of a remarriage forbidden by Christ be considered an adulterous mate if converted spouses of like unions within the Church are not considered to be unchaste if they maintain a marital union with the spouses of identical unscriptural marriages?  ShallChristians continue in the marital sin of adultery that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1)?

 

b,  The Probably More Generally Accepted View of Most Conservative Evangelicals Respecting the Status of a Converted Divorcee of anUnscripturalUnion within the Church is Here Presented.

 

One of the most outstanding leaders of the evangelical Church of Great Britain,  Donald Gee, has written the following respecting divorce and remarriage tangles:

Many believers today are faced with the acute practical problem of what to do about divorce and marriage tangles which they have carried over with them from the old life into the new when they have become born again.

 

My fellow ministers will know only too well the type of problem with which we are often faced when believers have become anxious, through a spirit of revival in the Church, to put their outward life right before God and men. Where the Holy Spirit is working in grace and power He will quickly begin to stir men and women up concerning improper marriage relationships. But the actual problems are often intensely intricate.   In some cases both parties sometimes have been guilty of fornication, adultery and divorce before, and even after, professing conversion. Perhaps children have resulted from almost every union. Legal marriage may be difficult, especially in the light of Scriptures. Legal divorce seems equally difficult. Former partners have either become married again themselves, or are completely lost sight of. Separa­tion will only add to the problem.

It is a safe principle that every case must be determined according to its own particular circumstances. It would be very dangerous folly to attempt to em­body in writing any code by which hasty and stereotyped decisions could be made. Much patience is required, and humble prayer for that wisdom which has been promised to us when we feel our lack.

Paul is a splendid guide as to the right spirit in which to approach all these intensely practical outworkings of deeply spiritual principles. He has a mag­nificently balanced and large-minded way of bringing the practical problems and issues of the Christian life into relationship with what are, after all, the comparatively few and simple principles that govern that life. An illuminat­ing hint upon this practical approach to the present type of problem is con­tained in his reference to THE CHILDREN (I Cor.7:14). Anybody who has any­thing at all to do with divorce will appreciate the force of this. It is usually the children that suffer most of all through twisted and defiled marriage rela­tionships. This is the kind of consideration which we may safely follow in trying to help folk through their personal problems of hopelessly tangled mar­riage relationships. Here are just a few general principles to help, but not to govern.

(1) We must loyally accept the words of the Lord Jesus concerning divorce and remarriage, and must be prepared to obey them even at the cost of per­sonal suffering, and apparent loss of immediate personal happiness. The Holy Spirit will strengthen with grace to bear, and with a joy in doing the will of God that can be greater than afforded by the gratification of any human af­fection. There must be no compromise with truth in the heart. Any appar­ently necessary compromise must on account be regarded as raising a ‘permission’ to the level of a ‘commandment’.

(2) There are undoubted cases where a too slavish obedience to what is appar­ently the letter of the word may only plunge either or both of the parties into equal sin with their present condition. It will certainly subject them to a temptation that may be too great to be borne. It will also certainly react with great hardship upon the innocent children, and will do no good.

 

[page 158 of original text]

Frequently a former partner has married again, and even if it were legally permissible, a resumption of the original union would involve a further double divorce, the breaking up of more than one home, and confusion and hardship for the resultant families.

Where a father and mother have been soundly converted from a life of sin, and are now likely to be able to bring up their family, or families in all the advantages of a Christian home; it would appear as though the spiritual, moral and social advantages of their continued united lives would far outweigh the possible benefits to the private conscience of a voluntary separation. It seems a safe Pauline principle to be willing to make a practical compromise in such cases.

(3) Underlying all we may safely assume the pardoning grace of God in Christ where there has been a genuine repentance, and where there is now a sincere desire to please God in everything. We have often felt sure that the Lord was more ready to forgive than some of His children appear to be.

We judge it rash to infer too hastily that the new birth exonerates the child of God from any responsibility where his former life is concerned; and we must be careful how we quote that “If any man is in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” Scripture proves very conclusively that this does not apply where deeds of restitution are con­cerned, evidenced by Zaccheus (Luke 18:19), and Paul on behalf of Onesimus (Philemon 18,19); and neither does it apply to any other fruit of repentance in the putting right, as far as lies in our power, of the results of former misdoing.

But there are times when it is beyond our power and God knows it.   In such cases, we believe, it is no presumption upon divine grace to make a new start at the place where we were saved, and where we first saw the light of truth of God’s word on His perfect will for our life and walk. God is merciful; and on that sure ground we may anchor our souls when the storms of grief and trouble through sin threaten to overwhelm us.

One final word seems to be needed.   An especially high standard is required in both the Old and New Testaments for those who minister in holy things. In the essential qualifications for both ‘bishops’ and ‘deacons’ it is repeated that they must be ‘the husband of one wife’ (I Tim. 3:2-12); and it seems quite clear from the context-that this not only means literal freedom from polygamy, but a positively high standard of morality in all married and domestic rela­tionships.

This is only logical in those who are to be regarded as examples for other be­lievers, and leaders before the world. The present condition of things in the world where divorce is concerned justifies the Church in demanding in all her

 

[page 159 of original text]

officers an irreproachable testimony in their personal lives where this matter is concerned, and all who aspire to any outstanding position in local assemblies cannot complain if this is insisted upon.

Loyalty to the very highest principle is the greatest love in the end; and gen­uine Christian discipleship in the way of the cross, though it may mean the surrender of much undoubted happiness on the natural line, will most certain­ly bring a deep eternal joy greater than that conveyed by any earthly love. Is it too much to say that Calvary throws light even on the murky problems of divorce?

(Donald Gee: “Divorce. ”   The   Pentecostal Testimony.   (September 1937) Toronto.

 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Francis Fisher, writing in his book­let, Problems of Marriage and Divorce, indicates the attitude of the Church of England toward converted spouses of unscriptural unions:

If the Church were to marry divorced persons in church, it would be conceal­ing and contradicting those truths about God and his will, and would obscure the true relation of Christ and his Church [Eph. 5:31, 32], which ought to be revealed in the relation of husband and wife.

Our Lord came to seek and to save the lost, and to bring them into a living relationship with himself.   It was to that end that he talked so long with the Samaritan woman of whom he said: “Thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (John 4:18). The Church must give the utmost pastoral care to those who marry again civilly after a divorce on one side or the other, or often enough on both. This pastoral obligation to them and to all men in their sins is a theological requirement, derived from the character of God, but how far does it take us?

Can it be right to admit such persons to the Holy Communion, when they are denying the real truth of marriage by living in a union which must be described as “adulterous”?

Let us be clear on this. Our Lord told us what marriage was, and the Church before the world, as an official act, celebrate a marriage where there is a divorce. Our Lord left to the Church the pastoral care of individuals and the duty of binding or loosing: it is not the Lord, but the Church which de­cides on matters of discipline as near to the mind of Christ as it can. Pastor­ally, the question is: where spiritually, does this person now stand? Theword adultery can be applied to several moral conditions . . .In pastoral ministry what matters most is to discover the moral condition of the sinner. There may be striking evidence that the Holy Spirit has brought and is bring­ing such people to a real discovery of Christ. There may indeed be evidence that the Holy Spirit is doing this through the marriage of two persons, one or both of whom may have been divorced. Are they to be told that they must disregard all their now accepted, and perhaps longstanding, obligations to one another and to children, break up their home, and commit themselves to a lifelong celibacy? That would generally be not to help them, but to “quench the spirit,” and might even appear to frustrate the work of the Holy Spirit in and through their union.

 

[page 160 of original text]

In such cases there must be a place for discretion, and our own Church provides one. I have never seen any harm come from use of this discretion; I have seen much good. Church people should feel enough trust in their parochial clergy and bishops to know that this discretion is always prayerfully and faithfully used.

. . . Only if the Church is bearing uncompromisingly its witness to the truth of marriage by refusing to marry divorced persons, can it without damage and­ without causing confusion use discretion in its pastoral work, whereby it seeks to build up those, who can never again bear a full witness to Christ’s conception of marriage, into a lowly, penitent, and really blessed life in the grace of God and the strength of the sacraments of the Church.101

 

  • The Following is the More Conservative View of Many Conservative Church­men Respecting the Status of a Converted Divorcee of an Unscriptural Union within the Pale of the Church:

 

Some clergymen of the Church of England and the Episcopal Church of Amer­ica take a more serious view of the status of divorcees within the pale of the Church than do many evangelical ministers. Some of them will not give com­munion to divorcees who persist in maintaining in their unscriptural union the full privileges of a marriage approved by God.

Some of the above clergymen and many other ministers of the Gospel of Christ hold to the following:

    1. There is as much need for thorough-going repentance on the part of a di­vorcee and his alleged mate who have commited and are committing adul­tery by and in their pretended marriage, as for a whoremonger genuinely to repent by desisting from his impurity. The alleged marriage of those whom Christ forbids to marry is only a pretended marriage because it is completely disallowed by God and, if persisted in, is as much a continuing practice of adultery as that of the socially unacceptable kind. In either case, there needs to be a complete break with the sin.   The Church would be inconsistent and illogical (not to say unscriptural) if she taught that remarriage after divorce is adultery (as taught by Jesus Christ) and the meanwhile allowed spouses who persisted in such an adulterous union to be in good standing within the Church. To do this would indicate that the Church implied that remarriage after divorce is not a continuing adultery, that adultery is not a vile sin, and that one is worthy to partake of communion without showing repentance by desisting from such an unholy and impure relationship, or earnestly purposing to do so.

 

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    1. To persist in a marriage of this character is not only to expect to sin occasionally through weakness, but to continue deliberately in an adulterous life. No true Christian minister would authorize a wife of a former union to commit adultery with her pretended new husband if she had not been legally divorced from her first husband, nor would he allow her to do this if the first husband refused to support her true children.   To allow one to commit adul­tery to avoid some physical evil (alleged starvation of her children) is to believe that a good purpose can justify basely immoral means.
    2. Atrue minister of Christ and of His Church cannot condone or tolerate adultery of divorcees within the Church simply because the adultery of such people is more “respectable” in the eyes of most Protestants in his country than other kinds of adultery.
    3. When one finds it difficult to remain continent, Christ does not advocate (Matt. 19: 10-12) that he should entreat God for an ability to be continent if and when marriage is scripturally open to him. However, when a person finds himself in a situation where he must remain continent to be acceptable before God, and yet may not be remarried, he can and should seek God for His abund­ant grace to live purely before Him, for God is eager to give him this grace. Many fail at this point because they do not resolutely seek God in faith for such grace.
    4. Because of the foregoing points, many of the clergymen of the churches named above and many other ministers do not find it conceivable that Christ would permit spouses of pretended marriages of divorcees to continue in such a relationship for the sake of the physical or spiritual needs of the children in question, for in doing so they would acknowledge or declare that a supposed good end can justify immoral means and deny that unscriptural marriages of divorcees are adulterous marriages.

If the pretended husband of such an alleged marriage should be put in prison or an insane institution for some years, or even permanently, the pretended wife would find some way to care for her children both financially and spiritually. Would not God bless far more the spiritual training of a mother who kept herself pure in the sight of God than if she continued in the “respectable sin” of adulterous union; and would He not fulfill His promise to her, “seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”?

If a husband of an unscriptural union was converted after such a marriage and after the birth of a child    by that union, would he not owe more to his first con­verted wife (who desired his return) and to the several children of that first union than to the one child of the unscriptural union?   Obviously, he would still be financially responsible for the wife and child of the illicit union, as likely the court might have earlier held him responsible for the support of the first wife and family.   The wages of sin are unspeakably dreadful even in this life!!

 

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  • The More Conservative View of I Tim. 3:2 and Tit. 1 :5,6 Respecting the Alleged Acceptance of Converted Divorcees and their Mates into the Membership of the Apostolic Church Is Herewith Presented.

 

It does not follow that because the Apostle Paul specifically declared that one (a divorcee) who had more than one wife might not hold the office of a bishop (elder) (I Tim.3:2;Tit.1:5,6) that all other men in the church might as divorcees have more than one wife and yet be in good standing in that local congregation. To accept that position is to reason from silence. A careful examination of the two divorce texts given above will reveal that it is difficult to establish such a doctrinal position. The Apostle Paul in Tit.1I:5-7,   not only taught that an elder (bishop) should be the “husband of one wife,” he also taught that such a man should rule well his own house, be “not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker [not a violent man, not given to filthy lucre.” Did the Apostle Paul suggest that it is of no consequence whether a professing Christian man in the Church rules well his own house, or is soon angry, or is given to wine, or is a violent, quarrelsome man, or is covetous of filthy lucre, providing that he is not an officer in the Church? The Apostle Paul plainly taught that a covetous man (a lover of filthy lucre) is an idolater (Eph.5:5) and has no inheritance in the king­dom of God.   Christ taught that whoever is angry with his brother (Matt.5:22 R. V.) is in danger of the judgment. The Apostle John revealed that whoever hates his brother is a murderer and therefore does not have eternal life abiding in him (I John 3: 15). Indeed, neither did Paul condone the sin of continuing adultery in unscriptural unions (Rom. 7:2,3).

  • The More Conservative View of I Cor. 7: 10,11,20,27 Is Carefully Exam­ined.

 

Were it true that the words, “Let not the wife depart from her husband” and “let not the husband put away his wife” (I Cor. 7: 10, 11) were given by the Apostle Paul for direction to converted divorcees and their converted mates (of unscriptural unions) as much as to those who were not divorced and remarried, the Apostle, by the same token, would have allowed polygamous unions to stand within the Church. Had he allowed either simultaneous polygamy, of the kind practiced by the few rich of his day, or the successive polygamy, of more than one wife at the same time by virtue of divorce and remarriage, he would have contradict­ed the teaching of Christ within the same verses. All interpreters recognize that verses 10 and 11 specifically refer to Christ’s teaching in Matt.5:31,32, as well as to His other divorce statements. Each of His statements declares that a mar­riage after divorce is not a valid marriage if one spouse or the other has a living mate.

 

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In addition, it should be noted that the immediate context of verses 1 through 9 is directly related to verses 1 and 2. In verses I and 2 the Apostle suggests that it would be better not to “touch a woman” but adds that “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” He does not say, “let every man have a (his) spouse whether or not the mate is of an unscriptural union.” Verses 10 and 11 correct any such idea by showing that the Lord taught that marriage was indissoluble. Observe these verses below with their underscoring for emphasis:

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband [referring to Matt.5:31,32] ; But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife (I Cor,7:10,11).

The Apostle in these verses, like his divine Lord, bids both the husband and wife of an acceptable union (it is such who are in view in the context of 7:1-11) to remain with their spouses. It is not sinful to “touch a woman” if one is a husband in a scriptural union.   Christ said it was adultery otherwise (Matt. 5:31,32;19:9; Mark 10: 11,12; Luke 16: 18). The Apostle Paul said the same in Rom7:2,3. The Corinthian converts who were married were in some instances alarmed that it might be sinful for them to maintain their marriages when they turned to Christ, should their mates be unconverted. Had Paul taught that spouses of un­scriptural unions were spouses of valid unions, he would have contradicted him­self within the same chapter, because verse 39 states that a marriage approved by Christ is not dissoluble until one mate or the other dies.

Many conservatives do not believe that I Cor.7:20 relates to converted di­vorcees and their converted mates because its context, which begins at verse 17, does not relate to marriage at all.   This immediate context begins at verse 18, “‘But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.   And so ordain I in all churches.”  Verse 18 declares that a new convert should not be disturbed if he was converted in the state of circumcision or uncircumcision, and verses 21 through 23 declare that a new convert should not be disturbed because he was saved in a state of slavery (servant is slave Greek, v. 21). Whether he was called by the Lord in one state or the other is of no moment to the Lord. One may not take verse 27, “Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Artthou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife; and say that it is applicable to verse 20, “Let every man abide in the same calling where he was called.” He may not say that “the same calling” of verse 20 relates to the statement of verse 27 just quoted above. This is clarified and established by the fact that the section of the chapter in which verse 27 occurs is related specifically to verses 25 and 26.  Observe that verse 25 begins an entire­ly new thought.   The matter of virginity is in question.   The matter of remain­ing with an unscriptural spouse or leaving an unscriptural spouse is clearly not in question.

 

[page 164 of original text]

(25) Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment,   as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful, (26) I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress. I say, that it is good for a man so to be. (27) Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed.  Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife. (28) But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Never­theless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

All the verses of the chapter that follow these verses (7:25-28) are related to the question of the propriety or wisdom of a virgin (a single person) to marry, ex­cept verses 39 and 40 at the very end of the chapter. The Apostle in the previous verses, and particularly in the underscored verse (v. 28), is saying in effect, “I am speaking strongly that it is better that a Christian remain unmarried, but I add, lest you mistake my meaning, you need not and should not be loosed from your wife if married in order to conform to a state of virginity which l recom­mend; nor should you in this time of present distress (v.26) marry if you are yet unmarried, and yet I must add (as in v. 28), it is no sin for a virgin to marry.” The Apostle Paul has the thought of verse 25 constantly in mind when he utters the words of verse 27. This immediate portion (verses 25 through 27) is part of a new paragraph of chapter 7, as indicated in the American Edition of the Revised Version of 1901. The paragraph in question extends from verse 25 through verse 40. Verse 39 states, “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.” Could the Apostle Paul have contradicted himself within the same paragraph? Does he not say in verse 39 that a spouse is bound to her (or his) mate until death separates them? A husband or wife cannot belong to two spouses at the same time; this is at the heart of the teaching of Christ in Matt. 5:31,32 and Luke 16:18.

Now that the reader has seen a division of contexts within chapter 7, and has specifically noted the context of verses 25 through 40, it is fitting that we re-examine verse 20, which is unrelated to verses 25 through 40, as we have ob­served.   Is the Apostle Paul stating by verse 20,   “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called”, when God saved him, no matter what that calling may have been? Could he have said, “If you were saved as a prostitute, remain in your calling as a prostitute? Could he have said, “If you were saved as a thief abide in the calling of a thief?”   Could he have said, “If you were found by Christ in the calling and partnership of a wicked business, you should abide in that calling?”  Certainly he could not! Neither could he have said, “If you were found in the calling of an illicit marriage before the law of the land, abide in that calling,” nor “if you were found by Christ in the calling of a mar­riage disallowed by the law of Christ, you may continue in your practice of adul­tery in that unscriptural, invalid, and pretended marriage.”

Many of the Conservatives who hold to the above exegesis of I Cor. 7: 10, 11,20, 27 and to the more serious view of the sin of an unscriptural union would say in effect that the following is, in brief, their view:

[page 165 of original text]

We recognize the numerous complications which arise among unfortunate re­married divorcees and their mates who have found Christ since they were united in an unscriptural marriage. We realize that there are problems respecting the children and property of such unions. We know that it seems unfair before men that these people should sever their unscriptural unions, but we know that the Scripture says, “there is a way that seemeth right to a man, but the end there ­of are the ways of death” (Prov. 14: 12). We know that men will answer that overly strict teaching respecting divorce and remarriage breaks up homes; but should not all believers remember that loose teaching and practice respecting divorce within the Church breaks up many more homes by breeding more di­vorces and subsequent unscriptural marriages? We realize that the churches which permit divorcees and their mates to continue their adulterous unions seem to provide a truer justice for them, but we ask, “Shall we regard the ver­dict of human reason and the opinions of men more than we regard the teach­ings of Christ and His Apostle Paul?” Christ seven times in Matt.5:32;19:9; Luke 16:18 and Mark 10: 11 , 12 clearly and unequivocally declared that the marriage of a divorcee to another, while having a living mate, or the mar­riage of one to such a divorcee is the continuing sin of adultery as shown by His seven-fold use of moichaomai (comrnitteth adultery) which in each in­stance is in the present tense.  The Apostle Paul specifically forbade anyone to marry another while having a living mate (I Cor.7:39), and said that such a person was an adulterer (Rom. 7:2,3).

We cannot, by an accommodation of Scripture to the standards of this decad­ent generation, make the clear divorce utterances of Christ and of His inspired Apostle of none effect. We dare not presume to be wiser than the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. We dare not base our conviction of truth upon human sympathy, human judgment, the false principle of expediency, Christian ex­perience, or the majority vote of fallible mortals instead of upon the”THUS SAITH THE LORD” of the HOLY SCRIPTURES. We cannot exchange the clear­ly spoken Word of the Lord concerning divorce forthe halting and doubtful words of honest but fallible Christian leaders who say, “it would appear,” “it seems,” “it appears probable,” “we may assume” that because of his matchless and abounding grace, Christ would approve converted divorcees contin­uing their illicit unions. Shall we or others declare that “the Bible is the ab­solute rule of faith and practice” in all things and refuse to accept it when the status of divorcees is in question? Should anyone presume to teach that adul­terous unions may be maintained when the entire New Testament is utterly silent about the matter because of its emphasis on the adulterous nature of such unions? Shall we rest our case upon the word of man whose breath is held in the hand of God rather than upon the WORD of the ALMIGHTY? Upon whose words shall we rest our case at the BAR of GOD? We believe that rewards in this life for full devotion to the whole will of God will be far richer than the apparent (or seeming) rewards of compromise which spring from the deceit­fulness of our own carnal hearts and a greater regard for the judgments of finite men than for the plain Word of God. Furthermore, we believe the rewards of full devotion and uncompromising obedience will be far better in eternity than the loss incurred for treating lightly any of the commandments of Christ (Matt.5:19,32). We greatly fear the WORD of our LORD JESUS CHRIST:

He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him : the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day (John12:48).

[page 166 of original text]

We believe that in that day one will rejoice that he followed unreservedly the clear Word of the Lord rather than the varying, uncertain and fallible judg­ments of men. The great leader of the early Church, Tertullian, said, “The less quarter you give yourself the more will the Lord give you.”

The Apostle’s warning should be heeded:

For the time is coming when men will not tolerate wholesome teaching. They will want something to tickle their own fancies, and they will collect teach­ers who will pander to their own desires. They will no longer listen to the Truth but will wander off after man-made fictions (II Tim.4:3,4-Phillips translation).

 

The writer has endeavored to set forth clearly the two conflicting views of conservatives respecting the status of converted spouses of unscriptural marriages of divorcees within the Church. He does not presume to decide the question for any believer. This is indeed a difficult problem. Great Christian charity must be shown between those who differ in these matters. The writer believes that the tangled problems of spouses of disallowed unions are too intricate and too serious for either a church or its pastor to adopt an unyielding policy of advising such spouses to break up their homes. The recommendation of the constitution of the Assemblies of God Is appropriate: “We recommend that these cases be left in the hands of the Lord, and that they walk in the light as God lets it shine on their souls”. How dangerous it will be for any minister to do otherwise! He may not trifle with another man’s conscience.   Every individual will be responsible for walking in the light which God has allowed to illuminate his heart and mind. The author of this book believes that such persons, with the full light of Scripture before them, should be left to make their own eternal decisions under God’s im­mediate direction. The unfortunate mates in question will need the tender con­cern of every Christian minister and every believer. They should be encouraged to enjoy the ministry of the Word and the edification of the Church. In matters of conscience, the Apostle Paul by the Holy Ghost said:

Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind (Rom.14:5). Hast thou faith [in matters of conduct]? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubt­eth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Rom.14:22,23).

 

[page 167 of original text]

King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived, by the Holy Ghost said: Such is the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness ( Prov. 30:20).   Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil (Prov.3:5-7).

A terrible responsibility rests upon the writer and upon every teacher and min­ister who handles the Word of Life. How each of us needs to heed the warnings of Christ and His Apostle James which follow:

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but who­soever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the king­dom of heaven (Matt.5:19)[observe that the divorce commandment of Christ is in the same chapter. verses 31, 32]. Why call ye me, Lord,. Lord, and do not the things which I say (Luke 4: 1b)? Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, (Matt.7:21).

Be not many of you teachers,   my brethren,  knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment (James 3: 1 R.V.).

The writer has presented this section in the conscious sense of the fear of God, knowing that he will be held accountable for it at the judgment seat of Christ.

 

14.  GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT WILL RECOGNIZE THAT CHRIST PRESENTED MARRIAGE AS A FIXED ORDINANCE OF GOD AND NOT AS AN IDEAL.

 

Some teachers of the FIVE WORD School and others have reasoned that Christ presented his doctrine of marriage as an IDEAL and not as a FIXED STANDARD or fixed law of God.   It is the view of some of the liberal school that Christ did not expect men to live up to His teachings respecting marriage, and therefore presented it merely as an IDEAL for the few Christians who could attain this standard. A close examination of the Scriptures will prove that this assumption is utterly fallacious and therefore unscriptural.

 

a.  Christ did not speak of marriage as a mere IDEAL, but rather as a divine law of God. Hear Him:

 

From the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.   For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife : and they shall be ONE FLESH: so they are no more twain – but one flesh: what therefore [not whom, but what] God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Mark 10:6-9).

This is a declaration by Christ of what marriage IS as ordained by God from beginning, NOT what it is IDEALLY!

 

[page 168 of original text]

b.  Christ’s declarations concerning divorce and remarriage are not variable rules of idealism. Unconsciously, some Christians accept the modern view of ethics, which assumes that all rules of “right and wrong” are relative and chang­ing in the light of altering needs, concepts, and customs of a given society of a given period. They believe that the Church of today should adopt rules of divorce and remarriage that, they hope, will be more realistic and more in keeping with the stresses and strains of modern life. All of the reasons pressed today in favor of divorce with the right to marry another for many causes, including adultery, were known to the Jews when Christ re-announced the eternal marriage standards of Almighty God. The moral conditions of that generation were virtually the same as those of today. Sex is a basic instinct in man which has not altered dur­ing his long history, despite the fact that social, economic, and educational standards have changed and are changing. When the omniscient and eternal God instituted the Edenic laws of marriage which were reaffirmed by Christ, HE knew the quality of the sex impulses with which He had endowed man and the grace which He would give that would keep a God-fearing Joseph in Potiphar’s house or a praying Daniel in the licentious palace of Nebuchadnezzar and Bel­shazzar. He, who knew the end from the beginning, knew what marriage laws would be best suited for all future generations of man. The SEVENTH command­ment of the decalogue and the Edenic marriage laws of the eternal SON of GOD were given for the highest good of society and every individual to the end of time. They were given within man’s capacity, by the grace of God, to obey. His grace is available to ALL who will seek Him!

 

c.  Observe that in Luke16:18, Christ said that he who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries her that is put away (even though she is an innocent spouse) commits adultery.   Christ says virtually the same thing in Matt. 5:32; 19:9. and Mark 10:11,12. The last reference does not discuss the sin of the one who marries the divorced one. To abstain from adul­tery is not an IDEAL but a moral obligation placed upon all men by God. He who presumes to treat such a sin with indifference should remember that God says:

Marriage is honorable in all and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers [forni­cators,R.V] and adulterers God will judge (Heb.13:4).

Obviously, he who presumes to enjoy the privileges and intimacies of mar­riage, while having another living spouse with whom he has first been joined by God, is now an example of one living in adultery. Further, note God’s warning of I Cor. 6:9:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers .. .nor thieves … shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

[page 169 of original text]

d.  The sin of divorce and remarriage is a breach of the seventh command­ment!  Christ does not say that the avoiding of adultery is an IDEAL that may be attained only by a select and saintly few! God does not advise one to refrain from adultery. He does not say that He is more pleased if His children refrain from fornication. He says that those who commit fornication and adultery shall not enter the kingdom of God (Gal. 5: 19-21), but that they shall be cast into the eternal LAKE OF FIRE. “But for the fearful . . . and murderers, and fornicators,. . . their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Rev.21:8 R. V.). Christ treats the sin of adultery as ser­iously as He treats the sin of murder. He cites the commandment of the deca­ logue (Ex. 20: 13) in Matt.5:21 which says, “Thou shalt not kill, ” and then pro­ceeds to show what is its essence. He reveals that it is first the sin of bitterness and hate in the heart, and warns all men who approach His altar to leave their gift at the altar and first be reconciled to an enemy before offering the gift to God. To bring home the seriousness of hate toward a fellow He adds, “whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire” ( Matt. 5:22). Here He talks of no mere IDEAL which a man may refuse to incorporate into his life with im­punity. Indeed, both murder and adultery are grievous sins. Those who com­ mit them despise the commandments of the LORD (II Sam.12:9) and deservingly are listed in the catalogue of the eternally damned (Rev. 2 I :8) !!

Christ revealed that adultery begins in the heart and is expressed in the look of lust (Matt. 5:28), and to the consternation of the Pharisees who lusted after other women than their own wives, He said (Matt.5:31,32):

It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement (DeuT. 24: 1-4), But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery; and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

Observe that Christ uttered these words, as it were, in the shadow of Mt. Sinai. In the same context, on the same occasion, HE said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY: But I say UNTO YOU.. . .” (Matt.5:27,28), and then relates the look of LUST and the sin of DIVORCE and REMARRIAGE to this commandment of the DECALOGUE. Christ unequivocally declared that to “put away a wife and marry another” or to marry a divorced wife is to commit ADULTERY within the enactment of the SEVENTH commandment!! Surely, no man would venture to say that the TEN COMMANDMENTS (the MORAL LAW of GOD) are mere IDEALS.

 

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also THE LAW: for sin is the trans­gression of the LAW (I Jn.3:4).

 

[page 170 of original text]

The purpose of redemption is revealed in Rom. 8:3,4:

For what THE LAW could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh: THAT the RIGHTEOUSNESS of THE LAW might be fulfilled  in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Unmistakably, the sin of adultery in divorce and remarriage (a respectable sin in modern society) is revealed by Christ to be the breaking of the seventh commandment, “THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY” (Matt. 5:27; Ex.20:14). It is plain, therefore, that JESUS CHRIST is not talking of a mere IDEAL when He speaks of divorce and remarriage as the sin of ADULTERY.

In the fall of 1956, the world was shocked by the attack of Great Britain and France upon Egypt and by the enslavement of Hungary by Russia. Immediately representatives of the United Nations, leaders of the western powers, and many clergymen called for a return of the nations to a respect for moral law. Such declarations suggest that there is a fixed moral law to which all nations and peoples should conform. Where is there such a moral law outside of the Bible? All Christians recognize. As do most civilized peoples, that basically it con­sists of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20: 1-20), which are further clarified and amplified in the teaching of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5·7). The Christian Church should cease rebuking governments for exchanging the fixed principles of moral law for the loose principles of expediency until she, herself, stops doing the same thing. A nation’s moral standards can rise no higher than the moral principles and practices of her churches and temples. Many churches are slowly yielding to the popular sentiment and standards of the unregenerate society which surrounds them. If the Church of Christ subscribed whole heartedly to the immutable moral law of God, she would not compromise, nor tolerate, the divorce and remarriage standards of the ungodly which contradict Christ’s clear teaching of the indissolubility of marriage for any cause.

 

15.  GIVE A JUDGMENT WHICH WILL RECOGNIZE THE LAWS OF DIVINE REVELATION AS SUPERSEDING ALL LAWS OF STATES FOR CHRISTIAN STANDARDS WHEN THEY ARE IN CONTRADICTION TO THEM.

 

Some of the teachers of the FIVE WORD School declare that God affixes His approval to all legislative acts or pronouncements of the governments of earth be­cause of the statement of Rom.13:1-7, and so all marriages of divorcees approved by the state are valid before God.

What specious reasoning is this!    Indeed the Apostles did not subscribe to such a conclusion.

Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Should men cease to preach Christ in the countries that forbid Christians to do so?

[page 171 of original text]

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church” was not said of men who feared their governments more than they feared God, nor of men who be­lieved the laws and decrees of government to be more infallible and binding than the laws and decrees of God ALMIGHTY. Should the deplorable divorce laws of Russia supersede the marriage law of Christ?

Do the laws of states licensing gambling and prostitution make these non-sinful in the sight of God? May a converted gambler revert to his former practices when he realizes that the laws of his state permit him to follow his particular type of gambling?   May a converted prostitute revert to her former unchaste practices when she realizes that the laws of her country permit prostitution if she has a license for the same from the said state? Do the above laws make the sinful practices virtues so that all men may practice them and be immune from the judgment of God? A bigamist is one who marries another while having a legal, living spouse.   All men revile such an individual. May Christians sincerely ap­prove the marriage of one who marries another, whose marriage is licensed be­fore the state but is not licensed before God because the individual has a living, former spouse who alone is his or her only wife or husband? Do the laws of states which flout and nullify God’s laws supersede them? Is the sin of a bigamist (one who marries another while having a legal, living spouse), less evil than the sin of one who, illegally before heaven (although legally before the state), marries another while having a living spouse who is recognized before heaven as being this person’s only legal spouse? Is the sin of bigamy (having two wives or hus­bands) before heaven less evil than the sin of bigamy before men?   Clearly ev­ery one of these questions are scripturally answered in the negative.   True, a Christian minister will not be at liberty to defy the state and declare that men who are married contrary to Christ’s teachings are not married in the eyes of the law.   He can say, however, that such marriages are not approved in the sight of God. He can entreat men to honor the standards of marriage fixed by the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he can refuse to unite in marriage anyone who has a former living partner, or anyone who plans to marry such a person.   Should a minister do otherwise, he would be guilty of approving of bigamy before heaven. Oh, that the Church of Christ would realize how potent would be her influence if she had the courage to practice fully the teachings of Christ respecting mar­riage, or any other laws of Almighty God! A little salt is a tremendously preserving force!   “Ye are the salt of the earth”.

 

  1. GIVE A JUDGMENT WHICH WILL REGARD THE LAWS OF DIVINE REV­ELATION AS BINDING, EVEN THOUGH THEIR OBEDIENCE MAY AFFECT THE FINANCIAL STATUS OF AN INNOCENT MATE OR SOME ONE ELSE.

 

Some of the FIVE WORD School state that the economic distress of “innocent mates” necessitates their having the right to remarry after divorcing their “un­chaste spouses.”

[page 172 of original text]

If this reasoning were carried to its logical conclusion, it would, in fact it does, defy the clear teachings of Jesus Christ. The chaste wife who is put away,as described in Matt.5:32b; Luke16:18b, and Matt.19:9b, is strictly forbidden to remarry when divorced by her husband, even though her husband marries again and her economic status may be in jeopardy.

Is the wife of a criminal, who has served and is still serving a very long term in prison, at liberty scripturally to remarry because her husband does not pro­vide for her and the children? Surely, the FIVE WORD School will acknowledge that there are many “unfortunate mates” whose husbands have not committed adultery and yet who are not supporting their families while they continue to live either in their own home or in an institution. May these wives scripturally divorce their husbands so that they may remarry and thus improve their financial status? May the wife whose husband became an invalid when they were first married, after a substantial number of years, divorce such a mate that she may marry again and so better herself financially?

God’s laws of marriage sometimes bring financial suffering to a few spouses, and yet this is necessary to uphold and preserve the indissolubility of marriage for the honor of God and the welfare of the homes of society. It is important to re­member that God does not settle all His accounts with His children in this life, neither are they compensated in heaven merely for a period corresponding to the time they graciously or willingly suffered for the glory of God on earth. Their compensation is for eternity. A Christian can readily endure affliction if he keeps before himself the brevity of life’s afflictions for Christ in comparison to the eternal weight of glory awaiting him in heaven. “For I reckon the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8: 19).   Note also II Cor. 4: 17, 18.

 

17. GIVE A JUDGMENT WHICH WILL NOT TREAT LIGHTLY STRONG VAR­IANT READINGS OF THE EARLY MANUSCRIPTS OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT.

Scholarly men of both the FIVE WORD School and the Conservative School are aware that there are many variant readings of early New Testament manuscripts which have been adopted by the American Standard Revision of 1901which were not in the Authorized Version. They also know that many if not all of these have been all but universally accepted by scholars of evangelical churches. A few of many examples which have been universally accepted are the following, which will be indicated by setting in contrast the Authorized Version with the text of the Revised Version.

    1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Rom. 8:1 A.V.).

THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION TO THEM THAT ARE IN CHRIST JESUS (Rom. 8: 1 R. V.).

[page 173 of original text]

 

    1. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one (I John. 5:6b-8 A.V.).

 

AND IT IS THE SPIRIT THAT BEARETH WITNESS, BECAUSE THE SPIRIT IS THE TRUTH. FOR THERE. ARE THREE WHO BEAR WITNESS, THE SPIRIT, AND THE WATER, AND THE BLOOD: AND THE THREE AGREE IN ONE (1 John 5:7,8 R.V.).

The translators of the American Standard Version had more ancient manuscripts of the New Testament than did those of the Authorized Version. Because of this fact, many of their corrected translations of the Revised Version are much more accurate than those of the Authorized Version.

The underscored sections above indicate, for the most part the portions of the Greek text of some manuscripts which were not believed by the translators of the Revised Version to be as accurate as other Greek manuscripts, and so these por­tions were deleted.

Though some of the changes of the Revised Version have been by deletions only, or largely so, this is not always so.   An example follows:

    1. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty dominion and power, both now and ever.   Amen (Jude 25 A. V.)

 

TO THE ONLY GOD OUR SAVIOUR, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD, BE GLORY, MAJESTY, DOMINION AND POWER, BEFORE ALL TIME, AND NOW, AND FOR EVERMORE.   Amen (Jude 25 R.V.).

 

The weight of evidence for acceptance of the variant reading of Matt. 19:9 is considerable, as has been shown on pages 65 through 73. True scholars can­not afford to treat it lightly when it is observed that the context supports it one hundred per cent, and when one observes that some outstanding Greek scholars believe it to be the preferred reading.

However, the strength of the variant reading of Matt. 19:9 does not lie in the fact that it may be the preferred text, but in the fact that it shows the glaring presumption of the FIVE WORD School in building a doctrine of divorce in ONE text, Matt. 19:9 (A. V. ). the reading of which is so much in doubt. Happily, the Conservative doctrine of divorce will stand, whichever reading is ultimately found to be the actual statement of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

[page 174 of original text]

Its strength does not lie in basing its doctrine on ONE text but on the general tenor of the divorce texts of the New Testament and on the strength of the context of Matt. 19:9 which is overwhelmingly in support of the Conservative views as has been shown on pages 92 through 95. [hyperlink http://www.standerinfamilycourt.com/?p=2209]

Occasionally, believers have felt a keen loss ln the difference between the Revised Version and the Authorized Version in specific texts which have been especially choice to them. If the favored text is clearly a doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, it will be preserved and restated elsewhere in the Bible, and very probably it will be restated· many times. No variant reading accepted in the Revised Version can rob the true believer of any essential element of truth of Holy Writ, for the treasure does not lie alone in one text; and happily, as a rule, the variant readings of the Revised Version enrich the meaning of the words: of the original writers of the New Testament, which words were inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Greek authorities state that of the hundreds of variant readings of the New Testament, not one of them affects any doctrine essential to the Christian’s sal­vation and in all but a few cases deal with minutiae of words and elements that are of no great consequence, save to sharpen the present meaning of the Author­ized Version text.

 

18. GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT WILL REVEAL THAT SO-CALLED SOFT ­HEARTED DIVORCE IS NOT SUPPORTED BY THE SCRIPTURES.

Some of the FIVE WORD School have assumed that there is a difference be­tween hardness-of-heart divorce for every cause and so-called soft-hearted di­vorce for the cause of adultery. This school believes that an innocent mate is a soft-hearted mate, since he has been sinned against by an adulterous mate. It has arbitrarily and presumptuously differentiated between two kinds of divorce of its own making to avoid the strength of Christ’s answer (Matt. 19:8) to the ques­tion of the Pharisees in Matt. 19:7 which follows:

Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.    

The fallacy of the FIVE WORD School’s assumption that there are two kinds of divorce (putting away) is apparent in the light of the following:

  1. The hard-hearted Pharisees addressed by Christ in Matt. 19:7, above, in­cluded the schools of both Hillel and Shammai. The latter rested on Deut.24:1-4 (Moses’ divorce permission, which Christ abrogated in Matt.5:32) for their right to divorce an adulterous mate and to marry another. Therefore Christ speaks of those who believe as Shammai as men desiring or believing in a hard­-hearted divorce.

[page 175 of original text]

The Pharisees, as we have seen, included both the schools named above. Ob­serve that Matt. 19:3 states:

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?

A frank answer to this ensnaring question was indeed fraught with danger for Christ.   The Pulpit Commentary gives the following on this passage:

This was a delicate question to raise in the domains of Herod Antipas (see 14:3-4), and one greatly debated in the rabinnical schools…Two opposite opinions were held by the followers of Hillel and Schammai, the heads of antagonistic schools. The school of Hillel contended that a man might divorce his wife for various causes quite unconnected with the infringement of the marriage vow, e.g. because he had ceased to love her, or had seen someone whom he liked better, or even because she cooked his dinner badly. The school of Schammai was more strict, and permitted divorce only in case of fornication, adultery or some offense against chastity. Between these contending parties the Pharisees desired to make our Lord give a decision, thinking that they had fixed him in a dilemma.   If he took the popular lax view, they could deride his claims as a Teacher of superior morality; if he upheld the stricter side, he would rouse the enmity of the majority, and possibly, like John the Baptist, involve himself in trouble with the licentious tetrarch. There was a chance also that the high tone which he had already taken might prove to be at variance with the Mosaic enactments (Matt.19:7)

(D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell. Editors, op. cit. , Vol. XV, pp. 242, 243)

 

The second question of the Pharisees seemed clearly calculated to ensnare Him with the religious leaders of the day. He surprised them, however, when He answered the question, “WHY DID MOSES THEN COMMAND TO GIVE A WRITING OF DIVORCEMENT, AND TO PUT HER AWAY?” by running to Genesis 2:18-24 for His reply. It  is quoted and discussed on pages 5 through 8. [hyperlink: http://www.standerinfamilycourt.com/?p=1804]  By taking the Pharisees to Genesis. He gave them a marriage law that antedated that of Moses in Deut. 24: 1-4. The latter was that upon which both the schools of Hillel and Shammai rested for their view and doctrine of divorce. To Christ there was no soft-hearted divorce. All divorce which had for its end the dissolution of marriage was hard-hearted.   This is proven   by   the   sweeping   statement which He made when He abrogated forever the divorce permission of Moses.   He said:

 Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so (Matt.19:8).

The twelve points of the context of Matt. 19:9, given on pages 92 through104 [hyperlink http://www.standerinfamilycourt.com/?p=2209], confirm the fact that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of marriage. However, Christ did provide for legal (judicial) separation (a mensa et thoro). See I Cor. 7: 10,11, which permits a spouse to leave the mate but does not per­mit such a spouse to marry another while the former mate is still living (I Cor.7:39).

[page 176 of original text]

  1. GOD DID NOT INSTITUTE DIVORCE UNDER MOSES.   Divorce had been instituted by the heathen.     Christ said truly that from the beginning divorce was not permitted. God did no more approve of divorce than the right of Israel to have a King (I Sam. 8:6, 7; 10: 17-19; Hosea 13:9-11), although He tolerated the latter as He tolerated divorce in the Old Testament period because of the hardness of the hearts of the people. The word suffered in the text quoted above, is epetrepsen in the Greek New Testament. It is translated four times in the Authorized Version by permit; once give liberty; once give license; once, to let; twice,  to give leave and ten times, to suffer with the meaning it had in old English, namely to allow. It never had the meaning of to command. Indeed, MOSES PERMITTED (tolerated) divorce; He did not command it. This has been further clarified in a detailed discussion of Deut. 24:1 on pages 88 through 89.
  2. The FIVE WORD School should observe that alleged divorce for so-called soft-hearted innocents who have had adulterous mates does not provide for the dissolution of the marriages of many other soft-hearted innocents who, according to FIVE WORD concepts, as sorely need a severance of their marriage bond. See pages 135 through 136 for a list of such unfortunate innocents.   Many of these and others are suffering distress under the flame of nature, cruelty of spouses, economic pressure, and other hardships, yet cannot be married to another since the mates in question have not committed adultery, nor have they been technically deserted by their spouses. Where is a soft-hearted divorce permission tobe found in the Scripture, apart from the abrogated divorce permission ofMoses,for these unfortunates? God give us grace to stand by the Scripture ratherthan accommodate the Scripture to fit the seeming necessities of men, and may Hedirect the vision of unfortunates to the Scriptures which show that His peoplearecalled· upon to suffer for His sake, as men of all nations are called upon to suffer for the good of theirsociety.

The hard-hearted Pharisee of the school of Shammai believed that God should   at least permit   a spouse   to put away (dissolve his marriage with) his adulterous mate, since such a spouse was put to death under the law of Moses. This position becomes untenable upon careful investigation.     The   putting away of a spouse is the act of an individual; the stoning or putting to death of anyone by the state is a civil matter.   God permitted Israel as a nation to put to death fornicators and adulterers (Deut.22:21-25). God did not approve those of Israel or anyone else putting away (divorcing) any spouse for any cause from the beginning, except they might put away a betrothed wife who had, previous to consummated marriage, committed fornication during her betrothal. A govern­ment ls an instrument of God for the welfare of society. It ls authorized by God to put to death (Rom.13:1-4). However, because God permitted Israel as a civil power, to put to death murderers (Num. 35: 16), Sabbath breakers (Num.15:32-36),   moral perverts (Ex.22:19), kidnappers (Ex.21:16), and rebellious sons (Deut. 21: 18-21), it does not follow that God approves of spouses putting away (divorcing) such spouses because the state of today does not put them to death as did Israel of old.

 

[page 177 of original text]

Christ closed the door to the dissolution of marriage, except by death, in His statement:

Wherefore they are no more twain but ONE FLESH.   What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matt.19:6).

Laws of states which flatly contradict the plain teaching of Christ are not to be accepted as proper standards for Christians.

 

e. Soft-hearted mates become hard-hearted mates when they refuse to keep the door open for the return of their unchaste mates, because by acting thus, they refuse to accept the teaching and example of our LORD. He left the door open for Israel’s return, although He had separated from her (Jer. 3: 1-14). The so-called soft-hearted innocent mate needs to beware of becoming hard-hearted in refusing to follow the law of Christ: “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Eph.5:25).

Christ completely closed the door to all divorce, if by that is meant the dis­solution of marriage. He is, wittingly or unwittingly, hard-hearted who sets at nought Christ’s teaching respecting marriage and divorce; he is hard-hearted be­cause he denies the commands of Christ and because he considers his own happi­ness or the happiness of the so- called soft-hearted innocent mates as more im­portant than the happiness of the many more millions of innocent children, born and unborn, of present and future broken homes.   He is hard-hearted because he does not have the compassion of Christ for adulterous mates (Hosea 2: 16; 3:1-5;14:1-8).

 

19. GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT WILL DECLARE WHO IS TRULY THE MORE INNOCENT SPOUSE

All thoughtful men know that the chaste mate is not   always the more inno­cent spouse. Every ecclesiastical body which accedes to divorce and remarriage for adultery must sometime face the question, WHO IS THE TRULY INNOCENT PARTY’? In recent years, two denominations have taken a firmer stand against divorce because of their seeing the difficulty of determining who were the more innocent mates.

 

Many spouses are virtually pushed into adultery by the prudish and contempt­ible behaviour of their mates. From a human standpoint, should one hear all the provocative words and behold all the ultra-puritanical attitudes of some spouses toward their mates, would he not many times have to conclude that the so-called innocent one was the guilty one? What church judge or pastor who had not heard or beheld all the intimacies of words and actions of the “unfortunate pair” could fairly and honestly declare who was the “innocent party” of a marriage union?

 

[page 178 of original text]

Is it not probable that the problem of who is the truly INNOCENT was one cause why Christ gave the strong, clarifying statement on divorce in Mark 10: 11, 12? Let us with Christ resist every fracture of the divine law of the complete indisso­lubility of the marriage bond!

If the churches which grant the right of divorce and remarriage for the cause of adultery or any other cause are consistent, they will no longer use the cherished and revered wedding ceremony which, in one form or another. usually includes the following:

I, [Name],  take thee [Name], to be my wedded husband (wife): to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health. to love, cherish, and obey till death us do part according to God’s holy ordinance, and thereto I give thee my troth.

Do we want our children to enter into holy wedlock as a mere matter of con­venience rather than as a divine obligation before God to be true to the other, re­gardless of the circumstances? Do we want to follow the “innocent party” rule of the FIVE WORD School and bring upon our children and their children’s children a lessened regard for the sacredness of marriage? A youth who takes the marriage vows with possible exception for the dissolution of his divine union (joined by God) will likely not give his mate the devotion which he should and which God does require. May the Church keep the spirit of Hollywood out of her pews and homes!

 

20. GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT IS BASED ON A “LOVE OF THE TRUTH,” COST WHAT IT MAY TO YOU OR YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS OR ANYONE ELSE.

“A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

Will you, reader, after making a careful study of the subject of divorce and remarriage, be­lieve what you prefer to believe? Will you believe that which best suits the pro­clivities, prejudices, and sympathies of your nature, and that which most conforms to human reason; or will you stand by all the facts and evidence of the Scripture bearing on the subject? Will you settle the matter on a scriptural basis or on the basis of the above, and the Christian experiences and religious suc­cesses of divorcees)? Will you, while conceding that the FIVE WORD view of divorce is scripturally untenable, say that the “exceptive clause” is sufficient for you, and to it you will cling, even though all other Scriptures declare plainly that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of marriage, as does Matt.19:9 when properly understood?

Is it not true that the natural man (I Cor. 2: 14) almost always favors the side of a question that appeals to his mind rather than to his conscience, that appeals to his rationalized view of a principle of conduct which is in keeping with the times rather than to his more sober conviction of God ‘s commandment respecting his behavior?

[page 179 of original text]

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jer.17:9)?

A lawyer once asked for books that would prove that Christianity is true. These books were supplied and read. When he returned them, he said, “I now see that the trouble was not in my mind but in my heart because I am now convinced that Christianity is true, but still I will not be a Christian.”

Often a strong defense lawyer will not only appeal to such facts as he may have to support his client’s position, but he will appeal most vehemently and strongly to the emotions and sympathies of a jury to win his case. Not a few famous cases have been won on the latter appeal rather than on an appeal to facts.

To what does the average politician appeal prior to the time of an election? It is to the emotions of his audiences, for he knows that the great mass of the public prefer to have their emotions stirred in favor of their native inclinations and desires rather than to have the minds directed to the facts which support the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

 

The average voter, as a rule, seems to be more concerned about an immediate prosperity than for the continued welfare of his country. Too often Christians are much more concerned about finding seeming loopholes in Scriptures which they believe will condone their covetous and evil hearts, regardless of absolute right, rather than bringing their lives up to the highest standards of God’s truth.

They prefer that which will cost them little. There are many things which God’s people have to suffer and forego for the greater good of the kingdom of God and for the greater glory of God on earth. As little as we like to confess it, the nearly two thousand years of Christianity have not made men love truth more, is still blighted with what Bacon called “a natural though cor­rupt love of the lie itself.” The spirit of our time is to get something for nothing with as little suffering as possible, and preferably with none.

The mass of nominal and evangelical Christians shun the Cross in Christian experience.   May the God of Truth help all of us to bring our Christian experience up to THE BOOK rather than to bring THE BOOK down to our experience and that of our fellow men; and may He help us to walk in all the light of His TRUTH regardless of the cost!

Dr. A.W.Tozer, editor of the Alliance Weekly, has stated the following in an editorial of Oct. 10, 1956:

To live our lives reverently in the fear of God and in view – of eternal conse­quences is right and good, but to live our moral lives in fear of temporal con­sequences is an evil, a great and injurious evil for which not one shred of justification can be found. Yet the shadow of the fear of consequences lies dark across the church today and its blight is seen almost everywhere.

 

[page 180 of original text]

Moral decisions should be made in view of moral consequences, never in fear of the effect such decisions may have upon our economic or social future. The wisest of the Greeks said, “A man who is good for anything ought not to calculate the chance of living or dying; he ought only to consider whether in doing anything he is doing right or wrong. “It is more than a little embarrass­ing that an uninspired Stoic should see what so few of us Christians, with all our claims to superior religious experience, seem unable to understand.

 

It is doubtful whether we can be Christian in anything unless we are Christians in everything. To obey Christ in one or two or ten instances and then in fear of consequences to back away and refuse to obey in another is to cloud our life with the suspicion that we are only fair weather followers and not true be­lievers at all. To obey when it costs us nothing and refuse when the results are costly is to convict ourselves of moral trifling and gross insincerity.

The temptation to gear our lives to social consequences is frightfully strong in a world like ours, but it must be overcome all the way down the line. The Christian businessman when faced with a moral choice must never ask, “How much will this cost me?” The moment he regards consequences he dethrones Christ as Lord of his life. His only concern should be with the will of God and the moral quality of the proposed act. To consult anything else is to sin against his own soul.

(A. W, Tozer: Editorial, The Alliance Weekly, October 10, 1956, New York
21. GIVE A JUDGMENT THAT IS BASED ON WHAT DIVINE REVELATION TEACHES RATHER THAN UPON THE PRINCIPLE OF EXPEDIENCY, WHICH SEEKS TO ACCOMMODATE THE SCRIPTURES TO SO-CALLED INNOCENT

In this day when the Church of Christ is making its decisions more and more upon the expediency of the moment rather than upon divine principle and the divine laws and eternal standards of God as revealed in His Holy Word, it is important that we examine this practice lest it intrude into the settlement of the divorce problem as well.

The term “expediency” will be used in this section in its secondary meaning, namely, in its strictly ethical sense: “It is the principle of practical utility or interest of self as distinguished from the right.”

Thirty years ago, there were very few remarried divorcees in evangelical churches. Today, however, remarried divorcees are attending the house of God in increasing numbers and are frequently given an equal status in the Christian Church, contrary to the reaching of the Apostle Paul. Why is this? The answer is obvious. There are more divorcees in America today because of sharply low­ered ethical standards which the Church of Christ has condoned.

Because of the hardness of the hearts of men and women today, even the evan­gelical churches are more and more making their judgments of conduct and standards of right strictly on the basis of expediency, regardless of clear-cut doc­trines and criteria set forth in the Word of God.   The cry, “everybody  is doing it“, or “practically every Christian of today believes it is all right,” is more readily accepted than, “THUS SAITH THE LORD. ”

 

[page 181 of original text]

Expediency is studiously avoided by our great judges who sit in the courts of our land.   The writer, with a group of theological students, heard a defense lawyer plead with the judge for a lenient penalty for one who had been an active participant in the numbers’ racket.   He said his client deserved a lenient judg­ment because he was a first offender, was an esteemed man in his community, and held a position as a steward in a factory.   The judge replied that he could not deal leniently with this man lest he cause disrespect for the law on the part of other men in the numbers racket and consequently increase this evil in the land.

Will our pastors and evangelical church leaders continue to treat divorce lightly and handle each situation purely on the basis of expediency out of natural sympathy, or will they be men of God and, while compassionate, think and work for the tens of thousands of living and unborn innocent children of broken homes, for the good of the nation, and for the welfare of the KINGDOM OF GOD? Will they be preachers who cater to the spirit and debased standards of our time, or will they raise their voices, as SEERS of old, and call men back to the old paths of holiness and righteousness so clearly marked out in the WORD OF GOD? Will God find none who will stand in the gap and close up the hedges of righteous­ness? Will God-called men let the church sink with the compromising age into the awful abyss of God ‘s wrath?   Thomas Mann said, “A man lives not only his personal life, as an individual, but also consciously or unconsciously, the life of his epoch and his contemporaries. May God arouse the Church and her leaders to give heed to the admonition of the Apostle Paul in Rom. 12:2:

 And do not follow the customs of the present age, but be ye transformed by the entire renewal of your minds, so that you may learn by experience what God’s will is-that will which is good and beautiful and perfect (Weymouth ­third edition.)*

Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the Plan of God for you is good, meets all His demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity (Phillips).

*From Weymouth’ s New Testament in Modern Speech, Harper & Brothers. Used by permission.

Take warning Christian Church! It was not TNT which destroyed the dam in the time of the Johnstown flood. Its disintegration began with tiny crevices and cracks.   Experts warned the city over and over again of the impending danger.

 

[page 182 of original text]

The city fathers delayed until it was too late. The dike of any denomination of Protestantism does not crumble primarily because of a great crisis.   It crumbles because of its small defections and compromises in holiness and righteousness to accommodate the spirit of the day, and because its moral and doctrinal decisions are made by the law of expediency rather than by the “THUS SAITH THE LORD” of DIVINE REVELATION.

A PRAYER FOR TRUTH

O Thou who art the Way, the Truth and the Life, save us from error, and guide us into all Truth. Grant that when we discern Thy Truth that we may love Thy Truth and walk daily in its light. Give us grace to speak Thy Truth in love that both we and those who hear it may be sanctified by it to Thy praise and glory. AMEN!

 

  • A Study of I Cor. 7:15 Is Important

 

The text of ICor.7:15 does not provide for the dissolution of the marriage bond.   A careful study of the text itself in the light of I Cor.7:10,11,39 will make that apparent.

 

And 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: and let not the husband put away his wife (I Cor.7:10,11).

Observe that the Apostle Paul in verses 10 and 11 appeals to the fact that Christ commanded what he, the Apostle, stated in these verses. Obviously, he is here asserting what Christ taught in Matt. 5:31,32, Luke 16:18, Matt. 19:1-12, namely, that marriage is indissoluble without any exception. If the Conservative interpretation of Matt.5:31,32 and 19:9 is accepted, there is no question of contradiction between the Apostle Paul and the Lord Jesus Christ as touching the question of divorce and remarriage.

The Apostle Paul adds in I Cor.7:12-14: But to the rest speak I. not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believ­eth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by his believing wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now they are holy.

Inasmuch as the Apostle Paul had taught that a believer should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever, and inasmuch as a converted Corinthian spouse knew himself to be clean and holy through the blood of Christ,   the Christian believer had some misgivings whether or not he could remain holy and whether his future offspring would be holy if he continued the marriage union with such a spouse.

 

[page 183 of original text]

Some of the FIVE WORD School and others presume to believe that the word bondage of I Cor. 7: 15 of itself indicates that one who is deserted by his or her spouse is free to marry another. “ETYMOLOGY WILL KILLYOU, BUT CONTEXT WILL·SAVE YOU.” Certainly the context described under the study of I Cor.7:10,11, which is virtually identical here, does not allow such an interpretation.

It is obvious that a Christian married person of Corinth would have been much concerned, about the propriety of leaving an unbelieving mate and releasing an unbelieving mate to depart from him or her after hearing the teaching of the Apostle Paul in I Cor.7 10-14.  A spouse would naturally be driven to a bondage of fear in such a case. The wife, however, the Apostle says, is not to be upset and alarmed if the husband insists on leaving her; she is not to be under a bond­age of fear. She may let him separate from her if she forget not I Cor. 7: 10,11, which reaffirms the teaching of Christ concerning the indissolubility of marriage for any cause. The statement of verse 15b clarifies the matter, for it says, lit­erally translated, “In but peace has God called us.” In the third edition of Weymouth’s translation­ of the New Testament, his footnote on verse 15 reads as fol­lows:

The sense seems to be, do not live in an atmosphere of strife, being free to escape from it; for God eternally dwells in an atmosphere of peace and He calls us to participate and rejoice in it.

(From Weymouth’s New Testament in Modern Speech,   Harper & Brothers. Used by permission. Richard Francis Weymouth, loc. cit.)

The verse which follows I Cor. 7: 15, verse 16, stresses not the freedom of the wife to· remarry but rather the continuity of the thought of verse 11-15, namely, that the wife should do all in her power to maintain a spirit of peace and recon­ciliation with her husband that he might be saved.   The verse states:

 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? Or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

Would not the wife by remarrying make it more difficult for the husband to be saved later? It might encourage him to marry again and thus commit adul­tery. Should she marry another, it would close the door to their reconciliation. Certainly it would not make for peace or for the hastening of his salvation.

Now let us consider specifically I Cor. 7:15:

But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not bound.

 

[page 184 of original text]

The statement of 7: 12-14 could have left no doubt in the mind of a believing spouse concerning whether or not he should remain in union with an unbe­liever. The statement of 7: 15 is introduced to relieve his mind of a bondage of fear that might overtake him if he found that the unbelieving spouse desired to depart from him. Had not Christ and the Apostle Paul taught (I Cor. 7: 10, 11) that a Christian should remain unmarried if separated from his spouse? Had a wife or husband, contrary to theLord’s expressed desire (I Cor.7:10,11), left his or her spouse in the Apostle Paul’s day, in all probability, the mate in the city of Corinth would, under such circumstances, have soon married another. Was the Apostle in I Cor.7: I5 then instructing such a forsaken spouse to recognize that she was free from the bondage of marriage? To the contrary, verse 11 states, “let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.” Neither partner in this case was free before God to marry another.

­In the light of the above, by what exegesis can a spouse be free to marry anoth­ er when the believing mate of such an one has departed from him?   Is there one rule under God authorizing an unbeliever to marry another when he has deserted his mate, and another for the Christian (1 Cor. 7:10, 11), forbidding him to leave and marry another?

Is there any intimation in the teaching of Christ in Matt.5:31,32; Luke16:18; Matt. 19:9, and Mark 10: 11,12 that a desertion of an unbelieving mate authorized the other spouse to marry again? Christ did not even imply that the departure and remarriage of such an one was valid! To the contrary, Christ for­bade an innocent wife in Matt. 5:32; Luke 16:18, and Matt. 19:9 to marry anoth­er when divorced by her husband, for Christ said that he who married such an innocent wife who had been put away (the equivalent of being deserted by the spouse) would commit adultery. The reason is obvious: the first union was still intact, despite the husband’s divorcing her and marrying another. Were this not true, a man would have but to marry another to invalidate his first union and validate his second union. Indeed, a deserting husband of the Apostle’s day would, in most instances, divorce the woman whom he had deserted that he might marry another. Would he have more right to marry another than an innocent wife­ (Matt.5:32; Luke 16: 18) whose husband had committed adultery in marrying another? Indeed, not! The seeming magic wand of the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9 cannot and does not arbitrarily undo the three emphatic statements respecting the innocent, divorced wife’s inability, scripturally, to remarry in said texts.

It is reasoned that the phrase, “is not under bondage in such cases,”specif­ically indicates the release of such a spouse from his mate, so that spouse may marry another.   Those who reason thus base their conclusion upon the alleged fact that the word “bondage”(Greek doulo) is identical to the word “bound” in Rom.7:2 and I Cor.7:27 and 7:39. William Evans, a teacher for many years in the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, insists that this is not the case, for it is rather the Greek word deo which is used in Rom.7:2 and I Cor.7:27 and 7:39, whereas it is doulo which is used in I Cor. 7: 15.

(William Evans: The Right and Wrong in Divorce and Remarriage. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House, 1946, pp. 97, 98.)

[page 185 of original text]

The later word means “slavehood”. Certainly, a Christian married person of Corinth who knew I Cor.7:10,11, would have been much concerned about the propriety either of leaving an unbelieving mate or of releasing an unbelieving mate to go from her when he insisted that he could not endure her because of her becoming a Christian. A spouse would, under those circumstances, naturally be driven to a bondage (slave­hood) of fear lest she or he depart from the teachings of the Apostle and of Christ. The Apostle says, however, that the wife is not to be conscience-stricken if the husband insists on leaving her. She is not to be in slavehood to her conscien­tious fears, since such an unbelieving one need not be required by the believing spouse to remain with her. If he persists in wanting to leave her, she should not continue to argue with him and add strife to strife in endeavoring to keep him from departing. If he leaves her, her course is clear (I Cor. 7:10,11), let her remain unmarried. ” The statement of verse 15b clarifies the matter, for it adds, literally translated, as we have noted, “In but peace God has called us.”

Both Adam Clarke and the Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary take the view that the wife may not remarry, according to 1 Cor. 7:15.   The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia supports the same position. If further points out the astounding fact that there is no record of the early Church’s using 1 Cor. 7:15 for a cause of divorce and remarriage for 400 years after the death of the Apostle Paul, and that such a case is not reported in history again for another 400 years.

(James Orr, General Editor, op. cit. Vol. II, p. 866)

Surely the early Church did not understand the Apostle Paul to teach the FIVE WORD School’s view of 1 Cor. 7:15. Indeed, he did not modify the teaching of Christ in this passage or any other.

A.S. Worrell, the translator of the New Testament, comments on 1 Cor. 7:12, 13 as follows:

Unbelief on the part of either husband or wife is not, in itself, a ground for severing the conjugal relation; but, if the unbelieving one will not remain in that relation because the other is a Christian, there is no remedy but to let the mal-content go: but neither has a liberty, under the Gospel, to marry again until the other is dead.

(A.S. Worrell: Worrell’s Translation of the New Testament. Springfield, Missouri, Gospel Publishing House, 1894. p.240.)

The word divorce, which is common to Matt.5:31,32; Luke 16:18; Matt.19:1-12, and Mark 10:1-12, namely, apoluo, meaning “put away” in these contexts, and bibion apostasion, meaning “bill of divorcement”, are not mentioned in 1 Cor. 7:15. Those who build a doctrine of divorce on 1 Cor. 7:15 differ over the meaning of two words, namely, chorizo, translated in the Authorized Version in verses 10 and 15 by “depart”, and aphiemi, translated in the Authorized Version, in verses 11, 12 and 13 by “put away,” and in verse 13 by “leave.”

 

[page 186 of original text]

The English Revised Version (1881) renders it “leave” in each instance. The American Revised (1901)  does likewise.

It is striking that scholars of the liberal view of Matt. 19:9 differ in their opin­ions regarding the 1 Cor. 7:10-15 passage. Some of them hold that the wife who leaves (departs from) her husband literally divorces him, but others disallow that fact. Some appear to hold that an unsaved spouse who leaves his mate automat­ically dissolves the marriage union because of his desertion, regardless of the reason why he leaves, except it be for fornication, while others hold that a Christian is free from his spouse only if the desertion is due to the unsaved spouse’s sense of religious incompatibility. The Scripture obviously says nothing about how many months of desertion by one mate are necessary to free the other mate to dissolve the marriage by divorce. Would a time element not be necessary if the alleged freedom to marry another for desertion (I Cor.7:15) were valid? Cer­tainly, it would be necessary! Human legislation which rejects Christ’s doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage requires a fixed period of desertion before a di­vorce will be granted for that cause for reasons that are obvious. Cannot one see that once the divorce dike is broken here (I Cor.7:15) because of desertion for religious incompatibility, that ultimately ecclesiastical bodies of such per­suasion must make provision for the dissolution of marriages for other kinds of in­compatibility? Indeed where will one draw the line if remarriage is permitted for desertion of any kind? Have not husbands who are in prison or in an insane institution or who are drunken sots, to all practicable purposes, deserted their mates?  Surely they are not supporting   their families.   They are cut off from their conjugal duties in most instances, and rarely do they have any fervent love and care for their children.   “Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth” (James 3:5)! For many years the greatest single cause for divorce in the United States has been desertion. Insofar as the writer knows, this is still true. What a warning this should be to the Church of Christ!

Not only are verses 10 and 11 in contradiction to a liberal view of I Cor. 7:15, but the words of our Lord Jesus Christ on the subject are in contradiction also. In addition, the further word of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor.7:39 is diametrically op­posed.     It follows:

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.

 

FB profile 7xtjwMaterials Moved to Appendix by “standerinfamilycourt”  from Chapter VII :

Comments by various figures were inserted by the author into Chapter VII, Comments on Matthew 19:9, that are contrary to the author’s premises, and which contradict the findings and evidence he had so diligently established.     Revered Wells makes a very strong case throughout “Does Divorce Dissolve Marriage?”  that failure to terminate an adulterous remarriage for any reason  has serious eternal consequences, (which is a well-supported scriptural position).   It is entirely possible that this was, nevertheless, an unacceptable position to the Assemblies of God leadership–then as now.   The political tension in the excerpt which follows is unmistakeable between Rev. Wells and his boss Rev. Riggs, General Superintendent, who wrote the Foreword to this book.  These apparently-inconsistent materials are included here, out of faithfulness to the full text of Reverend Wells’ work:

From pages 48 through 51 (Chapter VII) of the original text….

Many a spouse of an unscriptural union is in deep distress when he (or she) learns through the reading of the Scripture that he (or she) is party to an unscrip­tural union. A letter written to C. Morse Ward, speaker on Revivaltime, a gospel broadcast of the Assemblies of God, is typical. It follows, in part, as it ap­peared in The Gospel Gleaners:

Dear Brother Ward,

I have lived in sin and rebellion against God, but now I want to live wholly for Christ no matter what the cost. I have three living husbands, and a voice keeps telling me I should leave the husband to whom I am now married. He says that he does not know what he would do were I to leave him. Am I re­sponsible for this man’s soul?   I am restless and constantly haunted that I am living in adultery. I have four married children and I want to be a better tes­timony to them. My present husband has given me a beautiful home, and we have all the money we need, but how can I enjoy it?

Mrs.____. 

 

A portion of C. Morse Ward’s answer follows: At the well of Samaria Jesus met a woman who had a similar problem. It is interesting to read that story in the Gospel of John, chapter 4. She had had five husbands and Jesus said of her present companion, ”He whom thou now hast is not thy husband.” There is no direct statement that Jesus sent her back to any one of the five. 

Sin tangles our lives to such an extent that although forgiveness can be obtained, certain things can never be straightened out. Paul could never bring back to life the Christians he had slain as Saul, the persecutor. Much of the havoc he wrought in his rage against Christ (Acts 8:3) he could never undo. He simply lived by this rule: “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philip­pians 3:13,14.

It seems to me that there are certain things that you are powerless to undo. It is true that you have your present husband to consider. Do you want to leave him a divorced man? Would he then be clear to marry again? You won’t solve one question by creating a dozen new ones. Entering a sort of Protestant clois­ter is not the answer to your problem. The answer to your problem is in the words of Jesus to another woman, ”Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” 27

(C. M. Ward: “Letter Column,” Gospel Gleaners, September 2, 1956, Spring­field, Missouri, Gospel Publishing House.)

 

Some conservative teachers of the doctrine of divorce find in I Cor.7:10,11,17 and 20 permission by the Apostle Paul for converted spouses of adulterous un­ions, contracted before they were regenerated, to remain together. They base their conviction on the Scriptures and reasons which follow. The Apostle said. “And unto the married I command . . . Let not the wife depart from her hus­band” (I Cor. 7: 10). These teachers reason that this statement has reference to both valid and adulterous marriages, since it is assumed that there must have been many converts in the Corinthian Church who had been married the second time before they were both born of the Spirit, and whose first mates were still living when they entered the Church. Was not Corinth a city notorious for its licentiousness?   It is believed by these teachers that the Apostle was referring to Christian spouses of adulterous unions in I Cor. 7: 17, and 20.   “Only, let each member go on living in the same condition which the Lord originally allotted to him, and in which he was when he heard God’s call” (I Cor. 7: 17,  A. S. Way’s translation). “In whatever condition of life each one heard God’s call, in that let him remain” (I Cor.7:20, A. S. Way). Ralph M. Riggs, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God (1956) presents the status of those described thus: When the Passover blood was applied to the door posts and lintels of the Jewish home in Egypt. Jehovah said, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Exodus 12:2).  A  new life begins at Calvary. Jesus’ cleanses the past and accepts us as we are when we come to Him. “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou bound unto a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife?  Seek not a wife” (I Corinthians7, 20, 27), “This is good for the present distress,” Paul said concerning their problems then. The same can be said of our similar problem now. Art thou bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Let the status quo prevail. The past is under the Blood. Start life anew as a new creature in Christ Jesus. To this agree the experiences of many forgiven Blood-bought souls and the witness of the blessed Holy Spirit.

What about the ministry? And what about elected officers in the local church? The Bible makes a distinction.   “‘A bishop then must be blameless, the hus­band of one wife….moreover he must have a good report of them which are without. Likewise let the deacons be the husbands of one wife – blameless” (I Timothy 3:2,7,10,I2). In order to protect His church from reproach and just criticism, He has ordained that they who are mixed in their married relations shall not be conspicuous in church work and church relationships. Let these dear people rejoice in their good fortune of being redeemed and listed among the redeemed, and let them help protect the name and reputa­tion of the church that has accepted them and now constitutes their church home. After all, salvation is the biggest thing in the world. Let us rejoice in God’s mercy and walk humbly with Him.

(Ralph M. Riggs: “Keep Thyself Pure.” The Pentecostal Evangel, (August 5,1956), Springfield,. Missouri. p.4.

 

 

In both I Tim. 3 :2 and Tit. 1 :5, 6, the qualification for an elder who is an overseer (bishop) of the church is that he must be “the husband of one wife….Such a statement is believed by some conservatives to provide strong indication that in the early Church there were those who previously had been married to a wife whom they later divorced, and who were now married to another while the first mate was still alive. Such teachers believe that the Apostle Paul had to give the specific exhortation mentioned above lest these converts of adulterous unions be given office in the church. He obviously believed that the marital relation­ship of these men and women should be recognized as a continuing example of a union not approved by Christ, and thus not to be followed by other believers.

Strange as it may seem, some evangelical church leaders will grant the priv­ilege of holding office in the church to those who marry another, while having a living mate providing the second marriage was consummated before the new birth of the spouses. Others go further and permit spouses of unscriptural unions to have official position in the church even though the marriage was consummated after the regeneration of one or the other or both. They reason that because as in of impurity after conversion is not unforgivable (which is true), therefore the church should be free to accept such into every prerogative and office of the con­gregation.   Had such ministers of the Church of Christ realized the force of the present tense of moichaomai (committeth adultery) in Christ’s divorce texts and had they understood clearly that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of marriage for any cause, they would not have adopted such standards in either would such men have carelessly said that converted remarried divorcees or their converted mates have as much right to elective and appointive public office in the church as a regenerated fornicator or a converted spouse who previous to con­version had committed an isolated act of adultery. Such leaders show they have complete disregard or ignorance of the fact that the unscriptural marriages de­scribed above are continuing examples within the church of marriages which are disapproved by Christ. They reveal that they yet do not appreciate the words of Christ:

Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.   What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder .  . . Moses because of the hard­ness of your hearts “suffered you to put away your wives: but from the begin­ning it was not so (Matt.19:6,8).

They do not consider carefully the welfare of the unmarried youth of their church and community who will certainly follow the practice of their church more quickly than its precepts. Such young people will thus be encouraged to look upon marriage as a mete matter of convenience for their personal happiness and will be ready, therefore, to dissolve their marriage without fear of God or man when­ever they believe that it will be to their advantage to do so. Indeed, they may believe that their church teaches the doctrine of indissolubility, but if the prac­tice of the church contradicts it, they will take the matter lightly, believing that their church implies that the forgiveness of Christ is cheap and that God’s laws may be broken with impunity. Thus, such professing Christians, wittingly or un­wittingly, turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4).

God indeed genuinely saves the souls of men and women of unions disapproved by Christ who sin in ignorance during their unregenerate state, but when Christian professors continue deliberately to walk in darkness, they cannot claim I John 1:7. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin. ”   The pas­sages discussed above (I Cor.7:10, 17, 20, and I Tim.3:2) may give evidence that God tolerates the continuation of an unscriptural marital relationship entered into before conversion, but they do not indicate that, by them, God validates such a union as acceptable and approved by Himself any more than He approved of Israel’s having a king, although He tolerated it. See a fuller treatment of I Cor.7:10,17,20 in the Appendix on pages  108 through 112 and I Tim 3:2 on page162. The texts will there be viewed in the light of their context.

Back to Introduction

Chapters I and II –  What is Marriage? / Basic Rules of [Scriptural] Interpretation

Chapters III and IV –  Position of the FIVE WORD School  /  Survey of the Seven Principal Divorce Texts of the New Testament

Chapter V – Comments on Matthew 5:31-32

Chapter VI – Comments on Luke 16:18

Chapter VII – Comments on Matthew 19:9

Chapters VIII and IX –  A Study of the Variant Reading of Matt. 19:9 / Comments on Mark 10:11-12

Chapters X and XI –  Analysis of Context of Matthew 19:9 / Teaching of the Pauline Divorce Texts

 

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Series – Chapters X and XI – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T. WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)

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FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School”  for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” (except it be for fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.  

Herewith, the final two chapters of DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?   The last installment will be  the Summary and Appendix.

 

Chapter X – AN ANALYSIS OF HE CONTEXT OF MATT. 19:9 AND MARK 10:11, 12

A. Twelve Points in the Context and Text of Matt.19:9 and Mark 10:11, 12 Which Reveal That Matt. 19:9 Does Not Teach the Dissolubility of Marriage for Any Cause Including Adultery 

 

Frequently, statesmen make declarations which are misunderstood and some­times, deliberately distorted because the hearers orreaders are indifferent the context of the isolated statement which is criticized. In January 1956, while John Foster Dulles was Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, an article appeared in the LIFE magazine entitled, “How Dulles Averred War.” The Sec­retary of State said that most of the statements specifically attributed to him were quotations or close paraphrases of what he had already said publicly. Many of his political enemies seized upon one sentence to misrepresent the intent of what he said. Some even of his own political party misunderstood what he meant to convey in the isolated statement. Mr. Dulles later said, “The.. .sentence, if read out of context, does, I think, give an incorrect impression. .. In a subse­quent issue of LIFE magazine, Editor -in-Chief Henry R. Luce, who has taken full responsibility for the preparation and presentation of the article said:

Most of the attacks on Secretary Dulles are based on one paragraph of direct quotation from the Secretary containing the words “verge of war” and “brink”. Taken in the context of the whole article, there is nothing in Secretary Dulles’ words which is contrary to common sense. For the Secretary is stating in vivid terms the perils of appeasement which should be understood by free men everywhere. Nevertheless our use of these particular words in the headlines was unfortunate in that they did not fully reflect the main emphasis of the lengthy conversation which was on the Administration’s vigorous pursuit of peace. [The underscoring (italics, in this editing) is that of the writer.]

(Henry R. Luce: Editorial, LIFE, January 1956, Chicago.)

If the editor of this leading magazine found it important to direct friendly readers and critics of Mr. Dulles to the context of the Secretary’s misunderstood declaration that they might correctly understand his isolated remark, is it not infinitely more important that Christian students should examine Christ’s isolated statement of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) in the light of its complete context as reported by the two Gospel writers, Matthew and Mark, as in both Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark10: 1- 12? The statement of a secretary of state may affect the welfare of a na­tion for a decade or a generation.   Christ’s statement of Matt. 19:9, if wrongly interpreted, may endanger the eternal destiny of those who presume thereby to dissolve their marriage and be married to another while having a living mate, since Christ clearly declares in Matt. 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, and Luke 16:18 that such an illicit union is a continuing state of adultery. The Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 7:10, 11, 39 and Rom. 7:2,3 indicates that he believed that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of marriage.

Twelve facts of the context of Matt. 19:9 reveal that Christ did not in the isolated statement of Matt. 19:9 state that man might dissolve his marriage by divorce to marry another, even for the sin of adultery.

  1. The first fact is the significance of the Genesis 2:21-24 passage which Christ, in part, quotes in Matt.19:4-6a in reply to the first question of the Phari­sees. “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?”     Christ said:

 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 (Matt. 19:4, 5).

The Greek verb leave is future, active, indicative, with the force of an im­perative. Williams has accordingly translated this verb, “must leave”.. The Greek word cleave is very strong in its connotation. It has the force of ‘”glue” or “cement. ” The Greek verb cleave is future, passive, indicative. It is pas­sive because God does the joining of husband and wife. Marriage is more than human devised contract which can be broken at the whim of man. Williams’ translation of the parallel passage in Mark of “shall be one flesh” (10:8) is must become one”. This phrase in the Greek is in the imperative mood.   Thus this statement is a command respecting the indissolubility of mar­riage in contrast to Moses’ suffering (tolerating) divorce.   The two mates become ONE FLESH because GOD today, as in Eden, does the joining; and what He joins is made ONE FLESH as at the beginning when Eve was taken from the side of Adam, and thus was obviously one flesh with him,..To Christ; a spouse with two mates is a monstrosity, for in the divine economy of marriage, one plus one equals ONE, and there is no such thing as two wives plus one husband or two husbands plus one wife equalling ONE FLESH. A divorcee who is remarried while his former wife is still living has two women (although the first lives apart from him), but only the first is his scriptural wife.   The one flesh union with his first wife is still binding!

When Christ completed His quotation (Matt. 19:4, 5) from Genesis 2:21-24, He drew the following positive conclusion:   “Therefore they are no more twain but one flesh“(Matt.19:6). The phrase “no more” which is one word, ouketi, in the Greek is very emphatic.   The following uses of the word will verify that fact:

Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God (Mark 14:25).

The Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more (Acts 8:39).

Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no dominion over him (Rom.6:9).

2.  The second fact is that Christ’s further statement, “WHAT THEREFORE GOD HATH JOINED TOGETHER, LET NOT MAN PUT ASUNDER” (verse 6), confirms that He taught the complete indissolubility of marriage for any cause whatsoever. Keep in mind that Christ in this statement is still answering the specific question, “IS IT LAWFUL FOR A MAN TO PUT AWAY HIS WIFE FOR EVERY CAUSE?” The declaration of verse 6, above, reveals that God forbids a man, any man to put away his spouse. Patently, therefore, if there is a putting away, it is man, not God, who attempts to dissolve a marriage union which God has joined as ONE FLESH until death breaks the union.

Observe that Christ said, “What therefore God hath joined together….not whom. The Greek word what in this text is neuter, singular. It does not therefore relate to the two specifically as people uniting by a merely earthly and human contract, but rather the abstract joining wrought by God.   Christ is directing mean to the fact that the joining is God’s doing, not man’s.   Some have presumed to say that marriages are made in heaven, and so if a man and wife find after marriage that they are unhappily mated, they may decide that their union was not made in heaven and disregard the joining instituted by God Himself. The underlined (here, bold-italicized) phrase which follows is one verb in the Greek, “What therefore God hath joined together.” This verb is very emphatic, and is an aorist, indicative. Its force is stated thus by A. T. Robertson when commenting on this very text.   “It is the timeless aorist indicative (sunezeuxen), true always.”

(Archibald Thomas Robertson: Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. I, Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday School Board of Southern Baptist Convention, 1933 p. 15

In view of this fact, is it any wonder that Christ followed these words immediately by “let not man put asunder”.   Only God has the prerogative of joining man and woman into ONE FLESH. Only He, therefore, has the right to sever the relationship. Christ said “let not man put asunder”. Let man beware of putting asunder what God has joined together, for Christ says of those whom God binds together as ONE FLESH, “they are no more twain.

Desertion, sexual unfaithfulness, or cruelty may affect the personal joy of the union or may adulterate the union, but none of them ·can any more break the ONE FLESH union (made by God) than desertion or cruelty can break the re­lationship of a son and father, since adultery does not dissolve the marriage union, as has been proven on pages 24 through 29, it must be death only (as under Moses), or it must be man who presumptuously and vainly tries to do so by divorcing his spouse and marrying another. He may apparently succeed under a state’s law, but he does not dissolve the union before God.   If he divorces an adulterous mate, it is he, man, who divorces the wife; God will have no part in the transaction. No spouse has the right to dissolve his (or her) marriage with an adulterous mate.

 Wherefore   they   are no more twain, but ONE FLESH.   What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Matt.19:6).

3.  The third fact is that the Pharisees (the schools of both Hillel and Shammai) understood the above statement of Christ to be a direct answer to their “for every cause” question; for they understood it to preclude the dissolution of marriage for “any cause,” including adultery, or they would not have quickly retorted:

Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away (Matt.19:7)?

 

The followers of the school of Shammai built their doctrine of the right of an innocent party to dissolve a marriage union for adultery on Moses’ divorce permission (Deut. 24: 1 – 4). In fact, they believed that Moses even commanded to put away the wife. See the first line of Matt. 19:7, above.   The school of Shammai clung to the phrase, “some uncleanness” (Deut. 24: 1), as a basis for divorcing “unchaste mates. ” They believed that the phrase, “some unclean­ness,” gave them hope in such matters; whereas they realized that in Moses’ day it could have had no such application, inasmuch as then adulterous spouses were stoned to death. The school of Shammai waited breathlessly for Christ’s answer, since they built so much on Moses’ utterance of Deut. 24: 1 – 4. Christ quickly gave them an unequivocal answer:

 Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so (Matt. 19:8).

Observe that the word your, which is twice underscored in verse 8 above, in­dicates that Christ made an immediate application to the Pharisees of the hard­ness of heart of the Israelites, who earlier insisted on divorcing their wives. Had Christ said, “their hearts” and “their wives,” He would have applied Israel’s at­titude to divorce (Deut. 24:1-4) strictly to the Israelites of Moses’ time.

The Pharisees reasoned. as did the Israelites before them, that a husband should not be deeply distressed for a wife when putting her away, since Moses had permitted (as they supposed, commanded) them to give a bill of divorce­ment and put away a wife not desired, especially if there was something unclean about her. Had not Moses said that when such a wife was given a bill of divorcement, she was free to “go and be another man’s wife”?   Indeed, Moses had permitted Israelites to give a bill of divorcement because of the hardness of their hearts.   The word hardness, which was used by Christ in 19:8, means a heartdried up, a heart that is hard and tough.   Many of the Pharisees were cruel to their wives.

When Moses under God allowed (tolerated) divorce (Deut.24:1-4), the Israel­ites had just come out of Egypt. There they were steeped in the customs and practices of a heathen society where divorce was common in the then known world for virtually any cause. In Africa, the young nation Israel was birthed from the stock of Jacob. At that time they were in the kindergarten of divine ethic and moral responsibility (Ezekiel 20:5-8). Because they were so strongly impregnated with the low moral standards, idolatry. and hardness of heart of that time, Moses permitted divorce until the kingdom of God should come in which God would provide for the indwelling of His Spirit in the hearts of men so that an Edenic devotion of one spouse to another would be readily possible.   Then there would be no excuse for their not living according to the high standard of marriage given at the beginning. As already indicated, Christ completely abrogated the tolerance of Moses’ divorce declaration of Deut. 24: 1-4. He tore down the tem­porary permission of a Mosaic economy for the standard of the kingdom of God which should reign in the heart of every true believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. All men are invited to enter the kingdom of God through the new birth. The school of Hillel had heretofore rested divorce for every cause upon Deut. 24: 1-4, as had the school of Shammai for the cause of adultery, but after Jesus Christ came, fol­lowers of neither school could ever rest upon it again for divorce (which would dissolve a marriage) for any cause!

The hard hearted Pharisees of Christ’s day were covetous of other men’s wives in spite of the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy…neighbor’s wife” (Ex. 20: 17). David had coveted Uriah’s wife as he looked upon her beauty. The Pharisees possessed the same spirit of covetousness, and Christ rebuked them for it.   He said;

Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. . . . Whosoever putteth away his wife. and marrieth another committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery (Luke 16: 15, 16, 18).

4.  The fourth fact is that when the Deuteronomy passage (Deut.24: 1-4) was brought to the attention of Christ by the Pharisees ( Matt. 19:7) as the justification for putting away a wife for every cause, including, adultery, Christ did not so interpret Deut.24: 1-4; nor did He find any remote provision in the passage for the putting away of an adulterous spouse in His day when the stoning of an adulterous spouse was no longer practiced in the land by the authority of the civil rulers.    Christ refused to enter into the dispute over the phrase,”some uncleanness.” He rather rejected Moses’ entire divorce permission; since He had earlier abrogated it when speaking of the inadequate righteousness of the Phari­sees (Matt. 5:20. 31, 32). Christ did not come to institute a new divorce law but to abrogate Moses’ divorce permission for any and every cause, and so bring men back to God’s original marriage law, which made every union of husband and wife ONE FLESH that could be no more twain!   Had Christ believed the doc­trine of Shammai, the doctrine of the FIVE WORD School of our day, He would not have summarily rejected the divorce declaration of Moses (Deut. 24: 1-4) in­ toto. Christ called men back to the Edenic law of marriage since His kingdom would provide grace to live in conformity with its standards. His kingdom did not provide for divorce of a kind that would permit a spouse to marry another while having a living mate.

Certainly if divorce statutes did not exist under God’s original economy, and if Moses’ permission for divorce was abrogated by Christ, then there remains no divorce statute in the Bible. Indeed Christ referred to divorce in Matt. 5:32 and did not in these passages set up a new divorce law permitting the dissolution (divorce) of a marriage for adultery because he had renounced he very declaration of Moses (Deut. 24: 1-4) upon which the Jew for·centuries based their right of divorce for the cause of adultery.   There is no later divorce enactment than that of Moses in the Scriptures.   There remains, therefore, no pro­vision under the kingdom of Christ for the dissolution of the marriage union; “from the beginning it was not so”(Matt.19:8b). There is however, a scriptural provision for separation (a mensa et thoro;  I Cor.7:-10:11) without the right of remarriage. This type of supposed divorce is often loosely spoken of as divorce, which terminology is not strictly correct.

5. The fifth fact is that Christ’s unequivocal statement in Matt.19:8, in re­ply to the sharp interrogation of the Pharisees of the schools of Hillel and Shammai­ left no doubt that Christ taught that God’s Edenic law of marriage was ap­plicable and binding when He spoke, and even until now.

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 (Matt.19:8).

By the above statement ( 19:8), Christ unmistakably answered the specific question of the Pharisees “IS IT LAWFUL FOR A MAN TO PUT AWAY HIS.WIFE FOR   ANY CAUSE?”   He, thereby, revealed   that   whereas   Moses’ declaration (Deut. 24: 1-4) permitted, (tolerated) temporarily the putting away of wives because of the hardness of the hearts of Israel, that “from the beginning it was not so…”

The Greek verb of the latter phrase reveals that the Edenic law of mar­riage prohibiting divorce for any cause is still binding. The verb is in the per­fect tense, denoting the continuation of past action, and the results of that ac­tion down to the present. The Greek tense in question, according to A. T. Rob­ertson is “to emphasize the permanence of the divine ideal” of marriage. And Marvin R. Vincent in commenting on the statement, says. “The original ord­inance has never been abrogated and superseded, but continues in force.”

(Marvin R. Vincent: Word Studies In the New Testament, Vol. I. Grand Rapids,Wm. B. Eerdmaus Publishing Company, 1948.   p.108).

Ob­serve that Christ did not say, “AT THE BEGINNING,” but “FROM THE BEGIN­NING.” Christ did not originate the doctrine of indissolubility; He went back to Genesis for that.   It was there Instituted by the triune God.

It is important at this point to remind the reader that Moses’ declaration in Deut.24:1-4, as read in the original Hebrew, did not set forth a new divorce law nor command men to put away their wives for any cause. Indeed, Christ understood Moses correctly when He said, “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered [permitted] you to put away your wives. “By this statement Christ revealed that the declaration of Deut.24:1-4 was a toleration of divorce but not an approval of it, for “from the beginning it was not so.” God’s Word uttered through the prophet Malachi plainly indicates God’s attitude toward divorce throughout the Old Testament period. It follows:

Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD ofhosts; therefore take heed to your spirit that ye deal not treacherously against the wife of his youth (Mal. 2: 15b-16).

To and through verse 8 it is positively clear that the Pharisees understood that Christ unequivocally closed the door to the dissolution of marriage for any cause including   adultery, the statement of Deut. 24: 1-4 notwithstanding.   It is not possible, therefore, to believe that Christ suddenly reversed Himself by His state­ment in verse 9 (as it was originally uttered by Him).   The internal evidence of Matt. 19:9, whether in its variant reading or its Authorized Version text, verifies this fact. For Christ to have reversed Himself in the face of His four emphatic statements (Matt.19:3-8) described under points (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) above would have been double talk. The divine Christ did not use doubletalk. He did not stultify Himself. Clearly, the Pharisees did not understand Christ’s statement of Matt.19:9 as men of the FIVE WORD School do today.

The remaining evidence which follows will establish the fact that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of marriage.

 

6. The sixth fact is that the Disciples who heard Christ’s entire discourse to the Pharisees (Matt. 19: 1-9) which included the disputed, isolated text of Matt.19:9:

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,       

 understood Christ, notwithstanding this statement, to close the door to the dis­solubility of marriage for any cause, including adultery.   Their shock that He taught thus was sharpened because of their previous knowledge and acceptance of the divorce teaching of the schools of either Shammai or Hillel, since the Jews of that time universally embraced one or the other. Upon the conclusion of Christ’s utterance of Matt. 19:9, whatever its original wording may have been, the Disciples retorted in amazement,   “If the indeed the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry” (Matt.19:10).

Indeed, the amazement of the Disciples indicated that they did not under­ stand Christ’s statement of Matt. 19:9 to support the teaching of the schools of either Shammai or Hillel.

The Disciples reflected the feeling of their day. To them marriage was un­bearable if it provided for no release for any cause. They thought that it would be better in that case not to marry at all.  The doctrine of the complete indissolubility of marriage was entirely new in that period and repugnant to them.

Christ immediately corrected their distorted view that it would be better not to marry at all if one could not at will divorce his mate when he was displeased with her or found her unfaithful.

Matthew Henry presents the following in referring to the passage under discussion:

It seems, the disciples themselves were loth to give up the liberty of divorce, thinking it a good expedient for preserving comfort in the married state; and like sullen children, if they have not what they would have, they will throw away what they have.   If they may not be allowed to put away their wives when they please, they will have no wives at all; though from the beginning, when no divorce was allowed, God said, It is not good for man to be alone, and blessed them, pronounced them blessed who were thus strictly joined together; yet, unless they have a liberty of divorce, they think it is good for a man not to marry. Note, 1. Corrupt nature is impatient of restraint, and would fain break Christ’s bonds in sunder, and have a liberty for its own lusts. 2. It is a foolish, peevish thing for men to abandon the com­forts of this life, because of the crosses that are commonly woven in with them, as if we must needs go out of the world, because we have not every­thing to our mind in the world; or must enter into no useful calling or condi­tion, because it is made our duty to abide in it. . . . If the yoke of mar­riage may not be thrown off at pleasure, it does not follow that therefore we must not come under it; but therefore, when we do come under it, we must resolve to comport with it. by love, and meekness, and patience, which will make divorce the most unnecessary undesirable thing that can be.

(Matthew Henry: Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. V., Westwood, New Jersey, Fleming H. Revell Company. n.d. p.270).

Charles C. Garret has fittingly commented on the same passage in referring to the necessity, if need be, for a married person to be a eunuch for the kingdom of heavens sake :

Not by malformation: Not by a surgical operation: But by an act of own will, in an effort to honor God and to please your Lord, you make yourself [as it were] a eunuch, for the sake of the kingdom.

(Charles C. Garret; P. O. Box 394, Parksley, Virginia.   An unpublished article loaned to the author).

Certainly, there are innocent mates whose spouses have not committed adul­tery who are required to be eunuchs, as it were, for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. Examples are given on pages 133 through 135. If Christ taught the in­dissolubility of marriage, then innocent mates whose spouses have committed adultery must also obtain grace from God to overcome natural inclination and to be, as it were, eunuchs for the kingdom of God’s sake. In the kingdom of God. there are other severe requirements demanded by God that the average man believes to be impossible, namely, to turn the other cheek, to be free from the lust of the eye, and to love a bitter enemy. See Matthew 5:43-48. Whether or not these laws of the kingdom are extremely difficult to fulfill. Christ says that they must be obeyed if one is to enter the kingdom of God (Matt.5:19, 20).

7.  The seventh fact is that Christ’s answer to the Disciples respecting eunuchs did not change their conviction that He taught in Matt. 19:9, as in all of Matt. 19:3-9, that marriage was indissoluble for any cause, including adultery, or they would not have asked Him the second time for further explanation of His stringent view respecting divorce and remarriage. This is verified by the fact that “in the house His disciples asked him again of the same matter”(Mark 10:10), when he subsequently went into the house with His Disciples.

The same matter clearly refers to what Christ had said in Matt. 19:3-9. His words astounded them because of their severity as contrasted with the leniency of the current view of divorce in even religious circles of devout Jews. They de­manded a clarification, therefore, to put at rest their troubled minds.

The Disciples’ second query in the house occurred after their objection in Matt. 19:10, for the words of 19:10 immediately followed those of Matt.19:3-9; whereas the second question was asked when they went apart into the house.

A. T. Robertson has pointed out in his comment on Mark 10:11 that whereas Mark’s Gospel does not, in Matt.19:9 mention “except it be for fornication” the point is actually involved in what Mark recorded.

(Archibald Thomas Robertson: Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. I. Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday School Board of Southern Baptist Convention, 1933. p.349).

 

The FIVE WORD School persists in bringing the exceptive element (the seem­ing exception) of Matt. 19:9 over to Mark 10: 11, 12 to modify its meaning. Sure­ly there is more reason that Mark 10: 11, 12 should modify Matt. 19:9 than the reverse, for Mark 10: 11, 12 was clearly a commentary on Matt. 19:3-9as shown above.   It is Christ’s last recorded utterance on divorce.   Will a student presume to follow different rules of interpretation for Matt. 19:9 than he normally would in the interpretation of other isolated texts in parallel Gospel accounts? Is there something questionable about the FIVE WORD School’s method of interpret­ation?   Certainly serious students will doubt its objectivity!

8.  The eighth fact is Christ’s clarifying statement to the Disciples in the house in reply to their further query about the same matter discussed in Matt.19:3·9. The answer did not weaken His earlier statements, which taught unequivocally that marriage was indissoluble, nor did it in the least subscribe to the FIVE WORD School’s view of Matt. 19:9. His clarifying commentary on Matt.19:3-9 and Mark 10:2-9, follows:

Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, commiteth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery (Mark 10:11,12).

Christ’s last clarifying statement on divorce on the same discourse which is found in Matt.19:3-9 and·Mark 10:2-9 made no provision for divorce for any cause, including adultery, nor did it provide for the remarriage of an innocent mate after divorcing an adulterous spouse. It forever made clear that He taught the complete indissolubility of a valid marriage for any cause.

Since Christ had abrogated the one and only divorce permission (Matt.5:31, 32) of the Scriptures (Deut. 24: 1-4), and since He brought man back to God’s original marriage law, which made no provision for divorce for any” cause, He would not and, did not announce another divorce law permitting a spouse to put away a mate so that he might marry another. Rather He said: Wherefore they are no more twain, but ONE FLESH.   What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder (Matt. 19:6).

Should a school of doctrine base its position on the meaning of a word (such as divorce) without regard to the context of the key passages bearing on the sub­ject? Indeed, “ETYMOLOGY WILL KILL YOU, BUT CONTEXT WILL SAVE YOU.”

 

9.  The ninth fact Is that Christ’s last statement on divorce (Mark 10:11,12), quoted above, carries the emphatic “whosoever.” Such a declaration., there­fore, was crystallized into an unqualified and universal statement.   Other, ex­amples of the force of the Greek word whosoever (ean), which is used here, are found in Matt.5:19, 30; 20:26,27; Mark 10:15,43,44. If these passages are read, the reader will get the full force of the Greek word ean.

The Greek word for “whosoever” in John 3:16 Is the same as the “whosoever” found in Luke 16:18. The latter reads: “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”

Inasmuch as the FIVE WORD School builds its doctrine on only one principal text, the isolated text of Matt.19:9, and inasmuch as the context of that verse has shown that the isolated text (as understood by the FIVE WORD School) hangs in mid-air without the support of its complete context, it is important to reexamine carefully Matt.19:9 to see whether there within it further support for the fact that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of marriage.

10.  The tenth fact is that if a Greek text which supports Matt.19:9 (A.V.) is accepted as the one and only approved text, the major thrust of that text prevents an innocent wife from marrying another, even though her husband marries another and thereby commits adultery.   If Christ, as the FIVE WORD School believes, permitted an innocent husband to divorce an adulterous wife that he might approvedly marry another, why did He not permit the innocent wife ·of the latter part of the verse to marry another? Certainly, it cannot be just to allow an in­nocent male spouse to marry another and forbid that right to an innocent female spouse, despite the fact that her husband has committed adultery by marrying another. Obviously, it is clear that Christ forbade the innocent wife to marry another because the husband had not by his adulterous second marriage validated his second union.   The husband was, indeed, ONE FLESH with his first wife even though he married again. Could Christ in one breath, in one text; contradict and stultify Himself?

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11.  The eleventh fact is that the minor thrust of   Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) (if the Authorized Version is accepted as the one and only approved text) forbids the adulterous wife to marry another.

And whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit    adultery   (Matt.19:9b,   A.V.).

This Statement precludes, without exception, the right of any divorced woman to marry another, and declares that if she does so, she will commit adultery, as he who marries her will also do. Indeed, Jesus said that whoso “marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery, but this could not be adultery for whosoever marries her if her first marriage was dissolved. If the adulterous wife is still married to her innocent husband, he must certainly still be married to her. A one-way marriage bond is nonsense. Indeed, if he is, as Scripture teaches, still married to the adulterous wife it would be authorizing bigamy to permit him to marry another.

Alfred Edersheim, in commenting on this portion of Matt. 19:9, states:

Generally it is understood as implying that a woman divorced for adultery might not be married. . . . The Jewish law, which regarded marriage with a woman divorced under any circumstances as unadvisable, absolutely for­bade that of the adulterer with the adulteress.

(Alfred Edersheim, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 335)

 

If the followers of the FIVE WORD School presume to teach, as they must if they are consistent, that the adulterous spouse may marry another while her first mate is still alive, then they nullify their interpretation of the exceptive clause. They insist that Matt. 19:9 only authorizes an innocent spouse to divorce his mate and marry another for the cause of adultery.   They certainly teach that an innocent mate may dissolve his union with an adulterous spouse so that he may be free to marry another.   If the mate is thus freed to marry another by the alleged dissolution of his marriage with an adulterous mate, then the adulterous mate must also be free to marry another, since the first union is no longer binding. Thus the position of the FIVE WORD School makes Christ appear to teach that an adulterous spouse and an innocent spouse have equal rights to marry another…How astounding!   By this teaching, the FIVE WORD School makes Matt.19:9 utterly confusing and meaningless and inconsistent with its complete context.

12.  The twelfth fact is that whereas Matt.19:9(A.V.), according to the FIVE WORD view, has been shown to be hanging in mid-air without a supporting context, the Matt. 19:9 (variant reading) stands completely related to its context. This is­ so because the variant reading clearly supports the teaching of the indissolubility of marriage described in Matt. 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12, its complete context. It would be impossible for a tail three feet in length to wag the body of a creature twelve feet in length. Does the exceptive clause of five words. as in the English Authorized Version, control the entire context of more than one hundred and fifty words? The variant reading has been shown earlier to be virtually identical to that of the text of Mark 5:32. This text, as indicated on pages 65 through 66, provides no specific authorization for an innocent spouse to divorce an adulterous mate or to marry another should he divorce such a mate.     For the convenience of the reader Matt. 19:9 (A. V.),  as altered by the variant reading, is presented below:

Whosoever shall divorce his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to be made an adulteress, and he who marries a divorced woman com­mits adultery.

If the Greek text of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) could be proved beyond question to be the one and only approved Greek text of Matt. 19:9. which any eminent scholar of Greek manuscripts will disallow, there would still be no necessity for adopting the FIVE WORD School’s interpretation of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.), for a competent Greek grammarian will readily acknowledge that there is no rule compelling an exceptive clause to modify both the clause before and after it in the same sen­tence. Greek authorities have pointed out that when the meaning of the gram­mar of a text is in question, it becomes necessary for an objective Greek student to render an interpretation of the intent of the grammar of a text in the light of its complete context.

Inasmuch as the variant reading of Matt. 19:9 or a correct understanding of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) is not in conflict with the context which teaches the indisso­lubility of marriage, it is not strange that the early Church did not quote this text to support a doctrine for the dissolubility of marriage until the sixth century.

The reader should not forget that the interpretation of the early Church of the “exceptive clause” did not give any ground on which remarriage was justified, but, rather, the sole ground on which anyone could even separate (a mensa et thoro; I Cor.7:10,11) from his spouse without making himself morally respon­sible for the adultery of the spouse whom he put away. The early Church did not permit an innocent wife to remarry. She based her view for the position de­scribed in this paragraph on the “exceptive clause” of Matt. 5:32 and that text as a whole, and on the Matt. 19:9 text found in the minority of manuscripts which gives the variant reading.

(Felix L. Cirlot, loc.cit.)

 

The very early Church had the oral teaching of the Apostles who knew what Christ taught respecting the indissolubility of marriage. Even in the second cen­tury there were many who could verify what the Disciples of Christ taught, for there were then living men who had heard and known the Apostles and others who had described what they taught.

In the light of the twelve points of the context of Matt. 19:1-12 and Mark 10: 1-12, it is plain to see that the early Church derived her view of the indisso­lubility of marriage from the true facts of the teaching of Christ in .the Gospels and in the Epistles of the Apostle Paul. First Corinthians was written before the Gospels. The early Church knew that the exceptive clause of Matt.19:9 as found in some manuscripts did not modify the clause which followed it.

In view of the above, it is easy to understand why Mark did not feel it im­portant to introduce the exceptive statement of Matt.19:9 into his Gospel record of Christ’s divorce discourse with the Pharisees. Which was given in the presence of the Disciples (Mark 10:1-12).   Certainly Mark was sure, as was the early Church, that the original text of Matt.19:9, whatever it was, did not teach the dissolubility of marriage.

The importance of Mark’s comment on the indissolubility of marriage is state thus by Alfred Plummer of Trinity College, Oxford,, in his commentary on Matthew:

According to the earliest evidence (Mk. 10: 1-12, which is confirmed by Luke16:18) Christ declared that Moses allowed divorce as a concession to a low condition of society. But there was an earlier marriage law of Divine author­ity, according to which the marriage tie was indissoluble. To this Divine law men ought to return…

It is very improbable that Christ did teach this [that adultery justified divorce]. If we want His true teaching we must go to Mk. and Lk., according to whom He declared the indissolubility of the marriage bond.   He told His disciples that the remarriage of either partner, while the other is living is adultery….

Mark would have no motive for omitting the exception, if Christ had made it. . .

(Alfred Plummer: An Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew. Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans PublishingCompany,1953. pp. 81,82)

 

The section which follows the Implications of the Harmony of the· Two Divorce Accounts will show that the early Church obtained her doctrine of divorce and marriage from the writers of the Gospels, and from the Apostles and their records, as well as from the oral teaching of the Apostles and those who heard them.

 

B.  The Implications of the Harmony of Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark 10: 1-12,the Context of Matt. 19:9 and Mark 10:11,12

 

  1. Implication 1: CHRIST’S STATEMENT OF MARK 10: 11,12 INCLUDES BOTH CHASTE AND UNCHASTE HUSBANDS AND WIVES.. This is proven by the fact that Mark 10:11,12 has been shown to be Christ’s last commentary on His entire statement to the Pharisees (Matt. 19:1-9 and Mark10: 1-9). Matt. 19:9 includes the problem· of chaste and unchaste spouses. In addition to that fact, the Mosaic declaration of divorce (Deut.24: 1-4) was re­jected by Christ in this very context, even though He knew it was the basis of the school of Shammai for divorcing adulterous mates.

2.  Implication 2: THE TWELVE PRINCIPAL POINTS OF THE HARMONY AND CHRIST’S COMMENTARYOF MARK 10:11,12 on MATT.19:1-9 REVEALTHAT HIS REFERENCE TO THE DIVORCING OF AN UNCHASTE MATE IN MATT.19:9 DOES NOT IMPLY THAT AN INNOCENT MATE HAS THE RIGHT TO DISSOLVE HIS MARRIAGE TO MARRY ANOTHER.

3.   Implication 3:  THE CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF MATT. 19:9 (WHATEVER ITS ORIGINAL READING MAY HAVE BEEN) MAY NOT REST ON THE ETYMOLOGY OF THE WORD DIVORCE.

The context of the harmony of the two divorce accounts shows that one may not determine the meaning of the text (Matt. 19:9) exclusively by the meaning of the word divorce.  A detailed study of the word divorce is given on pages 121 through 124.

 

4.   Implication 4: THE TWELVE PRINCIPAL POINTS OF THE HARMONY OF THE PARALLEL DIVORCE ACCOUNTS AND THE COMMENTARY OF MARK 10:11,12 SHOW THAT CHRIST WAS NOT SPEAKING OF A GENERAL LAW OF MARRIAGE IN MARK 10 AND AN EXCEPTION TO THAT RULE OF MARRIAGE IN MATT.19.

 

5.  Implication 5: THE COMMENTA RY OF MARK 10:11, 12 AND THE TWELVE PRINCIPAL POINTS OF THE HARMONY REVEAL THAT CHRIST DID NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SO-CALLED HARDNESS-OF:HEART DIVORCE (Matt. 19:8) AND THE SO-CALLED SOFT·HEARTED DIVORCE OF MATT. 19:9; NEITHER DID HE MAKE PROVISION FOR THE DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE TODAY, IN EITHERCASE.

A detailed treatment of this subject is given in the Appendix on page; 174 through 176,

6.  Implication 6: .THE TWELVE PRINCIPAL POINTS OF THE HARMONY CONFIRM THE FACT THAT CHRIST DID INDEED FORBID AN INNOCENT SPOUSE FROM REMARRYING IN MATT. 5:32b; 19:9b,  AND LUKE 16:18b.

7.  Implication 7: THE TWELVE PRINCIPAL POINTS OF THE HARMONY SHOW THAT CHRIST’S TEACHING OF THE COMPLETE INDISSOLUBILITY OF MARRIAGE IS IN COMPLETE CONFORMITY WITH THE DIVORCE TEXTS OF THE EPISTLES, NAMELY ROM.7:2,3 AND I COR.7:10,11,39.

One would expect that Christ’s last statement on the subject of divorce and remarriage would have clarified His previous statements on the same subject. Such is obviously the case. One would also expect that the teaching of the Epistles would harmonize with the teaching of the Gospels respecting this doc­trine, as is true of other doctrines.

The Sunday School Times of Nov. 10, 1956 presented the following rule of interpretation of Scripture in its column, Notes on Open Letters:

It is one of the first principles of sound Bible study that, when we find clear testimony throughout the Bible to any truth, we  must not set over against this any passage that may, on the surface, seem to contradict it. God’s Word never contradicts itself, and there is always an explanation, either here or hereafter, of all passages in God’s Word by which they will be seen to be in full harmony with all other passages.

(Philip E. Howard: “Notes on Open Letters” The Sunday School Times (No­vember 10, 1956), Philadelphia.

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thIXL069IK

Chapter XI – THE TEACHING OF THE PAULINE DIVORCE TEXTS

 

A.  The Witness of I Cor. 7: 10, 11 , and 39 to the Conservative View of Matt. 19:9 Is Presented.

And 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: and let not the husband put away his wife.

. . . 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.

The phrase in I Cor. 7:10,12, “I command, yet not I, but the Lord”, is be­lieved by Adam Clarke to mean that the Lord Jesus Himself had by His own mouth forbidden such separations with a view.to remarriage. 75

Matthew Henry believed that by these words the Apostle Paul was referring to the specific passages of Matt.5:31, 32; 19:9; Mark 10: 11, 12, and Luke   16: 18.76

The Pulpit Commentary presents the same view.

(H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, Editors, op. cit. , Vol. XIX, p.225)

Dean Henry Alford of Canterbury believed the Apostle’s above statement referred specifically to Matt. 5:32 and 19:9. His statement is quoted on page 23 of this book.

  1. How Did the Apostle Paul Know What Christ Taught About Marriage and Divorce?

The Apostle Paul certainly was not ignorant of the teaching of Christ on the question of marriage and divorce even concerning the problem of unchastity and wedlock. He lived before the Church Fathers, having been born a few years after the birth of Christ. He knew the other Apostles of Christ, for he conversed with  them on a number of occasions. Soon after his conversion, he was brought by Barnabas to the Apostles. In Acts 9:27, it is said that “Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and [he declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that He had spoken to him. In Galatians 1:18, the Apostle tells how he went up to Jerusalem to see the Apostle Peter three years after his first visit, which was long before he wrote the First Epistle to the Corinthians. The same text states that he abode with Peter fifteen days.   He also saw James, the Lord’s brother, at that time.   On a still later visit to Jerusalem, described in Acts 15:2-31, he sat with the Apostles as they discussed, among other things, the matter of fornication .(v. 29). The date of this Council has been established at 49 or 50 A. D. or earlier than is agreed he wrote the first letter to the Corinth­ians.

(James Orr, General Editor, op. cit., Vol. IV, p. 2272)

 

It is important to remember that the Church Fathers were sure that the Apostle Peter had been the source of Mark’s Gospel. H. S. Miller has asserted that as the Church Fathers held there was a connection between Peter and Mark’s Gospel, so there was a similar connection between the Apostle Paul and Luke’s Gospel.

(H.S. Miller: General Biblical Introduction, Houghton, New York, 1940, p.128)

 

 

Milton S. Terry affirms that the tradition of the early Church established the fact that Luke ‘s Gospel was essentially that of the Apostle Paul.

(Milton S. Terry, loc. cit.)

Is it any wonder, therefore, that the teaching of the Apostle Paul in I Cor. 7; 10, 11, 39 and Rom.7:2, 3 is essentially the same as Mark 10: 11, 12 and Luke 16:18? Surely the early Church was aware of the same sources.

From Acts 16:10-17; 20:4-15; 21:1-18; 28:16; Col. 4:. 14; Philemon 23, 24, and II Tim. 4: 11 it is apparent that Luke was an intimate companion of the Apostle Paul. Dr. W. Graham Scroggie has found more than’ one hundred words which are used exclusively by Luke and the Apostle Paul in the New Testament. Irenaeus (A. D. 120-200) said that Luke who was the companion of Paul placed in a book the gospel which was preached by Paul. Tertullian (A. D. 160-222) said that Mark was Peter’s interpreter, and that Paul was the enlightener of Luke, and guided him in the choice of his essential materials in preparing his gospel. Origen (A. D. 186-253) said that Paul commended the gospel of Luke: Jerome, Eusebius and other Church Fathers confirm this relation of Luke to Paul.

(W. Graham Scroggie, op. cit., pp.334, 336, 360-363)

 

Kenneth E. Kirk comments on I Cor.7:10,11,39 as follows:

. . . Saint Paul says nothing as to the remarriage of the man. But since he forbids either the husband or the wife to seek a divorce, or to act as though one had been obtained, it is natural to suppose that he would insist on the practice of “remaining unmarried” if this instruction, however, refers to the woman alone, it represents an epoch­ making advance upon contemporary practice.   Both Jewish and Roman cus­tom allowed a wife who (by whatever legal means and for whatever cause) was divorced from her husband complete liberty of remarriage.   Saint Paul introduces his startling innovation without the slightest apparent recognition of its revolutionary character. He quotes is as the word of the Lord which will be accepted as such without a challenge.   Both these facts go far to prove that long before the synoptic tradition had been reduced to its present form [the four Gospels] and within twenty-five years of the Crucifixion itself, there was absolute unanimity in the Church that our Lord had proclaimed the indissolubility of marriage.

(Kenneth E. Kirk, op . cit. , p.71)

 

The early date of the Apostle’s reference to Christ’s teaching respecting mar­riage and divorce (I Cor.7: 10, 11) is indicated by his statement in I Cor.15:6. “After that, He was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater pan remain unto this present. but some are fallen asleep…

The great Oxford University scholar, and Christian Apologist, C. S.Lewis, states the following in the Introduction to J. B. Phillips’ translation of the New Testament Epistles:

The epistles are, for the most part, the earliest Christian documents we possess. The Gospels come later. They are not “the gospel”, the statement of Christian belief. They were written for those who had already been converted, who had already accepted “the gospel”. They leave out many of the “complications” (that is, the theology) because they are intended for readers who have already been instructed in it. In that sense the epistles are more primitive and are more central than the Gospels – though not, of course, than the great events which the Gospels recount. God’s act (the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and the Resurrection) comes first: the earliest theological analysis of it comes in the epistles: then, when the generation who had known the Lord was dying out, the Gospels were composed to provide for believers a record of the great Act and of some of the Lord’s sayings. The ordinary popular conception has put everything upside down.

(J.B. Philllps,op. cit.,pp.ix,x.)

 

               2. Did the Apostle Paul Have the Problem of Fornication is the Marriage Relationship Before Him When He Wrote 1 Cor. 7:10,11,39

And 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: and let not the husband put away his wife…. The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband is dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will only in the Lord.

Certainly these verses make no provision for the FIVE WORD view of the ex­ceptive clause, nor any idea like it. They teach the complete indissolubility of marriage without reference to whether one’s spouse may or may not commit unchastity.

The FIVE WORD School of Divorce suggests that the context of these verses does not relate to the controversy revolving around Matt. 19:9 but refers only to the matter of a conscientious Corinthian wife’s fearing that as a Christian she should not live with an idolatrous husband. That the Apostle Paul was in part answering the question in chapter 7 of whether a “Christian mate” should continue to live with a “”heathen mate” is no doubt true. A careful reader, however, will observe, that I Cor. 7 grew out of the discussion of the problem of fornication, which was discussed by the Apostle Paul in detail in chapters 5 and 6.   Compare I Cor. 5:1,9,11; 6:9,18.   Near the close of chapter 6, the Apostle said, “Flee fornication.”

Chapter 7 opens with the statement, “It is good for a man not to touch a woman, but because of fornication, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband” (R. V.). Obviously, therefore, the Apostle Paul had not forgotten that the ·city of Corinth reeked with fornication and adultery.   Indeed it had come into the membership of the Corinthian Church in a manner that not common among the Gentiles.  In view of the condition the city and Church the Apostle found it necessary to give the Corinthian Christ­ians some important rules respecting divorce and remarriage, nor could he have forgotten the problem of the father whose wife had committed unchastity. If the Apostle Paul had believed that a spouse might put away an unchaste mate to marry another, he should have certainly said something about it in the Corinthian Epistle. In the light of Christ’s teaching in the Gospels, it is certain that Paul did not believe in the dissolubility of marriage for adultery.

A review of chapter 7 will make the above position more obvious. A simple outline of this chapter follows:

  1. (7: 1-7) Wives and husbands, be faithful to your conjugal duties.

 

  1. (7: 8-24) Wives and husbands do not leave your unbelieving mates to be celibates because you believe on the one hand you are holy (by virtue of your new birth) and mistakenly, on the other hand, that your child­ren will be defiled because your spouse is unholy, since he has not been born of the Spirit.
  2. (7: 25-39) Unmarried Corinthians should consider celibacy as possibly their special callings so that they might be holy in body and spirit.

He concludes this section with the all-inclusive rule of marriage of I Cor. 7:39.The Apostle Paul could under no circumstances, have forgotten the rank and dreadful moral corruption of the Corinthian citizenry nor the unchaste wife in the Corinthian Church when he made this declaration (I Cor. 7:39). Should not the husband of this woman have been informed of his right to divorce his wife with the alleged inherent right to remarry if the doctrine of the FIVE WORD School is correct? As has been observed, the Apostle Paul knew the teaching of Christ re­specting divorce and marriage, and he knew that Christ taught the complete in­dissolubility of marriage.

The rule of I Cor. 7:39, which restricts everyone, including the “innocents” of Matt.19:9 and the deserted one of I Cor.7:15 from marrying another for any reason other than the death of his mate, must be divinely binding upon all for the following reasons:

 

First, the LAW OF CHRIST (I Cor. 7:10-12) forbids the remarriage of anyone for any reason except the death of the living partner. The Apostle Paul said that he was “under the law to Christ” (I Cor.9:21). Christ’s law respecting marriage and divorce Is described in Matt.5,32; Luke16:18; Matt.19:9, and Mark 10:11,.12. Second, the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writing of the Epistles of the Apostle Paul, knew that Moses’ divorce permission had been abrogated.   He knew the LAW OF CHRIST. The teaching of the Apostle Paul is no less in­spired than the teaching of Christ. The Gospels are not more divinely inspired than the Epistles. Certainly the Holy Spirit, the Third person of the Divine Trinity, could not contradict by His words through the Apostle Paul the words of the Second Person of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Church of Christ has always agreed that the truths of the Gospels are not the extension of the Epistles. but the Epistles are the extension of the truths of the Gospels. The doctrine of redemption in the Gospels is amplified and clarified in the Epistles. The same is true of the doctrine of the deity of Christ. No one can question the fact that the doctrine of the second corning of Christ is much more amplified and clarified in the Epistles and also in the book of Revelation. When the Epistles treat a doctrine found in the Gospels, it is always to clarify and am­plify it. Do the Epistles contradict the Gospels or the Gospels the Epistles? Cer­tainly not. The Epistles clarify and define more clearly the doctrines of the Gospels; therefore this must be true of the doctrine of divorce.

See the Pulpit Commentary (Matt. 19: 1 -12) with regard to the fact that the majority of Church Fathers from Hermas and Justin Martyr downwards affirm that the general teaching of Christ makes for the indissolubility of the marriage bond.

(H.D.M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell. Editors, op. cit., Vol. XV, p. 245.)

A famous book entitled The Shepherd was quoted by Irenaeus, (120-200A.D.) one of the most distinguished writers and theologians of the Church of the second century.   The Shepherd is believed to have been written by Herrnas, the brother of Bishop Pius, who served as Bishop from 139-154 A. D. One thing is very cer­tain, this book was widely used and highly esteemed in the Christian Churches during the second, third, and fourth centuries. Dean Stanley called the book “The Pilgrim’s Progress of the Church of the second century. “This book was a beacon light that upheld the Christian standards of the Early Church. The con­temporaries of Hermas were in a position to challenge its doctrines in the light of the earliest manuscripts of the New Testament. They were familiar with the meaning and grammatical usages of the times of the Apostles. A portion of The Shepherd, sometimes called The Pastor of Hermas, on the subject of the divorce problem of Man.19:9 follows:

The husband should put her (an adulteress) away and remain by himself. But if he puts his wife away and marries another, be also commits adultery. It adds that if the wife repents–If the husband does not take her back, he sins and brings a great sin upon himself for he ought to take back the sinner who has repented.

(A1exander Roberts   and   James Donaldson,   Editors:   The Anti-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:. Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdrnans Publishing Company, 1950.   p. 21).

 

The following comment on I Cor. 7:11 was taken from the Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics:

In the first place, he [the Apostle Paul] recognizes the possibility of separa­tion “a menso et thoro ‘’(v. 11); if husband and wife are separated for any1rea­son, they are to remain single or become reconciled to each other. Even though he were not actually considering the case of separation for conjugal infidelity. We may feel sure that. If he had done so, the Apostle would have approved of the counsel given in the Shepherd of Herrmas:

The Jewish husband who divorced his wife was forbidden by the law to take her back; but it is characteristic of the gospel to give prominence to the pos­sibility of repentance; and so Hermas charges the husband who has put away his unfaithful wife to remain unmarried (dia ten metanonian) so that the sinner might have an opportunity for repentance with consequent restoration (Mand.iv I.).

(James Hastings: Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. VII. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951, p.439)

 

A detailed study of I Cor. 7: 15 will be found in the Appendix on pages 182 through 186.

B. The Witness of Rom. 7:2, 3 to the Conservative View of Matt. 19:9 is Presented.

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.

The law here mentioned could not refer to the divorce law (permission) of Moses because Christ had abrogated it (Matt. 5:31, 32), as the Apostle Paul well knew. It can only refer to the Edenic law of marriage, which Christ unequivo­cally affirmed was the law of the kingdom of God which had supplanted the di­vorce permission of Moses. The Apostle Paul in Rom. 7:2, 3 is speaking of the divorce law of Christ which, as has been seen, was a reaffirmation of the law of marriage (Matt. 19:8) “from the beginning” . .. The FIVE WORD School is quick to allege that the passage is, in its context, a mere analogy and, therefore, has no bearing on the problem of the divorce and remarriage of an innocent party.

 

 

No one will deny that the words of Rom. 7 :2, 3 are used as an analogy to il­lustrate the loosing of a true Christian from the dominion of the Mosaic law, but to say that their weight and force end there is to be dishonest with the Scripture. Christ repeatedly told parables or gave analogies to illustrate His doctrine, but never did He support a doctrine by an analogy which was based on a myth or fable or figure which was untrue to life. The Apostle Paul followed His divine Teacher’s example. He never based his analogies on figures that were not true to life and sound principles of godliness.

Would a careful student presume to say that the Apostle Paul under the di­vine inspiration of the Holy Spirit was not In Rom. 7: 1-6 clearly affirming that the Christian is freed, loosed, and released from the law of the Old Covenant through identification with Christ in His death and resurrection? It was, indeed the death and resurrection of the believer in Christ that freed him from the Mosaic law so that he might be married to another, namely, to Christ, that he should bring forth fruit unto God (Rom. 7:4). If this be true. and surely no be­liever of the Word of God can deny it, then the Apostle Paul must have chosen a bona fide analogy that was valid in the sight of God, or the Apostle’s whole argument respecting the Christian’s way of release from the law of Moses would have collapsed. Most surely, Christ did not teach that adultery automatically dissolved mar­riage union. It follows, therefore, that had He taught that adultery did dissolve the union, the analogy of the Apostle Paul would have been an untrustworthy one.

 

C. The Implications of the Teaching of The Divorce Texts (Rom. 7:2,3; I Cor. 7: 10, 11, 39 of the Epistles are Stated.

1.   The Apostle Paul by the Holy Spirit agrees with Moses that death is the only agency dissolving the bond of matrimony of a chaste and unchaste mate and, indeed, of all mates, according to the teaching of Christ.

2.       The Divorce texts of the Epistles agree with the statements of Christ which teach the Indissolubility of Marriage.

Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so (Matt.19:8).

Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.  And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery (Mark 10: 11,12).

 

Return to Introduction

Back to Chapters VIII and IX

Continue to Summary and Appendix

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Lets Repeal “No-Fault” Divorce!

 

 

 

 

 

Book Series – Chapters VIII and IX – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)

mosescommandments_web72dpi

FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School”  for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” (except it be for fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.  

Chapter VIII digs into the history of the Church Fathers for the first 400 years after Jesus went to the cross, and it resurrects the key extra-biblical writings that give further insight to interpreting what Jesus taught concerning the indissolubility of original covenant marriage.   (‘Variant” here means texts in addition to the text on which the English and American Revised Versions – 1881 & 1901- were based.)   Chapter IX  then explores Mark, chapter 10 in similar depth as Matthew 5, 19 and Luke 16 just completed.  

 

Chapter VIII – A STUDY OF THE VARIANT READING OF MATT.19:9

If debatable questions of grammar must be decided by the context of a verse and by the context of the general tenor of Scripture bearing on the doctrine under consideration, then the same principle is applicable when scholars differ greatly in their judgment respecting the true,  original Greek reading of a specific passage or text of Scripture.

The facts established in the study of Matt. 5:31, 32; Luke 16: 18, and Matt.19:9 (A. V.), and the facts that will be established in the study of the context of the harmony of Matt. 19: I – 12, and in the study of Rom. 7:2, 3 and I Cor. 7: 10, 11,39 impel one to consider and reconsider the variant reading of some of the ancient Greek texts of Matt.19:9.  Thefact that all the divorce texts.  apart from  the   dubious possibility of Matt.19:9(A.V.), close the door to the right of anyone to dissolve his marriage to another for any cause makes the study of the variant reading imperative. The strength of the argument that “fornication”in Matt.5:32 and 9:9 speaks of premarital sin, likewise makes the matter of this study very necessary.  Unfortunately, the FIVE WORD School of divorce either does not treat the problem, or speaks disparagingly of any school that attempts to do so. Certainly it is more important that the doctrine of divorce besettled on the basis of the original Greek text than on sundry Jewish traditions and customs.  The vital question is not what the Pharisees thought, but what Jesus said.

 

Sound rules of interpretation necessitate a careful study of the variant reading since it is contrary to such rules to establish a doctrine on a questionable, isolated text such as Matt. 19:9 (A. V.). The rules in question were given earlier. Three of them, 9. 10, 12, are here restated:

– Everything   essential in Scripture is clearly revealed.   This principle maintains that if a truth is an essential teaching of the Bible we need not scour the Bible to find it, nor will it be taught in one passing reference.

– All interpretations must be grounded in the original languages if they are to pass as accurate and factual interpretations.

– Obscure passages must give right of way, to clear passages. There is the dan­ger and temptation to invest a passage   of very dubious meaning with far greater content than it will bear.

(Bernard Ramm, loc. cit.)

 

It is a fact that no competent textual scholar would presume unquestionablytosay that the Greek manuscript which supports Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) gives usChrist’s original statement of thistext,

The importance of variant readings of ancient Greek manuscripts and of versions is indicated in the preface of the English Revised Version of the NewTesta­ment of 1881. which is the counterpart of the American Revised Version.  A portion of this preface follows:

Many places still remain in which, for the present, it would not be safe to accept one reading to the exclusion of others. In these cases we have given alternative readings in the margin, wherever they seem to be of sufficient importance or interest to deserve them.

(The English Revised Version London, The Oxford University Press, 1881, p.xiii).

 

The American Revised Version Of the Bible, which was newly edited in 1901 gives an alternative reading which makes Matt. 19:9 read virtually like Matt.5:32.  It is quoted under the next heading.

The English reader who is utterly unacquainted with the matter of variant Greek readings of early manuscripts of the New Testament will better understand the problem if he remembers that whereas the Bible most widely read among English evangelical Christians is the King James Version, the Authorized Ver­sion. the people of other races have the Bible translated into their own languages, not from the English but from the Hebrew of the Old Testament manuscripts and from the Greek of the New Testament  manuscripts.

These translations are not based on the originally written copies of the first writers of the several books of the Bible (which have been lost) but upon the oldest available manuscripts whose authenticity has been fully established. Of the goodly number of early manuscripts of the New Testament, dating from about the fourth and fifth centuries, their readings are found to be identical, except in a relatively few places which for the most part are of little or no doctrinal importance. Happily, the devout scholars of these ancient manuscripts are unanimous in asserting that no major doctrine of the Church is affected by the contrast in the differing readings.

 

B. The Variant Reading of Matt.19:9 is Presented.

The variant reading of the American Revised Version, which is an alternative reading to the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9 (A. V. ), follows,

Saving the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress.

In the light of this preferred reading, Matt.19:9(A.V.) would read:

Whoever shall divorce his wife. saving for cause of fornication make her commit adultery, and he who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

 

Rotherham based his translation of the New Testament on theWestcott and Hort Greek text.   He gives the following translation in a footnote of Matt.19:9:

Or. (WH): without a reason of unfaithfulness (lit. harlotry) causeth her to be made an adulteress, and he that marrieth the divorced woman committeth adultery.   CF. Matt. 5:32; Luke 16:18.

The Text of Matt. 5:32 (R. V.) is as follows:

But I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause Of fornication maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.       ·

The Greek reader of the variant reading of Matt. 19:9 of Westcott and Hort’s text will see that it is all but identical to that of Matt. 5:32. The English translations given above assist the English reader to see the same thing. The implications of this variant reading, which is preferred by many eminent scholars, is given later.

 

C. Rules by Which Textual Scholars Ascertain the Correct Greek Text of the New Testament

When manuscripts, versions, and quotations are in agreement respecting a reading,   the external evidence for its correctness is established.

The internal evidence is complete when the reading that is established by external evidence agrees with the sense, the nature of the language. its connection with historical facts, and parallel passages.

If manuscripts could by their very number establish the external evidence of a reading, the matter would be simple; but the fact that a reading occurs in the largest number of ancient manuscripts is not necessarily a proof that the reading is preferred.

The Cyclopedic Handbook To the Bible by Joseph Angus and Samuel G. Green gives us the following rules of external evidence for a given reading:

  1. Its age. There is at least a presumption that the older the document, the older the text, and one less vitiated by successive copyings. But it is both a possibility and a fact that some late MSS may preserve transcripts of very early ones which have since perished. •••
  2. The age of the text it contains, ascertained by comparison with early patristic citations and early version•••
  3. The family to which it belongs. In their support of readings, the MSS and versions are found to fall into groups; the same set of documents are continually together on the one side or the other. This fact has been genealogically interpreted.•••

(Joseph Angus: The Cyclopedic Handbook to the Bible. New York, Fleming H Revell Company,   1853.   p.78)

 

When we come to consider readings which are but probable, being equally or more or less nearly equally supported by external evidence, the rules of criticism become more difficult, and the application of them must be made with less rigidity. The Cyclopedic Handbook to the Bible gives us the following rules for the internal evidence of a given reading:

  1. Of two readings, equally supported by external evidence, that is the most probable which best suits the sense or else which could not, so easily as the other. have been written by mistake.•••
  2. Of the readings, the easy and the other difficult, the latter is generally to be preferred;   a rule thus formulated by Bengel: ‘Proclivi scriptioni praestat ardua’ .   Evidently, a copyist was more likely to smooth away a difficulty than to introduce one. •••
  3. Of two readings, equally supported, the shorter is probably thegenuineone. as copyists were more likely from intention to add than to omit.al­though more likely from accident to omit than to add; and the rulethere­fore must not be pressed in every case •••
  4. Of two readings, the one classical and the other Oriental, the latter is more probable. •••
  5. Of two readings equally supported, that is to be preferred which best agrees with the style of the writer, or with his design or with the context
  6. Conjectural readings, supported by the sense, or by versions, may be probable; but must not be received as indubitable, unless they are confirmed by evidence.

(Ibid, pp.79-81)

 

One of the greatest Greek scholars of modern times, A. T. Robenson, has stated in his text, Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament:

“No manuscript reading can possibly be original which contradicts the context of the passage or the tenor of the writing” (McClellan)….Since transcriptional evidence should come before intrinsic evidence the last piece of evidence brought forward Is the intrinsic evidence… If the external evidence and transcriptional evidence justified the Doxology as a part of the Lord ‘s Prayer, certainly intrinsic evidence would not raise any objection.

But there are cases where intrinsic evidence positively refuses to agree to the reading approved by external evidence of the documents and even by transcriptional evidence.

It is like getting married. The girl has to say .. “Yes.” When intrinsic evidence clearly rejects a reading, we may know such a reading is wrong.. . . .

(Archibald Thomas Robertson: Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, Nashville, Broadman Press, 1925, pp. 165, 166)

 

D. Internal Evidences Favoring the Variant Reading of Matt. 19:9 are Presented.

  1.  Scholars like Tischendorf, Weiss, Dean Alford, McClymont and Olhausen believed the exceptive clause to be a scribal addition. Interpolations will be discussed on pages 172 through173.
  2. Eminent scholars declare tha t the exceptive element is not found in thefol­lowing manuscripts: Sinaiticus and Codex Ephraimus(3).
  3. The exceptive element is not found in the Egyptian Thebaic versions believed to be of the third century; nor in the Syrian Curetorian believed to have been made in the second century, nor in some other Syrian versions.

 

Some scholars believe that the Greek text for Matt.19:9(A.V.) has the bet­ ter attestation, because it is found in the majority of manuscripts and versions and in those which they consider today (1957) to be the better qualitatively.   It is important to remember that the apparent quality of a given manuscript may vary from century to century in the light of more textual information.

Felix L. Cirlot has stated the following respecting this problem in his book entitled Christ and Divorce:

Of course, other things being anywhere nearly equal, the reading having the better attestation from the manuscripts and versions ought to be preferred. In a great majority of cases, it appears to be the correct reading. But scholars are well acquainted with the fact that there is a sufficient minority of cases in which the less well attested reading seems to be in all probability correct conclusively that       criterion alone is not decisive.   And in the present case (Matt.19:9), other factors are not by any means equal.  Everything else seems to tell 1n favor of the less well attested reading.

(Felix L. Cirlot,  op. cit., p.9)

In commenting on Matt. 5:32 and 19:9, the International Standard Bible En­ cyclopaedia states:

The view implied by the exception, of course, is that adultery ipso facto dissolves the union, and so opens the way to remarriage.   But remarriage closes the door to reconciliation, which on Christian principles ought always to be possible. (cf Hosea; Her 3; Hermas, Mand iv, 1). Certainly much Is to be said for the view which Is steadily gaining ground, that the exception in Mt. is an editorial addition made under the pressure of local conditions and practical necessity, the absolute rule being found too hard (seeH D B, extra vol.27b, and the Teaching of Our Lord as to the indissolubility of Marriage, by Stuart Lawrence Tyson, M.A. Oxon. , Universlty of the South, 1912).

(James Orr, General Editor, op. cit., Vol.III, p.1999)

 

E. Textual Rules Which Favor the Variant Reading of Man. 19:9 are Presented.

Of the textual rules given above, the following cast their weight on the side of the variant reading of Matt. 19:9:

Rules of External Evidence

1. Rule 1: Its age.     See Section D.2.

2. Rule 2:   The age of the text.   See Section P. 3. and Section F.

 

Rules of Internal Evidence

  1. Rule 1

See the twelve points of the Context of the Harmony of Matt. 19:1-12 and Mark 10: 1-12 which confirms the fact the variant reading is the more probable original reading of Matt. 19:9. These points are discussed on pages 92 through107.

2. Rule 5

See the twelve points referred to immediately above.

 

3.  Rule 3

 

F. External Evidence Favoring the Variant Reading of Matt. 19:9 ls Presented.

Many of the Church Fathers quote Matthew 19:9 without the exceptive element. In fact, many of them reject it.

It now seems quite certain that scholarly Origen, who lived in the latter part of the second century and in the early part of the third century, quoted Matt. 19:9 without the exceptive element.

St. Clement of Alexandria, who lived from 150 A.D. to 220 A.D. appears to have had at hand the reading of Matt. 19:9 without the exceptive clause, for in commenting on this text he states that it necessitates her to commit adultery.

It appears almost certain that Tertullian, who lived in the second and third centuries, had a manuscript which omitted the exceptive element. The reason lies in the fact that, in reply to a false doctrine of Marcion, he did not quote Matt. 19:9 as it is in the Authorized Version. Marcion had said that the God of the Old Testament was not the same as the God of the New Testament because while Moses permitted divorce, Christ had denied that right. Since Tertullian virtually leaned over backwards to prove that Christ had not without qualification closed the door to all divorce, it is all but certain that his New Testament reada s did that of Origen in the Matt. 19:9 passage, or he surely would have quoted it.

(Felix L. Cirlot, op. cit., pp 9,10)

 

Felix Cirlot has affirmed that O. D. Watkins, who is quoted with the agree­ment of Kenneth E. Kirk, stated that no Church Father during the first five centuries of the Christian Church ever quoted Matt.19:9 in support of the innocent party’s right to divorce a spouse for adultery in order to marry another during the lifetime of the adulterous mate. Neither have these authorities denied that some of the Church Fathers may certainly or possibly have taught that the innocent party had the right to remarry. However, none of them stated on what grounds they made this allowance. It is possible that the following may have permitted the innocent party to remarry:   Lactantius, Asterius, Basil, and Epiphanius. It is not certain that they did. Ambrosiaster certainly is one of the Fathers whom scholars affirm did teach that an innocent party could remarry. Ambrosiaster lived in the latter half of the fourth century. Neither he nor any of the other Church Fathers named stated on what grounds they allowed the right to an innocent party to remarry.

(Ibid, pp. 10,11)

 

One thing is certain, the testimony of the Church Fathers for the first three centuries is absolutely unanimous in affirming that marriage is indissoluble. They went further than that; they would not allow even separation (without remarriage, a mensa et thoro) except for the cause of FORNICATION.   Felix Cirlot could not find (outside of the Apostle Paul himself) a case of the so-called “Pauline privilege” (ICor.7:10,11) in the first three centuries. Not until the fourth century did one writer, Ambrosiaster. allow remarriage for an innocent party who put away an unchaste spouse.

(Ibid, pp. 44,45)

 

Not until after the fourth century is there any considerable breach in the early Church’s position on divorce.   It is believed that there is only one alleged case of a marriage having been dissolved by the approval of the Church before the close of the fourth century. The sharp departure of the Church from its primitive position did not occur until the sixth century. In the two intervening centuries only one Western writer, Ambrosiaster, allowed for the dissolution of marriage, and then Church Fathers may have vaguely referred to the same thing, but it is doubtful.

(Ibid, p.45)

 

During the earlier centuries, when the exception was made that one could divorce another for the cause of adultery yet could not remarry, they based their conclusion on Man.5:32, and consequently on the minority of manuscripts for Matt. 19:9 without its exceptive clause. The gospel of Matthew was in the hands of the Church during this period.

A teaching beginning with the generation in which Christ lived and continuing from the days of Paul (ICor.7:10,11) for several centuries with virtual unanimity is of very great value in determining Christ’s true statement and teaching respecting the right of an innocent spouse to marry another.

The point at which there came a departure in the divorce teaching in the early Church is important to notice. The virile form of Christianity of the ante-Nicene character was not substantially weakened by the influx of the spirit of the world until the time of Constantine. He came to power in Rome in the early part of the fourth century. He endowed Christianity with worldly power and filled the Church with poorly instructed and half-saved Christians. In the subsequent centuries of declension, the Church slowly accommodated herself to what appears to be an intrusion of an interpolation into the Matt. 19:9 text of the exceptive element. If it was in the original Greek text of Matthew, and that cannot today be proven, Matt. 19:9 was not understood by the early Church of the first five centuries to support the right of an innocent party to marry another.

Church history bears out the fact that a laxity In Christian practice precedes and causes doctrinal degeneration. Is that not what is happening in the Church today because for so long she has compromised in practice with the world’s degenerated standards of divorce and remarriage? The scriptural doctrine of the indissolubiIity of marriage cannot be maintained in any church which does not constantly teach by its standards and practice that all remarriages of divorcees are continuing examples of unions unequivocally disapproved by Christ.

What is more astounding than the mere fact that the early Church taught and practiced the complete indissolubility of marriage for so long, is the fact that the Church chose to take its stand against the strong contemporary lax social and legal attitudes toward divorce which prevailed so universally all about them. The Church, today, feels that it is on the horns of a dilemma, because so many divorcees are coming to her for help and encouragement. Shall she accommodate the Scriptures to the apparent need of the unfortunate divorcees, or shall she uphold the Biblical standard of the indissolubility of marriage for any cause while faithfully discharging her duty to such distressed individuals?  Every church of today which considers the lowering of its divorce standards should remember that the early Church stood true to the Biblical doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage in a world that was pagan and strongly opposed to the moral and marriage standards of the New Testament. Not only did the Church maintain her stand on the indissolubility in the early centuries, she changed the attitude and standards of the whole world toward it. Even today the whole Church of Christ and the entire western world is still reaping the rich benefits of that heritage.   Shall the Christian Church of today be less courageous and faithful than the Church of the early centuries of the Christian era? Does she not under God have the same spiritual resources?

There were other grievous social evils in the early Christian centuries. Slavery enveloped the Roman Empire of that age, yet the Christians did not set themselves to change the thinking of the masses against it, but they did set themselves to change the thinking of the masses toward marriage and divorce. Why did they not attack slavery with the same vehemence? The reason was that the Apostles had not received a “thus saith the Lord” from Christ respecting it. They had, however, received such in the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. No sect or school of philosophy is known to have influenced the early Church in this teaching. From whence, then, did she get the teaching? Certainly she received it from the teaching of the Gospels and from the teaching of the Apostles, who had earlier conveyed the same orally (as well as in writing) to the leaders of the early Church who succeeded them.

(Kenneth E. Kirk, op.cit., p.71)

 

The First Epistle to the Corinthians was written before any of the Gospels. It reaffirmed that Christ taught the indissolubility of marriage (1 Cor,7: 10, 11 ,39).

Some Christian leaders of today state that they find it unbelievable that Christ should have taught the complete indissolubility of marriage. However, the fact that the early Church taught and practiced this doctrine for the first three centuries, despite degenerate views of marriage in the contemporary world, is strong evidence that Christ must have taught such a doctrine of marriage.

J.B. Phillips states the following respecting the pungent strength of the early Church in the midst of overwhelming opposition and other handicaps. The statement is found in his preface to his translation of the New Testament Epistles, the title of which is Letters to Young Churches:

. . . these letters were written, and the lives they indicate were led, against a background of paganism. There were no churches, no Sundays, no books about the Faith. Slavery, sexual immorality, cruelty, callousness to human suffering, and a low standard of public opinion, were universal; travelling and communications were chancy and perilous; most people were illiterate. Many Christians today talk about the “difficulties of our times” as though we should have to wait for better ones before the Christian religion can take root. It is heartening to remember that this faith took root and flourished amazingly in conditions that would have killed anything less vital in a matter of weeks.

(J.B.Phillips: Letters to Young Churches. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1950. p.xiv)

 

In writing of the lax views and practices of marriage among the Greeks and Romans, Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury of the Church of England, said:

The Romans and Greeks were even laxer than the Jew: either partner could divorce the other on the slightest pretext and marry again.

The Church went directly against these universal social practices with the flat demand of the Gospel statements and the practice of the Pauline and other Churches. This tiny sect in the end revolutionized marriage. It routed the whole practice of the contemporary world. It created a new belief in monogamous lifelong marriage as a duty to God, and imposed it upon its members and in the end on the civilized world. Surely the impetus for such an assault and victory must have come from our Lord. It could not have happened otherwise.

(Geoffrey Francis Fisher, Archbishop of Canterbury: Problems of Marriage and Divorce, New York, Morehouse-Gorham Company, 1955, pp.5,6)

Happily for the people of our generation, the impact of the early Church’s views and practice was not slackened appreciably until after the middle of the nineteenth century. Because of this rich heritage of the Western World, the common man of the occident for the most part enters marriage with the conviction that it is ordained by God to be a lifelong union.

 

G. Implications of the Internal and External Evidence for the Variant Reading of Matt. 19:9 are Stated.

  1. Implication 1: Whether or not it could be proved (as at present it cannot) that the text of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) was based on the original Greek text of Matt.19:9, the fact remains that the Christian Church believed in the indissolubility f marriage for more than three centuries, and never in the first five centuries did the Church Fathers ever state that Matt. 19:9 provided in its exceptive clause for the divorce of an adulterous spouse with the right to remarry. This is true in spite of the fact that some Church Fathers quote Matt. 19:9 with the exceptive element. That is to say, the appearance of the exceptive element in Matt.19:9 did not alter the belief of the Church respecting divorce and remarriage for the period of the early centuries. This substantiates the fact that the early Church did not understand the grammar of Matt. 19:9 to teach what the FIVE WORD School says it teaches.
  2. Implication 2: The Church of Christ of the first three centuries could not have developed, practiced, and promulgated a doctrine of marriage in such a pagan society from the very birth of the Church unless she had received the teaching of the indissolubility of marriage from Christ and His Apostles.
  3. Implication 3: Sections 1 and 2 above erase any impression of contradiction between Matt.19:9 and Mark 10:11,12 or any other divorce statements of Christ.   They also erase any apparent contradiction between Matt. 19:9 and the divorce texts of the Epistles (Rom.7:2,3 and I Cor.7:10,11,39).
  4. Implication 4: The reader of the Scriptures may indeed have a strong conviction that the exceptive reading of Matt.5:32 was the reading of Matt.19:9 in the original Scriptures as used by the very early Church.
  5. Implication 5: The total effect of all the implications arising out of the detailed study of the internal textual study of Matt. 19:9 and of the external evidences relating there to shows that the Conservative School’s position is to this point proven almost beyond a single doubt. The total facts established in this study raise many grave doubts about the FIVE WORD School’s view of divorce. They also erase any apparent contradiction between Matt. 19:9 and the divorce texts of the Epistles (Rom.7:2,3 and I Cor.7:10,II,39).

 

H. Further Doubt is Raised About the Position and Method of the FIVE WORD School

Is it not presumption for the FIVE WORD School to build a doctrine of divorce on ONE verse (Matt. 19:9 A.V.) when its Greek text is so seriously open to question? Do not strong evangelical leaders thunder against teachers of markedly abhorrent isms who presume to do a similar thing to support their peculiar doctrines? Should not the difference of opinion of eminent scholars respecting the more correct reading of the Greek text of Matt.19:9, and the fact that the early Church never quoted it for the first five centuries as a support for the right of an innocent party to marry another cause objective students to look to other statements of Christ and of the Apostles to ascertain which of the two readings is the more correct in the light of the general tenor of their combined teaching? Should they shun the normal principle of establishing a doctrine approved by the Christian Church for nearly two thousand years, namely, that induction is distinctly the Scriptural method of ascertaining divine truth, and that such inductions are perfect or imperfect in the measure they regard the teachings of all the Scriptures bearing on a particular doctrine?  Has not the evangelical Church always avoided the building of a Doctrine on isolated text which has a strong variant reading? May God help each one who makes this study in the Holy Scriptures to regard truth for TRUTH’S sake more than he regards his personal opinions, prejudices, fears of ecclesiastical leaders, or the spirit of accommodation to the seeming necessities of divorcees.

The followers of the FIVE WORD School assert that they have established their position beyond a reasonable doubt, i.e., the degree of proof required by a court of law in a criminal case.   However, inasmuch as the evidence presented thus far shows the FIVE  WORD School’s interpretation   of   Matt. 19:9 to be based on only portion of ONE text, their position is open to serious question! The slender scriptural justification offered by the FIVE WORD School in support of their doctrine would in itself appear to be sufficient to cause an objective student to reject it.

 

  Whatsoever is not of   faith is sin (Rom.14:23).

Fortunately, Christ did not leave the Christian Church in ignorance respecting the meaning of His statement in Matt. 19:9, whichever reading of the original Greek one accepts. The harmony of the parallel accounts of Matt.19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12 provides the context which clarifies the matter completely. “Etymology will kill you, but context   will save you.”  The statements of the Epistles respecting the same subject confirms the testimony of the two integrated Gospel accounts and the testimony of the early Church.

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DelsDCourt

Chapter IX –  COMMENTS ON MARK 10: 11, 12 (R.V.)

And he saith unto them. Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her; and if she herself shall put away.her husband, and marry another, she commiteth adultery.

The text is Christ’s last statement on the subject of divorce. That fact is in itself of some moment, especially when it is noted that this statement is a commentary on His treatment of divorce in Matt. 19: 1-9 and Mark 10: 1-9. These portions of Scripture have become the battleground of the divorce question.

 

A. The Place of the Gospel of Mark Among the Gospels is Noted.

The followers of the FIVE WORD School imply that the account of Mark 10:1-12 is of less worth and importance in settling the meaning of Matt. 19:9 than the parallel passage of Matt. 19: 1 -12.

The comments of Dr. A. T. Robertson, one of the great Greek scholars of our time, is pertinent here:

In my Harmony of the Gospels, I have placed Mark first in the framework since Matthew, Luke, and John all follow in broad outline his plan with addi­tions and supplemental material.   Mark’s Gospel throbs with life and bristles with vivid details. We see with Peter’s eyes and catch almost the very look and gesture of Jesus as he moved among men in his work of healing men’s bodies and saving men’s souls.

(Archibald Thomas Robertson:   Word Pictures in the New Testament,   Vol.I. Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday School Board of Southern BaptistConvention,1923, p.251.)

One of the clearest results of modern critical study of the Gospels is the early date of Mark’s Gospel. Precisely how early is not definitely known, but there are leading scholars who hold thatA.D.50 is quite probable . . . Zahn still argues that the Gospel according to Matthew is earlier than that according to Mark, but the arguments are against him.   The framework of Mark’s Gospel lies behind both Matthew and Luke and nearly all of it is used by one or the other.   One may satisfy himself on this point by careful use of a Harmony of the Gospels in Greek or English. . . The early writers all agree that Mark was the interpreter for Simon Peter with whom he was at one time, according to Peter’s own statement, either in Babylon or Rome{1 Pet.5:13). This Gospel is the briefest of the four. but is the fullest of striking details that apparently came from Peter’s discourses which Mark heard, such as green grass, flower beds (6:38)   [sic]two thousand hogs (5:13), looking round about (3:5,34).

Peter usually spoke in Aramaic and Mark has more Aramaic phrases than the others….Some even thlnk that he wrote the Gospel in Rome while with Peter who suggested and read the manuscript….Mark was once a co­worker with Barnabas and Paul, but deserted them at Perga. Paul held this against Mark and refused to take him on the second mission tour. Barnabas took Mark, his cousin, with him and then he appeared with Simon Peter with whom he did his greatest work. When Mark had made good with Barnabas and Peter, Paul rejoiced and commends him heartily to the Colosslans (Col. 4:10). In the end Paul will ask Timothy to pick up Mark and bring him along with him to Paul in Rome for he has found him useful for ministry, this very young man who made such a mistake that Paul would have no more of him.

(Ibid., pp. 249,250).

 

At least nine of the early Church Fathers confirm the fact that Mark wrote much of his Gospel from what he had heard the Apostle Peter give in his sermons or in private conversation.

Papias, who lived in the early part of the second century and who was the com­panion of Polycarp (who was the disciple of the Apostle John) said that Mark hav­ing become the interpreter of Peter, wrote accurately whatever he recorded.

W. Graham Scroggie, a devout evangelical scholar, made a very detailed study of the four Gospels and stated his belief that:

Mark is the earliest of the Synoptic Records and most nearly represents the Oral Gospel of early apostolic preaching. That both Matthew and Luke made large use of Mark. That, therefore, Mark is not an abridgment of Matthew and Luke, but the latter are enlargements and re-arrangements of Mark to which in each Gospel is added a large amount of material from other sources.

To Mark. therefore, must be accorded first place in historical value, because it ranks first in order of time, and is incorporated bodily In Matthew and Luke.

It is impressive that Mark, the earliest of the Four Gospels, has so much of the Old Testament in it….It is safe to say that there are, at any rate;·sixty­ three references…. of these 63 references 36 are quotations, verbal, or nearly so, and the remainder are allusions…. of the 661 verses inMark’s Gospel (R. V.) 61,. or nearly one-tenth, contain Old Testament references.

(W. Graham Scroggie, loc. cit., pp. 179, 190, 192)

A.T. Robertson stated in his introduction to the book of Romans that it is ap­parent that the early Church at Rome was made up of Gentiles and Jews. The very nature of the Roman epistle makes it impossible for anyone to believe otherwise. The Apostle Paul speaks of the “law” 77 times in this epistle and refers to circum­cision and the reactions of the Jews to the Gospel of God’s free righteousness by faith apart from works.

(Archibald Thomas Robertson: World Pictures In the New Testament, Vol.IV. Nashville, Tennessee, Sunday School Board of Southern Baptist Convention,1933, p.322).

Clement of Alexandria, who was born in the middle of the second century, wrote:

The occasion for writing the Gospel according to Mark was as follows: After Peter had publicly preached the word in Rome and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present entreated Mark, as one who had followed him for a long time and remembered what he had said, to write down what he had spoken, and Mark after composing the gospel, presented it to his petitioners.

So charmed were the Romans with the light that shone in upon their minds from the discourses of Peter, that, not content with a single hearing and the viva voce proclamation of the truth, they urged with the utmost solicitation. Mark, whose gospel is in circulation and who was Peter’s attendant, that he would leave them in writing a record of the teaching which they had received by word of mouth. They did not give over until they had prevailed on him; and thus they became the cause of the composition of the so-called Gospel according to Mark.

(James Orr, General Editor, loc. cit. , Vol. III, p. 1999)

 

B. The Text and Context of Mark 10: 11,12 Will Provide an Answer to the Fol­lowing Important Questions:

  1. Is the first question of the Pharisees to Christ respecting the right of putting away a wife essentially the same in Matt. 19:3 and Mark 10:2?
  2. Did the Pharisees understand that Christ taught the indissolubility of marriage on this occasion?
  3. Did the Disciples twice reflect their conviction that Christ taught the indis­solubility of marriage despite hearing Christ’s original utterance of Matt.19:9?
  4. Did Christ’s answer to the Pharisees indicate that He taught the indissolubility of marriage?
  5. Did Christ give a commentary on His Matt. 19: 1-9 statement to the Pharisees when He went into the house alone with the Disciples so that His Disciples would understand that He did, indeed, teach that marriage was absolutely indissoluble?
  6. Does not Mark10:11,12, in the light of the harmony of the two divorce ac­counts prove conclusively that Christ was speaking about the problem of un­chaste wives in Mark as well as in Matthew?
  7. Does not Christ’s Commentary of Mark 10: 11,12 show that He did not permit one to interpret Matt. 19:9 to mean that an innocent party had the right to marry another.
  8. Does a true harmony of the two divorce accounts permit one to say honestly that Mark’s account speaks of “the general rule” of divorce whereas the Matthew account speaks of “the exception to the rule”?
  9. Can one objectively say that Matthew’s account is complete without Mark, or that Mark’s account is complete without Matthew? Must not an honest student of the two accounts admit that they are mutually dependent one upon the other for completion and for an accurate understanding of the whole of the discourse in question?
  10. Does not Mark 10: 11, 12, in the light of the context of the harmony of the two divorce accounts, confirm the teaching of Matt.5:32 and Luke16:18 that marriage is indissoluble?

 

C.  The Context of Parallel Accounts In the Gospels Is Noted.

The context of a specific teaching of Christ is never limited to one Gospel if one or more Gospels carry the parallel account elsewhere. If a teacher chiefly bases his conclusion respecting the teaching of Christ pertaining to a particular subject on His statements in one Gospel without regard to His statements on the same occasion in another Gospel or Gospels, he is failing to follow the divine principle of “comparing Scripture with Scripture”: he is presuming to interpret a verse or a part thereof without respect to its complete context, for the respective accounts are both divinely inspired. In no sense can one be said to take priority over the other; together they make up the true context of any given verse of the respective parallel accounts.

The importance of interpreting any passage or any text in the light of the gen­eral tenor of Scripture and its parallel accounts is emphasized by Dr.Eric Lund in his text on Hermeneutics, which has been translated by Rev. P.C. Nelson:

It Is necessary to cousult parallel passages explaining “spiritual things by spiritual” (I Cor.2:13,original). •••     ·

It is necessary to appeal to such parallels not only to clear up specific obscure passages, but also to attempt to acquire exact Biblical knowledge in regard to Christian doctrines and practices. Because, as we have already indicated, a doctrine which pretends to be Biblical, cannot be considered entirely to be such

It is necessary to take the words in the sense which the context indicates, that is, the verses which precede and follow the text that is being studied.

It turns out sometimes that the connection of a phrase is not enough to deter­mine what is the true signification of certain words. Therefore, and in that case, we ought to begin the reading further above and continue it further down in order to take into account what precedes and follows the obscure expression, and proceeding in this way clearness will be found in the context through dif­ferent circumstances. 59

(Eric Lund:   Hermeneutics.   Paul Nelson, 2122 N. W. 23d Street, Fort Worth, Texas, 1941. pp. 59,79·

There are a number of passages of Scripture in different Gospels covering the same themes on an identical occasion. Some of these seem superficially to be contradictory to one another. Simon Greenleaf who was a notable attorney, quotes from Newcome the following in his harmony of the Gospels, The Testi­mony of the Evangelists, respecting the parallel accounts of Matt.12:22-37 and Mark 3: 19-30, “Thus the Evangelist is wonderfully supplemental to another by notations of time, place, and other circumstances, and the strictest propriety and agreement result from diligently comparing them. ”

(Simon Greenleaf: The Testi­mony of the Evangelists, Newark, New Jersey, Soney & Sage, 1903, p.348)

By painstakingly comparing one parallel passage with another, the careful student clarifies and establishes the whole body of truth under discussion in a given passage or passages of the Gospels.

All of the great harmonies of the Gospels include Mark 10: 10-12 as an essen­tial part of the parallel divorce accounts. No objective student can honestly deny that Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark 10: 1-12 are indeed parallel accounts, nor can he deny that a true exegete harmonizes two or more parallel accounts before presuming to give a true interpretation of isolated text in the combined con­text.

In seeking honestly and objectively to harmonize the two passages at issue, it is well to remember a common practice of life, namely, that if one of great moral repute and seasoned judgment is reported to have recently contradicted in a brief statement all of his earlier statements on a great moral principle, friends and honest foes alike would surely study the whole body of truth which he had presented on the subject to see wherein a harmony of the seeming conflict might be found. A human might change his mind or contradict himself, but Christ who is the TRUTH could not do so.   Surely there is greater reason to seek to harmonize Christ’s isolated statement of His seeming contradiction of Himself with His more harmonious statements on the same subject than to seek to harmon­ize the conflicting statements of a man conceived in sin. It is also important in natural circumstances to see if the speaker’s original puzzling statement has not been misquoted or confused in transcription by another’s hand.   Certainly it important that we consider very carefully Christ’s last statement on divorce (Mark 10: 11 , 12) since it, rather than the FIVE WORD School’s interpretation of Matt 19:9 (A. V.), harmonizes with the greater body of truth on the same subject. Christ’s earlier divorce statements likewise harmonize with the Apostle Paul’s statements on the same subject.

The followers of the FIVE WORD School have insisted that the problem and rights of the “innocent party”  be settled by isolated text of Scripture and more strictly by the meaning of FIVE words of Mart.19:9. They further in­sist that Mark 10: 1-12, which completes the whole context of Matt. 19: 1-12. is not relevant to the problem. A thorough study of the harmony of Matt.19:1-12 and Mark 10:11-12 will show how unscrlptural and presumptuous it is for this School to assume this to be true. Sound rules of interpretation will require that a student must decide the meaning of any verse or part thereof in the light of the complete of the parallel divorce accounts of both Gospels.

 

D.  The Harmony of Matthew 19: l·12 and Mark 10: 1-12 Is   Noted. (The Seed Bed of the Divorce Controversy).

In proceeding to harmonize the two accounts, it will be important to approach the task with complete objectivity. This harmony should indicate the true reconciliation of the two seemingly contradictory passages of Matt. 19:9 and Mark 10: 11, 12 and give Christ’s true reaching on the subject of divorce and remarriage.

 

    1. DISTINCTIVE FEATURES OF THE TWO GOSPEL ACCOUNTS

a. The occasion of Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark 10:1-12

It ls identical in each.   See Matt. 19:1 and Mark10:1.

b. The Persons

They are identical in each;   Christ, the Pharisees, and the Disciples were present.

c. The Main Questions of the Pharisees: Matt.19:3; Mark10:2

They were on the identical subject, namely, whether it was right for a man to “put away” (divorce) his wife.   Matthew’s account stresses one facet of the question: “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” Es­sentially, the question of Mark’s Gospel, (10:2) and this question (Matt. 19:3) are one. The question of Mark 10:2, ‘·’Is’it lawful for a man to put away hiswife?”of necessity covers every cause; for one cannot ask such a question as10:2 with­out projecting an inquiry concerning more than one cauise.

The harmony of the two accounts (as will be seen) makes clear that Christ understood the implication of “every cause” in the question in Mark as truly as in the opening question as given in Matthew 19:3. Christ’s reply, as reported in either or both accounts, leaves no room for doubt in the matter.Christ’s reply in the harmony of both accounts was ONE answer, not two, since it was addressed to the same Pharisees by the same Person on the same occasion. In the strictest sense, it is apparent that the differently worded questions in the two accounts of the two Evangelists was ONE question embracing both ideas. This subject is treated in detail later.

 

d. Christ’s Answer to the Pharisees: Matt. 19:4-9; Mark10:3-9

Except for order and arrangement, the two accounts of Christ’s answer are identical in substance. There is this difference, however: Matthew’s account adds the following words:

 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 (Matt.19:9).

It is important to observe here that the Disciples heard the original words of Matt.19:9 as a part of Christ’s whole answer to the Pharisees on the question of divorce.

      1. Two Questions of the Disciples on the Same Problem of Divorce

Their First Question: Matt. 19:10

His disciples say unto him,,if the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

JESUS’ ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION FOLLOWS ONLY   IN MATT.19:11,12

But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom   it is given.     For there   are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made them­selves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to re­ceive it, let him receive it.

 

The Disciple’s Second Question: Mark 10:11,12

And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.                             ·

JESUS’ ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION (Mark 10:11,12) FOLLOWS:

And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.

It should be carefully noted that the second question and the answer were stated after Christ had completed His statement to the Pharisees which   included Matthew 19:9.

 

A HARMONY OF THE PARALLEL DIVORCE ACCOUNTS

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The portion in Matthew’s Gospel which is unbrokenly underscored is not foundin Mark’s account, and the portion in Mark’s Gospel which is brokenly underscored is not found in Matthew’s account.

Both of the inquiries referred to above may possibly have been asked in the house, although this is very unlikely.  Of one thing the reader may be sure, the answer of Mark 10:11-12 was given in the house to the Disciples alone and not to the Pharisees.   The answer of Christ in Matt. 19:11, 12 was also not directed to the Pharisees but to the Disciples.

The objection of the FIVE WORD School that Mark 10:11,12 is not a commentary on Matt. 19:9, because the opening question of the Pharisees is different, is answered fully on pages 86 through 87.

 

E.  Highlights of the Harmony of the Divorce Accounts are Noted.

  1. The Two Introductory Questions of the Pharisees Are Essentially One Question:

Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife (Mark 10:2)

Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause (Matt.9:13)

2.  The Two Accounts Make One Context, Not Two; the Two Accounts Are Related to One Question and One Teaching, Not Two

The answer of Christ to the Pharisees (Matt. 19:1-9 and Mark 10:1-9) is one answer to the Pharisees and not two. The answer of both Gospels is one. Christ’s clarifying statement in the house (Mark 10:11-12) makes this certain.

The parallel accounts of divorce in Matt. 19:1-12 and Mark 10:1-12 are equally inspired by the Holy Spirit. Some of the FIVE WORD School assert that, since the Gospel of Mark did not report the first question of the Pharisees as given in Matt. 19:3, and since Mark’s Gospel does not include the statement of Matt. 19:9 nor Matt. 19:11-12, Christ’s answer to the Disciples in the house (Mark 10:10-12) incomplete and is not, therefore, a clarification of Matt. 19:9 and 19:3-9.

The fallacy of such reasoning becomes apparent in light of the following:

  1. By the same reasoning, as followed above by the FIVE WORD School, Matt. 19:1-12 may not be interpreted by itself, because it, too, presents an incomplete account of Christ’s full statement on the divorce problem raised in Matt. 19:1-9 and Mark 10:1-9, for these two passages were spoken on the same occasion, to the same people, on the same topic.   Neither Gospel record of the divorce discourse is complete without the other.
  2. That Mark’s Gospel does not record Matt. 19:9 (whatever it was in the original utterance of Christ) does not mean that it was not a part of the discourse of Christ to the Pharisees not that Christ did not take into account Matt. 19:3-9 when He later went into the house and gave the Disciples a clarifying statement on the whole discourse.   One thing is sure, what the Holy Spirit intended Mark to record, was recorded.

 

3.   The Fact that the Two Questions (Matt. 19:3 and Mark I0:2) under Discussion Are Not in the Same Form Does Not Make Them Two Questions.

 

Dissimilar forms of statements  bearing on the same problem in parallel ac­counts in the Gospels cannot objectively be said to speak of dissimilar things. Can one honestly say that because the question of Mark 17:21:

And he said unto them, How is it that ye do not understand?

is much shorter, and because it has left out so much of what is In Matt. 16:11, its parallel passage, that it is not the same question? The text of Matt. 16: 11 follows:

How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

The entire context of the above references should be read to get the full impact of this comparison.

Another example occurs in Matt. 21:23 and Mark 11:28. The first of these two verses presents aquestion, as does the latter Scripture, when speaking of the authority of Christ to do the things enumerated in the earlier context of either Gospel, Matt.21:23 in part follows:

 By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?

Mark 11:28 states the question thus:

By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

The difference of form of the two questions does not change the fact that they are speaking of the same thing.

A further contrast of one and the same account is given In Matt.27:38 and Mark 15:17 with John 19:2. Matthew’s Gospel says that a scarlet robe was put upon Christ. Whereas Mark’s and John’s accounts say that it was a purple robe. Certainly any careful Bible student will not take these contrasts to mean that there were two robes. Rather, they mean that the eyewitnesses who brought a description of the scene differed in the term they used to describe the color, which was the same. Biblical authorities say that the purpose of Bible times was closer to what we call crimson -· a red that leans toward blue. The robe may have been old and faded, which possibilities could have added to the difficulty of nam­ing the original color.

Newcome in Greenleaf’s harmony of the Gospels, in discussing the dissimi­larities of the two divorce accounts. Matt. 19:.1-12and Mark 10:1-12, states:

The two Evangelists go on to relate our Lord’s observations about divorce and marriage: they agree in substance, which is sufficient; though they differ In the form of the dialogue, neither adhering scrupulously to the exact manner in which the words passed though we may learn it, by comparing both.

(Ibid., p.179).

 

The FIVE WORD School is certainly textually poor to find it necessary to as­sert that the question as stated in its two forms (Matt. 19:3 and Mark 10:2) con­stitutes two different questions. Obviously, the purpose of this School’s stating that the two forms are not one question, drawing forth one answer to the Phari­sees is to discredit or nullify Christ’s commentary of Mark 10: 11, 12 on Matt.19:9 and more exactly on Matt. 19:3-9. · For, indeed, the Disciples asked Christ again of the same matter  (Mark 10: 10). The teachers of the liberal school can­not allow Mark 10: 11, 12 to be such a commentary, or else their whole argu­ment falls to the ground. Rather, these teachers persist in distorting the whole context (which is the combination of the two accounts) and twist it to conform to their prejudiced view, of ONE isolated text, Matt. 19:9 (A.V.).

 

4. Christ Refers to Genesis 2:21 -24 to Show That Marriage Was Indissoluble from the Beginning.

Christ said,”Have ye not read that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female“(Matt.19:4). By this statement He referred to Genesis 2:21-24 which follows:

And the LORD God . . . took one of his [Adam’s] ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the LORD God had taken.from man, [Hebrew – isha] builded he a woman [ Hebrew – ish] and brought her unto the man.   And Adam said, This is now bone of my bone., and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman [ Hebrew – ish] because she was taken out of man [Hebrew – isha] ish]. Therefore,shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: they shall be one flesh.

Unlike animal kind. the male and female of the human family were not made simultaneously, separate and distinct from each other. Woman was made out of the man. By this unique and striking manner of making woman from man, God indicated that when a woman is united in marriage to man, they are ONE FLESH.unbrokenly one, until death parts one from the other. The “therefore” of Gen.2:24 proves this point. God had plenty of material at hand; He could have easily made two, or three, or more wives for Adam. God, however, planned that there should be only one Mrs. Adam. and that nothing but death could dissolve the union. True, the law of Moses did later prescribe that an adulterous mate should be stoned to purge the land from this iniquity, but it was death ,not divorce, which dissolved the union. God ordained from the beginning that a husband and wife should be ONE FLESH; there was no provision for more than one wife or husband at the same time, either by simultaneous polygamy or by the successive polygamy of divorce and remarriage. In the economy of marriage, God has ordained that one and one equals one not two!

Note that because in the original creation woman was made out of man, the statement follows from Gen.2:24:

 Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: they shall be one flesh.

Christ’s commentary on the above follows:

Wherefore they are no more twain but one flesh. What God therefore hath joined  together, let not man put asunder (Matt.19:6).

 

5.   Christ Teaches Correctly that Moses Suffered (tolerated) Divorce. But did Not Command Israel to Put Away Their Wives.

A study of   Deut.24: 1-4 will reveal   that   Christ   did   indeed understand that Moses only permitted the practice of divorce, which was current in the nations about Israel at that time, and that Moses did not institute divorce for any cause.

 

The comments of the Pulpit Commentary on Deut. 24: 1-4 is pertinent here. It reads:

These verses should be read as one continuous sentence, of which the protasis is in vers. 1-3, and the apodosis in ver. 4. thus: “If a man hath taken a wife,and married her, and it come to pass that she doth not find favour in his eyes, because of .some uncleanness in her, and he hath written her a bill of divorce­ment, and given it in her hand, and set her out of his house; and if she hath departed out of his house, and hath gone and become another man’s; and if the latter husband hate her, and write a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house; or if the latter husband who took her to be his wife, die her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, ” etc. This ls not a law sanctioning or regulating di­vorce; that is simply assumed as which might occur, and what is here regu­lated is the treatrnent by the first husband of a woman who has been divorced a second time… The woman was held to be defiled [ver. 4] by her sec­ond marriage, and thus by implication, the marrying of a woman who had been divorced was pronounced immoral, as is by our Lord explicitly asserted (Matt.5:32).   The prohibition of a return of the wife to her first husband, as well as the necessity of a formal bill of divorcement being given to the woman before she could be sent away, could not fail to be checks on the licenseof divorce, as doubtless they were intended to be.

(H.D.M.Spence and Joseph S.Exell, Editors,  op-cit.,pp.380-,381)

 

Robert Young, who gave the world the great Young’s Concordance of the Bible, gives virtually the same translation of the Hebrew of Deut.24: 1-4 in his literal translation of the Bible as does the Pulpit Commentary, above.

The great Old Testament theologian, Gustave F. Oehler, comments on Deut.24:1-4 as follows:

The proper aim of the law (Deut. 24 ff.) lies in the closing sentence, ver.4. Ver. 1 does not contain a command, and even its last clause belongs to the conditional clause . .. the apodosis begins only in ver. 4….The Pharisees indeed say (Matt.19:7): “Why did Moses then command to give a writ­ing of divorcement, and to put her away?” but the Lord answered ver. 8;! “Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered [Greek –   permitted] you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.”

(Gustave F. Oehler: Theology of the Old Testament, 1st. ed. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House,   1883.   pp.231, 232)

[The underscoring (italicizing in this transcription) is the writer’s and he has presented the above quotes of Christ in English, whereas Gustave F. Oehler gave them in the Greek. The change has been made to assist the reader].

Christ indicates that divorce was not in the will of God for man when He brought Eve to Adam.   He said that Moses because  of the hardness of Men’s hearts (Deut.24: 1-4) permitted men to put away their wives: “but from the beginning it was (Matt.19:8). When sin entered the human race, man de­ parted from God’s original standard of marriage.   God in His wisdom and com­ passion met man where He found him in the centuries subsequent to the Fall, and then progressively revealed anew His original ethic for man. He dealt with man­kind as a pastor deals with a church which he finds in a deplorably low state; the minister begins tactfully and slowly to lift the people from the level where he finds them that he may bring them to the ultimate of his vision and standards. This analogy explains the purpose, under God, ·of…Moses’ toleration of divorce. The toleration was part of God’s pedagogical method of bringing the race grad­ually back to His Edenic standards.   God did not accept Moses’ permission of divorce as either His past, present, or future marital ethic; the divorce permission and other seeming concessions to evil were God’s efforts to reach man at the point of His deplorable moral decline in order patiently to bring mankind out of moral night into the full day of the moral ethic of the kingdom of God which Christ came to announce.

Cornelius Van Til of Westminster Theological Seminary and other eminent theologians of the past and present have recognized that God, in the Old Testa­ment period, pedagogically dealt with fallen man as a father deals with a small and infirm child. After Adam, God temporarily permitted divorce and polyg­amy; but they were never his standard of marriage. Indeed things are allowed in a child, and particularly in a sick child, that a parent would never tolerate in the same individual when he is nearing maturity.   The Apostle Paul uses this very figure of a child in Gal.4:1-8.

Christ said, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached,and every man press­eth into it” (Luke i6:i6). The twilight of the partial revelation of God’s divine ethic ended in Christ. The Apostle Paul declared,[God]”in times past suffered (permitted] all nations to walk in their own ways”…. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because . . . He will judge the world . ..by that man [Christ] whom He hath ordained”(Acts 14,16; I7:30,3l).   What God tolerated in Moses’ day, He will not tolerate today! Jesus said, in announcing the laws of the kingdom of God, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time . .. But I say unto you• (Matt.5:21,22). Certainly no citizen of the kingdom of God should now presume to live by the standards of the permissions of the Old Testament.

(From Christian Theistic Ethics by CorneliusVan Til, Westmin­ster Theological Seminary, 1951,p.85.)

 

6.  The Importance of Christ’s Comments to His Disciples When Alone with Them.

The importance of Christ’s utterances when alone with His Disciples is plain in the light of the following. When Christ completed His public teaching re­specting the parable of the sower, Mark4:1-2, the Scriptures state: “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked him of the par­able. And he said unto them, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables”(Mark 4:10,11).   Following this statement Christ gave the Disciples a private exposition of the same truth.

We find that it was Jesus’ practice to explain more fully in private what He had said in public.   In accordance with the Disciples’ custom, they asked Him, when alone, for a further explanation of His amazing declaration prohibiting the dissolution of marriage for any cause, including adultery. Then. as He was wont, He gave them a complete and final clarifying statement about the matter, and thus left no doubt in their minds that He.indeed, taught the complete indissolu­bility of marriage.

The Scriptures add, “But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to His Disciples” (Mark 4: 10, 11). .Mark frequently brings bright and clarifying details into his accounts which are not found in other parallel accounts. He particularly noted the fact that Christ often gave a further word of explanation concerning His teaching when He was alone with His Disciples. Mark 7: 17 and 9:38 provide additional examples of this practice. No other Gospel writer refers so frequently to this unique relation of Christ to His Disciples.    It is probable that the Apostle Peter told Mark privately of the “in the house” experience and utterance of Christ in Mark 10: 10- 12, or Mark may have heard the Apostle Peter refer to it in his public reaching .. Some believe that Mark was an eye witness of many things which he records. In any case. Mark 10: 10- 12 is a part of Christ’s teaching in the parallel divorce accounts, and is a commentary on Matt 19:3-9 and the Lord’s final word on the original question of the Phari­sees ( Matt. 19:3: Mark 10:2), “Is it lawful for a man to put away his .wife for every cause?”

 

Back to Chapter VII

Proceed to Chapter X

Appendix

 

 

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Series – Chapter VII – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)SatanLawyer

FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge. Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School”  for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” [ i.e., except-it-be-for-fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.  

This pivotal chapter delves deeply into verb tenses to provide a scholarly proof that Jesus cast remarriage adultery as ongoing sin, and not just a one-time event (contrary today’s second most popular evangelical myth). 

Chapter VII –  COMMENTS ON MATTHEW 19:9 (A.V.)

They [The Pharisees} 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 (19:8).

v.9  And I SAY UNTO YOU, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except itbefor fornication, and shall marry another. committeth adultery: and whosomarrteth her which ls put away doth commit adultery.

The text ls the citadel of the FIVE WORD School, since they insist that the problem and rights of the so-called “innocent party” must be settled by one sen­tence of Scripture (if the A. V. grammatical form is correct)and more strictly by the meaning of five words (the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9 A. V. ).  Because those who hold the liberal view of divorce stress these five words, the writer is pleased to refer to them as the FIVE WORD School of Divorce.  A careful exam­ination will be made of this limited citadel (Matt. 19;9 A.V.) of the FIVE WORD School.

On the surface this text has presented an enigma to the Christian Church for many generations, although it was no enigma to the Christian Church in the first four centuries of its existence. The enigma lies in the fact that, whereas all of Christ’s other divorce texts close the door to the dissolution of marriage by di­vorce for any cause whatsoever, this text appears (note it appears) to teach that one may dissolve a marriage for the cause of FORNICATION and thus free him­self to marry another. Three divorce texts of Christ(Matt.5:32; Luke16:18, and Mark 10:10,12) close the door to the apparent meaning of Matt.19:9.  In addi­tion, the Apostle Paul. who heard the teaching of the other Apostles on this ques­tion, twice closed the door to the superficial view of Matt. 19:9.  Those state­ments are Rom. 7:2, 3 and I Corw 7: 10, 11 and 39.

The author of this book believes that the apparent enigma of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) can be resolved.  The burden of a large part of the remainder of this book will be the resolution of this enigma. Certainly it cannot scripturally be resolved,  as some have attempted, by a hasty exegesis of Matt. 19:9 based largely on the meaning of the one word divorce, as understood by the Pharisees, without regard to all the salient aspects of the context and the general tenor of Scripture bearing on the same subject.

A fundamental law of interpretation, as indicated on page 11 is that the Bible must be interpreted harmonistically.   All parts of the Bible will harmonize if un­derstood correctly.  Obviously, an interpreter or school of doctrine will be iner­ror if either arbitrarily forces the many texts presenting one unified view of a doctrine to harmonize with a private interpretation of one isolated text. This rule in itself would cause an objective student to search for the solution of the enig­ma by seeking to ascertain whether the ONE isolated text could be aligned with the MANY texts which agree in presenting a different view rather than taking the superficial method of depending upon the ONE isolated text for interpretation of the subject in question.   The better method can be followed if all students considering the problem are willing to approach the study of this text on the above sound principles of interpretation. which have been followed by the Church of Christ from generation to generation.  Should followers of the FIVE WORD School insist that students approaching this study must interpret the MANY texts onthe subject in the light of their ONE,  isolated text, they should not be amazed to find that objective students approaching the problem will be completely skepti­cal as to their conclusions, not to say shocked that any evangelical school of thought would presume to follow such a fallacious principle of interpretation.

 

A.  The Context of Matt. 19:9  is important

The context of this text will be treated in the Harmony of Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark10:1-12. It will be important that we study the context very carefully and objectively, for a wise divine of the past has said, “Etymology will kill you, but context will save you. ” Because a large segment of the FIVE WORD School’s ar­gument is based on the meaning of the word “divorce” as particularly used in this  context, a thorough study of this context, in all of its ramifications will be vital in solving the enigma presented to us by Matt. 19:9 (A. V.).  As quoted earlier, “At times when all the grammatical data are known the sentence is still uninterpreted … . The study of the context takes ts place with the study of words and good grammar is absolutely basic to determining the meaning of a sentence.”

Bernard Ramm, loc. cit. (Ref.4)

 

B.   A Study of the Text as Found in the Authorized Version of 1611.

1.  Its General Grammatical Structure Should Be Considered.

Greek scholars agree that an exceptive clause may not necessarily modify both the clause preceding it and the clause immediately following it. The light of the context and the general tenor of Scripture bearing on the problem helps the gram­marian to determine which clause it does modify.  According to the above rule, the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) may or may not modify the clause which immediately follows it.  Further light from the study of the context and other divorce texts will be necessary to decide wise­ly whether it modifies that clause.   The clause reads, “and marrieth another.”   This clause is not found in Matt. 5:32 as observed earlier.

The rules of Greek grammar, like the rules of English grammar, do not allow one.  at will, to lift a clause out of one independent clause and put it either at the end of a second independent clause or at some ·other point arbitrarily chosen by an interpreter to favor his predetermined view of the interpretation of the statement   in question.  English rules of grammar will illustrate the point.   We quote from a standard text book in English:

A clause is a group of words containing both subject and predicate used as only part of a sentence.  A clause may be dependent or independent …., An independent clause . . . is a group of words containing both subject and predicate and capable of standing alone as a sentence.   For example: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handiwork.   Each of these clauses is independent, and each could stand alone as a simple sentence .. . . Whether such a group of words is a sentence or an inde­pendent clause depends entirely upon the way the writer uses it; it is a matter of rhetorical rather than of grammatical unity-a matter of effectiveness rather than correctness.

(Norman Foerster and J.M. Steadman: Writing and Thinking. New York, Hough­ton Mifflin Company,   1931.   pp. 130,131)

The Syriac Peshito Text of 150 A. D. divides Matt. 19:9 into two sentences.  In view of the fact that no punctuation appears in the original Greek manuscripts, there are wide variations among translators in their sentence structure of a given passage.   An example of the above is found in Goodspeed’s translation of Matt. 21: 18, 19.   Compare the Authorized Version with Goodspeed’s which follows:

In the morning as he went back to the city. he grew hungry, and seeing a fig tree by the roadside, he went up to it, but found nothing on it but leaves. And he said to it “No more fruit shall ever grow on. you!”  

Notice there is no period separating verses 18 and 19 in the Goodspeed trans­lation. Observe also that he divides verse 19 into two sentences instead of one as in the Authorized Version.  This difference in translations could be multiplied by the hundreds. Inasmuch as only the original Greek manuscripts of the NewTestament were verbally inspired, no translator is bound by the punctuation of any version, including the Authorized Version, in the sentence structure of his translation.   It is important at this point to be reminded of the fact that the Greek con­junctive KAI, which is translated AND at the beginning of the last clause (an in­dependent clause) of Matt.19:9(A.V.), is also the introductory word of a sentence in hundreds of places in the New Testament.   A few examples of this are found in Matt. 21: 19, 20, 22, 23, 24.

Students of the New Testament must be careful to avoid building an interpretation of a verse merely on the punctuation of a given English translation. Rather, they should interpret a given sentence or passage of the best manuscripts according to established rules of Greek grammar. The rules of English grammar may be of assistance where they are similar to the rules of the Greek.  When a verse remains as a single, isolated text, apparently contradicting by its grammar vir­tually all the other texts bearing on the same doctrine, one must carefully re­examine all the seeming contradictory texts and their contexts in an objective manner.  If, after careful study, these texts still stand unitedly as one, chal­lenging the seeming contradiction of the isolated text, it will be necessary to consider whether the exegesis of the many texts does not compel one to look for an alternative understanding of the grammatical structure of the one text in question. This will be especially true if the immediate and full context of the verse supports the view of doctrine set forth in the majority of texts bearing on the same subject. If the isolated text described above has a strong variant Greek reading which is accepted by a goodly number of outstanding scholars, it too must be studied to see whether it provides the answer to the enigma of the problem of the seeming contradiction between ONE conflicting and the MANY agreeing texts under study.

The FIVE WORD School insists that the exceptive clause modifies the last sec­tion of the sentence bearing on the remarriage of the divorced wife Of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.).   The doctrine of this portion of the sentence, as noted earlier, is con­firmed by Matt.5:32 and Luke16:18.  The fact that Christ abrogated the divorce permission of Moses which formerly allowed a divorced wife to remarry is further evidence that the latter portion of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) should not be modified by the exceptive clause.  And as we have seen (in the Syriac Peshito text), inde­pendent clauses may just as well be separate sentences. The evidence presented to this point should be sufficient of itself to prove substantially that the exceptive clause does not modify the portion affecting the remarriage of the divorced wife.

It is vitally important to see that the main thrust of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) presents the sin of a man who puts away his wife without a cause of FORNICATION and the consequent sin of the divorced wife   if she proceeds to marry again because her husband has divorced her and married another.  There is little doubt that the husband in question married again, for that is the very reason for which the Phar­isees divorced their wives.  Careful observation will reveal that in the major thrust of this text (in the Authorized Version), the words, like those in 5:32 and Luke16:18, are set in juxtaposition to those of Deut.24:1-4 to declare emphatically and unequivocally that Christ abrogated the divorce permission of Moses.  The divorce standards of the Pharisees jeopardized their entrance into the king­dom of God.  May God grant that no one pursuing this study will jeopardize his own soul or the souls of others by the doctrine of divorce which he accepts and propagates.    Observe that the divorce text of Christ (Matt. 5:32), which abrogated the divorce permission of Moses (Deut. 24:1-4), stands in a context wherein Christ is raising the standards above the low standards of the Pharisees.   Note also that He said, in this very setting:

For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matt.5:20).

The Christian’s soul and the souls for whom he may be responsible will be in danger if he and they hold a divorce standard no higher than that of the Pharisees. The school of Shammai of the Pharisees permitted innocent spouses to marry another for the cause of adultery, contrary to the standards of Christ.  The FIVE WORD School alleges that both the innocent husband of the minor thrust of Matt. 19:9(A.V.) and the innocent wife of the major thrust of the text have a right to remarry after divorce.   The latter, it believes, is free to marry again when her husband has committed adultery by marrying another, since it judges the innocent husband of the minor thrust of the verse to be free to marry again when his wife commits adultery.

The considerations which follow will show the conclusions of this school to be completely unfounded.

The fallacy of the FIVE WORD position in Matt.19:9 is first shown by its strange exegesis where by it allegedly frees the innocent wife of Matt.19:9(A.V.) to remarry while her first mate is still living.  This school believes, as is gen­erally known, that the presumed modification of the first half of the verse by the exceptive clause(“except it be for fornication”) permits the innocent husband of the minor thrust of the text to remarry.  It then necessarily proceeds to assert that the latter half of the text is also modified by the exceptive clause, for if it is not, the doctrine of the right of the innocent husband to remarry in the first half of the verse collapses. By its alleged modification of the last half of the text by the exceptive clause, it presumes to assert that the innocent wife of the major thrust is freed to marry again when her husband commits adultery by marrying another.

The absurdity of the modification of the latter portion of the text. as well as the first, becomes apparent when one visualizes the necessary grammatical re­sult.  If, as this school teaches, the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) mod­ifies both the first and last half of the text in its major thrust, then it must do the same in the minor thrust, with the consequence that the TEXT would, in the latter instance by FIVE WORD interpretation, read as follows:

“Whosoever shall put away his wife for fornication and shall marry another does not commit adultery, and he that marrieth her when she is put away does not commit adultery. ”

The total effect of the above nullifies with one stroke one phase of what   the  FIVE WORD School teaches, namely, that whereas it is right for an “innocent party” to marry another while the first mates lives, the “guilty party (an unchaste mate) is not free to do likewise.   The FIVE WORD School is forced by its  strange exegesis and interpretation to allow the “adulterous mate” of the minor thrust of the text to marry again, as the TEXT above,  as altered by FIVE WORD exegesis, shows.  Whether this school wills to do so or not, it divides the text, and makes one half of it contradict the other. This will be further discussed be­low.

In its zeal allegedly to prove that the word divorce always means the com­plete dissolution of the marriage bond, the FIVE WORD School stresses the fact that the divorce of the wife in Deut.24: 1-4 inherently carried with it the right of the husband to remarry while at the same time permitting the woman also to marry another, either before or after her husband had married again.  The FIVE WORD School believes that Christ was using the word in the same sense in Matt.19:9.  The teachers of this school conclude therefore, that as it was not a sin for the innocent wife under Moses to remarry when her husband remarried. it is no sin under Christ for the innocent wife of the type described in Matt. 5:32 to marry again when her husband does so, for they assert that always means the dissolution of the marriage bond.  This kind of so-called logic (as that of the false exegesis described above),  if consistently followed, will also permit an adulterous wife to marry again.   Indeed, Moses allowed an innocent wife to marry again when she was divorced, for he stated in Deut. 24:I,2:

AND WHEN SHE IS DEPARTED out of his house, she may go and BE ANOTHER MAN’S WIFE.

BUT the LORD JESUS CHRIST said:   It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement; BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, That whosoever shall put away hls wife,  saving for the cause of FORNICATION, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery (Matt.5:31, 32).

Indeed, under Moses, it was no sin for an innocent wife who was divorced to marry again when her husband remarried but it was otherwise under Christ.  He said she committed adultery in doing so (Luke 16: 18).   As shown earlier in this book, her remarriage constituted adultery, specifically because Christ abrogated the divorce permission of Moses (Deut. 24: 1-4),  and thus the husband’s remar­riage was not valid in the sight of God.  She had no right, therefore, to remarry when his marriage union with her (his first wife) was still binding.  The sin of adultery of the husband did not break the earlier union.  If it did, then an unhappy spouse could free himself (or herself) simply by marrying another.

The Holy Scriptures say, “IN THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES SHALL EVERY WORD BE ESTABLISHED.”   The text of Luke 16:18 reaffirms that Christ’s abrogation of the divorce permission of Moses rescinded the Mosaic rightof an innocent, divorced wife to marry again under any circumstances, except the death of her mate(I Cor.7:10.11,39).  “A house divided against itself cannot stand, ” neither can an interpretation which divides a text against itself.  If an innocent wife cannot marry again, surely an innocent husband may not do so either.  The latter part of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) forbids an innocent wife to remarry, as does Luke 16: 18 (R. V.)below:

Everyone that putteth away his wife, and marrleth another, committeth adul­tery: and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband committeth adultery.

The fallacy of the doctrine and exegesis of the FIVE WORD School is further shown by its blindness to the context of Matt. 19:9, which in at least twelve points, shows that Christ did not provide for the dissolution of any marriage for cause.  The detailed discussion of this subject occurs on pages 92 through107.   The frightful results of FIVE WORD exegesis shown in this section will be de­scribed in detail on pages 126 through 132 of the Appendix.

2.  An Examination of the FIVE WORD School’s Method of Modifying Other Divorce Texts, and Portions thereof, by ONE Exceptive Clause is noted.

The liberal school of divorce regards its one principal modifying clause (the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9, A. V.) to be more important in determining the meaning of Matt. 19:9 (A.V.) and all other divorce texts than the modi­fying clauses of other divorce texts which contradict the liberal view of Matt.19:9.  The several modifying clauses to which the writer refers are indicated below and are virtually identical in the closing portions of these texts (Matt. 5:32; 19:9, and Luke 16:18).  The last portion of these several texts reads:

And whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

The main thrust of the several verses above presents the woman in question as a chaste wife.  We have in these verses, therefore, a three-fold testimony that there is an “innocent party” who may not marry another, even though her mate has committed adultery marrying another.  The abrogation of the di­vorce law of Moses (Deut.24: 1-4) reveals clearly and positively that this chaste wife cannot, under Christ. marry another even when her husband divorces her and marries again, because his second marriage is not valid and he is,  consequently, living in a state of adultery. The fact that he lives in a state of adultery does not allow her to go and do likewise.

Should not the modifying element in three divorce texts have more weight in settling the right of an innocent spouse to marry again than one modifying ele­ment of one isolated divorce text(Matt.19:9, A.V.)?  How strange is the method of interpretation of the FIVE WORD School!

 

3. The Tense of “COMMITTETH ADULTERY” (moichaomai) in Matt. 19:9 is Significant.

Many evangelical pastors and Bible teachers are strict exegetes, as they ex­pect others of their profession to be, in the interpretation of Scriptures relatingto the great doctrines of redemption and the future life, but fail through indif­ference or neglect to apply the same thorough exegesis to Scriptures relating to divorce.   Surely they should give as much careful attention to the   meaning of the Greek tenses in the divorce passages as in those of other important doctrines.  In both the main and minor thrust of Matt.19:9 (A. V. ) the tense of the verb in question is the present.   Does the spouse committing adultery commit an isolated act in the specific moment of being physically joined to the second or latter mate. or does the un­scriptural remarriage of a spouse put him into a state of adultery? Is the sin one momentary sin of the past, or is it a continuing sin so long as he unlawfully re­mains in marital union with his second or latter spouse?  Obviously, the remar­ried divorcees in question are those whose first mates are still living while they live with subsequent unlawful mates.

A definition of the present tense from A Manual of the Greek Grammar of the New Testament by Dana and Mantey follows:

The fundamental significance of the present tense is the idea of progress.  It is the linear tense . . . . Since there is no aorist tense for present time, the present tense, as used in the indicative. must do service for both linear and punctiliar action.  But it is to be borne in mind that the idea of present time is secondary in the force of the tense.  The time element belongs to the in­dicative mood,  where the present tense is really the “imperfect of present time,”  while what we know as the imperfect tense is the “imperfect of past time. ”  The progressive force of the present tense should always be considered as primary, especially with reference to the potential moods, which in the nature of the case do not need any “present punctiliar” tense.

(H. E. Dana and Julius R. Mantey:  A   Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament,  New York. The Macmillan Company, 1947. p. 181.)

Williams’ translation of the New Testament is held by many to be one of the most accurate modern translations of the Greek tenses of the New Testament.  He translates Matt.7:21 as follows:

Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those who practice doing the will of my Father which is in heaven.  

The Authorized Version of the same text gives the last clause of the verse as follows:

But he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Charles B. Williams justifies this translation by stating in his footnote that the word doeth is in the present tense and is therefore better translated “practice doing.”

(Charles B. Williams:   The New   Testament,   A   Translation   in   the   Language of the People.   Chicago, Moody Press,   1937. p. 24)

Similarly. he translates the present tense of verbs of other passages in a manner to convey the meaning of a continuing action or a continuous state or process. See Williams’ translations of Mark 3,9; 14: 18;  Acts 10,2, and Rom. 6:13.

A.T. Robertson gives examples of the force of the present tense          in the follow­ing passages, John 15:4; Rom. 5, I; 6: I; I John 3,6, 9.   He comments on I John3:6 as follows:

Sinneth not (ourch hamartanei).  Linear present (linear menon, keeps on abiding) active indicative of hamartano, “does not keep on sinning. ” . . ..Whosoever sinneth (ho hamarranon).   Present (linear) active articular parti­ciple like menon above, “the one who keeps on sinning” (lives a life of sin, not mere occasional acts of sin as hamartesas, aorist active participle, would mean).

(Archibald Thomas Robertson:   Word Pictures in the New Testament,   Vol.VI. Nashville,   Tennessee,   Sunday School Board of Southern   Baptist Convention, 1933. p.222)

 

The word moichaomai (commits adultery) is in the present tense each time it is used in the major thrust of Matt.5:32; 19:9; Mark 10: 11,12, and Luke 16:18; and except in the major thrust of Matt. 5: 32 and in the variant reading of the major thrust of Matt. 19:9,  the tense is the present in every instance in all of the texts noted at the beginning of this paragraph. The tense in the exceptions is the aorist, infinitive, passive. the word being then moicheuthenai.   In these two cases it is used to show that a divorced chaste wife is made to suffer adultery because of the wrong of her husband in putting her away and thus projecting her into the sin of an illicit (adulterous) marriage, or into the sin of harlotry. These two exceptions obviously have no bearing on the fact that the verb “commits adultery” (moichaomai) is in each instance in the present tense when referring to a man who puts away his wife.   These two exceptions do not alter the fact thatany man-who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery (present tense) and he who marries her that is thus put away commits adultery (present tense).

The present tense of moichaomai stands out more pronouncedly when the reader observes that the verb apoluse (putteth away) is the same form of the verb in the forepart of Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Luke 16: 18, and in both Mark 10: 11 and 12. Theverb is in the active voice, subjunctive mood of the aorist tense.  The verb “put­teth away” in the latter part of Matt.5:32; 19:9, and Luke16:18 is apolelumenen. It is the passive voice of the perfect tense. The perfect tense usually represents an action as standing omplete at the time of speaking. It implies a past action and affirms an existing result.  However, the word moichatai (committeth adul­tery) in both instances in Matt. 19:9 is in the present tense which does not speak of the act as completed or finished, but of a state or a continuing practice of evil.

Had Christ wanted to indicate that the sin of adultery in qµestion was a sin­ful act completed in the past, He would not have used the Greek present tense but the aorist tense in the indicative mood. or He would have used the perfect tense.

One of the greatest authorities on the subject of moods and tenses of the Greek is Ernest De Witt Burton.   A statement of his textbook in this field says:

The constant characteristic of the aorist tense in all of its moods, including the participle, is that it represents the action denoted by it indefinltely: i.e.simply as an event, neither on the one hand picturing it in progress, or on the other affirming the existence of its result. The name indefinite as thus understood is therefore applicable to the tense in all of its uses.

As respects the point of view from which the action is looked at, however, we may distinguish three functions of the tense common to all of its moods.

First, it may be used to describe an action or event in its entirety . .

Second, it may be used to denote the inception of a state…It belongs to verbs which in the Present and Imperfect denote the continuance of a state

Thirdly, it may be used to denote the success of an effort . . .

(Ernest DeWitt Burton: Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in New Testament Greek. 2nd ed. Chicago, University Press of Chicago,   1893. pp. I6 ,17.)

 

Observe that in Luke 16: 18 it says that both the man who puts away his wife and marries another “committeth adultery” (present tense), and the man who marries a wife that is divorced “committeth adultery.”  In neither case does it say. or does any similar statement in the other divorce texts say, “He did commit adultery, in the wedding ceremony,   or in the first act of consummating  the physical union,” but he “committeth adultery,” that is, he is NOW COMMITTING adultery in his continuing illicit relations with the one who is not his lawful spouse before God.

John the Baptist told King Herod, respecting Herodias, whom he had ta ken to be his wife,   “It is not lawful for thee to have her” (Matt.14:4).   Josephus informs us that Herodias had divorced Philip and that Herod had divorced his wife prior to marrying Herodias.   According to John the Baptist,  Herod was living in adultery with a pretended wife.  What many fail to realize is that the marriage laws of God are LIVING LAWS.   They are vibrantly active and in mo­tion under God, today!

Were it possible to get rid of the force of the present tense of moichaomai, “committeth adultery,” which It is not, one would not there by alter the fact that Christ taught that any spouse who maintains the intimacies of a true marriage while in an unscriptural marriage is living in adultery.  This is clear from the fact that He said ( Matt. 5:32, 19:9; Luke 16: 18) that whoever marries a divorced woman committeth adultery, as obviously the divorced woman who remarried did also. And why did this woman commit adultery by her later marriage? could only be because Christ recognized the first marriage of herself and husband as still binding and therefore undissolved. Certainly, it could not have been adultery for her to marry another if the first husband had dissolved the earlier union by getting a divorce from her and marrying another.

Had the Christian Church regarded the true import of the present tense of moichaomai, she would not have treated the doctrine of divorce so lightly, nor would she have accepted divorcees into official and semi-official relationships (the offices and teaching positions of the Sunday School among others) of the local congregation.  Indeed, the present tense of moichaomai indicates beyond any doubt that a Hollywood star who marries another while his true wife is still living is in a present, continuing state of adultery.   As Billy Graham has said of the many times remarried divorcees of Hollywood, they are “living in adultery.”

Should young people of any evangelical church believe that the unscriptural act of marrying another while having a living partner is but an isolated sinful act of the past, having no relationship to a present sinful state of adultery, then surely such young people will, without compunction of conscience, secure divorces for sundry causes to marry other spouses.  On the basis of such a false premise they would reason,  when they found themselves unhappily married: I have com­mitted even presumptive sins of other character and yet have been forgiven of those past sins.    I know that adultery is not an unpardonable sin. I shall divorce my mate and marry another more to my liking, even though such a remarriage is the sin of adultery, for when the act of consummating marriage is over, the sin of adultery is a past sin, not affecting the future state of my new spouse and me, providing that I ask God to forgive me for it.  Many a pastor knows that not a few professing Christians excuse their sinful course of divorce and remarriage by such a method of rationalization.

If one refuses to accept the significance of the present   tense   of moichaomai in the divorce texts, he must needs approve marriages which are disapprovedby the Lord Jesus Christ.  Such a person should remember that the innocent wife of Matt. 5:31, 32 was forbidden by Christ to remarry when her husband divorced her and married again.  The identical prohibition appears more emphatically in Luke 16: 18, Williams translates the latter text as follows:

Any man who di­vorces his wife to marry another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries the woman divorced from her husband commits adultery…

Should the wife in question remarry, both the second marriage of the former husband and her second marriage would be invalid before a holy God; nor if the aforementioned spouses should intreat the God of Israel to forgive them and put His stamp ofap­proval upon their second marriages, would this change the fact that such mar­riages are disapproved of God.   The divorce law of the kingdom of God pro­claimed by Jesus Christ ( Matt, 5:31. 32; 19:9; Mark 10: 11, 12; Luke 16:18) makes this positively clear.

Does the divorce law of a given state or an action of its courts legalize before heaven a marriage which in the sight of God is a state of adultery.  Does the fact that a state legalizes gambling and prostitution make them non-sinful before GodCan any true Christian believe that a state has the authority before heaven to dis­solve a marriage which before God is indissoluble and thus legalize an adulterous union?  Can it, presto. by legal means, make pure mates out of adulterous mates who have no right to another marriage because one or the other or both have ion an unmarried couple who were living together unlawfully before the state and­ unscripturally before heaven?   A Christian Judge has said that an unscriptural union may become before the state a legal marriage, but it does not by its author­ity become a legal marriage before heaven.  What is taken as a proper marriage standard by the unregenerate must not be taken as a proper standard before God. The significance of the present tense of moichaomai in the divorce texts of Christ explains why the Apostle Paul in I Tim.3:2 wrote: “‘A bishop [Greek.episkopon], overseer then must be blameless, the husband of one wife”. The “one” in question clearly means one at a time.  In commenting on the passage, and particularly the phrase “‘of one wife”,  A. T. Robertson states, “One at a time clearly. “22

(Archibald Thomas Robenson,   op. cit. Vol.IV. p.572.)

 

The Apostle repeats the same exhortation in Tit.1 :5.6 when he speaks of the appointment of elders as bishops (episkopon). The following comment on this text byJoh. Ed. Huther In Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the New Testament is important here:

This expression cannot here be properly referred to polygamy; for although polygamy might at that time be still found among the civilized heathen, and even among the Jews, it was a rare exception.

(Joh Ed.Huther:Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book to the NewTestament, Vol. Timothy-Titus, New York. Funk and Wagnalls, 1885. p.II7).

The Americana encyclopaedia confirms the above. Paul’s statement in ITim.3:2 must therefore refer to a man who has divorced his former mate and married another and who thus has two wives. T. A. Lacey. D. D. , F. S. A., in his book, Marriage in Church and State, in commenting on the passage,”the husband of one wife” (I Tim.3:2) has shown that the interpretation that asserts that this phrase means that polygamy was permitted in the Church for all except the elders is wholly fallacious.   Dr. Lacey clarifies his position by pointing out the import of I Tim.5:9, and the significance of polygamy’s relation to divorce. The state­ment of I Tim. 5:9, “Let not a widow be taken into the number. Under three score years old, having been the wife of one man ….. indicates that a widow who was eligible within the Church to receive old age assistance must have been mar­ried only to one man. The entire New Testament supports monogamy as the rule of God. Its condemnation of marriage after divorce confirms this rule; for if it were right to take a second wife while having the first wife, it would be right to take another wife after divorcing the first. The absence of any prohibition against polygamy in the New Testament is sufficient evidence to affirm that polygamy was unknown among the society that heard the Gospel preached in the time of the Apostle Paul.

(T.A. Lacey: Marriage in Church and State. London, the Society for Promot­ion of Christian Knowledge, 1947, p.11.)

W.J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson in their book, The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, have given the following comment on the phrase, “the husband of one wife,” (I Tim.3:2):

Compare 3;12, v.9 and Tit.1:6. Many different interpretations have been given to this precept.   It has been supposed (1) to prescribe marriage, (2) to forbid polygamy, (3) to forbid second marriages. The true interpretation seems to be as follows: In the corrupt facility of divorce allowed both by Greek and Roman law, it was very common for man and wife to separate, and marry other parties, during the life of one another.   Thus a man might have three or four living wives; or, rather, women who had all successively been his wives. An example of the operation of a similar code is unhappily to be found in our own colony of Mauritius:   there the French Revolutionary law of divorce has been suffered by the English government to remain unrepealed, and it is not uncommon to meet in society three or four women who have all been the wives of the same man, and three or four men who have all been the husbands of the same woman. We believe it is this kind of successive polygamy rather than simultaneous polygamy, which is here spoken of as disqualifying for the Presbyterate.

(W.J. Conybeare and J. S. Howson:   The Life and Epistles of Saint Paul. Grand Rapids, Wm.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,1949. p.751).

The Apostle Paul in setting this standard (I Tim.3:2) was supporting what he knew Christ taught (I Cor. 7: 10, 11).   Paul’s own statements in Rom. 7:2, 3, I Cor. 7: 10, 11, 39 reveal that he believed in the complete indissolubility of marriage, and the right of a wife to marry another only when her husband died. He recognized that any man who divorced a wife and married another while the firstwife was still living had two wives at a time rather than one at a time (I Tim.3:2;Tit.1:6). The quotation of John 4:16-18 is pertinent here: “Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband.”  

4.  The Difficulty of Resolving the Problems of Unscriptural Unions Should be Considered Carefully

The significance of the present tense provides for no hasty and arbitrary advice and action on the part of a pastor towards divorcees who come to the alter of his church. Some have hurriedly advised such people to separate speedily, and have caused some of the unfortunates quickly to add sin to sin, either in one orthe other’s marrying again unscripturally. The welfare of the children of such a un­ion will be in jeopardy if the parents in question act without divine guidance. Some conservative teachers have recommended that parents of unscriptural unions may protect their children, while they preserve a good conscience before God, by liv­ing together as brother and sister without sharing in the conjugal rights which belong to a scriptural union. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind,” of the course which God would have him to pursue under such or similar circum­stances. The Assemblies of God appears to have done well to state in its manual “We recommend that these cases be left in the hands of the Lord, and that they walk in the light as God lets it shine on their souls.”

(Minutes and Constitution of the Assemblies of God, Springfield, Missouri, Gos­pel Publishing House, 1955.   p.102).

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC Note An extracted portion of this chapter originally found on pages 49-51 of this text has been moved to the end of the Appendix.   This section deals with theories on how spouses who come under conviction for being in an adulterous remarriage may resolve the sinful state they find themselves in.    This section includes quotes from several individuals reflecting assumptions that have not undergone the same level of rigorous application of hermeneutical principles  as the rest of the book’s content has.   Additionally, these statements conflict with the overall content of the book to which such principles have been applied.

 

The conviction that Christ clearly taught that marriage is indissoluble has led some younger evangelical churches which have earnestly striven to return to the

Apostolic standards of the Bible to set forth such declarations as given below. The position of the Christian and Missionary Alliance follows:

  • That divorced people who are remarried should not be used in public service in our work.   (Adopted In 1921, reaffirmed Council 1949.)
  • That divorced persons who are remarried shall not be elected or appointed to national offices or be given Christian and Missionary Alliance Credentials or Christian Workers Certificates.   (Council 1949).
  • That we earnestly and urgently request the local pastors to adhere, in the fu­ture, to this principle in all elective and appointive positions of trust and in­fluence in their churches or branches for the sake of preserving our testimony and for an example to the believers,   (Council 1949.)
  • That any flagrant violation of the above shall be subject to review and scrip­tural action by the District Executive Committee,   (Council 1949.)
  • That pastors of the Christian and Missionary Alliance should not perform the marriage ceremony for divorced persons. (Adopted in 1921, reaffirmed Coun­cil 1949.)29

(Manual of the Christian and Missionary Alliance,  New York,   1955.   p. 68.

The position of the Assemblies of God is very similar to the declaration of the Christian and Missionary Alliance:

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC Note: The following position and supporting doctrine was materially and unscripturally changed beginning in 1973 per the Minutes of the Annual General Assembly.   It was further updated in 2002 to require pastors to perform weddings for divorced parties who are seeking to remarry regardless that they have an estranged, living covenant spouse  to whom God considers them still married until death.                                                                                     

We disapprove of any General Council minister performing a marriage cere­mony for anyone who has been divorced and whose former companion is still living. We also warn that any minister of our fellowship who performs such a ceremony, unless he is innocently deceived into doing the same, may be dis­missed from the Council.

There are now among Christian people those who became entangled in their marriage relations in their former lives of sin, and who do not see how these matters can be adjusted. We recommend that these cases be left in the hands of the Lord, and that they walk in the light as God lets it shine on their souls.

Low standards on marriage and divorce are very hurtful to individuals, to the family and to the cause of Christ, therefore we discourage divorce by all law­ful means and teaching. We positively disapprove of Christians getting a di­vorce for any cause except for fornication and adultery (Matt. 19:9); and recommend the remaining single of all divorced Christians, and that they pray God so to keep them in purity and peace.   (See I Corinthians 7.)

Since it is generally accepted among us that such persons are not to serve in official capacities in our churches, we recommend that this standard be upheld by all our assemblies.

(Minutes and Constitution of the Assemblies of God, op.cit.,pp.72, 102,193.)

The MANUAL of the Pilgrim Holiness Church presents the following respecting divorce and remarriage:

Let no one be elected as a [local] leader who is careless of our Covenant and the obligations imposed therein. A leader should be an example to the flock of Christ. If it be known that an individual has been divorced from one com­panion and has married another without the former having died, or is married to one who has another living companion; . . .let the local church board see that he is not elected to any church office, or if elected that he be speed­ily removed. •••

Any minister or deaconess who has been divorced from one companion and has married another without the former having died, or is married to one who has another living companion, shall not be licensed or ordained, and any minister or deaconess who violates this rule shall be dismissed immediately from his ministerial standing.   •••

In these days of multiplied divorces and great laxity relative to the marriage question, it is fully agreed that no minister shall unite in holy wedlock any who have been divorced.•••

Credentials of ministers who have been divorced from one companion and have married another without the former having died are not recognized.

(Manual of the Pilgrim Holiness Church. Indianapolis, The Pilgrim Publishing House, 1956. pp. 35, 88, 89,93)

 

The Apostle was deeply concerned about the example of believers, both before the world and the church. “Be thou an example of the believers . . . (I Tim.4: 12); “in all things shewing thyself a pattern of good. ” (Tit.2:7). “A bishop then must be irreproachable, the husband of wife”‘ (I Tim.3:2-Weymouth). The footnote of the fifth edition of this translation reads: “This was interpreted to mean that a bishop must not be married more than once.” 32

(Richard Francis Weymouth:   The New Testament in Modem Speech.   5th Ed. New York, Harper & Brothers (former publisher: The Pilgrim Press, Boston, 1939).   p.501.

 

 

If John the Baptist had been married a second time while a former mate was still living, would his preaching to Herod respecting his sin in being married to Herodias, his brother’s wife, have brought any conviction to Herod? John said, “It is not lawful for thee to have her” (Matt.14:4).

The standards of Christian ministers should not be lower than those of the Mosaic priesthood. The priest of the Old Testament was forbidden to marry a divorced wife. “Neither shall they take a woman put away (divorced) from her husband: for he is holy unto his God” (Lev.21:7). See also Lev.21:14. Certainly any group which claims to cherish holiness standards should protect their testimony and heritage by requiring a clear-cut example in the life and conduct of its church leaders.   “He ought also to bear an exemplary character among non-Christians… ” (I Tim.3:7 – A.S.Way).

Indeed, there are specific things a man may do in his unregenerate state which, although they be cleansed by the blood of Christ upon his repentance and accept­ance of Christ, simply disqualify him for public ministry. Unlike lying, theft, murder, or a single act of adultery committed prior to salvation, the continua­tion of an unscripturalsecond-marriage (or subsequent union) advertises both to the world and to the church a state which Christ seven times (Matt. 5:32;19:9; Luke16:18; Mark10:11,12) designated a continuing sin by virtue of his use of the word moichaomai (committeth adultery) in the present tense. Even the world of enlightened nations look upon such relationships as a public scandal. The above is the reason why many local churches that believe in the indissolubility of mar­riage will not accept converted remarried divorcees or their spouses into the mem­bership of their churches, although they do welcome these “unfortunate mates” into the comfort and nurture of the church. A church’s refusal to permit convert­ed remarried divorcees or their spouses to hold elective or appointive offices in the church will testify that she supports the marriage standards of the Lord Jesus Christ, and thereby declares that such marriages are a continuing example of a union disapproved by Jesus Christ. May God help holiness, evangelical churches to keep their marital standards as high as the Scriptures, to protect their youth and the youth of the world about them from entering into second marriages which are disallowed in the sight of God.

The Church of the Nazarine presents the following in their Manual of1952:

We hold that persons who obtain divorce under the civil law where the scrip­tural ground for divorce, namely, adultery, does not exist, and who remarry subsequently, are living in adultery, and are unworthy of membership in the Church of the Nazarene . ..A woman marries a man who had been previously married and unscripturally divorced. Would she be barred from membership In the Church of the Naza­rene provided her own individual case met the requirements for membership? Ans. Such a person as that referred to would be barred from membership in the Church of the Nazarene. 33

(Manual of the Church of the Nazarene. Kansas City, Nazarene Publishing House,   1952.   pp.47,310.)

 

May every converted spouse of an unscriptural marriage walk according to the spiritual light which God grants to him as he diligently studies the Bible and ear­nestly seeks the face of God for His directions. “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” (Rom. 14:22). See pages 157 through 159 for detailed suggestions for dealing with the tangled problems of converted divorcees presented by Donald Gee of England. Other pertinent comment is given there respecting this difficult matter.

Many of the FIVE WORD School hold that the conservative position of divorce makes the resolution of problems relating to unscriptural unions much more dif­ficult to settle. To the contrary, any position which admits an exception to the strict “no remarriage after divorce” principle will place greater and more diffi­cult burdens upon the church. When the church permits divorce and remarriage for adultery, she will find the administration of such a concession very complex if she is conscientious and fair. Many more difficulties grow out of the liberal position than grow out of the conservative position. Pastors will be at the mercyof the formal language of the divorce decree, which in most states does not dis­close the grounds upon which the divorce was granted, and the self-serving tes­timony of the divorced individual.   Special ecclesiastical counselors and courts of the denomination will be necessary to guide the local church and her pastor if the liberal view of Matt.19:9 is followed. If the local church or its denomination’s ecclesiastical court is to judge honestly and righteously, it must needs inquire and determine who is the truly more innocent party, even when adultery is in ques­tion. Furthermore, the recognition of the dissolution of marriage for one cause will certainly lead eventually to the dissolution of marriage for causes other than adultery, as the history of more than one of the great Protestant churches attests. Most church leaders of the FIVE WORD persuasion also permit divorce for de­sertion. If they permit divorce for desertion as well as for adultery, where can they stop if they are consistent with a divorce doctrine which accommodates it­self to the unhappy circumstances of unfortunate mates?

 

The following quotation from Newsweek of June 18, 1956, further confirms the statements above:

Until such time as the Holy Spirit speaks a clearer word,”the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.(Southern) has taken a revamped stand on the question of marriage of divorced persons.   At the conclusion of the 96th General Assembly last week in Montreat, N.C., delegates representing 781,000 church members recommended that the Con­fession of Faith be revised to ban marriage after divorce. (Formerly, excep­tion was made for the innocent party in a divorce granted on the grounds of adultery or willful desertion.) At the same time, the body approved a system under which individual churches may rule on the eligibility of divorced per­sons for marriage after due penitence and recognition of responsibility.   The assembly hoped that its action, which must be approved by the district church courts, would present a “temporary working solution” to a problem which has caused disagreement between (a) those who take the strict Biblical view that death alone can dissolve marriage and (b) those who do not.

(“Penitence and Divorce,” The Newsweek, (June 18, 1956), New York, p.81.)

The acceptance of the liberal view of Matt. 19:9 will not free the FIVE WORD School from a multitude of divorce problems relating to those which grow out of unscriptural marital unions which they themselves allow are not valid in the sight of God. These unfortunates have not validated their union by unscriptural mar­riages. It takes more than a wedding ceremony and a state’s marriage license authorizing marriage to effect a scriptural union of two while one has a living mate. Someone has facetiously said,   “The easiest way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.” Ironically, the easiest way, therefore, for any church to get rid of divorce problems is to yield to the current standards and liberal divorce laws of many churches and states of our day. To do so, however, would be to defy the clear teaching of Christ.   He did not allow innocent wives to remarry when their mates divorced them and remarried (Matt.5,31,32; Luke 16:18). Christ’s heart was filled with compassion for mankind and for all unfortunates; notwith­standing, He did not accommodate His teaching to the hardships and suffering incurred by innocent parties when their mates divorced them and married again. According to the Apostle Paul, God provides for the separation (a mensa et thoro) of a believer from a mate with whom he cannot live under cruel or unbearable cir­cumstances (I Cor 7: 10, 11), but He does not provide for thedissolution of mar­riage for such a one so that he may marry again.

 

May God forbid that any one seeking to solve the difficult problems of unfortun­ ate mates and divorcees should build a doctrine of divorce on the principle of ac­commodation to the unhappy experiences or plight of the unscripturally married spouse rather than upon the clear teachings of the Holy Scriptures as understood by sound rules of interpretation and exegesis. To build doctrine on either the good or unhappy experiences of unregenerates or Christians is contrary to the sound practice of the long history of the evangelical branch of the Christian Church. Whenever she has presumed to do so, she has brought the displeasure of God upon herself and a blight upon both herself and the society which she has influenced by her example; nor may she reason that because God still blesses her, despite her more liberal divorce laws, _He must approve of her course. God blessed Israel with revival, and with His continual mercies while they were declining, genera­tion by generation, from their more holy estate. The twentieth chapter of Eze­kiel proves conclusively that God repeatedly blesses His people despite their dis-­ obediences. The Christian Church must not mistake God’s blessing for God’s ap­proval.   The Apostle Paul said, “. . . despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” (Rom.2:14)?

“The wheels of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small”.  The history of churches which have created doctrines suited to the proclivities and infirmities of men’s depraved nature is proof of that fact.   The fruits of departure from the clear teaching of Christ respecting divorce may not be observed appreciably within a generation, but ultimately they will be seen in the full manifestation of moral corruption. Worse than the fruits of a church’s granting spouses the right to unscriptural marriages will be the fruits of total degeneration coming within a church which follows rules of interpretation that permit to accommodate its doctrine of divorce and other doctrines to the seeming carnal ne­cessities of men.

Few churches continue beyond one generation without formulating traditions (man-made rules) which overlay and destroy the plain, clear teaching of God’s Word. Man-made traditions are but private and unfounded interpretations of Scripture.   The Lord Jesus said

Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your traditions? For God commanded, saying, Honor thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.   But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or mother,  It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me. And honor not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition (Matt. 15:3-6).

 

Williams translates the underscored portion above as follows: “But you say,’ Whoever tells his father or mother, “Everything I have that might be used for helping is devoted to God,” is under no obligation at all to help his parent.” …Almost without exception a church’s early doctrines are found to be far purer than her later doctrines. Jesus said, “If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!”

 

5. The Comment of the Pulpit Commentary on Matt. 19:9 Strengthens the Conservative Position.

Are we, then, to suppose that Christ, by those words (the exceptive clause), modifies his general statement, and allows absolute divorce in the case of a wife’s misconduct? . . . It is said that Christ allows the wronged party to marry again. If so, if the oneness of the parties is wholly destroyed by the sin of the woman, why is it not permitted to a man to marry a divorced woman? This cannot be called adultery unless she is still one flesh with her husband, although separated. We must argue from this that divorce in such a case does not destroy the vinculum matrimonii, the marriage bond, and if not under this circumstance, surely under no other; for any other ground must be always less serious than adultery. If the clause in question enunciated an exception to the absolute rule elsewhere given, Christ would seem to stultify himself, to give two opposite decisions, and to introduce uncertainty in a most important ver­dict. The principle on which he based his dictum would be overthrown, and his hearers might have accused him of inconsistency.

(H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S.Exell, Editors: The Pulpit Commentary, Vol.ll,Matthew. Grand Rapids, Wm.B.Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950, p.245.)

 

6.  The Greek Text of Matt.19,9(A.V.) and the Attitude of the Early Church Toward It is Worthy of Special Notice.

Many of the Church Fathers quote Matt. 19,9 without the exceptive ele­ment; in fact many of them reject it.

Not once in the first centuries did the Christian Church Fathers quote 19:9 in support of the innocent party’s right to divorce an adulterous spouse with the inherent right tomarry another; yet the meanwhile they quoteMatt.5:32 in support of the right to separate (a mensa et thoro) from an unchaste mate without the right to marry another.

More detailed information will be given relative to the above under the study of the variant reading of Matt. 19:9,which will follow the next division.

7.  Christ Permitted Divorce for Fornication.

In common English usage, adultery is the sexual intercourse of two people, when one or the other is married to a third party; fornication is the unlawful in­tercourse on the part of an unmarried person. In the Bible, fornication is some­times used to include all sexual intercourse, but usually it is distinct from adul­tery. Is it not a striking fact that Christ specifically states that a husband may put away his wife for FORNICATION while not authorizing him to do so forADULTERY? In neither Matt. 5:32 or 19:9 does Christ specifically speak of ADULTERY as being a cause for a divorce; in fact, in Matt.19:9b and Luke 16:18b, He states that adultery is not a cause for divorce. Amazingly enough, although the word ADULTERY is not found in the “exceptive clause,” in either instance where Christ uses it, the word ADULTERY occurs twice in each of the two verses men­tioned above. It is used to describe the sin of a husband who puts away his wife without the cause of FORNICATION, and of the CHASTE WIFE who, being put away without a cause of FORNICATION, marries another and thus becomes her­self an adulteress. One may easily perceive this if he will carefully read again Matt.5:31, 32; 19,9 and Luke 16:18. Some insist that the words FORNICATION (porneia – Greek) and ADULTERY(moicheia – Greek) are completely synonymous, so that one could be put in place of the other anywhere without changing the meaning of a given statement of Scripture. Careful study will show that the words “fornication” and “adultery” appear in some instances to be used interchangeably. This does not mean, however, that they are always absolutely synonymous on all occasions.

The words “soul” and “spirit” are admittedly used interchangeably. However, only a few would presume to insist that the two words are always used to say the same thing. Such Scriptures as I Thess.5:23, “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless . . . . ” and Heb.4:12. “The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit. ” . . … are examples of their ALWAYS being used to say the identical thing, especially when they occur in the same statement in the same verse.

Similarly, there are passages in which the words “fornication” and “adultery” appear in categories of sins. These two words are listed as two distinct sins (twice side by side) in the following lists of iniquities: Mark 7:21, I Cor. 6:9, and Gal.5: 19.   The words are further set in contrast in Matt.5:32, 19:9, and Heb.13:4 (R.V.).

It is a fact that Christ never called a man who put away his chaste wife AND married another a fornicator. He always called such a man an adulterer. The sin of a woman’s putting away her husband to marry another is not called fornication, but adultery in Mark 10:12, and if she has been put away as a chaste wife and marries another, she is called an adulteress (Matt.5:32). Can a Scripture be found where a husband or wife is called a fornicator (or is said to commit fornication) when he or she unlawfully marries another? The writer can find none. He does find, however, that the term “adultery” is used to describe the sin of a married person who either cohabits with another married person than his own mate or who marries another while having his own mate.

It is striking also to note that neither the Hebrew word naaph (adultery) nor the Greek word moicheia (adultery), nor any of their derivatives are ever trans­lated by the English words fornication, whore, whoremonger, or harlot yet the Hebrew word zanah and the Greek word porneia (porne) are translated many times by the English words underscored above.   The text of John.2:1 says of the spies “. . . they went,and came into an harlot’s [Heb. zanah] house, named Rahab.” The Greek word porne is translated harlot in Heb.11:31, “. . . by faith the harlot, Rahab.” In Proverbs 7:10 are the words, “a woman with the attire of an harlot (zanah). Of the prodigal son (Luke 15:30) it was said, “. . . which hath devoured thy living with harlots [porne].” Christ said to the chief priests and elders, “The publicans and harlots [porne] go into the kingdom of God before you”(Matt.21:31). Again let it be noted that not one of the three terms – har­lot, whore, nor fornicator- is ever a translation of either the Hebrew word naaph or the Greek word moicheia. both of which are, with few exceptions, rather trans­lated by the word adultery or its derivatives. The more common usage of zanah and naaph is indicated in Hosea 4:13, 14, in which the daughters of Israel are whoredom zanah; whereas, the spouses are said to commit adultery, naaph. Indeed, in the Scriptures the “whore” or “harlot” zanah, was nearly always a single person. When these two words are placed in contradistinction,as in Hosea 4:13,14, the unchastity of the single person is always zanah, whereas the unchastity of the married is always naaph. The word naaph is never used into double for zanah. Naaph always refers to the sin of adultery as commonly understood in English. It is never used to speak of the unchastity of an unmarried person.   The FIVE WORD School presents the following references (Ex.20:4; Matt.5:27-28;   Mark 10:19; Acts 15:20; I Cor. 5: 1;10:8; II Cor. 12:21; II Pet. 2: 14; James 2: 10-11; 1 Thess.4:3-6; Jude 7 and Rev. 2:14) as proof texts that porneia aud moicheia are allegedly always synonymous. This allegation will not stand the light of careful examination. Clearly, neither porneia nor moicheia are used explicitly in all of the texts enumerated above to double for the other.   If the words zanah and porneia (fornication) usually refer to the unchastity of the married, and always respectively refer to their meaning when set in contradistinction within the same text or passage, one would expect porneia and moicheia to be separate and distinct In Matt.5: 32 and 19:9 as the same Hebrew equivalents (zanah)(naaph) are in Hosea 4:13,14. In the LXX translation of the Old Testament, the Hebrew words for adultery and fornication are consistently translated in the Greek words for adultery and fornication respec­tively. This also consistently holds true when the words pass into the English translation. Never, then, are the two words interchanged in the LXX translation which was completed before 100 B. C. The Hebrew-Greek scholars in question consistently kept these two words apart in their thinking. There is a reason. It is that fornication and adultery are frequently used to translate different shades of meaning; porneia (fornication) is used in a wider sense on some occasions to mean general unchastity. However, when porneia is used in the same sentence with moicheia (adultery), we conclude that it is used in its specific sense of premarital impurity.   The two words occur together in Matt.5:32 and 19:9.

A simple illustration is that, whereas the word “man” is used in English in both a specific and a general meaning, in a more specific sense it means the male in contrast to the female. A given passage. In English will reveal whether it is used in its general or more specific sense. When the word man is med in the very same sentence with the word woman, one is positive that it is used in a specific and not in a general sense. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states that porneia is used prin­cipally of prenuptial unchastity.

(James Orr, General Editor: The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, Vol.II, Grand Rapids, Wm. B. Eerdmans PublishingCompany,1915.p.1339)

The quotations which follow from three New Testament passages will confirm this fact: (1) “Ye do the deeds of your father. They said to Him, We be not born of fornication, we have one Father, even God” (John 8:41). Here, the Jews were alluding to the fact commonly believed among them that Christ was born out of wedlock. (2) In speaking to the unmarried, the Apostle Paul says, “To avoid fornication, Jet every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her owu husband” (1 Cor. 7:2). (3) “Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4 R. V.). If the word “fornication” is always ab­solutely synonymous with “adultery” in the Greek, why did not the inspired writer leave out the word “adulterers”? Obviously, the writer of Hebrews wanted to show that all unlawful acts of unchastity, whether the illicit sex relations of a single or married person, are equally evil in the sight of God.   He wanted all to know that God would judge both classes.

There would be no problem in Matt. 19:9 (if the words “fornication” and “adultery” in the Greek of this text are not synonymous) if the reader understands that there is a difference between the oriental and occidental customs of marriage. When an occidental uses the word “wife”, he invariably associates it with a woman who has cohabited in marriage with her lawful husband. The oriental recognizes a woman who is publicly betrothed to a man as his wife.

In the East, betrothal is indeed a serious matter.   It is as legally binding as marriage in the occident.   From that day, the engaged young lady is his wife, even before he more formally takes herto live in his home and cohabits with her.   An example of this practice is noted in Matthew 1:19 which reads, “Then Joseph her husband …. was minded to put her away [divorce her]privily.” Although she was not his wife in the occidental sense, she was at this time his wife in the oriental sense, for verse 24 states:   “Then Joseph . . . did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him and took unto him his wife.” In Matt.1:20, Mary is said to be his wife when the angel first spoke to him. God recognized this man and this woman as husband and wife before they had cohabited, because in Deut.22:24 a betrothed woman is spoken of as a wife. According to the cus­tom of the betrothal rite, “Joseph. . .took unto him his wife; and knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called his name Jesus” (Matt.1:24,25).

In commenting on the virgin birth of Christ in Matthew, A. T. Robertson says, Betrothal with the Jews was a serious matter, not lightly entered into and not lightly broken. The man who betrothed a maiden was legally husband (Gen.29,21: Deut. 22:23f.) and an informal cancelling of betrothal was impossible (McNelle). Though they did not live together as husband and wife till actual marriage, breach of faithfulness on the part of the betrothed was treated as adultery and punished with death …. it is clear that Joseph “was minded to put her away privily.”   He could give her a bill of divorcement (apolusai) . . . . One is obliged to respect and sympathize with the motives of Joseph for he evidently loved Mary and was appalled to find her untrue to him as he supposed….If Jesus was really God’s son, Joseph was entitled to know this supreme fact that he might be just to both Mary and her Child. It was in a dream, but the message was distinct and decisive for Joseph . . . . . Joseph was told that the child was begotten of the Holy Spirit and thus that Mary was innocent of any sin.

(Archibald Thomas Robertson, op.cit., Vol I, pp. 6,9, 10)

 

It is the divorce of the kind that Joseph contemplated that Matt. 5:32 and19:9 is speaking about, since the words “fornication” and “adultery” are apparently not synonymous here, as has been indicated above. Such a relationship could be dissolved because marriage in its fullest sense had not yet been consummated. The specific reference to the birth of the Lord Jesus. They believed that Mary the virgin had been a fornicator. Such, however, was not the case for that Holy Child which was born of her was born of the Holy Ghost! He was indeed the Son of God!

Betrothal with the ancient Hebrews was of a more formal and far more bind­ing nature than a modern engagement of the occident.t was esteemed a part of the transaction of marriage: in fact, it was the most binding part. It was so bind­ing that if marriage should not take place, owing to the absconding of the bridegroom or the breaking of the contract on his part, the young lady could not be married to another man until she was released by a legal process and a bill of di­vorce. A similar custom prevails in China and Japan. Among the Arabs, it is the only legal ceremony connected with marriage. In the early centuries of the Church of England, engaged couples were united in a ceremony of betrothal, and even today the Episcopal wedding ceremony contains a part of the earlier be­trothal form.   Alfred Edersheim says:

A special formality, that of ‘betrothal” (erusin, Qiddushin), preceded the actual marriage by a period varying in length. but not exceeding a twelve month in the case of a maiden. At the betrothal, the bridegroom personally or by deputy, handed to the bride a piece of money or a letter, it being expressly stated in each case that the man thereby espoused the woman. From the moment of betrothal both parties were regarded, and treated in law (as to inheritance, adultery, need of formal divorce), as if they had been actually married, except as regarding their living together….. Generally a festive meal closed the ceremony of betrothal – but not in Galilee, where habits being more simple and pure, that which some times ended in sin was avoided.

(Alfred Edersheim: The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Vol.I. London, Longman, Green & Company. 1887. pp. 353,354).

The Jews, for generations after Christ, permitted a man to put away (divorce) his espoused (engaged) wife if when he took her to his home he found that the tokens of virginity were not found in her (Deut.22:13,14,20,21). When the elders of the Jews confirmed the fact of her non-virginity, the husband was released from her by divorce before he had cohabited with her.   For centuries and until this day, branches of the Christian Church have believed that this was the only kind of divorce that Christ was talking about in Matt.5:31,32 and 19:9. Adam Clarke, the early Methodist commentator, in referring to this problem in Matt.5:32 states:

As fornication signifies no more than the unlawful connection of unmarried persons, it cannot be used here with propriety, when speaking of those who are married. I have therefore translated logou porneias, on account of whore­dom. It does not appear that there is any other case in which Jesus· Christ ad­mits of divorce. A real Christian ought rather to beg of God the grace to bear patiently and quietly with the imperfections of his wife, than to think of the means of being parted from her . . . what was permitted (by Moses) to an un­circumcised heart among the Jews should not serve for a rule to a heart in which the love of God has been shed abroad by the Holy Spirit.   Those who form a matrimonial connection in the “fear and love of God, and under his di­rection will never need· a divorce.39

In ourday both the regenerated and unregenerated frequently marry damsels who prior to marriage have committed fornication. This usually follows because this is a matter of knowledge before marriage and is forgiven by the other before the marriage ceremony and the physical consummation of the union.   It would

 

Appear that a Jewish man might have forgiven a Jewish damsel of the same had she confessed it beforehand, providing of course he loved her that much.   Certainly it is recommended that a Christian should forgive the damsel he   intends to marry of prior fornication if she declares it before marriage and he may do so after marriage, even though she had not previously told him of her unchastity.   If he finds her pregnant when he marries her obviously the matter is much more serious, and it would follow that he would have his marriage annulled in some states, and in others he would secure a divorce releasing him, from her. An anonymous Christian lawyer has submitted the following respecting the do­mestic relations laws on this point, which may be summarized as follows:

  1. Pregnancy by another man at the time of marriage is generally considered sufficient grounds for annulment everywhere in the United States. In ad­dition, such pregnancy is a recognized ground for a divorce action in four­teen states.
  2. In the majority of states, pre-marital unchastity is not considered a ground or the annulment of a marriage. However, in those states which do recog­nize fornication as grounds for an annulment, the defense of condonation is always available. Condonation is simply the legal term for continued cohabitation after a disclosure of the facts, Thus, if an annulment were sought on this ground after the parties had been married many months, it very likely would not be granted, if contested. (However, I recognize the possibility that a disclosure of premarital sin might not occur until years later.)

The writer believes that a true Christian would not want to annul his marriage for a disclosure that was made after any considerable period, nor would he want to do so for a shorter period in most cases. There is grave doubt that it would be scriptural to put away a spouse who had committed fornication before marriage if the two in question had already married and consummated a ONE FLESH union.

(Adam  Clarke:   A Commentary and Critical Notes of the Holy Bible, Vol. V, New York, Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, n. d.   p.74.)     

The Old Testament seems to speak of the putting away of one who has committed fornication before the marriage is consummated (Deut.22:14).

It will shortly be shown that the detailed context of Matt.19:1-12 when har­monized with that of Mark 10:1-12 precludes divorce (the dissolution of mar­riage) in a consummated marrage for any cause.The above view of fornication in Matt,5:32 and19:9 would provide an answer to a difficult problem. This view would prevent an innocent party from divorcing a wife with whom he had co­habited or consummated marriage. If the words “fornication” and “adultery” are perfectly and always synonymous, as the FIVE WORD School alleges (which view the writer and many others reject), then why does Christ forbid an innocent wife in Matt.5:32; 19:9(A.V.) and Luke16:18 to remarry, and why did He assert that he who married her committed adultery in doing so? This is further reason for accepting the above explanation as sound. Many believe the position stated in this section is a strong one, and adequate to prove that Christ taught the complete indissolubility of marriage for cause. The author of this book, however, has not rested his case here, but has reasoned also from the position that the word “fornication” in the two passages allegedly refers to the illicit relation of a spouse with someone other than his own mate. The study of Matt, 5:31, 32, Luke 16:18, and Matt. 19:9 (A. V.), which was presented earlier in this book, proceeded on that assumption, as will the subsequent study of other divorce texts. See the statement in the Pulpit Commentary on Matt. 5:31, 32 and 19:9 for its conservative view of the divorce problem under discussion.

Back to Chapter VI

Continue to Chapter VIII

Appendix

 

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Book Series – Chapter VI – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)

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FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School”  for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” (except it be for fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.  

 

CHAPTER VI –  COMMENTS ON LUKE 16: 18 (R.V.)

 

Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband commit­teth adultery.

This is Christ’s second statement on divorce.  In His first public statement on the subject (Matt. 5,32), He did not make provision for a spouse’s putting away an adulterous mate to marry another; neither did He make provision for a chaste woman (an innocent party), to marry another man, even though her husband had committed adultery by divorcing her and marrying another.

Before discussing this text fully,   it would be well to consider the relation of the Apostle Paul to Luke and his Gospel.

 

A.  Paul’s Relation to Luke was Like the Relation of Peter to Mark.

The ancient tradition that Mark’s Gospel is essentially that of Peter, and Luke’s essentially that of Paul is corroborated by their general character and form.

( Milton S, Terry: Biblical Hermeneutics.   Grand Rapids, Zondervan Publishing House, n. d. p.558.)

 

Tertullian, [A.D. 160-222], who said that Mark was the interpreter   of Peter, said that Paul enlightened Luke in the preparation of the Gospel of Luke.   Irenaeus,  [A.D. 120-200], said that Luke who was the companion of Paul presented his Gospel as it was preached by the Apostle Paul.   Origen, [A. D. 185-253] said that Luke’s Gospel was the Gospel commended by the Apostle Paul.  Jerome, Eusebius and other Church fathers were of the same conviction.

(W. Graham Scroggie: A Guide to the Gospels. London. Pickering & Inglis Ltd., 1948.   p.360.)

 

 B. The Context of Luke 16 :18 is Related to The Text of Luke 16:18

The words of Luke 16: 18 were addressed to the same class of people as those of Matt, 19: 1-9, namely, the Pharisees, who believed that they could freely di­vorce their wives for virtually any cause and especially for the sin of adultery. Those of the Pharisees who believed that one might specifically divorce and re­marry for the cause of adultery were of the School of Shammai.  They based their conviction for such right on Moses’ divorce permission (Deut. 24: 1 -4),  which was quoted in full on page 88. They justified their right to divorce and marry another and the right of the divorced wife to many another on Moses’ divorce permission. Christ immediately, prior to Luke 16: 18, said to them (the Pharisees):

Ye are they that justify yourselves in the sight of men [for sundry evils, embracing the divorcing “of wives for manifold causes including adultery}; but God knoweth your hearts; for that which is exalted among men is an abom­ination in the sight of God.   The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the  gospel of the kingdom is preached, and every man entereth vio­lently into it. presseth into it(A.V.)](R.V.).

Christ told the Pharisees that a new order,  a new kingdom had come with the preaching of the kingdom of God and that It would require spiritual violence on their part to enter this kingdom, for its demands were very high. Truly it would take great violence of soul for these Pharisees to discontinue their loose practices relative to divorce,  as well as their other ungodly deeds.

Christ knew how difficult it was for the Pharisees to hear His Word on divorce. To be denied this privilege was to them like striking off their right hands.  Jesus said, therefore, that they must press(v:.16 A.V.) violently intothe moral stand­ards of His kingdom, self-discipline being indispensable. What God hath joined together is “one flesh.” The Pharisees must, therefore, face up to God’s standard of marriage as fixed at the beginning.   The innocent(spouse) disciple of Christ and of thekingdom of God is willing to be a eunuch for the kingdom’s sake..for he knows bythe grace of God how to contain himself.

Many in Christ’s day could not receive the higher ethic of His kingdom which He announced in the Sermon on the Mount and which embraced His teaching on divorce (Matt.5:31,32).  It was too ideal for them. It is, unhappily, too high for many professing Christians who claim to have experienced the doctrine of John 3:5 which, indeed, should give them power to measure up to the high stand­ards of the Lord Jesus Christ and His kingdom.   Happily, the experience of John 3:3,5,6 is open to all who will receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord (Jn.I:12, 13: Rom.10:9,10,R.V.). The power of then new birth is described by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 8:4:

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God send­ing His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin  flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us. who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 

The Spirit of God indwelling the believer will enable him to fulfill   Edenic standards of righteousness, including God’s original standard of marriage.

There were many in Christ’s day who pressed into the kingdom of God. The strait gate through which they entered was indeed very narrow; so nanow they had to leave every sin behind them.  The Apostle Paul spoke of the seriousness of measuring up to Christ’s standards of the kingdom of God.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; ADULTERY [He who marries another while having a living former mate commits adultery (Matt. 19,9; Luke 16:18)], FORNICATION . . .wrath, strife . . .and such like: of which I tell you before,  as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal.5:19-21).

C.  In Luke 16: 18 Christ Reiterates His Abrogation of Moses’ Divorce Permission.

The emphasis of Matt. 5 :32 is on the sin of a husband in causing his wife to commit adultery by divorcing her and then her consequent sin of presuming to marry another when her first marriage was stlll intact.  The emphasis of Luke 16:18, however, is twofold: first, it is the sin of a husband in marrying another after divorcing hiswife, and second,as in Matt.5:32, the sin of the divorced wife in presuming to marry another on the grounds that she had been put away and that her husband in remanying, had committed adultery.  His divorce and remarriage, however, had not dissolved the first marriage union of which she was a   part.

The FIVE WORD School and all evangelicals believe that a Hollywood star who divorces his chaste wife and marries another while the former wife is still living is in a state of adultery because he has not by a court’s decree dissolved his marriage union before God, nor has his subsequent marriage dissolved it. The FIVE WORD School strangely allows the first wife to marry again because it as­serts that the husband by his remarriage commits adultery and thus brings (its private interpretation of) the exceptive clause of Matt.19:9 into action.  How amazingly contradictory is this school’s reasoning! In one breath its followers say that the remarried Hollywood star is living in adultery because he is still be­fore God married to his first, chaste wife, and in the next breath, they say that the wife may get a divorce from him (dissolve the marriage and marry another because he has committed adultery.  If he is still married to his first wife, she ( the first wife) must still be married to him.  The Bible knows of no marriage that is a one way union! To accept the FIVE WORD doctrine of divorce is to return presumptously to the divorce permission of Moses (Deut, 24: 1-4) which Christ so clearly and forever abrogated!    In Matt. 5:32b; 19:9b and Luke 16:18b, He said that such wives who marry another are caused to commit adultery and that those who marry them commit adultery! Did Christ approve of such adultery? God forbid the thought! “From the beginning it was not so “(Matt.19:8b); death and death alone dissolved a marriage union.  Under Moses adultery called for the stoning of the unchaste spouse(Deut.22:22), not the divorcing of such an indi­vidual.  FIVE WORD theology sets up a CHAIN REACTION of divorce and remar­riage not only within the Church but without the Church also. The careless, com­promising Church of today is responsible for the fearful increase of divorce. FIVE WORD THEOLOGY multiplies it, and smiles upon adulterous unions within the Church.

As observed in the discussion   of   Matt.5:31,32,  the wife could not remarry upon being divorced because Christ abrogated her former Mosaic permission to do so, and likewise He abrogated Moses’ toleration of a husband ‘s putting away his wife.  Her sin of remarrying was the sin of adultery because her first marriage union remained undissolved despite her husband’s subsequent remarriage af­ter divorcing her. Similarly, the sin of the husband in Luke 16: 18 in marrying another was adultery because, obviously, his first marriage union was still un­broken. The sin of the wife of Luke 16: 18 in marrying another, after the hus­band remarried following his divorcing her is adultery, notwithstanding the fact her husband had committed adultery in marrying another, because his first marriage union was undissolved.  He could not by marrying another abrogate CHRIST’S ABROGATION of MOSES’ toleration of divorce which dissolved a mar­riage union for virtually any cause.  Christ as clearly abrogated  Moses’ tolera­tion of divorce in Luke16:18 as in Matt.5:3I,32.

Does not the reader, in the light of these two texts (Matt. 5:31, 32; Luke16:18) now see clearly that the sin of adultery on the part of a spouse does not free the other mate to divorce such a partner for the purpose of remarriage?  The Pharisees could not have failed to get the full import of His divorce statement (Luke 16: 18) just described. Why should we fail to do so today?   Shall we look at  ISOLATED text for the answer to this problem, or to all of the divorce texts given by Christ and the Apostle Paul? Indeed, the Pharisees on this occasion were of the same schools as those who later faced Christ with the  respecting divorce when He spoke to them in the setting of Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark 10: 1-12.  In either case, the members of the school of Shammai were represented in the group.  Christ closed the door to divorce for this school, as well as for the Pharisees in general, for the followers of the school of Shammai rested their hope for divorce for adultery on Deut. 24: 1-4.

As we noted already under Matt, 5:32, Christ could not abrogate the first part of Moses’ divorce permission and not the second part without so indicating. He was dealing with Moses’ divorce permission as a unit and thus he also abrogated the right of the woman to remarry despite her husband’s marrying another. The husband under Christ’s law could not and did not dissolve the first union by mar­rying another; neither could the divorced wife dissolve the first union by marry­ing another, for Christ’s law was but a reiteration of God’s original marriage law in Eden which makes husband and wife ONE FLESH for life.

The FIVE WORD School insists that Luke 16: 18 does not treat adultery in mar­riage as a cause for divorce, but we have seen above that Luke16:18 contradicts this assertion when viewed in the light of Christ’s entire abrogation of Moses’di­vorce permission.   If under  Christ a divorced wife could marry another when her husband married another, then Christ’s abrogation of Moses’ divorce permission (Matt. 5:31; 32; Luke 16: 18) was meaningless, and His several statements on divorce were completely contradictory. Could Christ in the same statement (Matt. 5:3I , 32)  abrogate Moses’ divorce permission and then deny it?

 

D. Four Possible Alternatives Within the Text of Luke 16: 18 Are:

(1) It is a chaste husband who puts away a chaste wife,   or

(2) It ls a chaste husband who puts away an unchaste wife, or

(3) It is an unchaste husband who puts away an unchaste wife, or

(4) It is an unchaste husband who puts away a chaste wife.

The sum of the matter of Luke 16: 18 is that a husband of whatever sort who puts away a wife of whatever sort, and rema.rries, commits ADULTERY, and a man who remarries a wife (whether chaste or unchaste) who has been put away another commits ADULTERY.   There can be no doubt  that  this text as well as Matt. 5 :32  makes no provision for the innocent wife,  of either of the two texts just mentioned, to divorce a guilty husband with the inherent right of marrying another.   This holds equally true of Matt. 19:9b.

Beyond any doubt, Lukec16:18 prohibits an innocent wife from marrying anoth­er, even though her husband marries another before she marries again. How amazing, therefore, is the reasoning of the FIVE WORD School.  They insist on modifying the meaning of Luke 16: 18 by the exceptive clause and their unique interpretation of Matt. 19:9.  Two texts already have closed the door to the FIVEWORD School’s interpretation of Matt. 19:9,  which they allege supports the right of an innocent party to remarry when he has divorced his unchaste spouse. Would it not be more reasonable for the FIVE WORD School to modify the apparent meaning of Matt.19:9 by twotexts, Matt.5:31,32and Luke16:18,not to men­tion Mark 10: I I, 12; Rom. 7 :2, 3 and I Cor, 7: 10, I I, 39, rather than reverse the matter and insist on modifying the many texts by the one text, and that by their singular and private (II Pet. I :20) interpretation of it?

 

Back to Chapter V

Continue to Chapter VII

Appendix

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC NoteRev. Wells is comprehensively on target here with monumentally important forgotten and ignored truth that would revolutionize churches today if the heresy of “biblical” grounds was contritely repented of, and practices changed accordingly, so as to no longer offend a holy God, and perhaps even obtain His last-minute mercy for our nation and government.  Rev. Wells makes a point in this section that deserves a bit more contextual commentary:

On page 33 of the physical book, Wells says: “He could not by marrying another abrogate CHRIST’S ABROGATION of MOSES’ toleration of divorce which dissolved a mar­riage union for virtually any cause.”

However, carefully-translated texts taken with the relevant cultural context narrows the application of Moses’ “permission” to the Jewish betrothal period, and to fornication (uncleanness) committed prior to consummation of the marriage.  It is still possible the Pharisees were trying to apply the Mosaic allowance more broadly than its original purpose, but  this is moot since  the abrogation  applied  broadly.

 

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

Book Series – Chapter V – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)

186 - The Sermon on the Mount

FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School”  for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” (except it be for fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.  

 

CHAPTER V –   COMMENTS ON MATTHEW 5:31, 32

It was said also, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement; but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.

It is important to observe that the context of this passage of scripture is a part of the Sermon on the Mount wherein Christ repeatedly quotes from a command­ment of the Mosaic Law or repeats a concept of the Old Testament setting forth the moral views enunciated therein, and then abruptly cries, “BUT I SAY UNTO YOU . . .  ”   and then immediately thereafter states a higher ethic of the same moral principle in question.

A. The Righteousness of the Pharisees Versus the Righteousness of Christ as Set Forth by Context (Matt. 5:20,32).

The moral standards of the Pharisees of Christ’s day were very low, for Christ said:

I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed therighteous­ness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven   (Matt.5,20).

The Pharisees were strong on observances of minute, external rules of mens tradition.  Christ emphasized the inner state and motivations of the heart.  In verses 21-25, He showed that anger is incipient murder, and in verses 38-44 that a divinely sanctioned retaliation is to “turn the other cheek” and to “go the sec­ond mile.”

To the Pharisees, care to avoid an overt act of unchastity was the important thing.  To  Christ, the look of the eye and the thought of the heart were more im­portant.  To Him, the look of lust (coveting one of the opposite sex unlawfully) was adultery already committed In the heart (Matt.5:28).

To the Pharisees,  divorce was a moral convenience for greater personal hap­piness.  To Christ. it was a glaring immorality.  The Pharisees said, “Do we not have Moses ‘law for a basis for putting away our wives?  Did not Moses say:

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.  And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement,   and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth. her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;  Her former husband. which sent her away may not take her again to be his wife, after she is deilled; for that is an abomination before the LORD; and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an lnheritance (Deut. 24:1-4)?”

B.  Moses’ Divorce Permission Abrogated by Christ (Deut. 24:1-4)

There can be no doubt that in Matt.5:3I, Christ specifically refers to  Moses’ divorce permission(Deut.24:1-4). The Master’s statements in Matt.19:3-9 and Mark I0: 3-6 confirm that fact.

How shocked must the Pharisees have been to learn that Jesus said, “It was said.. . .(referring toDeut.24:1-4) . …BUT I SAY UNTO YOU….” It is important at this point to notice the rest of Matt.5:32:

Every one that putteth away his wife,  saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery (R.V.).

Christ’s statement of Matt. 5: 32 completely reversed Moses’ divorce permis­sion. Indeed , He abrogated it.  By His sweeping statement He said  that a hus­band who put away a chaste wife “causeth her to commit adultery (A. V.)”  and he who married such a woman, whether before or after the husband married anoth­er, committed adultery also. This is clear because in contrast Moses’ divorce law ( Deut. 24: 1.-4) permitted such a woman to marry again whether or not herhusband had married another.  Christ revoked Moses’ temporary permission of di­vorce to bring humanity back to God’s original marriage law which was estab­lished in Eden (Gen. 2: 18-24). The permissive law of Moses (Deut. 24: 1-4) was a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ’s superior way of life.

Let us inquire more deeply into the reason why the “chaste wife” above was forbidden to marry another. The Scripture states that the husband who puts her away “causeth her to commit adultery… The question is this: why would she commit adultery by marrying another if her former husband had himself committed adultery ­by remarrying after divorcing her?   The answer is simply found in carefully answering other searching questions.  Was the husband’s second marriage a valid one according to Christ?  Did Christ approve of a man’s marrying   another woman after he had put away his chaste spouse?  Certainly He did not!True, the Pharisees did. Did the husband invalidate the marriage bond with his first wife by marrying another?  If this be so, then everyone who wishes to gain a di­vine title to another woman as his wife has but to remarry for any cause and presto, his marriage bond is broken!   By sinning,  He has established his marriage before God.  The ultimate conclusions to which the reasoning and logic of the FlVE WORD School lead are, indeed, frightening!  Many an evangelical pastor agrees with the author in his position in this paragraph but denies it in practice by officially condoning the state of remarried divorcees in allowing them to hold offices in his church.

If the husband in question did not invalidate his first marriage bond by marrying another, then neither may the wife marry another while her first marital union stands before God.  Indeed, as Christ said, she commits adultery if she re­marries.  Certainly the Lord Jesus did not teach that every so-called innocent might remarry while the former spouse was still living; in fact. He did not teach that any innocent mate could remarry.   He said:

Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery; and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband commit­teth adultery ( Luke 16: 18 R.V.).

C. Divorcing   of   Adulterous   Mate   is not Approved   by Christ According   to Matt. 5:32.

Note that the sin of adultery is in the foreground in the context and text of Matt.5:32.   Its immediate context begins at verse 27, where Christ refers tothe commandment, THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY (Ex.20:14), and then immediately He lifts it to a higher interpretation than the Pharisees were wont to give it.   Was He referring to the lust of Pharisees forother wives more beautiful or more genial than their own when He said, “BUT I SAY UNTO YOU, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her [as did David after Bathsheba] hath committed adultery with her already In his heart”!  Then Christ shocks the Pharisees again by linking sin to the divorce action of a man who puts away a chaste wife by stating that such a man “causeth his wife to commit adultery,” and adds that he who marries her “committeth adultery. ”  Elsewhere Christ says that he who divorces her commits adultery in marrying another(Mart.19:9; Luke 16:18, 12).

Observe also that the sin of “putting away” (divorcing) a wife with the obvious purpose of marrying another (for that is the reason the Pharisees put away their wives) is likewise in the foreground. The right of a man to put away an adulter­ous mate to marry another is not in the foreground, nor is the right of the innocent divorced mate to marry another in the foreground.  Let the reader keep the verse in focus with its context and its true intent, and he will not fall into the trap of erroneous interpretation.

The main thrust of Matt. 5:32 states nothing about the right of a man to put away his unchaste mate to another.  The FlVE WORD School finds a self­-originated secondary thrust in the text and erroneously makes it the prominent teaching of Christ in the passage.   By emphasizing the exceptive element of the verse, they distort the purpose and intent of Christ’s declaration at this point.

Christ no more approves an “innocent mate’s right” to divorce and marry another by the exceptive element of Matt.5:32 than does the Apostle Paul ap­prove slavery in Eph.6:5: “Servants [Greek–doulos slave], be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fearand trembling  in single­ness of your hearts, as unto Christ.”

The exceptive element. “saving for the cause of fornication,” was not intro­duced to put Christ’s stamp of approval upon a husband’s divorcing his wife for adultery.  The right or wrong of it is not before the reader in the text.  The man who puts away a wife because of FORNICATION is mentioned only in passing to bring out the main thought namely, that it is a heinous sin to put away a chaste wife to marry another.     This practice was common among the Pharisees.

The reason for Christ’s introducing the exceptive clause in Matt.5:32 becomes apparent if one reads the verse without the exceptive clause.   It follows

But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife….causeth her to commit adultery ….

The text makes no provision for an innocent husband to dissolve his marriage, should his wife commit adultery, so that he might marry another. The exceptive element is introduced as a qualifying clause to say in effect: “unless he previous­ly made herself a fornicator by her unchaste conduct.”  The man who puts away (rightly or wrongly) an unchaste wife does not  cause her to be guilty of her previous adultery nor does such action cause her to be an adulteress.  Christ inserted the exceptive clause so that the Pharisees would not understand Him to say that one of them would have caused his wife to commit adultery in putting her away if she had of herself committed adultery already. Whether the Wife in question had committed FORNICATION before or after marriage is not stated, if we are to take the word in its widest signification.

Felix L. Ciriot, Th. D. , in his book, Christ and Divorce, has stated:

The “exception-clause” occurs twice; in Matt.5:32 and again in Matt,19:9.  But the first time it does not, even by implication, give support at all to the idea that remarriage after a divorce given on the grounds of adultery is permitted. Thefunction of the “exception-clause” in 5:32 is quite different. There it is equivalent to the qualifying clause, “unless she has already  made herself an adulteress by her own misconduct.  The passage says nothing aboutthe remarriage of the husband.  What it says is that any husband who divorces his wife makes himself morally responsible for her becoming an adulteress, it being assumed, apparently, that she will either remarry or be incontinent outside pretended wedlock, and in either of these cases will have become an adulteress. The function of the “exception-clause” in this passage is, then, to cover the obviously exceptional case that, if she was divorced for adultery, in that case the husband will not be morally responsible for her becoming an adulteress since she was one already-the reason why she was put away. Thus the “exception-clause” in this passage has no bearing at all on any right of remarriage In the husband.

(Felix L. Ciriot: Christ and Divorce. R. A. Ciriot, 3006 Wheeling Street, El Paso,Texas, 1945,   pp. 3,4.)

The evil of divorcing a chaste wife In Matt, 5:32 is viewed from the stand­point of the dreadful effect upon the wife. The verb underscored in the phrase”causeth her to commit adultery” is one word moicheuthenai in the Greek. Professor John Murray of Westminster Theological Seminary has indicated in his text on divorce that the verb moicheuthenai is in the passive voice and that such gives the phrase this literal effect,   “he causeth her to suffer adultery. ”

(John Murray:   Divorce. Philadelphia, The Committee on Christian Education , The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1953, p.21)

The man is not in Matt. 5 :32  said to commit adultery (as stated In Luke 16: 18) in putting away the chaste wife. He is, however, said to be implicated In his wife’s sin of adultery, should she marry another after he has divorced her and married again.  She obviously commits adultery because her husband had no right to   divorce her. According to Christ, the divorce was invalid.  In the case just described,  the wife could not put all the blame for her sin of adultery upon her hus­band,  but neither might the husband be exempted or exonerated from guilt in this matter.  Indeed, the husband is morally responsible for her possible unchastity when she is put away, for it is assumed that she will find it so difficult to remain continent in her single state that she will unlawfully marry another. It would have been more difficult for an innocent wife of that kind to remainun married in Christ’s day than today, because she had been steeped in thetraditionsof the schools of Hillel and Shammai, which permitted women to marry again in accordance with their interpretation of Deut. 24:1-4.

A. S. Worrel’s translation of the New Testament is of assistance at this point:

 BUT I SAY TO YOU, THAT EVERY ONE WHO PUTS AWAY HIS WIFE, EXCEPT ON ACCOUNT OF FORNICATION,  MAKES HER COMMIT ADULTERY : AND WHOSOEVER MARRIES HER WHEN PUT AWAY COMMITS ADUL­TERY (Matt.5:32).

By the above statement Conservatives believe that Christ was In effect saying:

You my hearers, of the schools of Hillel and Shammai, have taken for granted that it is right to give a bill of divorcement to a wife for one (thecause of adultery) or for any cause, because of your interpretation. of Moses’ declaration in Deut.24:1-4, and have concluded the same that it is also right for divorced, chaste wives to marry again when divorced, BUT I SAY UNTO YOU,   that whoever gives a bill of divorcement to a wife causes her to commit adultery (unless she has previously committed FORNICATION: and in that case it is clear that the husband did not cause her to commit unchastity), and further he who marries the divorced wife commits adultery also.  By this state­ment I declare that the Mosaic permission for the divorcing of a wife and the remarrying of the divorcee (even though she be an innocent spouse) is not ap­proved of God, I have come to re-establish the law of marriage as instituted by God at the beginning in Eden, for such is the law of My Kingdom, the KINGDOM OF GOD.  The Mosaic law of divorce and remarriage is forever abrogated by me!  Therefore the divorced wife described above who marries again, and he who marries her commits adultery since their marriage is not valid before heaven.  Their union is an adulterous union because the marriage bond of the wife with her first husband is not dissolved.  Under the law of marriage of the KINGDOM OF GOD a bill of divorcement is of no effect in dissolving a marriage union.

Christ could have added, according to His statements in Luke 16:18 and Matt.19:8:

Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrleth one that is put away from a husband commit­teth adultery (R. V.).

Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Dean Henry Alford of Canterbury, in discussing the problem of whether the marriage of the innocent party after separation (on account of fornication) is for­bidden by Matt. 5:32 or 19:9, states:

Certainly it would appear, from the literal meaning of our Lord’s words, that it should not be allowed for if by such divorce the marriage be altogether dissolved, how can the woman be said to commit adultery by a second   marriage?  Or how will St. Paul’s precept (l Cor. 7: 11) find place?  For stating this as St. Paul does, prefaced by the words “not I, but the Lord, “ it must be understood, and has been taken, as referring to this very verse  [Matt,5:32] or rather (see note there) to Ch.19:9 and consequently can only suppose fornication as the cause.  Besides which, the tenor of our Lord’s teaching in other places . . . seems to set before us  the state of marriage as absolutely indissoluble as such however he may sanction the expulsion a mensa et thoro of an unfaithful wife.    

(Dean Henry Alford: The New Testament for English Readers, Chicago, Moody Press, p.33)                         

 

A considerable portion of the FIVE WORD School’s argument is based on the meaning of the word divorce as it views it.  The liberals of the divorce questionare driven to an extensive treatment of this word because they are in such poverty of text to support their position.   Indeed, they can ill afford to get along without the alleged support of Matt. 5:32 if it can be even weakly established that it is in their favor.  The FIVE WORD School cannot objectively claim Matt, 5:32 as support for the reasons already given in the discussion of this text.   Since this verse does not discuss either the right or wrong of putting away an unchaste mate,  the meaning of the word divorce here is, therefore, of no significance in settlingthe problem of the right of an innocent mate to divorce his unchaste spouse and marry another.

The divorce liberals admit that Matt. 5:32 is a very weak reed upon which to support their doctrine of divorce, since it has nothing within it like the phrase which follows the exceptive clause in Matt.19:9(A.V.). The phrase is under­lined [bolded] in the quotation which follows: “except it be for fornication and remarrieth another.” There is no declaration in Matt.5:32 which may be taken, even by implication to state that an innocent spouse who puts away his unchaste mate can marry again if the verse is properly understood within its context.

How do followers of the FIVE WORD School get around the problem?  In the first place, their circuitous and illogical method causes them to assume that their interpretation of Matt. 19:9 on an a priori basis is sound, thereby representing Christ to teach that He authorized an innocent party to divorce a spouse who com­mits adultery with the inherent right to marry another while the former mate still lives.  In the light of that assumption,   they secondly read their interpretation of Matt. 19:9 into Matt. 5:32 because it contains the word divorce in reference to putting away one who has committed FORNICATION.   They believe that the fact that 5:32 also contains an exceptive clause further enhances their a priori posi­tion.  Thus, presto, they apparently have two divorce texts allegedly support­ing their doctrine of divorce.

Followers of the FIVE WORD School would not have made such a glaring error had they proceeded differently,  but at the very beginning of their study of the doctrine of divorce they presumptively set up their view of Matt. 19:9 as an esatablished postulate.  This they did before examining objectively and independ­ently all the divorce texts to determine their separate meaning and ultimately from them to deduce the general tenor of the Bible’s teaching as a whole respect­ing divorce.  Hence their “postulate” reduces itself to a mere assumption made too early in the analysis. Too often in the Christian Church a teacher’s wish is the father of his theological thought.  See the full discussion of the meaning of the word divorce in its bearing on the subject on pages 121 through 124.

 

D. Marriage Bond is not Dissolved by Adultery

 

The paragraphs above indicate the fact that an act of adultery does not dis­solve the marriage bond.   According to Matt.5:32, the chaste wife of the text cannot dissolve the marriage union by divorcing her adulterous husband and thus free herself to marry another.  Under Moses, it was the death of the adulterer by stoning which dissolved the union and freed an “innocent party” to marry another.  It was death and only death “from the beginning” and not divorce which erased the union of husband and wife so far as Christ was concerned.  The Apostle Paul reaffirmed this fact in Rom. 7:2, 3 and I Cor. 7:39.  He clearly taught that death and death alone dissolved the marriage union.

Some of the FIVE WORD School reason that because the innocent spouse was freed from the unchaste spouse by the stoning to death of the adulterous mate under the Old Testament(Deut.22:22), that that fact indicates that God appar­ently considers an innocent mate loosened from his adulterous partner as truly under grace as under law because such an erring mate is allegedly reckoned be­fore God to be as good as dead when he commits the immoral act.  Accordingly, the securing of the bill of divorcement from the state is taken to be but a perfunctory requirement to certify before men what has been previously accepted by God before heaven.  By such a principle a spouse would today consider herself free from her marriage bond when her mate was thrown into life imprisonment for first degree murder because the Old Testament would have required the death penalty (Deut. 19: 11- 12) as do many states in our country today.

If the stoning of an adulterous mate in the Old Testament provides a principle for the dissolution of such a union in both Old and NewTestaments alike, then by the same token. parents today may consider themselves free from further respon­sibility for their incorrigible child (Deut, 21: 18-21).  Indeed, if liberal divorce theology is correct in its reasoning at this point, a parent of today is automatically released from further obligation to a child as soon as he manifests the character described above, for under the law he would have been stoned (Deut.21:21), and would thus cease to sustain any relation to the parents.  See more detail on the subject of this paragraph in the Appendix on pages 176 and 177.

Such a principle as the above would also mean that no unmarried fornicator, although converted to Christ, should be privileged to marry under grace, for al­though living in the new dispensation, he should be stoned to death, and is,there­fore, as good as dead to the privileges of marriage ( Deut.22:22-27). There is not a vestige of Scripture in the New Testament supporting such a teaching.  To the contrary,  Acts 13:39 assures such an individual that he may be justified from his sin by faith in the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts.13:39; I Cor,6:9-II). Christ did not, in Matt. 5:32 or elsewhere, state that when a wife or husband committed adultery the innocent mate should not forgive such an one and perpet­uate the union, or that he should marry his unchaste spouse over again because the adulterous act had automatically disolved the union.   Indeed, the union of such mates is still intact.  Adultery, therefore, does not dissolve the bond of marriage.   Christ does not say that it is a sin to forgive an unchaste mate and continue to live with him or her,  but this would be true if adultery automatically dissolved the union as many of the FIVE WORD School allege.

If it be true that adultery dissolves the marriage bond, then it would be wrong for a spouse to live with his unchaste mate for a single day. Happily, the Scrip­ture does not support such a thought.   If adultery dissolves the marriage union, then a man might cease to be married and not know it if his mate secretly committed adultery.   In that case, he would be committing adultery by living with an unmarried woman !!

(Andrew Telford: Why No Divorce.   Philadelphia, Berachah Church, n.d.)

A premium is put on adultery if it severs the marriage bond; a spouse unhappily married would thereby be encouraged to commit adultery or to make a pretense of committing it.

The above establishes the fact that it was not adultery, even under Moses, which dissolved the marriage union, but the stoning of the adulterer. Indeed, so long as the adulterous person lived, the marriage was, intact.  The severity of the law of Moses provided for the cleansing of the land of Israel from adulterous people through stoning.  Under grace, the adulterous spouse is given anoppor­tunity to get right with God by an extension of life.  His period of probation is lengthened because of Calvary.

The putting to death. of the adulterer or adulteress was not specifically for the purpose of releasing innocent mates to marry other spouses; it was to free the land of such pollution lest such evil become a destroying cancer in the society of Israel.   The Scriptures (Deut. 22 :22, 24) speak of the purpose of the putting to death by the nation of such immoral men and women in this fashion:

So shalt thou put away evil from the land.

If the FIVE WORD School insists that adultery dissolves the marriage bond, it is pertinent to ask why the union should not be destroyed for other flagrant sins which, in similar degree,   destroy the fidelity of one spouse to the other.   Some examples of such are persistent cruelty. criminality, and neglecting to support the spouse and home because of drunkenness or gambling.  It is important to remember that an isolated act of infidelity may be the result of a momentary pas­sion; but cruelty, neglect, or desertion are deliberate.  Certainly these must de­stroy the marriage bond even more effectively than adultery from the standpoint of human reason.   How can one answer this?   To such a question there seems   to be no satisfactory answer.

(Kenneth E. Kirk: Marriage and Divorce. 2nd ed. London, Hodder andStoughtonLtd.,1948, p.84).

The idea that adultery is the cause that breaks the marriage union   arises out of the fact that there is an overemphasis on the sexual side of marriage in this adulterous generation. It is made the focal point of the happiness of marriage, a kind of marital recreation. Rather, marriage is a vocation, a high call­ing from God for a purposed, life-long union in outpoured (agape) love, regard­less of the unworthiness of the mate.  Such love is Christ’s love, and has He not asked God’s children to love their mate as He loved the Church(Eph.5:25) ?  A marriage which is built upon and centered in sex is bound to come to grief. Even modern psychologists are deeply aware of this fact.

Many actors of the movie world, who have been divorced and remarried a num­ber of times are, as Billy Graham has said, ”living in adultery, ” even though their several marriages have been legalized by some state’s divorce laws.  The probability is that many of these people could have obtained a second, third, fourth or fifth divorce on the grounds of FIVE WORD theology, for does not this school permit one to divorce an adulterous mate and marry another?  And does not this school permit a mate to marry another when his spouse has married again?  The Hollywood practice of divorce and remarriage will be the practice of many in evangelical churches which adopt FIVE WORD divorce doctrines. This is prov­en by the fact that today so many professing, divorcee Christians are marrying again contrary to Scripture (Luke 16: 18), because they are strongly encouraged to do so by the loose divorce doctrines and practices of the majority of Protestant churches.   Not a few of these churches are evangelical in their profession of faith.

Indeed, men and women can secure bills of divorcement nullifying their mar­riages under state’s laws which permit them to marry again, but Christ did not permit men to do so.  And what Christ forbids as unrighteous cannot be made righteous by man!  Certainly Christians should not presume to secure divorces for remarriage from offices of a state when the divine government of God forbids it. A divorce parchment under Moses was important; it is not so under Christ.  He does not make allowance for any document which will dissolve a marriage for any cause.

Christ’s position is supported by the Lord’s action in the Old Testament (Jer.3: 1,8, 14).  Verse one states that the LORD pleaded for his adulterous wife to return, contrary to the provision in the divorce permission of Moses (Deut.24,4). Verse eight shows that He had given Israel a bill of divorcement for her adultery in accordance with His permission to Israel under Moses, but verse fourteen states:

Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you.  (A.V.).

Return, O backsliding children, saith Jehovah: for I am a husband unto you (R.V.).

 

The LORD of the Old Testament acted in keeping with the statement ofthe LORD Jesus of the New Testament.   He said:

Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so (Matt.19:8).

 

Note that the LORD did not look upon the bill of divorcement as the dissolu­tion of His marriage union with Israel, The FIVE WORD School replies that this statement in Jeremiah is but an analogy. That is right; it is a true analogy, and the principle still holds. However, was not Israel married to the LORD?  ls idolatry,  the spiritual sin of adultery, less evil than the physical sin of adultery?   Is it less evil to play the harlot with God than with man?

True, the LORD put away Israel and gave her a bill of divorcement because she was a harlot (Jer. 3: 1, 8) and had many lovers; but so much did He love her that He did not close the door to her return by dissolving the marriage by a di­vorce parchment, for as noted above. He said that He was still married to her, and that He was still her Husband.  He remained true to her although she long continued unfaithful to Him.  He asked that this message from His heart be con­veyed to her:

Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the LORD; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the LORD, and I will not keep mine anger forever(Jer.3:12).

The FIVE WORD School persists in viewing the reaction of men (spouses)to ADULTERY as seen under law. Christ would have us view the sin of ADULTERY and our reaction to it as seen under grace.

No trespass offering was provided for the sin of adultery under law; thank God,it is otherwise under grace.   See Acts13:39:

And by him [Christ] all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

 

The LORD Jesus said:

 

Pray ye…and forgive us our debts,  as we forgive our debtors…For if ye forgive men their trespasses your heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt,6:9, 12, 14,15).

 

Nowhere in Scripture does God fix for the race, as a whole, a period of so many weeks, or so many months, or so many years for them to repent of theirsin before He will be reconciled to them.  He is already reconciled to sinners who offend Him.

 

God .. . hath reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation:  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them (IICor.5:18,19).

 

God is reconciled to sinning men before they even turn to Him. He waits for them to accept His reconciliation and forgiveness, and does not in the meantime close His door of grace to them by fixing a universal period of five weeks, or five months, or five years, or twenty years during which they must come or forfeit the reconciliation which He offers.   Christ bids us follow the LORD’S example.­

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee: Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift   (Matt. 5:23, 24).

If he refuses your readiness to be reconciled to him, should you close the door of reconciliation to him? This a spouse does by divorcing an adulterous mate and then marrying another.  Reconciliation is henceforth impossible.  Happily, God does not shut the door of reconciliation to a backslidden, worldly Christian who is considered an adulteress in His sight (James4:4).  God grant that the so-called innocent party may be as longsufferingl

The Word of the LORD of Israel and of the Church is:

A new commandment I give unto you. That ye love one another; as I have loved you,   that ye also love one another (Jn. 13:34).

May a Christian forgive another before he repents and personally acknowledges his wrong? What did Jesus say?

And when ye stand praying, forgive if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 1l:25).

A true Christian forgives one who has wronged him before such a one even asks him for forgiveness. He is reconciled to him, like His Lord, before he returns to acknowledge his offense.

Back to Chapters III and IV

Continue to Chapter VI

Appendix

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC NoteRev. Wells is comprehensively on target here with monumentally important forgotten and ignored truth that would revolutionize churches today if the heresy of “biblical” grounds was contritely repented of, and practices changed accordingly, so as to no longer offend a holy God, and perhaps even obtain His last-minute mercy for our nation and government.  He does, however, make two points that do not have biblical support, or that directly contradict the biblical principles he is righteously advocating.  These bear specific cautionary mention:

(1) on page 27 of the physical book he states (while referring to Jeremiah chapter 3 text):  [ “Verse eight shows that He had given Israel a bill of divorcement for her adultery in accordance with His permission to Israel under Moses…”]
(We note that there does not seem to be support anywhere in scripture for any inference that God “approved” of Moses’ expediency, and in fact, Jesus’ mention of it in Matthew 19 seems to take a disapproving tone, to the careful reader.   Additionally, we shall see whether materials in the Appendix deal with the very narrow cultural circumstance relating to the Jewish betrothal period to which Deut. 24 actually applied.  This is not mentioned in the chapters of Rev. Wells’ main text.)

(2) on page 29 of the physical book he states:  [“If he refuses your readiness to be reconciled to him, should you close the door of reconciliation to him? This a spouse does by divorcing an adulterous mate and then marrying another.  Reconciliation is henceforth impossible“. ]
(Wells does not state why he made this remark, so we shouldn’t speculate, but if that which he has so meticulously supported with faithful principles of scriptural interpretation for the first five chapters is fully true, then neither the civil divorce nor the second or any subsequent marriage is valid in God’s eyes, and remains a state of continuous adultery subject to the loss of inheritance in the kingdom of God reiterated in 1 Cor.6:9, Gal. 5:21 and Heb. 13:4.   Rev. Wells seems to be stating a presumption while not (here) offering any scriptural support for it, which seems a bit unreasonable in light of all the arguments he has so authoritatively made.  It could be as simple as his personal doubt that a once-adulterous mate would ever be convicted by God to stand for their covenant marriage, once the spouse they wronged had entered an adulterous remarriage.  He could be implying that physical termination of the ongoing remarriage adultery, with reconciliation / restitution toward the only true spouse God recognizes would be “compounding the sin”.   If so, then soul matters less than the appearance of propriety and man’s sensibilities.   He seems to be also forgetting that “nothing will be impossible with God”, and that it is God who pursues a wandering spouse and changes the hearts of both spouses, unbound by any such circumstances.
To be fair, Rev. Wells did not live long enough to see such reconciliations and restorations start to very frequently occur in the faithful church, nor the prevalence arise in unmarried cohabitation entrapping spouses and producing children–as immorality proliferated far more than he could ever have envisioned prior to the unilateral divorce regime implemented in the last 5 years of his life.   He did not live to see how much more rapidly the resulting foundationless subsequent civil-only “marriages” fell apart than did the forsaken covenant marriages.  He did not live to see the move of God where disciples become convicted upon discovering they had married someone else’s spouse by these very standards, and they voluntarily exit the adulterous union.   In recent practice, neither a non-covenant “marriage”, nor non-covenant children in such a “marriage” has proved to be a permanent barrier to reconciliation of covenant spouses to the only valid marriage in God’s eyes. )

 

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

Book Series – Chapters III and IV – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)

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FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School”  for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” (except-it-be-for-fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.  

 

CHAPTER III  –  THE POSITION OF THE FIVE WORD SCHOOL

 

A.   The Five Word School Builds a Doctrine of Divorce on One Text

 A  group of believers today as in the past, insist that the Scriptures teach the right of an “innocent party” to put away his adulterous spouse and marry another even though that mate is still living.  This group admittedly build their doctrine on one  isolated text, namely, Matt. 19:9 (A. V.)  and more specifically on five words (as in the Authorized Version) of the text.  Certainly it is fair and approp­riate that they be called the FIVE WORD School of Divorce, for without this text, and particularly its exceptive clause of  five words as stated in the Authorized Version,   they would have no support for their doctrine.

Rather than first collating all the divorce texts and then making an objective study of each before deducing a doctrine from their general tenor, the FIVE WORD School proceeds on the assumption that Matt.19:9(A.V.) alone provides the answer to the problem of the right of an innocent party to divorce an adul­terous mate and marry another while the first mate is still living.

Instead of bringing this text into the light of all the texts bearing on the sub­ject, they bring all the texts bearing on the subject into the light of their biased interpretation of Matt. 19:9 and insist on interpreting all other divorce texts strictly in its illumination. It is amazing that they presume to interpret the MANY texts in the light of the ONE text and not the ONE in the light of the MANY,  which has been the method of the Church of Christ over the centuries. Certainly this same group of evangelicals do not follow this method of interpreta­tion in other areas of Christian doctrine. They would be among the first to re­pudiate and decry teachers of cults who follow the principle which they them­selves pursue in arriving at their doctrine of divorce.

The reasoning of the FIVE WORD School is very much like the reasoning of ad­vocates of evolution. The latter start with the premise that evolution is true, and therefore conclude that the facts of biology, geology, and paleontology must support the doctrine of evolution. The FIVE WORD School starts with the premise that its distinctive interpretation of the one isolated text, Matt.19:9(A.V.), is conclusively proven and therefore, all other divorce texts of the Bible must fol­low the same interpretation, namely,  that all innocent parties have the right to marry another upon divorcing their adulterous spouses.  To a legally trained mind, this kind of reasoning is like a lawyer’s brief drawn to support his pre-determined conclusion.   Indeed they reason in a circle, for they use the conclusion to prove the premise.

Charles F. Kettering of the General Motors Corporation once said, “I have a friend who gave me a definition for logic.  He says logic is an organized pro­cedure for going wrong with confidence and certainty.”  This statement con­tains more truth than humor.  How careful, therefore,  must any teacher be in developing a statement of doctrine.  Certainly he must eschew the method of building a doctrine on an a priori postulate, or the teacher himself may bede­ceived by his own presumed logic. The greater peril will be that multitudes may follow the self-deceived teacher to their temporal and eternal sorrow.  The danger will be especially grave for those who follow an erroneous doctrine of divorce, for such may lead them to commit the sin of adultery, which precludes entrance into the kingdom of God  (I Cor.6:9,I0).

If the FIVE WORD School’s exegesis of Matt. 19:9,  standing by itself, were seemingly correct, it would still be unsound to interpret all other divorce texts strictly in its isolated light when the preponderance of Scripture states a position which sharply modifies what appears superficially to be the meaning of Matt. 19:9 (A. V. ). John Owen once said. “Error under the notion of truth takes firm root in the carnal mind.”  May God sanctify our minds that they may be kept free from error.

How scripturally poor must be a doctrinal school which insists on resting its case on ONE principal text when there is a preponderance of texts presenting the doctrine in a totally different light. It cannot claim that it has two texts upon which to rest its case because Matt.5:32 does not specifically declare that one has either the right to divorce an adulterous mate or to marry another when such a one has been put away. This point will be discussed more fully under the treatment of Matt.5:32.

Some members of the FIVE WORD School unwittingly admit the scriptural weakness of their position by accepting and appealing to some or all of the false assumptions which follow, and many more which will be discussed at some length in the Appendix under the heading A CHARGE TO THE JURY OF READERS.  There are twenty-one points under this section in which the writer has presented the major objections of the FIVE WORD School to the position of the Conservative School and has there given an answer to them.

 

B. Five Erroneous Postulates of the FIVE WORD School are Stated

The doctrine of divorce of the FIVE WORD School appears to be based chief­ly on five major erroneous postulates relating totext (Matt. 19:9, A.V.).  They follow:

I. The assumption that because the Pharisees understood the word divorce in Matt.19:9 to mean what it meant in Deut.24:1-4, namely, to dissolve a mar­riage, therefore Matt. 19:9 obviously teaches that an innocent party may dissolve his marriage for adultery and marry another.

2.   The assumption that the exceptive clause of Matt. 19:9 (A. V.) must modify the clause, ”and marrieth another,”  which immediately follows it, thus permitting an innocent spouse to dissolve his marriage and marry another.

3. The assumption that the Greek text which supports Matt.19:9 (A.V.) has been proven beyond any possible doubt to be the finally approved text, despite the fact that no true textual scholar would presume to make such an assertion and de­spite the fact that many outstanding Greek scholars have believed the variant reading, which is in complete accord with the context of the text in question, to be the more accurate one.

4.  The assumption that one principal divorce text Matt. 19:9(A.V.) must scripturally settle the right of an innocent party to divorce an adulterous mate and marry another.

5. The assumption that the almost intolerable situation of many remarried divorcees who profess Christ as their Saviour necessitates a liberal view of Matt.19: 9 , permitting at least the innocent spouse to marry again while his former mate is still living.

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CHAPTER IV –  A SURVEY OF THE SEVEN PRINCIPAL DIVORCE TEXTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

A specific item of evidence might,if taken by itself, prove an innocent man to be guilty, whereas the accumulated evidence that might be painstakingly in­troduced in a court, when viewed as a whole, would prove the seemingly guilty one to be innocent.

The proof of God ‘s existence does not rest on one or two evidences but on many evidences.  Any of the several evidences would not prove that the God of the Bible is, and is the Creator of the Universe, but the cumulative evidence from many sources within and without the Bible establishes that fact.

The cumulative evidence, both within and without the Bible for the Conservative view of Matt.19:9 seems to the author of this book, and to many others who have read it, to be conclusive.  It has been stated that a doctrine cannot beac­cepted as true unless it has been established beyond reasonable doubt. In that case, a far greater burden of doubt lies with the FIVE WORD School’s position than with the Conservative position. The pages which follow will establish that fact.

The cumulative evidence will show that the exceptive clause of Matt.19:9 and the exceptive clause of Matt. 5:32 do not grant an innocent party the right to marry another if his mate should commit adultery.

A.  Five Texts Which State That One Who Is Married   May Not Marry Another While His First Mate IsLiving

Mark 10:11,12; Luke 16: 18; Rom. 7 :2, 3; I Cor. 7: I I; I Cor.7:39.

With the five texts above and the two texts which immediately follow, we have the seven principal divorce texts of the New Testament. The text of  I Cor.7: 15 will be treated in the Appendix. The great divorce passage (Deut. 24: 1-4) of the Old Testament will be treated also.  It will be shown that it  has been ab­rogated by Christ.

B.  Five Texts Which State That One Who Marries Another While His Former Mate Is Living Commits Adultery.   They follow under two heads.

  1. Two Texts With Exceptive Statements Which State That a Divorced, Chaste Wife (An Innocent Spouse) Commits Adultery in Marrying  Another.

Matt. 5:32and 9:19

A statement of Ralph M. Riggs, General Superintendent of the Assemblies ofGod (1956),   is pertinent here:

There are seven New Testament scriptures on the question of divorce and remarriage.    In five of them (Mark I0:11;  and also verse 12; Luke 16:18; Rom.7:3;I Cor.7:11,39) the  Lord and the Holy Spirit definitely and unequiv­ocally forbid remarriage after divorce. Separation is allowed on the ground of fornication and (if the initiative is taken by the unbeliever) upon the ground of incompatibility because of one being a Christian and the other not. But in no one of the five mentioned scriptures is remarriage ever permitted but in all is distinctly forbidden.  In Matt.5:32 and 19:9 statement is made that no one shall put away his wife  save for the cause of fornication, and the state­ment continues that whoso shall marry herthat is divorced committeth adultery. To some people the inference is carried here that if an individual di­vorces another because of fornication, he or she is then free to remarry.  If there were no other scriptures than these in Matthew, such an inference might be taken and such a position maintained,   However, these twoscriptures al­ lowthis position only on inferential ground, and neither makes a positive statement that any divorced person may remarry.  In all of the five scriptures (referred to above) the absolute and positive statement made that remarriage is always forbidden. The two passages in Matthew must therefore be inter­preted as consistent with the teaching of the other scriptures.  It is only thus that we can get the tenor of teaching of God’s Word and arrive at a final un­derstanding of its laws. Thus, taking all seven of these scriptures (all that are given us in the New Testament) we come to the inevitable conclusion that al­though separation is allowed under some circumstances, remarriage while the former companion is  living is never allowed.  This is the law for Christians.

(Ralph M. Riggs: “Standards of Membership …” The Bulletin of the Illinois Dis­trict of the Assemblies of God,   (June   1953),   Springfield, Illinois.)

 

2. Three Texts which State That He Who Puts Away His Mate and Marries Another Commits Adultery, and She Who Is Put Away as a Chaste Mate Commits Adultery If She Marries Another.

 Mark 10: 11, 12; Luke 16: 18; and Rom, 7:2,3.

An extended, chronological treatment of the seven principal divorce texts of the New Testament follows in the succeeding chapters.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Can an adulterous relationship ever be converted to holy matrimony just by civilly divorcing to in order to legalize?   Find out in Rev. Wells’  Chapter V discussion of Matt. 5:32, next….

Back to Chapters I and II

Continue to Chapter V

Appendix

 

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Series – Chapters I and II – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)

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FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School” for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” (except-it-be-for-fornication) to justify remarriage after civil divorce.  

 

CHAPTER I  –  WHAT CONSTITUTES MARRIAGE?

The true definition of marriage is given by Christ in Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark in 10: 1-12.  These passages will be discussed detailedly later in this book.   Christ based his ·definition of marrlage on the principles laid down “from the beginning”,  as described in Genesis 2: 21 -24. These principles did not permit polygamy “from the beginning.”  The man, of his own choice, was to “leave his father and mother”  and “cleave unto his wife” and the Scripture adds, “they shall be one flesh.” The taking of the wife was to be for life, for Christ said:  But   from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh; so then they are no more twain; but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder   (Mark 10:6,9).

The underscored words can leave no doubt that it was God’s intention from the beginning that man should have but one wife at a time, for the Scripture above states that the husband shall “cleave to his  wife” not to his wives.  Such a union of a man’s choice is a union which “God hath joined together”; as we shall see in the study of the harmony of Matt. 19:1 -12 and Mark 10: 1- 12.  Indeed it is not man but GOD who joins husband and wife together as one.  Neither the clergy­man nor the justice of the peace ties the knot. Marriage is not of civil political or human origin.  It was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden when God joined Adam and Eve as husband and wife.  God has not given any government the right to legislate any matrimonial laws contrary to His revelation.  Those who circum­vent the true laws of marriage by adopting the human laws of marriage will an­swer for it at the eternal judgment bar of God Almighty.  Any judge who dis­solves a marriage is dissolving it contrary to the law- of God and will himself answer before the ­true Judge of all men for his action.   Any minister who marries anyone to a divorcee who has a living mate will himself answer in eternity for participating in the sin of adultery for allegedly joining together those whom Christ has forbidden to be husband and wife.

Marriage is more than cohabitation between a male and female.   Christ’s statement in John 4: 17, 18 proves that fact, as do the many Scriptures of the Old Testament which affirm that an unlawful union of a single man with a single girl is fornication.   If,  however, one party to the unlawful union is married,  sin is called adultery.   The passage In John follows:

The [Samaritan] woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband.  For thou hast had five hus­bands; and he whom thou now his is not thy husband; in that saidst thou truly.

Some have supposed that physical union of itself constitutes marriage.   Christ’s above statement, “he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” makes it exceed­ingly clear that this is not so. It seems that she was a divorced and remarried woman because the men with whom she had earlier lived were called “husbands” by Christ.  It is unlikely that the five husbands died one after the other prior to her marrying the succeeding one. The spirit of the passage indicates that he was dealing with a dissolute woman who freely divorcedone husband for another. The man with whom she now lived was not herhusband despite the fact that she had married him.   Hollywood has many such women.   Indeed, marital union consummates marriage; however. the union is entered before that.   Adam took Eve to be his wife before he cohabited with her.  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man,  And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:22,23a).    Note that Adam spoke of Eve as bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (ONE FLESH) before he went in to her. This was true because her body was made of his body, her flesh of his flesh; and this was obviously before coitus.  In this light a woman becomes a man’s wife from the time  that he publicly takes her, law­fully before men and lawfully before God, to be such.  Any other view is both unscriptural and unacceptable to all serious thinking individuals, whether Chris­tian or non-Christian, To accept another view is to accept promiscuity, prostitution, and polygamy with all their polluting and degenerating customs, vile prac­tices, and evil consequences. No thinking parent would want his son or daughter to become a victim of such a society. The all-wise God provided that marriage should be socially and morally exalting by making it a life long union before God and man.

Other Scriptures show that both in the Old and New Testaments a betrothed woman was considered to be a man’s wife before marriage was consummated in coitus. See pages 61 through 62 for a more detailed discussion of this matter. The fact that a man who cohabited with a betrothed damsel (against her will) was put to death under Moses indicates that fleshly union did not of itself con­ stitute marriage; neither is there a suggestion in the Scripture (Deut, 22:25) that such a young woman was not still the wife of her husband despite her unfortunate and grievous experience,  In fact, the young man in question would not have been put to death had she been an unbetrothed damsel (Deut.22:28, 29).  Deut.22 :24 states that the man who commits fornication with a damsel that is be­trothed has “humbled his neighbor’s wife.”  Matthew’s Gospel confirms muchofthe above. Joseph was deeply distressed that Mary, the virgin, was with childbefore he cohabited with her. He would have “put her away priv!ly (Matt. I :19) had not the angel of the Lord appeared unto him and said, “Joseph ..fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost” (Matt. l :20).  Verse 24 adds, “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him,and took unto him his wife…There is no doubt, therefore, that a betrothed woman was known in a Biblical sense to be the wife of a man before he “knew her” in the intimacies of consummated marriage. Even in modem society a woman is known and recognized as a man’s wife immediately after the wedding ceremony before coitus.  In fact, should such a husband be killed on the same day before coitus. the wife would have legal rights to a wife’s share of his property. This is common to the laws of most Western nations.  A man or woman cannot expect to be (nor are they later) properly united when they take their vows of matrimony unless they expect to give to each other conjugal rights.

The Biblical idea of marriage provides for a stable home and the interests of the children of that home .It is not a mere human contract which may be scrapped whenever one or the other may choose.  Such a contract would permit divorce by withdrawal of either spouse from the contract upon dissatisfaction with the man­made union. The tiny sect of early Christians were in the midst of a society which practiced that kind of marriage. They were bold to teach and practice Christ’s teaching respecting marriage and, as a result, revolutionized marriage in the civilized world in subsequent generations. The early Church created a new conception of a monogamous lifelong marriage.  It insisted that such was God’s law and that its members conform to that belief. The fact that their be­lief and practice transformed society’s view and practice of marriage throughout the civilized world can only be accounted for by the fact that it came from the teaching of the divine  Lord,  It is not strange, therefore, that for many genera­tions most Christian churches have had within their marriage ceremony, at leastin substance, the following words:

I, B.,take thee C. .to be my wedded (wife)(husband), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death   do  us part,  according to God “s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth,

Unregenerated men of the day teach that when the partners cease to love one another, marriage may cease. Christ, to the contrary, taught that when sentimental love ceased to be felt, the marriage union continued. In fact, the Scrip­tures are plain; the union of a male and female is a real marriage whether or not”falling in love” was the origin of it.  Adam did not find his wife; God brought her to him.  Isaac had no opportunity to “fall in love” with Rebekah; she was chosen by Abraharn through Eliezer for his son.  Such arrangements were common in Bible times and are common today over a large part of the world. Indeed, love may exist apart from marriage and marriage apart from love.   Hollywood has debased and prostituted the meaning of love. They have given it a purely sensual and selfish meaning. The movie world suggests that when you become “fed up” with the girl you married, you may drop her, because you are  no longer gratified with her.  Sex is the center and circumference of marriage on the screen, and.unfortunately the screen in theater and home has set the stand­ards o f marriage for a very large segment of American society and has subtly in­filtrated the thinking and standards even of evangelicals.

There ate three Greek words for love: eros , philia, and agape.  The first is centered in sex and sex atttaction. It seeks its lover for its own gratification and fulfillment.  The second, philia, is the word which best explains friendship. It means a mutual sharing of common interests, attrations and ideals.  Each lives for the other while the other is loyal and true.   It is based on reciprocity.  I love you for you fondly love me.”Let the fondness of either of the two cease and the philia ceases to carry through.   The last of the three words, has within it the spirit of altruism. and selflessness. The word describes the love of  God which is commended to mankind in spite of his sinfulness. adulteries, dishonesties, hates, bitternesses, infidelity, and unfaithfulness.  SeeRom.5:6-10.  Gods aid to Israel,

“I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee” (Jer.31:3).

The last kind of love (agape) Christ expects to be existent in marriage. “Hus­ bands, love your wives.   Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph.5:25). This kind of love persists in showing itself to one who neither merits nor deserves it.   True, the love of eros and philia are not superseded by agape; they are enriched and dominated bythe latter which is God-like.  The spouse is loved for his or her own sake and for God’s sake.  Human standards of love are set aside for God’s.   Marriage in this sense of love as instituted at the beginning is lifelong and exclusive.  It Is indeed, in the sight of heaven, indis­soluble!

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CHAPTER II  –  BASIC RULES OF SCRIPTURAL INTERPRETATION WHICH ARE UNIVERSALLY ACCEPT BY EVANGELICAL CHURCHES OF THE PAST AND PRESENT

A.  Maxims and Principles of Interpretation Follow

Bernard Ramm presents the following in his text entitled,  Protestant Biblical Interpretation:

(Bernard Ramm:   Protestant Biblical Interpretation.   Boston, W. A. Wilde Company, 1950, pp.78-96)­

A  LIST OF GENERAL HERMENEUTICAL MAXIMS

( I) The Bible is to be interpreted in view of the fact that it is an        accommodation of divine truth to the human mind.

(2)  We must interpret the Bible with the realization that it is a progressive revelation becoming more clear as it nears the completion.

(3)   Our interpretations must keep a sound historical basis,  i.e. our inter­pretatlons must not create an historlcal blunder.

(4)  In our interpretation we must discover the meaning of a            passage, not attribute one to it a priori.   Happy is the man who can approach his Bible as free from predilections, prejudices, and biases as it is possible to do, humanly speaking. Too often the Bible is approached with stock­ in·trade or mere traditional interpretations.   But the task of the inter­preter is to determine the meaning of the Bible, not to verify his preju­dices.

(5)   Give preference  to  the clearest   and   most   evident   interpretation of a passage.   Frequently the interpreter is confronted with two equally probable interpretations as far as grammatical rules are concerned.  One is a strain upon our credulity. while the other makes good sense. We are to choose that one which makes the best sense and imposes the least strain on our credulity.

(6)  No statement should be interpreted as having  more  than one meaning unless unusually strong reasons warrant.   One of  the most persistent hermeneutlcal sins is to put two interpretations on one passage of Scripture breaking the force of the literal meaning and obscuring the Word of God.

(7)   Interpretation is one; application is many.

(8)  Interpret the Bible harmonistically. This Is based on the belief in the veracity of Scripture. Therefore, the Christian interpreter seeks to in­terpret the Bible free from all contradictions.  He will sympathetically endeavor to adjust all parts of the Bible to each other so there will be a consistent system.

(9)  Everything  essential in Scripture is clearly revealed,   This principle maintains that if a truth is an essential teaching of the Bible we need not scour the Bible to find it, nor will it be taught In one passing reference. ….The basic manner in which this principle is violated is as follows: a certain point of theological debate arises and its scriptural­ness is questioned.   The defender of the view then proceeds to find a verse or passage that has a verbal or perhaps even conceptual reference to his doctrine.   The defender proceeds to invest the verse or passage with the doctrine o r dogma he is defending.  Having found a peg on which  to  hang his doctrine. he considers it Scriptural.

We may consider something Scripturally proved when the very body of the concept is found in the Bible itself; not when we can find a peg to hang a doctrine upon.

( 10) All interpretations must be grounded in the original languages if they are to pass as accurate and factual interpretations.

(11) Ignorance as to the meaning  of some passages  must be admitted.

(12) Obscure passages mu:st give right of way to clear passages. There is the danger and temptation to invest a passage of very dubious meaning with far greater content than it will bear.

(13) Check all interpretations by referring them to secular studies,  a doc­trinal system, and the great efforts of the past.

(14) Finally, the Old Testament must be continuously searched for help in interpreting the New Testament

(Lewis Sperry Chafer: Systematic Theology, Vol. I. Dallas, Texas, Dallas Seminary Press, 1947. p 8);

Leading theologians of the day accept the following as a fundamental prin­ciple of interpretation:

Induction is distinctly the scriptural method of interpretation. Such in­ductions are imperfect when some but not all the texts bearing on a given subject are made the foundation of a doctrinal declaration.

The following principle is universally accepted by evangelical teachers:

The consensus of opinion of Bible Scholars is against founding a doctrine upon an isolated verse of Scripture when the preponderance of Scripture states otherwise.  No one should ever attempt to bring the general tenor of Scrip­ture to the terms of an isolated verse, but should rather call the isolated verse to the terms of the broader teaching of Scripture on a given subject.

B.  The Law of Witnesses is Plain.

In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established (IICor. 13:1).

C. The Treatment of Contexts Is Important.

  1. General Principles of Contexts and Their Abuses

It is also an accepted rule of true interpretation that every text should be understood in the light of its context or contexts. Every verse of Scripture or phrase of Scripture has both a limited context and a general context. The statements immediately before and after a given verse of Scripture which bear on the same subject are its limited context. The position that the text holds in reference to the book in which it is found is likewise important. The general context em­braces both the book in which the text is found and its relationship to the gen­eral tenor of Scripture found in THE BOOK, the Holy Scriptures,  as a whole.

Bernard Ramm has shown the importance of a context in this statement:

Just as a knowledge of each individual word falls to yield the meaning of a sentence and recourse must be made to grammar, so at times when all the grammatical data are known the sentence is still uninterpreted.  For example, the word nature has several major meanings in the English language as a con­sultation of any unabridged dictionary will reveal.  What the word means in any given sentence can only be determined by the context.  So the study of the context takes its place with the study of words and grammar as absolutely is very conscious of contexts.

It is striking that the contexts of Scriptures which support the Conservative School of Divorce are attacked by the FIVE WORD School to discredit their having any validity as a support for texts of Scripture which speak strongly for the Conserva­tive position of divorce.  Examples of the practice of the FIVE WORD School in this regard will follow later.

 

2. Context of Parallel Accounts in the Gospel

A full treatment of this subject will appear under the introduction to the har­mony of the two divorce accounts, Matt. 19: 1-12 and Mark 10:1-12.

D.  The Presumption of Establishing  a  Doctrine upon One Text is Revealed

There is a wide difference of opinion in the Church of Christ between the Ar­minian and Calvinistic schools of theology respecting the eternal security of the Christian believer, yet neither of these schools presumes to build their doctrine upon one text.  Neither do opposing schools, which differ widely respecting their views of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, pre-millenialism, the time of the rapture of the Church, and the doctrine of sanctification, presume to build their doctrine on one text.

Think of the presumption of either an individual or group that would seek to establish a doctrine of the absolute humanity of Christ. to the utter exclusion of his deity, on ONE text,   namely,   I Tim. 2:5:

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men. the   man  Christ Jesus.

The statement of this text that Christ is a man must be modified in the light of a preponderance of Scriptures which show Him to be deity as well as man.

Think of the presumption of either an individual or group that would seek to establish a doctrine that human teachers are not needed in the Christian Church because of the statement of ONE text, namely, I John 2:27:

 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach  you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

The statement of this text that a Christian needs no man to teach him must be modified in the light of a preponderance of Scriptures which show that God has appointed teachers for the Church to instruct others under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Think of the presumption of either an individual or group that would think to establish a doctrine of the final restitution of all wicked men on ONE text.name­ly,   I Cor.15:22:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

There can be no doubt that this text teaches that all shall be made alive in Christ, but it is and must be modified and qualified by the preponderance of other Scriptures bearing on the subject which show that all men will not have eternal life, but only those who repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.

Think of the presumption of an individual or group that would seek to estab­lish the right of an innocent party to marry another after divorcing his spouse if he. or they, sought to build such a doctrine on ONE isolated text. namely, Matt. 19:9(A.V.):

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 ls put away doth commit adultery.

Truly this text appears on the surface to support the assumption of the group of interpreters called the FIVE WORD School, but the preponderance of texts and passages of Scripture teach otherwise, as will be shown in this book.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:  Did Jesus really say anything at all about an “exception clause” as apparently quoted (solely) in the book of Matthew?    Is there such a thing  — or was Erasmus and virtually the entire post-Reformation Church in serious, soul-endangering error?   Have literally millions gone to hell since the 16th  century for unrepented biblical adultery “sanctified” within the church walls?   To get to the truth, we need to dive into some hermeneutical principles, next installment, Chapter IV.

Back to Introduction

Continue to Chapters III and IV

Appendix

 

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Book Series: Introduction – DOES DIVORCE DISSOLVE MARRIAGE?

REVEREND MlLTON T.WELLS  (1901-1975)

EASTERN BIBLE  INSTITUTE

GREEN LANE,  PENNSYLVANIA

1957 – (Public Domain)

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FB profile 7xtjwNote by Standerinfamilycourt:    Rev. Wells was an Assemblies of God Pastor and served as President of the Eastern Bible Institute in Pennsylvania,  now known as the University of Valley Forge.   His work would be considered “judgmental”, “legalistic” and “graceless” in many of the Assembly of God churches like the one SIFC belongs to today, and virtually any other evangelical Protestant church in America.

Our Lord Jesus Christ would have called his scholarly work, with its rigorous application of all the principles of hermeneutics to the scriptural texts on marriage “faithful”.    Until 1973,  so did all of Rev. Wells’ peers in the ministry.   Rev. Wells’ cautions in the Preface to this book, of course, went shamelessly unheeded by denominational leadership, and his words predicting the consequences proved prophetic.

The author uses the term “Five-Word-School” for those who reject Christ’s teaching, centered around Luke 16:18 and other scripture, that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by the physical death of one of the spouses; those who instead prefer to center their view around Matthew 19:9 according to the Erasmean / Lutheran / Calvinist rendering, in such a way as to contrive a “biblical exception” to justify remarriage after civil divorce.   It is interesting to read that even with the much-lower divorce rates of the 1950’s, the author even then refers to “a storm center of controversy among evangelical church leaders and other churchmen……especially over the past 3 decades.”   Some men of God will never take Christ’s “no” with a submissive spirit….as an undershepherd concerned primarily for souls above human esteem.

 

FOREWORD

We are living in perilous times. One of the most serious perils of our times is divorce, a danger which threatens the very foundation of our society; the mar­riage institution and the home.   One out of four American marriages breaks to pieces in a divorce court.  So many people are mixed up in their marriage rela­tions today that our social fabric is seriously  weakened.   Sensuality and promis­cuity are all too common in the American scene.   Hell and Hollywood contrib­ute freely of their vulgarity and sin.   These are indeed the days when men have “eyes full of adultery.”

Against this tide of evil the church stands as the only remaining bulwark. It  was reassuring. recently, to have a member of the British royal family stand firmly with her church against the temptation to marry a divorced man.  Certain churches in America also stand resolutely against marriage after divorce.  That  Holiness and Pentecostal churches be among those that resist this evil is properly consistent.  They refuse to countenance easy   divorce and remarriage  after di­vorce for any reason.

Such a position is Scriptural! “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her.”   Mark 10: 11. In his book, “Does Divorce Dissolve Marriage?” Reverend Milton T. Wells has presented this position in an able manner. He has done the church and its moral standard a real service in this complete and convincing document which he has prepared.  May it bring reassurance and strength to the church and Christians in general as they resistthe pressure and help stem the tide of modern laxity and compromise.

Reverend Ralph M. Riggs

General Superintendent

The Assemblies of God

 

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PREFACE

 

The frightening increase of divorce in the past two decades is tragic. Even more tragic is the departure of some evangelical churches from the clear teaching of Christ respecting marriage and divorce.   Today, a large segment of the Christian Church accommodates the Scriptures  to the seeming necessities of di­vorcees.   This compromising practice has led to a vitiated doctrine of divorce with terrible and consequent results.  Indeed, divorcees and their mates need the sympathetic concern of every true pastor, but a church must not build doctrines of divorce to suit the practices of expediency and heart-felt sympathies, neither must such doctrines be adjusted to fit the Christian experiences of these  unfortu­natelives. Christian experience cannot settle Christian doctrine; Biblical doc­trine alone must determine and qualify Christian experience and the practices and rules respecting the divorce problem within the Church.

God is regenerating the lives of spouses of divorce unions.  This fact however should be no excuse for the Church to alter her doctrine of divorce. To do so will increase the rate of divorce and remarriage both within and without the Church, and consequently will blight the lives of millions of innocent children now living and yet unborn. The blame for the dreadful increase of divorce is properly laid at the door of the compromising segments of the Christian Church.

The purpose of this book is to draw believers back to an objective study and exegesis of the Scriptures bearing on the doctrine of divorce, that they may see whether Christ did, indeed, teach the doctrine .of the indissolubility of marriage for any cause,

The further matter of the status of converted divorcees  within the Church is treated at considerable length in the Appendix.

The writer is deeply indebted to the following for their substantial help in the preparation of the manuscript:  Paul H. Chappeli. Esq., member of the Maryland Bar; Richard J. Crozier, S. T. M.; Hobart E. Grazier, B. A.; Nicholas Tavani, B.A. and R. E. Watson, B. E. D._, A. M., Ph. D.   It is doubtful that the writer could have completed such a comprehensive treatment of the subject except for the inspira­tion, encouragement, and practical assistance of these brethren, some of whom contributed brief sections which they have permitted the author to include in the text without identification of their authorship.   In addition,   other   anonymous friends generously assisted in preparing the manuscript copy.  A hearty “thank you” is extended to them.

The writer is also grateful for the kind permission of many publishers to quote and print portions of their publications, acknowledgements of which are con­tained in footnotes.

 

INTRODUCTION

Divorce with its attendant evils is one of the most serious blights upon modern society.  Recent statistics reveal that there are three times as many suicides among divorced persons as there are among married people and that more delin­quent children are found in homes broken by divorce than in homes broken by death.  Whenever God’s laws are broken, someone has to pay. Nations and churches are only as strong as their homes. God ordained the family to be the core and strength of the moral and spiritual welfare of mankind; therefore it is important that society know the teachings of the Holy Scriptures respecting di­vorce and remarriage.

All Bible-believing Christians will agree that Jesus did not permit divorce be­tween husband and wife, except in the case of fornication on the part of the one or the other.  The following scriptures leave no doubt about this matter:  Matt. 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10: 1-12, and Luke 16:18.

True evangelicals, however, do disagree as to whether or not the Scriptures teach that a chaste mate may BOTH “put away” his unchaste mate and marry another.  One group of believers, whom we shall call the FlVE WORD School of Divorce, insists that the Scriptures teach that a “chaste mate” may put away a mate who commits adultery or fornication and then marry another while the first mate is still living. The writer of this paper is of the Conservative School, which believes that the Scriptures teach that a “chaste mate” may be separated from an “unchaste mate” but MAY NOT remarry while that mate still lives.  The writer, at the close of this paper, will show that there may even be a grave  doubt as to whether Christ authorized one to DIVORCE an adulterous wife.

Numbers of churches, including some of the older denominations, which in the earlier years of their existence retained rigid views on divorce, going so far as to forbid the right of the so-called “Innocent party” of Matt.19:9 who divorces his “unchaste wife” because of fornication to remarry, have in later years  liberalized  their doctrine of divorce.  Is this a fulfillment of II Thess.2:3. “Let no man de­ ceive you by any means: for that day [the day of the Lord] shall not come, except there come a falling away first ..and that man of sin be revealed the son of per­dition..?  Will our denomination follow the pattern of other apostatizing  churches2  God forbid!

Is the more liberal view of Matt. 19:9, and divorce as a whole, based on a bet­ter exegesis and exposition of the sacred Scriptures and is therefore more to be desired for the glory of God.  Should changing moral standards and mores of mod­ern times cause us to re-examine the Scriptures with a direct effort to seek for a more liberal interpretation of Scripture, as it touches upon the subject ofdivorce and remarriage, so that the Church may more..realistically “establish standards in keeping with the more universally accepted moral tone of the timesl

It is true that students of either side of a given doctrine are prone to regard only that which will entrench them further in their previous convictions. It is, unfortunately, doubtful whether many students or readers of studies on either side of the interpretation of Matt;19:9 will alter the opinions with which they ap­proached the study of this subject.   It is my hope that the reading of this paper will accomplish two purposes: first, to clarify the thinking and convictions of those who are still uncertain as to which of the two views is correct; and second, to resolve the problem for those who, while they have accepted the conclusions and interpretations of the FIVE WORD School, still have deep misgivings because they know that strong segments of the Christian Church for centuries have held the conservative view of this question, and further, because they realize that a loophole for divorce and remarriage for the one cause of fornication will certain­ly lead to permission for divorce and remarriage for other causes.

The very fact that the doctrine of divorce has been one of the storm centers of controversy among evangelical church leaders and other churchmen for centuries, and more particularly in the last three decades, should impel him who ap­proaches this subject to come humbly with an honest heart and open mind, pre­pared to study diligently and painstakingly all the Scriptures in the Bible deal­ing with the subject.  No easy, snap judgments are in order here. Thoroughthinking is needed. Obviously, the Conservative School and the FIVE WORD School of the divorce controversy cannot both be right. Let us, therefore, think prayerfully under God until by God’s grace we truly think God’s thoughts after Him in this great problem of the Christian Church. The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul has bidden us:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim.2:15).

An old French writer made an observation in the nineteenth century which is far more true today.   He said that Democratic societies prefer books which may be easily procured, quickly read, and which require no learned researches to be understood …they must have what is unexpected and new.  Accustomed to the struggle, the crosses, and the monotony of practical life, they require  strong and rapid emotions, startling pas­sages, truths or errors brilliant enough to rouse them up and to plunge them at once as if by violence,   into the midst of the subject. I

A. W. Tozer: the editor of the Alliance Weekly, has said:

Our “vastly improved methods of communication” of which the short-sighted boast so loudly now enable a few men in strategic centers to feed into millions of minds alien thought stuff, ready-made and pre-diagnosed.  A little effortless assimilation of these borrowed ideas and the average man has done all the thinking he will or can do.  This subtle brain-washing goes on day after day ad year after year to the eternal injury of the populace — a populace, incidentally, which is willing to pay big money to have the job done, the reason being, I suppose , that it relieves them of the arduous and often frightening task of reaching independent decision for which they must take responsibility.

It is necessary that all who approach the study of this subject do so dispassion­ately, for admittedly there are scholarly and godly men on either side of this question who are deeply convinced that their position is the correct one.  May we come to the Scriptures in the study of this subject, by the help of God, without fixed prior prejudice or bias and without desire to wrest the Scriptures to suit them to the convenience of our denomination’s supposed need,  our seeming ne­cessities, our proclivities, or our carnal sympathies!  Alas, so often one’s expressed thought in a matter of diverse opinion is fathered by what suits his biased wish or apparent necessity rather than by an objective study of the facts in the case.  Most everyone sees the folly of this in others, but all are prone to do thesame thing. How desperately each one who studies this subject needs the illum­ination and direction of the Holy Spirit.  May God help each of us who approach­es the subject of divorce and remarriage to be free from this grave evil which has so many times blighted the Church of Christ. May this question not be set­tled by the traditions of great branches of the Protestant Church, no matter on which side of the question they may stand, for it is a fact that two of these, the  Church of England and the Presbyterian Church, have had equally eminent schol­ars championing opposite sides of the divorce problem under discussion. Surely it must be settled on the same sound principles of interpretation which have char­acterized the Christian Church for centuries in establishing the vital and essential doctrines of Holy Scriptures which have been virtually universally accepted by Bible-believing Christians for many generations.

The pastor who has dealt with earnest, believing divorcees, or their   mates, tempted to desire a doctrine of divorce which will enable him will be peculiarly to solve more expeditiously, at least, some of the complex problems of divorcees with the sympathy of his heart rather than with the conviction of his soul borne of a clear understanding of the teachings of the Holy Scriptures.   Many of these unfortunates have come into evangelical churches as a result of the easy divorces secured during World War II. They need Christ, He died for them. A pastor should not presume to give such people hasty and severe counsel lest they be pre­cipitated into worse moral pollution. God will guide them if they are encouraged to seek the Lord earnestly and study the Word of God diligently for light on their problems.

A pastor whose relatives have been blighted by divorce will find it difficult to be completely objective as he studies the Scriptures on this subject.   Obviously, a divorced person who is still unmarried will find it difficult also. Man’s depraved nature tends to press him to favor interpretations which make his way and the way of others easier and to favor such views of Scripture as shall not make him an exile and stranger (foreigner) (I Pet. 2: I I) to the spirit of his age (Rom. 12: 1.2V.) or church.  May all of us who pursue this study seek to be true Bereans, who search earnestly for the truth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May we seek the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth regarding this matter, cost what it may to us,  or to those nearest and dearest to us, or to any others for whom we have the deepest sympathy and compassion. The Bereans “were more noble than those in Thessalonica , in that they received the word with all readinessofmind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:I I). Certainly the unfortunate divorcees need our sympathy, but we dare notbuild a doctrine of divorce on our sympathy and at the same time claim tobe honest with ourselves and the God of the Holy Scriptures.

Tangled problems of divorcees within the Church must be settled; however, they must not be settled by a prejudiced accommodation of the sacred Scriptures to them but by bringing them to the light of the truth gained by a straightforward and exact exegesis of the divorce texts of the Bible. Christ said,”Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word isTRUTH” (John 17:17).   All should heed the call of the STANDARD BEARER who during a fierce battle was bidden to return the flag to the retreating troops.   As he turned to press forward, he cried,   “BRING THETROOPS UP TO THE STANDARD,  I SHALL NOT BRING THE STANDARD DOWN TO THE TROOPS!”

May God help all who write on this subject, and all who diligently study it, to regard prayerfully the warning by V. H. Stanton: ..When once we have thought ourselves into a particular theory,  a conviction of its truth is apt to be bred in the mind, which is altogether beyond the evidence, while inconvenient facts are ignored…V. H.Stanton: The Expositor, Vol.Vll.

 

Continue to Chapters I  and  II  –  Does Divorce Dissolve Marriage?

 

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