Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 15, 1962
NUMBER 40, PAGE 2,11b

Observations & Questions On An Important Subject

Tommy McClure, Eldorado, Arkansas

Recently in my reading I ran across an article which touched on the subject of divorce and remarriage. This brought some questions to my mind, and I hope I will not be judged guilty of agitating this matter into a major issue nor of seeking to force my views upon others when I make some observations and ask some questions through the Gospel Guardian.

A number of reasons could be given for my keen interest in the divorce and remarriage question. (1) When I was conducting a daily question and answer study on a radio station a few years ago, more questions were received on this subject than on any other. Too, at that time, some in that section were engaged in a "very fervent and zealous advocacy" of the idea that alien sinners are in no way subject (amenable) to God's law concerning divorce and remarriage. Some even went so far as to say that the only sin of which alien sinners are guilty is the sin of unbelief. When confronted with the expression "remission of SINS" (Acts 2:38), they countered by saying, "That was spoken to Jews who were formerly God's children under the Law." According to them, the Jews were guilty of SINS — adultery, fornication, idolatry, etc. — but the Gentiles (aliens) were guilty of only ONE SIN, that of unbelief. When such passages as Rom.. 1; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; and Eph. 2 were put to them, they had little more "fitten" to say. (2) In the majority of meetings in which I preach, those who attend are encouraged to use the question box; some question relative to divorce and remarriage nearly always comes up. This indicates that teaching (the truth, of course) is greatly needed. (3) In recent months, a large amount of material (some of it anonymous) has been circulated in which the following general idea is propagated: a man can put away his lawful (in God's sight) wife for some cause other than fornication, marry another woman, cohabit with her, and after baptism continue the same act (cohabitation with woman number two) with impunity. Such material indicates that some are engaged in a "very fervent and zealous advocacy" of this idea. When anonymous material is sent out ridiculing those who do not accept the above position, that is agitation in my estimation. It portrays neither honesty nor courage on the part of the sender nor does it lead to unity among the disciples of Christ. (4) This is a question which affects the welfare of many precious souls. To me, such a question is important whether it does or does not "compare with the issue of institutionalism." (5) I believe that the question of divorce and remarriage involves matters which may seriously affect the spiritual purity and the influence (for good) of many congregations. (From the tenor of some of the writing which has come under my view within recent weeks, I presume that some do not so regard this matter. I, for one, most certainly do!) (6) The manifest favoring of this position (expressed in number 3 above) which is being shown by some in whom I have had (and still have) much confidence gives me great concern.

Here are some questions which have come to my mind and I believe they are germane to a Bible discussion of this subject. They will help to focus the issue and answers to them will be quite revealing, interesting and helpful.

1. Can one with absolute certainty deduce and conclude from the teaching of the N. T. that all who have been previously married and have put away their companions for unscriptural reasons and have married again are not living in a continuing state or relationship which is adulterous and can therefore continue cohabitation with the present companion with impunity?

2. If so, will someone please explain to us how to make the deduction and reach the conclusion?

3. If a man puts away his wife for an unscriptural reason and marries another woman, is he then, in God's sight, an adulterer? a polygamist? "the husband of one wife" (1 Tim. 3:2)? or what?

4. Is the alien sinner subject (amenable) to the law of Christ?

5. Does Matt. 19:9 constitute a part of the law of Christ?

6. Is it possible for a person to be guilty of living in adultery (a continuing state or relationship which is adulterous) under any circumstances?

7. Is it possible for a person to be guilty of living in idolatry (a continuing state or relationship which is idolatrous) under any circumstances?

8. If two men along with their wives (all alien sinners) agree upon and execute a "wife swap," where neither divorce nor remarriage is involved, and continue said exchange for 90 days, are they living in (during this period) a continuing state or relationship which is adulterous? If not, what should it be called? If so, what must the parties do in order to cease living in such state or relationship?

9. If two men divorce their wives (all four are alien sinners) for unscriptural causes and each man marries the other man's divorced mate, are they living in a confirming state or relationship which is adulterous? If not, what should it be called? If so, what must they do in order to cease living in such state or relationship?

10. If the ones contemplated in number 8 are living in such State or relationship and those in number 9 are not, what makes the difference?

11. Does a divorce for an unscriptural cause sever the marriage bond in God's sight? If so, what constitutes the adultery of Matt. 19:9? If not, does it follow that a man who marries and cohabits with a woman who was previously divorced for an unscriptural cause is guilty in God's sight of illicit relations with a woman who is the wife of another man? If not, why not?

12. After being baptized, can those of question 9 continue with impunity the same cohabitation which began at the second marriage? If so, Why?

13: If on the last day of the "wife swap" mentioned in question 8, all parties are baptized, can they continue with impunity the same Cohabitation in which they have engaged in sins than prayer is for the erring child of God?

14. Is baptism for the alien sinner' more effective regarding sins than prayer is a for the erring child of God?

15. If an alien sinner can divorce his lawful (in God's sight) wife for an unscriptural cause, marry another woman, and continue with impunity cohabitation with the second woman after baptism (becoming a child of God), why can't the child of God do the same thing (divorce for an unscriptural cause and marry another woman) and continue with impunity cohabitation with his second woman after praying for forgiveness? Does the alien sinner have liberties here which the child of God does not have?

16. If a child of God can do that expressed in question 15 one time, can he not do the same thing again (even though he has children by another woman number 2) and after praying for forgiveness be acceptable to God while cohabiting with woman number 3? If not, why not? If so, is there any limit to the number of times this can be done?

It is my firm belief that forthright answers to these questions will be of much benefit and will be greatly appreciated by hundreds of faithful brethren all over the nation. It is my sincere hope that these questions will lead to a full, complete, friendly, Bible discussion in which the truth of God will prevail.