Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 29, 1963
NUMBER 17, PAGE 1,12-13

Marriage, Divorce, And Remarriage - (No. 2)

Lloyd Moyer

The Separation Theory Puts A Premium On Sin

Let me illustrate why I say the theory glorifies sin. Take the lives of two young men as an example. One of them sees a young lady he desires to have. He has two choices before him. He may do the honorable thing — marry her, or he may seduce her. He chooses the latter. He continues to seduce one woman after another until finally he gets married. He and his wife have a family. They hear the truth and want to obey the gospel of Christ. The preacher tells him all is well. He can keep his family intact, enjoy the favors of his wife and give his children the influence of a Godly home. Now let us take a look at the life of the other young man. He sees a young lady he desires to have. He chooses to marry her rather than seduce her. For some reason circumstances are such that they fail to make a go of their marriage and get a divorce. He finds another woman he desires. Again, he refuses to take her out of wedlock; he marries her. They have a family. In due time they hear the truth and desire to obey the gospel of Christ, but the preacher tells him that he will have to break up his home, destroy his marriage and live a life of celibacy the rest of his life. His children must suffer the consequence of a broken home. Thus the separation theory places a penalty on the one who always sought to do that which he thought to be upright and just, while no penalty is placed upon the one who always did that which he knew to be sin.

I believe that both men could obey the gospel and be cleansed by the blood of Christ. One would have to repent of past sins of fornication while the other would have to repent of the past sin of adultery. I do not believe the scriptures teach that the more sincere man would have to lose his wife, home and children in order to be a Christian; while the dishonourable rascal could retain his. I believe both should remain married, be faithful to the Lord, bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Another example — A man's wife catches him committing adultery and gets a divorce. Many preachers will tell him that he can never marry again. But, let us suppose when his wife caught him committing adultery, that in a moment of fear and excitement he strikes his wife and she is killed by the blow. The man serves his time in prison and is released. The same preachers who told the other man he could never marry will tell this man that he can get married. In substance, the theory teaches that it would be better for a man caught in adultery to kill his wife than to let her live and get a divorce. Who can believe it?

Living In Adultery

It is argued that a man and woman who are married after being divorced for some reason other than fornication are "living in adultery" because they commit adultery every time they cohabit. Those who so teach are obligated to produce the passage which states it. We have shown that they would have committed adultery when they first became joined in sexual intercourse. However, we have also shown that by that very act of adultery the first marriage was defiled, adulterated and therefore dissolved. They could not adulterate that which had ceased to exist. Subsequent sexual intercourse would not be adultery. It would be simply a man and his wife cohabiting in the confines of marriage. They would be living under the guilt of having committed adultery but not "in adultery." Adultery is "voluntary sexual intercourse by a married man with another than his wife or by a married woman with another than her husband." (Webster's Collegiate Dictionary) Jesus plainly states that this happens when a man puts away his wife without the cause of fornication (illicit sexual intercourse having been committed) and marries another. (Matt. 19:9) Why is this true? Because the man is the husband of another woman and when he is joined with the second woman in cohabitation it is a case of "sexual intercourse by a married man with another than his wife...." Jesus shows in this very verse that fornication (illicit sexual intercourse) is that which dissolves a marriage. The scriptures teach that many people were living or walking in certain sins while they were under the guilt or condemnation of these sins. (Col. 3:5-8) The only way for a man and woman who are married to "live in adultery" would be for one or both of them to still be married to someone else Those who contend that they are "living in adultery" must contend there is only one thing that will dissolve a marriage and that is physical death of one of the marriage partners. But this denies the teaching of Jesus. He taught that fornication (illicit or unlawful sexual intercourse) was the grounds for the dissolution of a marriage. (Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11)

Sage Advice?

Some preachers who hold the separation theory advise those involved in a non-ideal marriage to continue to live in the same house but not to occupy the same bedroom, that is, not to sleep together or have sexual intercourse. This advice is usually given where there are children involved. It is argued that the man owes it to his family to provide for his own. (1 Tim. 5:8) These preachers are inconsistent because they contend that the woman is not the man's wife. Regardless of what 1 Cor. 7 teaches, according to these preachers all children born of such unions would be illegitimate. However, let us look at the situation. Why would any preacher advise a man and woman whom they say are not married to live in the same house? Some advise!

Here is a man and a woman who have been cohabiting together for years: but now they must refrain from touching each other. Paul teaches that neither should "defraud" the other (1 Cor. 7:5), also, that they would burn. (Verse 9) What normal man could live in the same house with a woman and not look on her with desire? Jesus teaches that if a man look on a woman to lust after her he has committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matt. 5:28) These preachers would put a man in an impossible situation. If he cohabits with the woman he sins, if he does not, buts burns with passion and lusts after her he sins.

If he leaves and does not provide the home life his children need, he sins. What do you suppose the children in such a situation think? Children are not stupid. They can see that their mother and father never kiss each other, nor in any way show affection for each other. What an ugly, distorted picture of marriage they would receive.

"It Is Not Lawful For Thee To Have Her"

Many cite the language of John the Baptist to Herod, where he said, " is not lawful for thee to have her...." (Matt. 11:4) and attempt to prove that it was unlawful for a man to be married to a woman who had been married before to another man. However, any student of the Bible should know that it was lawful during the Law of Moses for a man to marry a woman who had been married and divorced. (Deut. 24:1-4; Ex. 21:7,8)

Under the Law of Moses it was unlawful for a man to take his brother's wife while his brother lived. (Lev. 18:16,20,21) "Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife; it is thy brother's nakedness." This is why "....John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife." (Mark 8:18)

Does Baptism Make An Unholy State Holy?

Never, unless the sin that causes the unholy state be repented of. The drunkard would have to make up his mind to quit drinking. The murderer would have to make up his mind to not murder again. The one who committed adultery and thus adulterated and defiled his first marriage; causing the marriage to be dissolved, would have to make up his mind that he would not commit adultery (have sexual intercourse with any woman other than his wife) again. His "unholy state" is not because of his cohabiting with his wife, but because he is guilty of sins which have not been cleansed by the blood of Christ. If and when he learns the truth and decides that he will not commit those sins again and renders complete obedience to the commands of God, he will then be a "new creature." (2 Cor. 5:17) Thus, he comes into a holy state. The people on Pentecost were in an "unholy state" because they had crucified the Son of God. When they repented and were baptized they changed their state from unholy to a holy state. I have always taught that baptism changes one's state from unholy to a holy or saved state. One would have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God (John 8:24), repent and be baptized. (Acts 2:38) When this is done one is "in Christ" (Gal. 3:28, 27) and "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Cor. 5:17) I refuse to limit the blood of Christ and say that it will cleanse the sins of murder, rape, and fornication; but will not cleanse the sin of adultery.

Some are ready to say that you do limit the blood of Christ to the child of God. I deny the charge. The blood of Christ will cleanse the child of God who has sinned the same as it will the alien sinner. (1 John 1:7) Repentance and prayer on the part of the erring child of God will cleanse from sin. (Acts 8:22)

I think I can see a difference in doing something "ignorantly in unbelief" (I Tim. 1:13) and in "willfully" sinning. (Heb. 10:26) There is always the danger of "presumptuous sin" on the part of children of God. However, I refuse to play God and determine who is guilty of such a sin.

Must The Guilty Remain Single?

It is argued that the innocent party is free to be married again but the guilty is not. I fail to see the validity of such argument. If a man commits adultery and his wife gets a divorce and remarries; where is the scripture which teaches that the man must not be married? He has no wife. He is not married. His marriage has been dissolved. God has ceased to recognize his marriage. Just why can't the man be married? Until a scripture is produced which forbids him to marry, I must conclude that traditionalism, based on the Catholic idea of "doing penance." is all that demands he not be married. This is not enough. We must "speak as the oracles of Gad." (1 Peter 4:11) While marriage, divorce and remarriage were very common among the Jews of that day and doubly so among the Gentiles, where is the example of any gospel preacher exacting as a condition of their obedience to God, separation and a life of celibacy?

God's Way Is Practical

I have endeavored to show in this paper that God's way is practical and will work in every circumstance. I have shown that the "must separate" theory will not work in all cases. This is freely admitted by its own advocates. When an attempt is made to apply the theory to specific situations and circumstances, unanswerable questions and insurmountable obstacles arise. The "must separate" theory breaks down in application, hence cannot be of God. Ask the advocates of the theory, "What would you do if you found yourself in such a situation?" Their replies run something like this, "I don't know," or "I'd probably go to Hell." They usually avoid the question by saying, "I'm not going to get into such a situation." I am reminded of a passage of scripture; "For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders: but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers." (Matt. 23:4) The position I have set forth in this paper lifts the burden of sin from the sinner in keeping with the teaching of our Lord. (Matt. 11:28-30) (1 John 5:3 "....His commandments are not grievous.") The "must separate" and "forbidding to marry" theory not only does not lighten the burden of sin, but increases the burden to such an extent that very few will even attempt to bear the load.


Let us impress upon all that God has ordained that one man and one woman be joined together in marriage. The two shall become one flesh. God counts this union so sacred that He will not tolerate it being defiled or adulterated. He intended that a man and woman remain married to each other so long as both shall live. Aside from physical death, the only way for a marriage to be dissolved is by sin; the sin of illicit intercourse. May God help us to point out the many evils; the broken homes, wrecked lives, suffering, heartaches, sorrow and lives of regret, etc., connected with divorce and remarriage. By such preaching of the gospel many will avoid the pitfalls of a broken marriage. Let us not add to the weight of those burdened with sin. We should picture to them the love of God and that even though they have committed the sin of adultery, the blood of Jesus Christ will cleanse them if they will truly obey God's commands. Immorality before or after marriage always leaves its mark. That is why the word of God condemns both fornication and adultery. Purity of life before marriage is just as important as purity of life after marriage. I have always preached against immorality of all kinds. The lives of the people where I have preached will bear out this fact.

It is my prayer that the contents of this little paper will discourage all from committing the sins of fornication and adultery. And those who find themselves already in non-ideal situations, may find hope and the courage to obey God.

I conclude with two passages of scripture which should picture this hope and give this courage to those who find themselves in non-ideal situations. The apostle Paul committed grievous sins in persecuting the people of God. Yet, he found the door of mercy open to him because he did it "ignorantly in unbelief." (1 Tim. 1:13) Jesus, our Lord, pictures the kingdom of heaven and the forgiveness extended therein by giving the story of a certain king who had a servant who owed him a large sum of money and had nothing with which to pay the debt. At first the king made the demand that the servant, his wife and children be sold that payment might be made. (The "must separate" theory makes a similar demand of those who are in non-ideal marriages.) Then the servant pled for mercy and the king had compassion, "released him, and forgave him the debt." (Matt. 18:23-27) Thank God that we can have our debts (sins) forgiven.

All should be discouraged from a life of sin. However, when one is found who has transgressed God's law, he should be encouraged to 'obey God with full assurance that God will forgive him his debt even as the King forgave his servant the debt." "....but one thing I do, forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal unto the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ." (Phil. 3:13, 14)

— 41325 Kathlean St., Fremont, Calif.