Mr. Armstrong's 1953 Article
"Divorce and Remarriage"
The classic doctrinal article, "Divorce and Remarriage," by Herbert W. Armstrong, was originally published in 1953. It was an outgrowth of the article, "The Plain Truth About Divorce and Remarriage," published in the March, 1948, issue of The Plain Truth. The 1953 article was withdrawn from publication several years before 1974, when the Worldwide Church of God drastically changed its teaching relative to marriage and divorce. Many people today who have become part of the Church of God since the early 1970s, have never read this most important material. We are reprinting "Divorce and Remarriage," so that this basic Bible truth will not be lost.
It is interesting to note that this article has been totally misinterpreted by some. Herbert W. Armstrong's "Divorce and Remarriage" article does not justify setting up a church judicial system to decide on the validity of members' or prospective members' marriages. Yet during the 1950s and 1960s, that is exactly what the Radio (Worldwide) Church of God did. Prospective members were sometimes denied baptism if the ministry decided that their present marriage was adulterous, and they refused to separate. Members whose cases were taken up by the Church sometimes found that the process was less than uniform, and even arbitrary. Sometimes, a "liberal" WWC minister would undo a previous decision of a "conservative" minister. This demonstrates that there were divergent opinions of the simple divorce and remarriage teaching. There is nothing in the Bible, nor in Herbert Armstrong's public writings, to justify a judicial system of administration of the doctrine of marriage. Actually, the ministry should strongly proclaim the Truth, and disfellowship members only in flagrant cases of sexual sin and rebellion. Thankfully, this kind of Church judicial system of the administration of the doctrine of divorce and remarriage is almost entirely extinct today.
In reaction to this ungodly administration of bondage, the Worldwide Church of God then went to the opposite extreme, but this was a second erroneous position. In 1974, the Church's teaching on "Divorce and Remarriage" was drastically changed. If a member's mate was, or became, a non-member, the Church member was given full permission to divorce and remarry. The marital state of a new member, no matter how many previous marriages and no matter what the circumstances, was by Church fiat declared to be valid in God's sight. Any kind of "fraud" was grounds for annulling a marriage with the right to remarry. This new doctrine was a total repudiation of the 1953 article, "Divorce and Remarriage." Instead of correcting the faulty administration (Church-enforced judicial system, which included investigating and prying into people's private lives), the Church threw out the baby with the bath water, and changed the doctrine itself! This modern view demotes marriage from a divine institution to merely a temporary agreement regulated by the state. In contradiction to Luke 16:15, 18, this view says that whatever "marriages" the state "legalizes," are acceptable to God. The Worldwide Church of God, and almost all its offshoot groups, hold this diabolical view.
Herbert Armstrong did not follow the teaching of his own 1953 article. Four times in his Divorce and Remarriage article, Armstrong condemned ministers who deceive the people with false teaching allowing unscriptural divorce and remarriage. It is sad that in 1974, Armstrong did what he and the Bible condemns, in throwing away his former correct teaching. In 1976, he encouraged Church evangelist Raymond McNair to remarry, after Raymond had divorced his first wife. I am not aware of a single Church of God organization which publishes strong material exposing the universal sin of anti-Biblical divorce and remarriage.
In 1977, Armstrong married a divorcee, claiming her first marriage had been annulled. In 1982, the couple engaged in a bitter divorce suit. In 1984, the divorce was finalized. Yet regardless of Armstrong's personal lifestyle, the Truth of the Almighty is not dependent on how he did, or did not, live up to it.
A third erroneous position is held by a couple of splinter groups from the Worldwide Church of God. They teach, with no scriptural support, that non-sexual "fraud" is grounds for annulling a marriage. For example, if a man insisted that his bride be German, and she deceived him, and they lived together as man and wife for years, and had several children, then he, according to this erroneous teaching, upon discovering that she had deceived him, could divorce her and remarry. Another example is drunkenness which does not surface until some time after marriage. The sober mate would not have married the other if he/she knew of the other's problem with alcohol. Therefore, it is reasoned that when the truth comes out, the sober mate has the right to divorce and remarry. These groups also claim that they, and not us, are adhering to the teachings of the 1953 "Divorce and Remarriage" article. Herbert Armstrong's 1953 article does not support their position.
In summary, we have discussed the following three erroneous D&R views:
Correct Doctrine taught, but not consistently practiced, and enforced by an arbitrary church government with conflicting interpretations.
Wide-open permissiveness, almost anything goes.
Divorce and remarriage permitted for non-sexual fraud, which has no scriptural support.
Please carefully read the 1953 article. Can you find one scripture, or one sentence of Armstrong, supporting a church judicial system to pry into people's private lives to see if their marriage is bound or unbound? Can you find any support for divorce with the right to remarry for non-sexual "fraud"? Can you find support for divorce and remarriage for any reason? No, you cannot support these positions either from the Bible or Armstrong's early writing.
Supported by the Bible, Herbert Armstrong's 1953 article on Divorce and Remarriage is like a beacon in today's sea of easy divorce and rampant remarriage. There are few, if any, Biblical topics more important, and essential to the gospel message, than a correct teaching, and loving application, of the doctrine of marriage and divorce. May the Eternal help us to live up to His precious Truth!
Divorce and Remarriage
By: Herbert W. Armstrong
America leads the world in divorces. Divorce has become the nation's number one social and legal problem. The chances are almost one in three that your own marriage will end in divorce! What are the real "Bible Grounds" for divorce and remarriage? What's the true significance of this alarming trend?
Here's a courageous straight-from-the-shoulder article daring to tell you the plain truth -- an article that will directly affect nearly every fourth reader! The ALARMING rise in the divorce rate is not merely America's growing "Tragedy" -- it is America's growing SIN -- a sin which America could prevent, and for which she will PAY.
In telling you the PLAIN TRUTH on this vital subject, it is realized this truth strikes home to every fourth reader.
It's realized, too, that some will become offended at the truth. It is not our purpose, however, to offend people, but rather to please God and to carry out His solemn commission to us: "CRY ALOUD, SPARE NOT! LIFT UP THY VOICE LIKE A TRUMPET, AND SHOW MY PEOPLE THEIR TRANSGRESSION, AND THE HOUSE OF JACOB THEIR SINS!" Isaiah 58:1.
That we must do, no matter whom it offends -- and even though this sin reaches into, perhaps, every fourth home. This is an appalling national sin that reaches, also, to high Heaven and threatens to destroy this great nation and bring upon it the wrath of God.
But, if this sin exists in every fourth home, THAT IS THE MOST IMPELLING REASON FOR SENDING INTO THOSE HOMES GOD'S TRUTH!
Do you know where GOD places the blame for this colossal national sin? The Eternal places it squarely on the PREACHERS who have neglected telling the nation GOD'S TRUTH.
Listen to God's stinging indictment of the self-professing ministers! "My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds (preachers) have caused them to go astray," Jeremiah 50:6.
In this article we propose to give you the plain WORD OF GOD, straight from the shoulder, hoping and praying you will not become angry at the truth. Those who do take offense will be offended at GOD and HIS WORD, because these laws are not ours, but GOD'S.
Did you ever realize that God's laws are designed primarily to do two things -- (1) keep people in a close and right relationship with GOD and NEIGHBOR, and (2) protect the FAMILY -- the HOME?
God made the husband the head of the wife, and the parents the head over their children. The fifth command protects this relationship: "Honor thy father and thy mother." And, again: "Thou shalt not commit ADULTERY."
That command was given to PROTECT THE HOME! To prevent broken homes, juvenile delinquents, untrained children!
Now notice the first, original, fundamental, basic rule of all in the husband-and-wife -- the family -- relationship.
When God first created man upon the earth He ordained the marriage union. Marriage was not instituted by authority of a man-made court, or the laws of a legislature or a congress.
Notice: "And the Eternal GOD said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him," Genesis 2:18.
And Jesus said: ". . . 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 . . . . What therefore GOD hath joined together, let not man put asunder . . . . 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," Mark 10:6-9, 11-12.
There is the FOUNDATION of the marriage union!
There is the BASIS of family life! There is the DIVINE LAW upon which the fate of the nation rests!
Did you notice what that basis is?
Almighty GOD, not a human legislative body, created the human race -- made us male and female. When it is fully understood, and straightened in your mind, the whole question of divorce and remarriage will be clear.
It is GOD, not man, who joins husband and wife together!
We call marriage "HOLY matrimony," or "HOLY wedlock." Why? What makes it HOLY? Only the fact that it is a divine institution, ordained of GOD -- that it is GOD who joins the man and woman as ONE FLESH.
The minister doesn't "tie the knot." The minister, justice of the peace or other officer authorized by men, merely conducts the ceremony. It is ALMIGHTY GOD who "ties the knot." It is GOD who binds them as one flesh FOR LIFE.
It pertains to "saved" and "unsaved" alike -- to all races, creeds, and colors. It is not an ordinance of the CHURCH -- the marriage institution started with CREATION, long before there was any church. It is for MALE and FEMALE, regardless of the church. They become ONE FLESH, not one spirit. From Creation to now, every man and woman who have taken each other as man and wife have been JOINED TOGETHER as ONE FLESH by the Eternal GOD for the remainder of their natural lives!
One thing, and one only, can break that marriage union -- death!
Understand that BASIC FOUNDATION of the marriage institution, and everything else becomes clear. Marriage is not of human institution; it is not a political, a civil, a legal, or even a church institution -- it was originated with Adam and Eve from Creation; it was instituted by GOD, and not man; its authority is solely that of GOD, not man!
Therefore MAN-MADE LAWS CONTRARY TO THOSE OF GOD HAVE NO AUTHORITY OVER MARRIAGE! Its only binding laws are those of GOD. And GOD HAS NEVER GIVEN ANY AUTHORITY WHATSOEVER FOR ANY BODY OF MEN, CIVIL, ECCLESIASTICAL OR OTHERWISE, TO LEGISLATE ON MARRIAGE CONTRARY TO HIS MARRIAGE LAWS!
Since our human governments have legislated laws concerning marriage, and since we are to be SUBJECT to the government that is over us (but without breaking the laws of God), all couples naturally should satisfy the man-made laws so far as they conform to those of God, by securing a marriage license and having a legal ceremony properly recorded.
But every state legislature which passes laws authorizing divorce and remarriage is defying Almighty God, and WHOLLY WITHOUT AUTHORITY!
Any human judge who grants a divorce based upon such unauthorized man-made laws stands himself in contempt of the HIGHER court of the Eternal GOD! Anyone who procures a divorce from wife or husband from any such unauthorized human court receives a divorce which is INVALID -- not legal or binding according to the LAWS OF GOD!
When any person, holding such a "divorce," marries and lives with another, THE WHOLE PROCEDURE IS WITHOUT AUTHORITY FROM GOD -- and such a person is NOT in fact or in God's sight married to this second husband or wife, but instead is merely LIVING IN ADULTERY with this second person!
And any professing minister of Jesus Christ who performs such a ceremony involving such a divorced person is himself DOUBLY GUILTY, and will be so held in the final judgment!
Yes, the MAIN REASON for so much of this legally licensed (by man) ADULTERY in our land is the SILENCE of the ministers concerning the TRUTH -- their actual upholding and condoning of this SIN, their participation in it!
One incidental point should be made clear just here. The SIN is not the ceremony alone, but the SEX RELATIONSHIP which CONTINUES after the ceremony.
The basic Scriptures on the subject of marriage and divorce are these, in addition to those given above:
"It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: But I [Jesus Christ] 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," (Matthew 5:31-32 -- part of Jesus' sermon on the Mount).
"The Pharisees also came unto Him, tempting Him, and saying unto Him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And He answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be ONE FLESH? Wherefore they are no more twain, but ONE flesh. What therefore GOD hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto Him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery," Matthew 19:3-9.
Before quoting the other Scriptures, let us examine these more closely. Here are the ONLY TWO places in the New Testament where any exception whatsoever is given. Here, then, is stated the ONLY "BIBLE GROUNDS" for a second marriage (except, of course, after the death of a mate).
Notice, in speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus went back to the very beginning of creation for HIS AUTHORITY for the laws of God respecting marriage. The man-ordained laws in the nation Israel were contrary, and NOT BINDING TODAY.
But He did make one exception: "except it be for FORNICATION."
What is "fornication?"
Is it the same thing as adultery? NOT AT ALL! "Fornication" and "adultery" are two altogether different things.
Here is the Webster Dictionary definition: "Fornication -- Illicit sexual intercourse on the part of an UNMARRIED person." "Adultery -- Voluntary sexual intercourse by a married man with another than his wife or by a married woman with another than her husband."
"Fornication" is committed BEFORE marriage, and only by an UNmarried person. "Adultery" is UNFAITHFULNESS to a husband or wife.
Why did Jesus make this explanation about "except it be for fornication?" He was speaking to the strict, legalistically minded hypocritical Pharisees. They were questioning Him so closely about the laws of marriage in an effort to trap Him. They were familiar with every detail of the law. So to be explicit and legally exact in answering them, Jesus here referred to the laws as recorded in Deuteronomy 22:19 regarding marriage.
These laws provided that, if a man married a woman, and, after marriage found she had not been a virgin -- that she had committed fornication BEFORE marriage to him -- he was allowed to put her away. It was not actually a divorce but rather an ANNULMENT -- a canceling out of the marriage. The man had been tricked -- deceived -- the victim of a fraud. He had no way of knowing this until after the marriage ceremony. The assumption is that God, having known it, NEVER JOINED TOGETHER this man and woman at all. They are not bound in God's sight -- the ceremony is nullified, just as if it never had taken place. The man is left in the status of not having been married at all. He is, then, free to marry, just as if this fraudulent ceremony, now erased, had never occurred.
This is NOT strictly speaking a divorce, at all! It is not a separation, divorcing, or putting asunder of a couple joined as ONE FLESH by God, for in this case God never had joined them as one. WHAT God has actually joined together as ONE FLESH, God will not, and commands man not to separate. That is the principle.
Turn just briefly to the Old Testament scriptures.
"If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: . . . and the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; . . . because he hath brought an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and SHE SHALL BE HIS WIFE; HE MAY NOT PUT HER AWAY ALL HIS DAYS," Deuteronomy 22:13-19.
Notice, his EXCUSE for putting her away was that she was not a virgin -- that she had committed fornication BEFORE marriage to him. But in case the man accused her falsely and attempted by a lie to free himself from the marriage, the man was fined and punished and forced to take the woman as his wife for THE REMAINDER OF HIS LIFE -- because in this case she was a pure woman, NOT guilty of fornication but a virgin, and so GOD HAD JOINED THEM FOR LIFE, AND NO DIVORCE WAS PERMITTED FOR ANY CAUSE WHATSOEVER.
But, in case such a man rightly accused the woman he had married, notice how the law operates:
"But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel: then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's (not her husband's) house," verses 20-21.
This shows, too, how serious the sin of fornication is regarded by God. Today general estimates are that perhaps two out of three young women, and perhaps nine out of ten young men have been guilty of fornication before marriage! Yes, this is FOLLY IN ISRAEL TODAY! One a great proportion of young people today do not even consider seriously! This is just one of our popularly condoned SINS that is bringing DOOM to America today!
This shows HOW FAR this nation has drifted from God, and the low ebb of our morals! It paves the way for that still more serious sin, ADULTERY, with our national rampage of divorce and remarriage!
The New Testament example of this is in the case of the birth of Jesus Christ Himself.
These Christ-rejecting Pharisees, knowing that Joseph was not the real father of Jesus, and rejecting the truth that HE was conceived of the Holy Spirit, sneered at Him: "We be not born of fornication," John 8:41. By this they insinuated that His mother Mary was guilty of fornication before marriage, and Jesus of being illegitimately born. Plainly, they understood the meaning of "fornication" to be an act committed BEFORE marriage.
At first, even Joseph, Mary's husband, believed Mary to be guilty of fornication, and "with child" as a result, not knowing Jesus was begotten not by any human father, but by GOD through the Holy Spirit.
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused [married] to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband [they were already married, not just engaged], being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example [according to the law of Deuteronomy 22:20-21] was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit," Matthew 1:18-20.
Now notice carefully! Joseph knew God's laws regarding marriage. He supposed Mary guilty of fornication -- an act committed BEFORE marriage. He was going to put her away "before they came together" -- immediately! The point I want you to catch here is that if he were to take advantage of this one exception of fornication, he must do it BEFORE HE LIVED WITH HER AS A WIFE. He must not accept her as a wife at all, but before he does, if she is a fornicatress and he wishes to put her away, the marriage must be SET ASIDE -- erased, annulled.
But a man can, if he wishes, accept the woman he has married as his wife and live with her, in which case the union becomes valid in God's sight, and they are then BOUND TO EACH OTHER FOR LIFE. Undoubtedly, in a day of low morals and prevalent promiscuity before marriage such as exists today, the best course in such a case would be to forgive the sin of fornication, accept the wife or husband, in which case the marriage becomes binding, and live together.
A man or woman is not barred from marriage for life because of fornication. Although it is a sin, and very serious in God's sight, it is a sin that can be forgiven upon repentance by the blood of Christ, and it would be better, when two are in love, to forgive if either or both are guilty of fornication, and make the marriage binding.
Someone will be bound to bring up the question: "What if it is the MAN who was guilty of fornication -- can the woman put him away in the same manner?" While the scriptures are silent on this specifically, yet it is my judgment, and I believe I have the mind of God, that, since God has no double standard, and is no respecter of persons, that this law applies exactly the same to either sex.
Another question is bound to arise: "What if this fornication is not discovered for, say, two years, or ten or twenty years? Can the injured man or woman after all that time put away the mate on the grounds of something that happened BEFORE marriage?" Again, while the scriptures do not cover this point specifically, the PRINCIPLE revealed is that a marriage may be SET ASIDE when this pre-marital sin is discovered after marriage, but "before they come together," as specifically illustrated in the case of Joseph and Mary. In such a case the man must not live with the woman as his wife at all, or the woman with the man if he is the guilty one. But, if they do take each other in the marriage relationship and live together as husband and wife, they are then JOINED BY GOD, legally married, and there can be NO DIVORCE.
Certainly a man could not, for instance, continue to live with a wife as long as he pleases, KNOWING she had been a fornicatress, with a ready excuse any time he decides he would like to get rid of her. If he accepts her, HE IS BOUND TO HER FOR LIFE, and she to him if she accepts him. If a man or woman knows the other has been guilty of fornication, and marries anyway, then THERE ARE NO GROUNDS WHATEVER FOR DIVORCE. The only grounds are when the innocent party was deceived and defrauded.
Thus the ONE EXCEPTION mentioned by Jesus is not actually grounds for a divorce and remarriage at all -- but merely the annulling, or erasing, of a ceremony in which the parties were not actually joined by God at all.
I have heard many people speak of "adultery" as "the Bible grounds for divorce." It will come as a great surprise to many, therefore, that ADULTERY is no grounds whatever for divorce! There are NO GROUNDS WHATSOEVER for divorce and remarriage, once joined by God for life!
Consider, now, the other principal New Testament scriptures on the question:
"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," Mark 10:11-12. Notice, it does not say "did commit adultery in the ceremony," but "committeth" -- that is, is NOW COMMITTING adultery by a sex relationship with one to whom he or she is not married in God's sight.
"Whosoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery," Luke 16:18.
Is One Bound to a Sinning Mate?
A listener asks if he is bound to live with a non-Christian and sinning wife. The answer is, he is BOUND to her by marriage, and therefore is not free as long as she lives, to marry any other woman, but he is not required to live with her -- he may live apart from her, and remain unmarried, except to her.
Here is the scripture on the point:
"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 Corinthians 7:10-11. It applies equally whether man or woman.
Further: " . . . If any brother [Christian] hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. And the woman [Christian] which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him . . . . But if the unbelieving depart, let him [or her] depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases," Verses 12-15.
It is a COMMAND of God, II Corinthians 6:14, that Christians shall not marry unbelievers, and trouble nearly always results when this command is broken. But IF one is married to an unbeliever, the marriage is a physical, not a spiritual union, and they are then BOUND as long as they live. The Christian is not forced, however, to live with the unbelieving mate, but must, in that case, live as one single. There are no grounds for divorce and remarriage.
Again, in I Corinthians 7:39: "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."
Now Romans 7:2-3, "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married toanother man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from the law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man."
Some have written me that they were not converted when they divorced, or married, or remarried, arguing that since they were not then Christians the marriage didn't "count," or, that since the divorce and remarriage occurred before conversion, and the knowledge of the truth, that God should wink at it, and asking if it is not right for them to now continue living with one divorced. I repeat, MARRIAGE IS A FLESH UNION, instituted by GOD at Creation, before there was any Church -- it applies for ALL PEOPLE, from Creation, through all dispensations and ages, and is for Egyptians, Russians, Chinese or Indians, as well as for Americans and Canadians -- it applies to the unconverted as well as the converted. The only exception is that a converted person should avoid marrying an unconverted.
If a man was a thief before he was converted, is it right for him to continue stealing after conversion? Nonsense! The converted person must REPENT of sin -- must QUIT SINNING -- and living with one divorced and actually bound by God's law to another is LIVING IN ADULTERY.
Jesus was talking at a well to a Gentile woman from Samaria.
"I have no husband," answered the woman. Jesus said, "Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands'; and he whom thou now hast IS NOT THY HUSBAND: in that saidst thou truly," John 4:16-18. She was a divorced and remarried woman, and the man she lived with was NOT HER HUSBAND, though she had "married" him. Hollywood is full of such women today!
John the Baptist finally paid with his life, because as a faithful servant of God he warned King Herod that it was not lawful for him to have his brother Phillip's wife. Josephus tells us Herod had divorced his wife and married Philip's wife, who in turn had divorced Philip.
I know full well that literally THOUSANDS will read this article, who have been divorced and remarried, or have married a divorced person. I know only too well that the question will come to thousands of you, for the first time: "Well, then, if I am living in adultery, WHAT SHALL I DO?"
My heart goes out to all such people. Being human, I wish I could spare them God's answer, but God helping me, I can't! He has called me to "Cry aloud, and SPARE NOT, and show My people their sins." He has called me to TURN YOU FROM YOUR SINS -- that isn't often pleasant for me, or easy for you. It is the greater pity that most such people are the innocent victims of either false teaching, or lack of teaching. GOD HOLDS THE PROFESSING MINISTERS TO BLAME!
But, hard as it may be to have to say it, all I can say as a faithful minister of Jesus Christ is: "COME OUT OF SIN" and "QUIT LIVING IN SIN!"
Adultery is SIN -- and if one of the two parties, or both, has been divorced, and the previous husband or wife is still living, then the present "marriage" is not a marriage at all in GOD'S SIGHT -- you are STILL BOUND BY GOD to the one from whom you were divorced, and the one you now live with is NOT your husband or your wife, but merely the one with whom you are LIVING IN ADULTERY!
Yes, I know, all kinds of complications arise. There is property involved. Perhaps there are children. Perhaps there is, now, a home with children by this second marriage. And it SEEMS wrong and unjust in human eyes to break it up. So human beings usually begin to argue that God isn't fair, and try to find a way around God's commands! But "there is a way that seemeth RIGHT to a man, but the end thereof are the WAYS OF DEATH." So says God's Word! We are to obey God, not human reasoning. No matter how it looks to us, no matter how we reason, GOD'S WAYS AND THE LAWS ARE ALWAYS RIGHT -- MORE FAIR BY FAR -- THAN THE WAYS THAT SEEM RIGHT TO US!
Remember, God's laws are not made to break up homes, but to establish and PROTECT them -- and if it SEEMS to human reason that in rectifying these sins that homes might be broken up, I can only remind you that it was the original DIVORCE which broke up a God-established home, and the home made by divorced persons is a home founded on ADULTERY, ugly as this fact may seem.
Marriage is not taken seriously enough in America today. Young people are not taught to realize its serious responsibility -- that it is for LIFE. Too many marriages should never have been made, in the first place. But, once made, they are BINDING! Too few know the difference between LOVE and LUST. We are attempting to found the American home today upon IGNORANCE, CARELESSNESS, AND SIN. No wonder we are becoming a nation of broken homes and juvenile delinquents!
God help all who are guilty of this sin, innocent of intentional wrong through ignorance of GOD'S TRUTH and His ETERNAL LAWS, to have the courage to PUT THIS SIN OUT OF THEIR LIVES, and to quit living in ADULTERY!
God help all such not to put human reasoning, or the false advice of ministers, in the place of the PLAIN LAWS OF GOD! It makes no difference how we REASON, as to what is fair or unfair -- it makes no difference how many MEN professing to be ministers of Jesus Christ advise you otherwise, THE MARRIAGE LAWS WERE ORDAINED BY GOD; they were ordained AT CREATION; they are binding UPON ALL MEN AND WOMEN OF ALL RACES, IN ALL AGES, WHETHER BELIEVER OR UNBELIEVER; GOD'S LAWS ARE INEXORABLE AND CANNOT BE CHANGED; AND LIVING IN A MARRIAGE AFTER DIVORCE IS LIVING IN ADULTERY -- THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS -- AND ALL HUMAN REASONING AND ASSURANCES OF THIS WORLD'S MINISTERS WILL BE OF NO AVAIL IN THE JUDGMENT!
It cannot be denied that, once entangled in this violation of God's marriage laws, an apparent injustice may be brought on innocent people by now OBEYING God's commands.
BUT I STILL SAY THAT NO MATTER HOW IT MAY APPEAR, NO MATTER HOW WE HUMANS MAY REASON, IT IS ALWAYS BETTER, IN EVERY INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCE, TO FOLLOW THE LAWS OF GOD AND OBEY HIS COMMANDS!
Yes, the horrible thing about sin is that the innocent suffer with the guilty. Penalties from past sins cannot always be avoided. But to continue in sin only brings further penalties!
What so few seem to realize is that THESE LAWS OF GOD ARE LIVING THINGS! These laws are actually IN MOTION! They are instituted and set in motion to BRING US HAPPINESS and to PROTECT our happiness. We never fare better by following some other way of human reasoning, no matter how the special circumstances of an individual case may APPEAR.
If we dare to break these laws of God, WE SUFFER! These laws are active, living things -- and THEY CRACK DOWN ON US when they are disobeyed! They are INVISIBLE laws. Perhaps it may SEEM to a man some other way is the better way. But always, in all cases, that other way that seemeth RIGHT to a man will only bring on more unhappiness and suffering!
God, who instituted these laws, IS ABLE TO ALTER CIRCUMSTANCES so as to BLESS those who put their faith in Him by following HIS ways, and obeying HIS laws, instead of the traditions, customs, and reasonings of mortal humans! Of course, where sins have been committed, there are penalties. But STILL the lesser of the two evils is to OBEY GOD'S LAWS in regard to the marriage relationship! If you permit human reason to lead you into transgressing
them, no matter how RIGHT that course may SEEM to you, God's INEXORABLE LAWS WILL PUNISH YOU and you will suffer far more -- be far more unhappy. Trust God -- turn to Him, OBEY HIM -- quit living in adultery; or, if you were contemplating a divorce and remarriage, put away that temptation -- AND SEE WHETHER THE ALMIGHTY CREATOR IS NOT ABLE TO WORK CIRCUMSTANCES OUT TO A REALLY HAPPY SOLUTION!
Suffering and unhappiness come ONLY from living contrary to God's laws! Happiness can come ONLY by living according to them. May God help each one to see this basic TRUTH -- to FEAR to go contrary to it -- and to PUT HIS FAITH IN GOD!