Q. Our church is facing a crisis over the issue of a believer’s remarriage. We’re an Independent fundamental KJ only Baptist work. Our church stand is that marriage is between one man and one woman until death. No divorce and no remarriage. We have a number of divorced and remarried members that were voted into membership after they were remarried, I included and I’ve been a member since 1995.
We have a brother who was divorced by his unsaved wife 12 years ago when he was an unsaved man. He was Born Again about 4 years ago and has witnessed to his former wife on a number of occasions. Not only has she rejected Christ but she considers our church a cult and refuses to allow their daughters to attend any more.
This brother has since met a woman from another country who is also Born Again. They’ve known each other for about two years and believe that the Lord has brought them together. Knowing the church’s position on remarriage they decided to have a private wedding with just a few people there at his home. Our pastors both refused to do the ceremony which I agree with.
Here’s the hard part, both of our pastors have recommend that this brother resign from membership. Since this brother has removed himself from the class he was teaching after finding a willing and capable replacement, removed himself from our bus route, removed himself from the usher committee and building committee I don’t see a need for discipline since he has imposed this upon himself already.
My desire is that this brother doesn’t leave but if he doesn’t our pastors will and I don’t want this to happen either. We are at a cross roads here. Did this brother do anything wrong when he remarried? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
A. I don’t agree with any interpretation of the Bible that makes divorce an unpardonable sin because the Lord didn’t do that. When Jesus taught on divorce, He was reminding His listeners that divorce is a sin, since the fact that it was legal made some think that it wasn’t a sin. The same is true today. The fact that divorce is legal in most places for any reason or even no reason, causes many believers to think it’s not a sin.
But because of the cross, all sins are forgiven the moment we ask. Telling someone that he can’t marry again, or that he is no longer worthy to serve the Lord in any capacity, is telling him that he can’t be forgiven. It’s one thing to say, like some places do, that a divorced person shouldn’t be doing any marriage counseling or teaching on marriage. But what does the failure of a marriage have to do with driving a bus, or keeping a building in good repair, especially since the failed marriage was to a confirmed unbeliever who left him.
When Jesus was shown a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery He forgave her, told her not to do it again, and that was the end of it. (John 8:11) When Paul told the church in Corinth to expel a brother who was having an immoral relationship (1 Cor. 5:2) it was so he could realize that what he was doing was a sin. Paul later admonished them to welcome him back because he had repented, so as not to give the devil the victory after all. (2 Cor. 2:5-11)
And finally, my biggest problem is that the Lord commanded us to love our wives as Christ loved the Church (Ephes. 5:25). I strongly believe that many men are in flagrant violation of this commandment every day, living in loveless marriages but thinking that they’re not sinning because they stay married. Do they think they’re fooling the Lord just because they’re fooling the people around them?
Matt. 19:9 says that a man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery. In Matt. 5:28 he said that any man who looks lustfully at a woman is also committing adultery. The Lord said to those who were about to kill the adulterous woman, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” Can any of your leaders pass that test? He also said, “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.” In my opinion your leaders are not being merciful in the way they’re treating this brother.
Divorce is a sin that nearly 1/2 of all Christians have committed. It’s a terrible thing that violates a sacred trust and does serious emotional damage to everyone involved. The earthly consequences are severe. But when the Lord went to the cross He carried every one of those divorces with Him and with His blood He wiped every slate clean. How can we do less?