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Page 66

Scripture emphasizes two main truths regarding the sanctity of marriage:

1. The strength of the marriage bond
2. The destructive power of the sin of adultery

How is a church to emphasize both of these truths in its dealings with divorce questions?

While the scriptural grounds for divorce and remarriage in cases of natural fornication are clear, the case for spiritual fornication is not as clear. Spiritual fornication refers to an unbelieving spouse willfully deserting a believing partner, for the truth's sake, as Paul testifies of it, "But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace" (1 Corinthians 7:15).

The meaning of the expression "not under bondage" has been interpreted differently, also by our church fathers. Some interpreted it to mean financially, others legally; others believed it meant the marriage bond - that the believer could be permanently separated, but not remarried; still others taught that it meant total freedom from the marriage bond - both divorce and remarriage rights. As a result of this difficulty of interpretation in such cases of departure for the truth's sake, the following procedure has been adopted:

  • The church must attempt to the utmost to secure reconciliation
  • The church may never advise in favor of divorce in such cases, but when divorce is carried through, it may not apply disciplinary measures
  • The church must leave the question of remarriage in such cases to the conscience of the believer

It is important to recognize that a vast majority of divorces granted by present-day civil governments are not for cases of fornication (natural or spiritual). Therefore in God's sight and in the church's view, these "divorced" persons are still married. Their marriage bond has not been broken, for no fornication has taken place. Therefore whoever marries a divorced person (unless he or she is biblically divorced as the innocent former spouse of a proven fornicator) breaks a marriage bond and commits adultery in doing so. No person or church may set aside God's law; no man-made civil law may ever replace God's law in our thoughts or actions.

Sinful man not only distorts God's law and breaks His seventh commandment by premarital sex, fornication, and unscriptural divorce, he also does so through all means which promote illicit sexual desires and stimulation.

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