By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID  July 7, 2002)

    In other assemblies of the brotherhood this is a highly charged, emotional subject that is debated back and forth and some men are now pushing to divide assemblies over the issue, calling other men false teachers, liars, Pharisees, and extreme McCarthyites. Some men are seeking to usurp the local autonomy of congregations by saying that if you do not line up with their view of the subject, then you are not a church of Christ. There is one preacher who tours cities in California holding meetings on this one subject and slanders the names of good men who disagree with him. This is unfortunate and not of God.
    The way we in Boise have so far handled the issue is by presenting both sides of the argument and letting each Christian be persuaded in their own minds. There are among our own fellowship, good brethren who hold differing views on the subject. But we recognize that inflammable issues like this need a long time to study, and wisdom to recognize that our fellowship of the spirit in love is what binds us together, until we all come to the unity of the faith and knowledge that we seek.
    So to give a lesson on this subject, my motivation is to inform you, not necessarily to persuade. So I will try to give both sides of the issue simply and encourage you to keep studying on your own to arrive at what you believe.

There are three (3) levels to my presentation in the two (2) main viewpoints of the subject.

1. The first level is Expository:

The Text with Exception Loosed and Married Loosed and Loosed
Mt. 19:9
And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, not for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.

The exception only applies to the first clause. Therefore he means, "whoever marries her who is divorced for any reason commits adultery."

The exception applies to both clauses. Therefore he means, "whoever marries her who is thus divorced, i.e. divorced not for fornication, commits adultery."

2. The second level is Logical:

Loosed and Married Loosed and Loosed
A <--> B
X              X
C                     D
When no fornication is present and A & B divorce and remarry C & D, then the marriages are invalid since God does not recognize a valid divorce between A & B
A <--> B
X                X
C                     D
When no fornication is present and A & B divorce and remarry C & D, then the marriages are invalid since God does not recognize a valid divorce between A & B
A <--  B
/               X
C                     D
B commits fornication so A divorces him. A marries C with God's blessing but B cannot then marry D because he is still married to A in God's eyes. B can never remarry without committing adultery. (scripture?)
A <-X-> B
/                  \
C                     D
B commits fornication so A divorces him. A and B are no longer married. Both can remarry whomever they will in the Lord. (Deut.24:1-4)

3. The third level is Reasons (Polemic)

I cannot argue everything or every scripture in the time allotted, but just give you an introduction of the controversy. I will be using quotations from the proponents of each side.

Loosed and Married Loosed and Loosed

"Jesus gives the right of remarriage only to the offended party who divorces a fornicator. Therefore the guilty party has no right of remarriage."

"All divorced persons have no right before God to remarry except the person who put away the fornicator."

"To marry a virgin and then commit fornication - get divorced, repent and marry another virgin, commit fornication, etc. etc., puts a premium on sin. When does the guilty party pay for their sins?

   "The word Jesus uses is 'put away' apo-luo which means to loose from, sever by loosening, undo, to dismiss from the house, repudiate. (Thayer)"
   "The marriage bond is severed. If not then neither can remarry. There is no half marriages."
   "By what authority can we say: 'A person guilty of fornication has forfeited all marital rights and must live celibate to please God' ?"
   "Jesus used the same term the Pharisees used. They understood it to mean that she could remarry."
   "Jesus doesn't change the effect of divorce, only the causes - fornication."


    I hope that this will not fuel any fire, but you need to know what this issue entails. I have not covered every scripture, nor have I argued every argument and objection. I have tried to keep it simple and clear.
    If you want to pursue a study of the issue, I have materials on both sides that I can give you for further study. If you want to know my viewpoint you can ask me and I'll tell you. I do not know it all, but I do know that we are seeking to know it together.

    Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
    In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
    In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

~ Invitation ~