“To the married I give this command (not
I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does,
she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband
must not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10,11).
In relation to brothers and sisters in Christ, we
believe divorce is contrary to the commandments of Christ; and that if a
believer is divorced, remarriage to another partner should be out of the
question as long as any possibility remains for a
“But for Adam no suitable helper was
found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he
was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with
flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man,
and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman”, for she was
taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother
and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife
were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Gen.
“Some Pharisees came to him to test him.
They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every
reason?’ ‘Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at
the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, “For this
reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the
two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore
what God has joined together, let man not separate’” (Matt.
God’s purpose was clearly that man and
woman joined together in marriage should be joined together for life. Only the
death of one of the parties should terminate the bond. It is easy to see various
reasons for this. The very method of Eve’s formation (“bone of my
bones, and flesh of my flesh”) laid the basis for this indissolubility;
the mental and moral qualities of man call for it; and the purposes of marriage
in the increase and nurture of the race demand it.
It is plain that estrangements and separations
between husbands and wives, whenever and wherever they exist, are incompatible
with the high standard of conduct which the Bible sets forth. In the light of
this exalted teaching, it is considered that where estrangement is threatened
between husband and wife it is a Christian duty to seek patiently and actively a
renewal or resumption of normal relationship.
Not only is this the duty of husband to wife and
wife to husband, but also of those who can offer wise counsel with patient
understanding. Where estrangement followed by separation has already happened,
and while reunion is still a possibility, the pursuit of divorce and remarriage
is a definite negation of the teaching of the Lord — because the
successful pursuit of such a “solution” removes forever the
possibility of reconciliation. These considerations apply with added force where
there are children to consider.
“It has been said, ‘Anyone who
divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you
that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her
to commit adultery, and anyone who marries a woman so divorced commits
adultery” (Matt. 5:31,32).
“‘Why then,’ they asked,
‘did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and
send her away?’ Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your
wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness,
and marries another woman commits adultery’” (Matt.
Divorce obtained by a brother or sister on any
ground except that allowed by Jesus is a sin which cannot be overlooked.
Nevertheless, the ecclesia should not exclude the possibility of true repentance
after the fact. Furthermore, while remarriage by a divorced person, or marriage
with a divorced person, are contrary to the highest ideals as expressed by
Christ, it is possible to envision circumstances in which it would be unjust for
an ecclesia to lay down a course of action without
In dealing with all who come short of the divine
ideal, our aim should be, not only to admonish and rebuke, but also to restore.
While trying to maintain to the fullest the high standards of Christ’s
teaching, we must beware of slipping unconsciously into an attitude toward
offenders which the Lord would condemn. To achieve the right balance in these
matters in the spirit of our Lord’s teaching, calls for prayerful and
persistent effort and humility of mind.