Another question about by book on MDR is about “eighty times?”
One brother implies, “What you are saying in your book is that a person could have been divorced and remarried ‘eighty times’ and still be forgiven and keep the wife he is married to when he becomes a Christian!”
I really do not know where the “eighty” came from but the command to “Let each one remain in the same calling in which he is called” (1 Cor. 7:20) is what Paul had been commissioned by God to “ordain in all the churches” (1 Cor. 7:17). Does “remain in the same calling” include marriage? You decide. To me, the application is clear and the command later in this very chapter is plain: “Are you bound to a wife do not seek not to be loosed…” (1 Cor. 7:27). Note carefully that he did not ask are you bound to your “first” wife but are you bound to “a” wife. It seems to me that that would apply regardless of whether it was the first, second or eightieth.
Of course, we could do this “eightieth” thing with any subject. For example:
1. I believe that if a man had been guilty of unlawfully divorcing and remarrying “eighty” times when he comes to Jesus for salvation, then he needs to “repent” of that sin and stop divorcing and remarrying. I certainly would not tell him to make it “eighty-ONE” by divorcing the wife he is married to!
2. I believe that if a person murdered “eighty” people when he comes to Jesus for salvation he needs to “repent” and stop murdering people—and I certainly would not tell him to “make it eighty-one.”
3. I believe that if a man has committed fornication “eighty” times when he comes to Jesus for salvation he needs to “repent” and stop committing that sin.
4. I believe that if a man has told “eighty” lies when he comes to Jesus for salvation he needs to “repent” and stop lying.
5. And on and on and on…and on and on…..and on…the list could go. But of course the “eighty” would usually only be used when it comes to “divorce” and then the word “eightieth” can stir up the prejudice that already exists in the minds of some and that is probably why it would be used in many (perhaps most) cases. All of us who believe the Bible believe that unscriptural/unlawful divorce is wrong, whether it is done once or one hundred times. The issue in these cases is not whether or not people have done wrong or how many times they have done wrong in the past, but what do they do about it “after the fact?” Some obviously can live with telling them to “make it eighty-one” and divorce again. But not me! I teach them the same thing I understand Paul to teach which is, “as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk” (1 Cor. 7:17); and “let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called” (1 Cor. 7:20; and “let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called” (1 Cor. 7:24). Therefore, “Are you bound to a wife?” then I teach them “Do not seek to be loosed” (1 Cor. 7:27). Regardless of who may say it, how manysay it or how long it has been said, there is nothing in the Bible that teaches “divorced and remarried” people to divorce again when they come to Jesus for salvation! “Remain with God in that state” does not sound like “divorce your present mate”—at least not to me!
BY THE WAY: I believe that those of us who have refused to baptize/fellowship “eighty” couples involved in MDR and thus (in most cases) have turned them away from Jesus (and no telling how many others that those couples could have influenced to come to Jesus) can be forgiven and “go on from where we are”–just like every one else who has sinned (including those married, divorced and remarried)–when we come to Jesus (ask) for forgiveness. But “repentance” demands that we stop refusing to baptize/fellowship those who (like ourselves) have made mistakes (or misunderstood things) in the past that in many cases we cannot change now! God bless us everyone as we seek to follow His will for our lives as we understand it!Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).