MDR: Filling the Church with Fornicators

If people believe what you have written in your book on marriage, divorce and remarriage then we will “fill the church with fornicators.

My response to this is here:


There have been and still are those who hold the view that says that those of us who accept those divorced and remarried for reasons other than fornication on the part of a mate are guilty of “filling the church with fornicators!” This very serious accusation is applied to those MDR couples: who were “unjustly” put away; who suffered “physical abuse” and sometimes “beatings;” and to those whose mate simply “walked out” on the marriage. Therefore this unfounded charge is even made against a great host of “innocent victims” who were mistreated by an unloving and/or abusive mate and have come to Jesus for healing and help. I can appreciate the fact that those who hold this view are only “concerned for the souls” of those involved, but the demands that this view makes on those “souls involved” is of great “concern.” The “souls” involved, in almost all cases, are more “concerned” about their families than they are about the unreasonable, unmerciful, unscriptural, and sinful requirements that this view demands. There are virtually no “souls” who are going to break up their established families and leave their children without “married parents” by divorcing the mates they are committed to in a marriage relationship in order to gain the approval and/or acceptance that this view demands.
This is also a very serious charge made against us in these churches and is one that is not taken lightly nor ignored by many of us. Any view that says a husband and wife who are married to each other and are committed to each other in a loving marriage relationship are “living in adultery” in their marriage is serious business indeed! This is not the teaching of the Bible and, in my judgment, no one can prove that it is. It is a serious charge not only against those MDR couples who have come to Jesus for forgiveness and healing, but also for their children, parents, relatives, friends, and the churches involved in forgiving those who have experienced marital difficulties, mistreatment, mistakes, and/or failures and who have started over in a new relationship. For one to say that a divorced woman, who was beaten and/or abused by her first husband and who divorces him for abuse, then later “remarries” someone else who loves her as a husband should, is “living in adultery” with the man she is “married” to will most likely not be passed over or treated lightly nowadays. Those who make such serious accusations may need to re-think and possibly re-study the whole marriage issue…especially before they “sit on the sidelines” and judge, or “sit up in the stands” and condemn those involved in MDR. Demanding divorce of others or tagging them with slanderous designations if they do not divorce their mates and live single is a heavy load for anyone to take on. In my judgment, there is simply no way for a person to actually study what the Bible really says and conclude that MDR couples are “living in adultery” with each other when they have been divorced and are now committed to each other in a loving marriage relationship. So, in answering this unfounded and very, very serious charge that is made, I offer the following:

No one would deny that most of our churches have some who have been guilty in the past of marital “adultery.” Some in the church in Corinth had been fornicators and adulterers before turning to Jesus. But they had been “washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” and, therefore, they were no longer guilty of adultery and/or fornication. As Paul put it, “And such were some of you…” (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
For Paul to continue to refer to them as “adulterers” or “fornicators” when they had been forgiven of those sins by coming to Jesus for forgiveness would be unthinkable. But according to your view, as well as the view of others (and that number seems to be steadily shrinking as more and more are actually studying for themselves), the Corinthian Church was “full of fornicators” because of their past, and so are a lot of churches today if it is to be defined by the past sins of the members…including the church where I am and, most likely, the one where you are.
I dare say that the majority of us have been guilty of “fornication” in our past before we were married. How would we like it if someone accused us of still being “fornicators?” If this definition is correct and we can count past sins as still existing, then most (if not all) churches I know are filled with fornicators, liars, racists, and prideful hypocrites. The verse in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 would read, “such are some of you.”

If a husband is told three times to “abide in the state” in which he is called (1 Cor. 7:17, 20, 24) and is specifically told that if he is “bound to a wife, do not seek to be loosed” (1 Cor. 7:27), then he cannot possibly still be classified as a “fornicator” or “adulterer” except by those who totally ignore, overlook, or misunderstand what God has said. Paul did not ask “are you bound” to your “first” wife, or even to your “second” wife, but are you bound to “a” wife.
The real truth could be that in some of our churches we have “filled” them with “fabricators,” whose fabricated view seeks to destroy established families by unreasonable and unscriptural, as well as sinful, demands on others. We have “filled some churches” with views that demand the very thing that God said that He hates, which is divorcing the faithful mates that they are married to! (Mal. 2:14). God “hates” divorcing faithful mates no matter who commands it. This would include any view that seeks to destroy established families by teaching faithfully married couples to “divorce.”
There is no verse in the Bible that says a “married” couple “commits adultery” when they have sex with each other. No verse! No. Not. One. The Bible teaches that the “marriage bed” is “undefiled” for those who are “married.” There is no verse that says a husband commits adultery when he has sex with his wife. I repeat. No. Not. One. See Hebrews 13:4.
The fact that you bring up “Herod” does not help your case in the least and only proves that you most likely have never really studied the issue, other than what you have been told by others. It was not “lawful” for Herod to have “his brother Phillip’s wife,” not because she had been “divorced” according to the “law” she was under, but obviously because the law they were under forbade a brother to “uncover the nakedness” of his “brother’s wife.” (Read Leviticus 18:16). This has absolutely nothing to do with divorced and remarried couples today or even to the divorced and remarried persons under the Law of Moses. There is nothing in the Bible about Herod and Herodias being legitimately divorced and remarried according to the “law of Moses” which clearly “allowed” divorce and remarriage for “uncleanness” when they were given a “certificate of divorce.” (See Deuteronomy 24:1-4). One cannot prove from the Bible that she was divorced according to the Law of Moses (Deut. 24:1-4) and they certainly cannot prove that those MDR couples today are in the same situation or category she was in. There were quite obviously numerous couples who had legitimately divorced and remarried according to the Law of Moses that John did not condemn. For one to accuse those today who have been divorced and remarried under the Law of Christ of “living in adultery” with their present mate because of “Herod’s case” makes about as much sense to me as accusing them of “incest.” If they are going to accuse a married couple of “incest,” then they need to be sure that they know what they are talking about and the same goes for those accusing a married couple of fornication. As a matter of fact, they should just go ahead and accuse MDR couples of “incest” if Herod and Herodias is the example they use for their definition of “unlawful marriages!” But regardless of which “charge” is made–whether fornication or incest–it can carry serious consequences when applied to those who have been divorced and remarried today.
The very idea that you mention concerning a “divorced” woman being still “married” to the husband she “divorced” is absolutely absurd! What on earth does “divorce” do? A “woman” who is “divorced” is not married to the ex-husband she divorced. That is what divorce is. It is the termination of a marriage. For example, a person who is single is not married. That is the reason we say they are single. Being single means that one is not married. There is no such thing as a “single married” person or a “married single” person when used in this sense. One is either married or else they are single. They simply cannot be both “married” and “single” at the same time. In the same way, there is no such thing as a “divorced married” person or a “married divorced” person. One cannot be both at the same time. It is either “divorced” or “married,” but not both. A divorced woman is nobody’s wife unless she decides to marry somebody. A divorced wife does not have a husband. Divorce terminates the marriage. That is what divorce is. In other words, a person cannot be “married’ and “unmarried” at the same time. Paul clearly said that if a wife “departs” from her husband she is to remain “unmarried” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). If some in our churches teach others that the “unmarried” are still “married,” or that the “married” are “unmarried” then we may have indeed “filled some of the churches with foolishness!”
This is no small matter. Those who make such charges need to be aware of what they are doing and saying, as well as who is affected by such slanderous charges. These charges involve some very tender and troubled hearts and real life situations involving real families who love, care about, and are committed to each other in a marriage relationship. For example, here are some real life situations:
A boy got a girl pregnant when he was sixteen years old. Back in that day and time, some parents insisted that the boy and girl get married when this happened. The boy’s father more or less made him marry her. As soon as he got out of school and away from his dad’s authority, he divorced her. He most likely never intended to stay married to her from the beginning. He leaves her, but not for anyone else. Years later, she remarries and has other children with a loving and committed husband in a new relationship. She and her husband become Christians and are bringing their children up in the church. I believe she is faithful….your view says that she and her husband are both “fornicators.”
Another young lady was happily married for a few years and then her husband got hooked on drugs and became violent and physically abusive. She was afraid for her life and the lives of her children. She divorced him and got a restraining order against him. She tried to stay single but she was not gifted for celibacy and finally met a good Christian man who loved her and who was not abusive. She and her husband are Christians who are very involved in church. I believe that this innocent victim of abuse and her husband to whom she is now married are faithful…your view says they are both “fornicators!”
A couple who were in their teens decided to get married. They both were from non-religious families and knew nothing about pre-marital counseling or even the sacredness of marriage. After less than a year together, they both agreed that the marriage was over and both agreed to divorce. Later they each married Christians, had children, and became Christians themselves and are very active in church. I believe that they are faithful…your view says they are “fornicators!” (All four of them!)
A wicked husband murdered his wife who was pregnant. If he gets out of prison, then remarries and later hears the gospel and sincerely turns to Jesus for forgiveness and healing, we all believe that he can be forgiven and continue in his present marriage relationship as a faithful Christian. Another weak husband has a one night stand on a business trip and it is found out. He is sorry and agrees to go to counseling and do whatever it takes to save his marriage. But in spite of his remorse, his wife cannot live with the betrayal and she divorces him and later marries someone else. The guilty man later remarries, then hears the gospel and sincerely turns to Jesus for forgiveness and healing. I believe the view that says he can be faithful to the Lord in the marriage relationship that he is in…your view says that both he and his wife are “fornicators.” There simply must be something wrong with the idea that a “wicked husband” can murder his wife, remarry, and be forgiven and stay in the marriage relationship he is in, while the “weak husband” who was caught up in sin cannot stay married to his present wife. There is nothing he can do about the sins in his past and divorcing his present wife that he is committed to in a loving marriage relationship will not change anything about the past. But it will cause him to sin against his present wife by breaking his promise to her. He cannot undo the divorce and remarriage any more than the other man can un-murder his wife. Any view that makes one better off to murder than to commit fornication makes no sense to me. Most of the people I know have most likely committed fornication at some point in their lives…very few have actually murdered someone.
Surely you can see how unmerciful and ungodly such a doctrine is. All of us are opposed to “divorce” in most cases, but we should not be opposed to “marriage.” Some of you who claim to be against divorce are the very ones who hold a view which demands that married couples get divorced in order to be faithful. Over forty-five years ago, Foy Wallace, Jr. (a highly respected preacher in many of the conservative Churches of Christ at the time and an editor of the Gospel Advocate) called it a “presumptuous procedure” and sharply criticized the breaking up of “established families” by “some marriage-counseling preachers who are so readily disposed to break up marriage relationships that are not in conformity with their own immature human opinions.” (The Sermon on the Mount and the Civil State, pp. 41, 45).
How would those who hold the anti-remarriage view and the view that is actually pro-divorce concerning most remarried couples (that is, the view that insists that most people who are divorced and remarried get divorced again) feel if some held the radical view that concluded from reading 1 Corinthians 6:16-17 that the sex act constituted the “one flesh” relationship of marriage and therefore we are all “married” to the first person with whom we had sex. (I have actually known people who held this view, believe it or not.) Since so many of us have committed fornication before we were married with someone other than our present mates, we are therefore not married to our present mates but “living in adultery” with the one we are married to now, according to this view. They teach our friends, relatives, brethren, and our children that we are “adulterers” and “fornicators” and just “living in adultery” with our mates. How would we feel? The answer to this question is: exactly how those “divorced and remarried” feel about the “radical view” among us that unjustly accuses our relatives, friends, and neighbors who have been divorced and subsequently remarrie that they are “fornicators.” Believe me when I say that this is a very, very serious charge that will most likely not be taken lightly by those involved. It is also a charge that cannot be proven by those who are making such serious, insensitive, and slanderous accusations against “married” couples who love each other and are committed to each other in a marriage relationship! The days of just sitting on the sideline and “condemning the guiltless” without suffering the consequences could be over!
I know this may sound like I am personally upset with those individuals who make such charges, but that is really not the case. I even respect their right to disagree. I realize that most are likely sincere, honest, and care about the souls that are involved in MDR. (If fact, it is most likely easier to convince me of their sincerity than it is to convince those MDR couples that are turned away because of these unscriptural demands.) It is not that they disagree with me. It is that their view condemns them (MDR couples). I have tried (maybe without success) to keep my response from sounding too personal. This is not about you or me. It is the “view” and the “slanderous charge” that I oppose–not necessarily those who misunderstand the MDR issue. The opinions/views of those who believe in breaking up established families and teaching children that their parents who are faithful to each other in the covenant of marriage are somehow “living in adultery” mean little or nothing to me because I know in my own heart and from my own study that those charges are not true. But this view will have a negative effect on many (maybe most) of those who are involved in MDR relationships. I know what I believe and it is in my book. But those MDR couples that are turned away from Jesus by this view are the ones who suffer and the ones we really need to be concerned about. Those established families (especially those with children) that this view seeks to destroy and/or slander are the ones who really suffer. Those influenced by what I believe will “abide in the state” that they are in just as God said to do. (1 Cor. 7:17, 20, 24). If you and others can continue to hold a view that accuses “married couples” of being guilty of “fornication” or “living in adultery” with the ones that they love and are committed to in a “marriage relationship” then you all must live with that…but not me! The churches who are accused of being “filled with fornicators” because we have accepted those who come to us “just as they are in their marriage relationship” are actually “filling the Church” with those who need “healing” and “help.” Most (practically all) of them have been hurt enough already. We are “filling the Church with those forgiven” of past sins and who are just like you and I, except for, perhaps, the nature of our past sins. The view that we hold in these churches that Jesus offers pardon to those in MDR relationships when they come to Him for grace, mercy, and forgiveness is far more in harmony with the love of Jesus presented in the Bible than the view that seeks to “fill the Church” with those who say that Jesus is pleased with “breaking up” established “families” and teaching “married couples” to “divorce.”
God bless you brother and I hope this helps. Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).


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