By Floyd D. Chappelear
There seems to be a great deal of controversy over the problem of marriage, divorce (for a cause other than fornication . . . Matt. 19:9), remarriage and subsequently obeying the gospel of Christ. Some persons argue that the person in such a position must leave his/her latest spouse in order to be in harmony with the gospel of Christ, while others argue that such a one may continue living with his/her new spouse as baptism washes away all sin (Acts 22:16).
By the force of the argument that baptism washes away the sin of the adulterous marriage it must be accepted that such a marriage is sinful even though the persons involved are not children of God. This is certainly the case. Why then is there such a controversy?
If one recognizes that such a relationship is sinful before baptism, and it is the relationship not the ceremony which is sinful, would the relationship be any less sinful after baptism? (Shall we continued in sin that grace may abound? Rom. 6:1.) It is at the point the verbal gymnastics began. Let us note carefully the arguments made to justify the continuance of the second marriage. (1) Such a relationship is sinful before baptism, (2) Baptism washes away all sin, (3) Therefore, one can live in such a relationship because the sin has been removed.
Now let us examine the argument. Proposition one and two are correct. Proposition three is incorrect because one very important aspect of proper conversion to Christ has been left out. One is required to repent of his sins (Acts 2:38; Luke 13:3) before he is baptized. When one repents he has a change of heart and a change of actions. It is not enough to be sorry for living in sin as being sorry is not repentance, it merely leads to repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). After he quits doing that which is wrong (repents) he is baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Should one argue that he can “abide in the calling wherein he was called” (1 Cor. 7:24), he is perfectly right. The difficulty seems to be that such a person cannot see that he is not living in adultery when “called” as he quit that when he repented. To take up the adulterous life after baptism is to “abide in a calling wherein he was not called.”
By the force of the argument one must give up living with a person with whom he has no right to live. Why do we sometimes make difficult things out of things that are not difficult at all?