Dealing With Marriage And Divorce by Earl Kimbrough

Harry Osborne

The following article was written by brother Earl Kimbrough and originally appeared in the bulletin of the East Bay Church of Christ in Sun City Center, Florida. Its presence on this web site should not be seen as an endorsement of the teaching. Neither should it be implied that brother Kimbrough’s stated thoughts on dealing with those in unlawful marriages is encouraged by this author. In fact, this author finds that the view which "makes sense" to brother Kimbrough is a view which conflicts with New Testament principles.

In brother Kimbrough’s response to Donnie Rader at this year’s Florida College lectures, brother Kimbrough claims that he merely wrote about how past brethren dealt with differences regarding divorce and remarriage without stating a conclusion. He further chided brother Rader to produce a quotation which showed that brother Kimbrough had encouraged fellowship with those involved in such sins. The reader is left to examine for himself whether brother Kimbrough has stated a view in the following article.

There is a fatal flaw in the idea that it "makes sense" to follow the practice of Foy Wallace, Jr. or any other mere man’s views which are in conflict with Bible principles. The core of denominationalism is the appeal to human tradition and preachers of repute as authority for one’s practice. While attending a Baptist seminary for graduate work, I heard references to "our Baptist heritage" used to establish practice. How far behind are brethren who appeal to the views of brother Wallace, brother Wilson or other respected preachers to chart a path which "makes sense" to man, but flies in the face of divine revelation?

Dealing With Marriage And Divorce

Earl Kimbrough

The East Bay Beacon

East Bay Church of Christ

14902 U.S. Highway 301 South

Sun City Center, Florida

September 26, 1999

The matter of marriage and divorce has troubled the Lord’s people for many years. Various views have been offered in regard to the subject. In a sermon on the subject a year or so ago, I dealt to some extent with my view of this matter. It is not the teaching of the Lord that concerns me. I think I understand what the Lord says. But it is the question of how to deal with the matter in the church that is of concern to me. I cited some things Foy E. Wallace, Jr. said along this lines in his book, The Sermon On The Mount and the Civil State (1967).

I recently came across Brother Wallace’s words again in an excellent biography of this great preacher by Terry J. Gardner of Indianapolis. Garder writes: "During a meeting in Springfield, Missouri, in the late 1930s, a divorced man came forward with a large family and wanted to be immersed. The man’s present wife and some of his children had obeyed the gospel. The elders conferred with Wallace about the matter. Wallace advised the elders to the effect that ‘the man should be baptized and allowed to raise his family in the church and leave his past mistakes to God’s judgment in the resurrection.’" (Faith and Facts Quarterly , Oct. 1998.)

Brother Wallace summarized his views on this issue in the above mentioned book. I repeat it here for whatever it may be worth to you in your study of this question. Brother Wallace said:

"This law of divorce declares that remarriage by either party after unjustifiable divorce establishes a state of adultery for the one who does so. But Christ omitted legislating a disciplinary procedure, indicating that such a legalized relation becomes a principle of moral conduct between the parties involved and God, and is left to his own judicial decision, not ours. With no course of action legislated, revealed or prescribed, we cannot make one without human legislation. The course of some preachers in demanding separations and the breaking up of family relations, and the refusal to even baptize certain ones whose marriage status does not measure up to his standard of approval, is a presumptuous procedure. It reveals the tendency to displace God as the Judge of us all, and a preacher ascends to the bench. More than teaching the moral principles involved, the preacher has no course of action revealed, and to establish one would result in human legislation, more far reaching in evil consequences than the moral effects of divorcement limited to the persons involved. There are some things that are not subject to the law of restitution, things done in certain circumstances which cannot in later circumstances be undone, which remain as matters between God and the individual, and therefore reserved for the judgment. It is certain however, that if the Lord Jesus Christ had intended a course of action in these cases, he would not have left it for preachers to prescribe, but would himself have legislated it." (Foy E. Wallace, Jr., The Sermon on the Mount and the Civil State , 40, 41.)

I believe Brother Wallace’s view makes sense. It has been the view of many gospel preachers, including L.R. Wilson, who was the first president of Florida College in Temple Terrace.