By Douglas Matlock
While watching a television interview with Mickey Rooney, the fact of his many marriages came out. I believe he said he had been married and divorced eight times. It was amazing to me that he stated, “the one real love of my life I have never married.” Perhaps if he had, he would have concluded that she was not so great and divorced her also.
Sometimes, we are given emotional arguments involving people who have been married and divorced (without fornication being the cause) and now are in another marriage with children born to that relationship, and they come to obey the gospel. We are asked, “How could you say they must get out of that marriage in order to repent of their sins and be acceptable to God?” Could we not also use an emotional case and say, “What if Rooney came to obey the gospel with wife number nine, would you say that he would be pleasing to God?”
We are told the alien sinner is not amenable to the law of Christ. That, actually, there are two laws in effect. One for the alien and another for the Christian. That Christ’s remarks in Matthew 19:9 were for those in the church but not for the alien. But look at the verse: we hear Jesus saying, “Whosoever divorces his wife. . . . ” Does that sound like it referred only to church members? Again, let us look at another passage. In Matthew 5:32 Jesus used “everyone who divorces his wife.” Does this sound like a directive to the church only? If Jesus had intended for his words to be applied generally, what other language could he have used?
Jesus said he would send the Holy Spirit to the apostles, and he would “convict the world in respect of sin and of righteousness and of judgment” (Jn. 16:8). The world, not just Christians were the subjects of the Spirit’s efforts. Paul writes also, “God will judge the secrets of men according to my gospel by Jesus Christ” (Rom. 2:16). Were only the secrets of Christians to be judged? Paul said, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at: but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).
But, let us suppose it is true, that the alien is under a moral law that applies only to them; would it be, or could it be any different than the teaching of Christ in the gospel? Paul wrote to the church in Corinth an& stated that the former life of some had been in such sins as fornication adultery, homosexuality, etc., but they had been “washed” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Doesn’t this tell us that they had violated God’s law? Where there is no law, there is no transgression. They were guilty of sin. In obeying the gospel they were called upon to believe and repent (change of mind bringing about a change of life) and to be baptized for the remission of sins. The Jews understood Peter’s words to mean that “God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). The leader of Kuwait has four wives currently. This is the maximum allowed by their law. Could we tell this man that repenting would include putting away his wives, even though he may have children by each of them, or would they all be allowed to remain together?
To ask such questions is to answer them. Men and women need to be impressed with the truth of God’s word on this very important subject and not be carried away with the popularity or person of those who teach such. If we can take the plain passages of our Lord and explain them away, so that it allows the person living in adultery to obey the gospel and remain in a sinful state; then it will only be a short step to twist other passages to allow the Christian to put away a mate for any cause and feel acceptable to God as well.
Matthew 5:32 records the words of Jesus, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced comitteth adultery. “
It’s rather amazing that this plain passage could be interpreted to mean that in the event this woman should remarry there would be no adultery involved in that union.
One brother states, “Yes, Colossians 3:5 (please read) indicates people can live in sin by their walk of life, but it does not even hint that anyone lives in adultery within a marriage.”
I heard a denominational preacher say concerning this problem, “You can’t unscramble eggs.- It looks like we have a lot of brethren trying to say the same thing, only they are trying to work out a formula that will put God’s stamp of approval upon it.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 22, p. 683
November 21, 1991