By Weldon E. Warnock
A Review of the Divorced and Remarried Who Would Come to God by Homer Hailey
In this final portion of our review of brother Hailey’s book, we will deal with a variety of matters that has not been considered in the previous installments, at least as extensively as I desired, and reiterate in a brief, general way the things that are the crux of the issue. Let us notice first of all:
Abide in our calling. Brother Hailey wrote, “Furthermore, Paul said, ‘Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called. . . . Brethren, let each man, wherein he was called, therein abide with God’ (I Cor. 7:20,24); this included his answer to questions about marriage” (p. 66). If this passage proves that remarried divorced aliens may keep their mates after baptism, then it also proves that a polygamist may keep his several wives. The polygamist could say, “Let each man abide in that calling wherein he was called. “
Brother Hailey affirms that alien sinners are under the so-called universal moral law, “which has never been abrogated” (p. 49). Since this law allows polygamy, which brother Hailey says is “in harmony with his moral law” (p. 16), he cannot oppose or condemn, logically, plural marriages. The so-called universal moral law allowed polygamy. It has not been abrogated. Therefore, polygamy is now permissible. The consequences of his position clearly and conclusively upholds polygamy and concubinage. “Let each man, wherein he was called, therein abide with God.” The Moslems, Mormons and other polygamists have been right all along if brother Hailey’s position is correct. In my opinion, this one thing alone should show that his reasoning is faulty.
Paul isn’t teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:20,24 that those who obey the gospel may remain in sinful relationships. Being circumcised or uncircumcised (vv. 18-19) and being a slave or a free man are not sinful conditions. These are cultural situations in which people may live the Christian life. It was not immoral for a person to serve as a slave. Paul is not approving slavery, but rather he is saying a slave is able to live as a Christian.
However, divorce and remarriage, without the cause of fornication, is sinful. Those living in such a relationship are living in adultery (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mk. 10:11-12; Lk. 16:18; Col. 3:5-7). Brother Hailey denies “remarried non-believers, who through faith come to the blood of Christ, are living in an adulterous state” (p. 66), but the aforementioned passages teach otherwise. Having another man’s wife is sinful. Having another woman’s husband is sinful (cf. Rom. 7:2-3). Paul isn’t encouraging saints in 1 Corinthians 7:20,24 to live in sin. “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Rom. 6:1-2).
No example of separation. “Also, there is no apostolic teaching or example of separation being demanded before baptism” (p. 68). Let me suggest that the demand for separation before baptism is in the same Scripture that demands separation for polygamous and incestuous marriages. If the relationship is morally wrong, we don’t need a specific Scripture or example that demands separation. We should automatically know that the marriage is sinful, and, hence, demands separation.
There is no apostolic teaching or example in the New Testament that specifically demands one give up bootlegging, playing the lottery, betting on horses, reading pornographic literature or engaging in mixed-swimming at the public pool, but there are principles that prohibit these practices. The same is true in regard to separation of those divorced and remarried without the cause of fornication.
Sinners can be forgiven. On pages 64, 65, brother Hailey devotes considerable space to establish that sinners can be forgiven. Words and phrases in the texts he quotes are put in bold face for the effect of emphasis. Seemingly, this is done to try to prove that all remarried nonbelievers who come to Christ may stay together, since they are forgiven. He sets forth the fact that sins may be remitted, blotted out, loosed, forgiven, and remembered no more. He states that we are justified by God’s grace and Jesus’ blood through faith, and that old things are passed away with all things becoming new.
To all of these verses introduced I wholeheartedly concur. But remember, they are just as applicable to the homosexual or the polygamist as they are to the remarried non-believer. God also forgives, blots out sin and cleanses the heart of his children. Does this prove that God’s children may continue in an adulterous relationship? Absolutely not! Neither may the non-believer. Repentance necessitates a turning away from sin to a life of righteousness and holiness.
The Corinthians were forgiven, loosed from the bondage of sin and had become new creatures in Christ, but they did not continue in the works of the flesh. They quit their sinful ways – “such were some of you” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). God can and will forgive those living in an adulterous marriage, but they have to terminate their sinful relationship of cohabitation.
Not under bondage. Brother Hailey introduces 1 Corinthians 7:15 and contends “the Holy Spirit, through Paul, made an exception when he said that the believer is not under bondage (not bound, loosed, RSV) in certain cases” (p. 39). This is another exception for divorce and remarriage, he reasons, in addition to fornication (Matt. 19:9) for the believer. The fallacy in brother Hailey’s interpretation of 1 Corinthians 7:15 is that he assumes the word “bondage” means the marriage bond.
The Greek word for “bondage” in the text is dedoulotai, 3rd per. sing. perfect, ind. pass. of douloo. Arndt-Gingrich define it to “make someone a slave (doulos), enslave, subject” (p. 205). Kittel says, “The basic meaning is to make a slave, ‘to enslave'” (Vol. 2, p. 279) . It is apparent, after reading the preceding definitions, that Paul did not have loosening of marriage vows in mind when he said, “not under bondage.”
When Paul spoke of being bound in marriage (1 Cor. 7:27,39), he used dedesai and dedetai, both from the word deo, and not douloo that Paul used in v. 15. It is odd that the apostle switched words in the same chapter if “bondage” in v. 15 is speaking of marriage also. The word dedoulotai (bondage) suggests that the believer was not a bond-servant to the unbeliever or a slave to man, even though the person was a marriage partner. C. Caverno wrote in regard to 1 Corinthians 7:15, “But Paul has not said in that verse or any where else that a Christian partner deserted by a heathen may be married to someone else – To say that a deserted partner ‘hath not been enslaved’ is not to say that he or she may be remarried” (ISBE, Vol. 2, p. 866).
The tense of the word dedoulotai would not permit it to mean the marriage bond. The word is in the perfect tense. he perfect tense would mean the brother or sister had not been in bondage and is still not under bondage to the unbeliever. However, the believer would certainly have been in bondage if the marriage bond is indicated. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by Alfred Marshall translates dedoulotai, “has not been enslaved.” One could not be released from slavery who had never been enslaved. (For a more extensive study of 1 Corinthians 7:15, read my tract, “If the Unbelieving Depart.”)
Universal moral law. “From the beginning God put man under moral law. The specific words in which the precepts of that law were expressed were not recorded and preserved” (p. 58). In his commentary on Isaiah, brother Hailey states, “It appears to this writer that God made a covenant in the beginning, or at some early date, which was not recorded and has therefore been lost to history” (p. 538). So, brother Hailey puts unbelievers under a law today that was not recorded or preserved, and has been lost to history.
Yet, this unrecorded, unpreserved and irretrievable law serves as a moral standard for people of the world, and by which they will be judged, according to brother Hailey. With all due respect, it seems to me that this whole concept of a universal moral law that supposedly began with Adam and ceases at the end of time is a product of human invention and imagination.
I can just as easily make a case for a universal religious law. Cain and Abel had a law of sacrifice by which they were governed, otherwise Cain’s sacrifice would not have been rejected and Abel’s accepted. Noah, a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5), after the flood built an altar and offered acceptable sacrifices to Jehovah (Gen. 8:20-21). Noah’s walking with God, building an altar and worshiping Jehovah indicate a divine standard.
When Abraham reached Shechem, he built an altar unto Jehovah (Gen. 12:6-7). lie also built an altar between Bethel and Ai (Gen. 12:8), and one at Hebron (Gen. 13:18). Abraham kept the commandments, statutes and laws of the Lord (Gen. 26:5). Melchizedek was a King of righteousness, King of Salem (which is King of peace), and the priest of the most high God (Heb. 7:2; Gen. 14:17-20). Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek. How did Abraham learn this? Why did Melchizedek bestow blessings upon Abraham (Heb. 7:1-10)? They had revelation from God.
Jethro, father-in-law of Moses, and priest of Midian, “took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God” (Exod. 18:12). Where did Jethro learn about these offerings and sacrifices? Obviously, from instruction of Jehovah. Job offered burnt offerings according to the number of his sons, stating, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts” (Job 1:5).
Paul indicts the Gentiles, among other things, for not worshipping and serving the Creator. He wrote, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25). He also wrote, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:28).
Could we not just as logically assume that men are also sinners because they are violating God’s universal religious law as we could assume men are sinners by violating God’s so-called universal moral law? I suppose I could also assume that the universal religious law came in along side of Adam’s transgression (Rom. 5:20), and it will remain in force until the end of time (1 Cor. 15:55-56). If brother Hailey can assume this for moral law, I can assume it for religious law.
In summarizing this review of brother Hailey’s book we have established the following things:
(1) Genesis 2:18-24 sets forth the foundation for marriage as to its origin, purpose, intimacy and permanency. Polygamy and divorce and remarriage for every cause are departures from this divine pattern. God conceded these departures in the Old Testament times because of the hardness of their hearts (Matt. 19:8), permitting all nations to walk in their own ways (Acts 14:16). He now commands men every where to repent (Acts 17:30). Jesus teaches that marriage is to be regulated by God’s original plan (Matt. 19:3-9).
(2) Matthew 19:9 is universal in its scope. It is “whosoever” puts away his wife and marries another, except for fornication, committeth adultery. Marriage is for unbelievers as well as believers. It is not a church ordinance, but is an institution that was inaugurated thousands of years before the church was established.
(3) The Gentiles before the cross were under law (Rom. 1:18-32; 2:14-15). This was, apparently, the law of the everlasting covenant (lsa. 24:5), or a “covenant of ancient times” (H.C. Leupold). Today, the Gentiles, and Jews, are under the universal law of Christ (Jn. 12:48; Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:15; Lk. 24:47; Acts 3:22).
(4) Though unbelievers have not brought themselves under obedience to the covenant of Christ, nevertheless, they are accountable to it. The word “covenant” implies first and foremost the notion of “imposition, liability or obligation” (Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, Vol. 2, p. 255).
(5) Those divorced and remarried, except for fornication, are living in adultery. “Committeth adultery” is in the present tense, showing continuous action (cf. Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mk. 10:10-11; Lk. 16:18). Paul teaches in Colossians 3:5-7 that we can live in adultery, though not with God’s approval.
(6) Repentance demands separation of an unscriptural marriage. It is not lawful for a person to have another’s husband/wife. Baptism does not wash away unlawful spouses. Adulterous marriages must be terminated.
(7) When we become Christians, we may abide only in relationships that are morally right. Sinful relationships, such as adultery, homosexuality and incest, must be ended.
(8) All sinners, regardless of how heinous the sin, may be forgiven. The blood of Jesus cleanseth from all sins, But we can’t persist in our sinful practices and expect to go to heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21). This includes unlawful marriages.
In conclusion, let me state explicitly that I do not in any way accuse or imply that brother Hailey intentionally promotes or encourages divorce or promiscuity. Through sixty some years of preaching brother Hailey has preached (and taught in the classroom) holiness, godliness and purity of life. He has been outspoken against sexual immorality and all other works of the flesh. I have known him too long to be convinced otherwise. He is a man of integrity and honesty. However, on this issue before us I believe brother Hailey is honestly mistaken. Too, I believe the consequences of his position promote sexual immorality. I don’t charge him with believing or trying to defend adultery. I am simply saying that his arguments, pursued to their logical end, allow, permit and encourage sexual immorality. We believe his position to be false, totally unfounded by the Bible.
Before I began this review I wrote brother Hailey and told him that I was requested to review his book on marriage and divorce. As I expected, I received a kind and amicable reply from him. As brother Hailey and I would say concerning what we have written on this all important matter, “Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).
Presently, intensive efforts are being made by some brethren to try to include in Romans 14 the divorce-remarriage question, such as espoused by brother Hailey and others. This attempt is a wresting of Paul’s teaching (cf. 2 Pet. 3:16), and a resuscitation of Carl Ketcherside’s nefarious doctrine of unity in diversity. Romans 14 deals with individual matters that are neither religiously nor morally wrong when conscientiously held or practiced by the individual. An adulterous relationship doesn’t fall into this category. Adultery was sinful yesterday, it is sinful today and it will be sinful tomorrow. How appalling it is of some brethren to have the inspired apostle Paul giving credence to immorality!
Brother Marshall Patton said it correctly on Romans 14 when he wrote, “Let no one conclude that every error of an individual nature falls within this area of tolerance. Obviously, sins of immorality, plainly revealed elsewhere, are not to be fellowshipped” (Answers For Our Hope, p. 309).
To classify under Romans 14 the position that alien sinners may keep their mates when they come to God, regardless of the circumstances, opens the floodgate for every ungodly and unscriptural practice that anyone can imagine. We cannot consistently oppose institutionalism or any other “ism,” while tolerating divorce and remarriage for every cause. It seems that whether many of us oppose or tolerate a false position depends on who it is that holds it. This should not be.
In the words of Micaiah, let us say, “As the Lord liveth, what the Lord saith unto me, that will I speak” (1 Kgs. 22:14).
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 13, pp. 400-402
July 4, 1991