By C.G. “Colly” Caldwell
Proposition: The Scriptures teach that the put-away fornicator can marry another without committing sin.
In our first response, we called for all to recognize that any right to marry another after divorce from one’s original mate must be granted by God. That is true because “God hath joined together” (bound with a yoke-, Matt. 19:6) and because God has “bound by the law” (Rom. 7:2). Paul emphasized God’s control of the right to remarry by saying, “if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. ” She might disregard the law, leave her husband, and marry another while her husband lives. If she does, however, she is an adulteress not only because she was bound to her husband but because she was also bound by the law of God (v. 3). Therein lies the problem of the supposed “common horse-sense” illustration of two hands held together (Art. 2, Para. 13). It does not provide for the hand of God! Those who believe the guilty fornicator may marry another must show from Scripture that God who held both hands in marriage, turned the fornicator’s hand loose when he released the other!
The sole appeal to Scripture is based on two alleged “principles. ” The first affirms “that a putting away for fornication breaks the bond between the two of them” (Matt. 19:9). While it is true that God releases one who puts away a fornicating mate, Jesus also said, “and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” The issue is not whether the divorced fornicator is still a spouse but whether Jesus authorizes him to marry another without becoming an adulterer (see also Lk. 16:18; Matt. 5:32).
The second, argued from 1 Corinthians 7:27-28, assumes the thing to be proved: i.e., that the put-away fornicator is loosed by God from the constraints of law. These verses do not set forth the conditions of “loosing”! That must be determined elsewhere in Scripture. Furthermore the word “loosed” does not require either a divorce or having ever been bound. The position is actually predicated upon the reasoning that when one is loosed, the other must be loosed. Again, the issue is not simply whether one is still a spouse but whether God authorizes a proposed marriage. An example of God’s having restricted the right to marry when one was no longer the spouse of anyone is found in Moses’ law. In the case of a put-away woman who married another but whose second husband died, the Lord instructed, “Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife” (Deut. 24:4). You see, the issue turns on what God authorizes, not on whether one is now a spouse. The position states that there are only two choices (Art. 2, Para. 11, 12): mates bound to each other and mates no longer bound. There is a third choice: a putting away for fornication in which one is loosed from the constraints of God’s law and the other is not.
In the second paragraph of our first response, I said, “The issue before us involves a basic question of biblical authority. ” The proposition reads, “The Scripture teaches that the put-away fornicator can marry another without committing sin.” Please observe carefully how the proposition is defended with regard to biblical authority:
Article 1, paragraph 3: “. . . many of you are guilty of making a law.” Response: Who is making law? Law sometimes restricts. God (not we) has restricted the right to marry another. Law sometimes frees (or grants rights). God has not freed the fornicator (. . . if so, show us the passage). When one gives men a right in a restricted matter which God did not give them, it is he who is in the business of “human legislation” and it is he who must face the “far reaching evil consequences”!
Article 1, paragraph 4: With regard to the proposition, the “Scripture teaches” is defined with the phrase “imparts information by implication. ” While we all realize that God sometimes authorizes through “necessary inference,” we must ask, “Is the guilty fornicator to rest his eternal salvation on an ‘implication’ which assumes that because the one who puts away for fornication is freed (loosed), the put-away fornicator must also be freed?” That assumption is the sum and substance of the position.
Article 1, paragraph 5: In answer to the question, “Where is the authority,” it is said, “Show me a passage that authorizes the put-away fornicator to plant corn! And then I will give you a passage that authorizes him to have a marriage. ” All this really says is that one has no such passage. There is no reason here to say that unless one thinks he does not need a passage! But does this provide the authority needed to marry when God has not granted the right?
Article 1, paragraph 6.- “. . . the New Testament does not deal with the put-away fornicator. ” Response: Why then affirm that “the Scriptures teach ” that he may marry another?
Article 1, paragraph 6.- “I call to witness” other brethren. Response: We want to hear from God, not the brethren. In the second article, the better part of two more paragraphs are spent defending the use of McGarvey. We will gladly examine evidence that McGarvey (six years before he died) allowed his name to be attached to a book containing “man-made laws and rules not found in the New Testament” which would later “cause him to turn over in his grave.” Nevertheless, if it is so, it proves nothing!
Article 1, paragraph 7; Article 2, paragraph 11: 46A divorce for fornication does to the marriage bond, what death does to it.” Response: It is pure assumption to claim that marriage severed by death and marriage severed by fornication are scripturally parallel. God specifically authorizes the living party to marry another after the mate dies and he specifically authorizes the one who puts away a mate for fornication to marry another. But where does he authorize thefornicator to marry another? The position compares a fornicator to a man who kills his wife. The parallel is flawed in that he fornicator has been put away (with God’s approval) and the killer has done the putting away. Again, however, if we were to grant that the killer may marry another based on Romans 7:14, that would not authorize in any way the guilty fornicator to marry another.
Article 1, paragraphs 13,9: “Some brethren have already decided on who can have a marriage.” “God did not leave it up to you and me to decide who should be allowed to marry . . . as long as they are loose. . . ” Response: Amen, and neither did he leave it to us to decide who is loosed. Do those holding this position not see that they are the ones deciding who may marry another without sin.
Article 2, paragraphs 1, 4, 10: “. . . I shall fight for them until you brethren come up with ‘a direct confirmation from God, ‘ that the put-away fornicator” cannot marry. Response: “Christian Church” preachers say, “I will fight for the instrument until you come up with ‘a direct confirmation from God’ that we cannot use it.” Such reasoning is simply an effort to shift the responsibility for having to establish the proposition by the New Testament.
Article 2, paragraph 3.- “Let God deal with the put-away fornicator as he wishes, but let’s not jeopardize our relationship, fellowship and salvation over him.” Response: shall we say this about those divorced and remarried for causes other than fornication?
Article 2, paragraph 5: ‘You all have gone beyond a ‘thus saith the Lord… and “in light of 1 Timothy 4:3” (which condemns “forbidding to marry,” cgc), “I will have no part in it.” Response: “Does one ‘forbid to marry’ when he refuses to accept that those divorced for causes other than fornication may marry others?” This accents the fact that this position advocates granting the right of marriage to fornicators while denying it to many non-fornicators!
Article 2, paragraph 10; Article 1, paragraph 1]: “The New Testarnent does speak about ‘the right’ of one who is ‘loose from a wife’ (1 Cor. 7:27-28).” “This passage does apply to the put-away fornicator.” This position needs to clarify whether it will argue that the Scripture speaks about the guilty fornicator or not. Article 2, paragraph 9 says, “I told him in thefirst article that the New Testament does not deal with him. It doesn’t say he can and it likewise doesn’t say he can’t. ” The position wants it both ways. If the Scriptures do not say “he can” the position is surrendered by default. Remember, the proposition reads, “The Scripture teaches that the put-away fornicator can marry another without committing sin.”
Article 2, paragraph 13: “We reason that he can marry only because he is ‘loose from a wife’ (1 Cor. 7:27-28).” Response: Give us Scripture (not human reasoning) that he is in fact loosed by God.
Article 2, paragraph 15.- “If he is fit for heaven he would be fit for marriage, if he is ‘loose from a wife.”‘ Response: Is a righteous Christian whose husband put her away for some cause other than fornication, fit for heaven? May she marry again? I am reminded again of “Christian Church” preachers who argue, “If the instrument is fit for heaven, it is fit for the church.” Once more, the thing to be proved is whether God has loosed this man.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 2, pp. 50-51
January 17, 1991