By Bill Crews
One morning in April of this year I listened to an interesting radio program. It was on one of the stations with an all-religious format. It was also a regular daily broad-cast by Jimmy Swaggart. A panel of three, Jimmy Swaggart, his wife, and one of Mr. Swaggart’s staff ministers, were discussing the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.
(For those who have been wondering, yes Jimmy Swaggart is still active, but only at a small percentage of what he was before the fall of his vast religious empire. He was, a few years back, the most successful of all the famous “televangelists,” taking in the greatest amount of monetary donations. His fall came about when his carnal escapades with prostitutes were publicly exposed. Expelled from the “Assemblies of God,” he operates as an independent now. His Bible college has only a handful of students, whereas it once had about 1500 and was growing every semester. His “Family Worship Center,” with a seating capacity of 10,000 and once nearly full for every service, still has services conducted by himself, but with fewer services and far smaller audiences. Other religious bodies use it also, and it is rented for other functions. One large dormitory building, of about ten stories stands unfinished and decaying. Other buildings are leased out or empty. He still has some radio broadcasts and TV telecasts. Only a few flags fly on the flag poles that were once filled one for every nation where he had radio and TV programs aired. Many lawsuits against him have been filed and settled; others are pending. His own home and the other two on the palatial grounds where they stand have been up for sale for some time. A shop-ping mall is going up on property he once owned. Yes he still solicits and receives donations, but he will never have a great religious empire again.)
Now, back to that radio program. Here are some of the views given or positions taken on it. (1) Matthew 19:3-9 gives fornication” (unlawful sexual intercourse) as a grounds for divorcing a guilty mate and then remarrying, but it does not apply to those who are not Christians. It only applies to those who have become Christians, and it only applies to their current marriage at the time oftheir conversion. (2) 1 Corinthians 7:15 provides some Christians with a second grounds for divorcing a mate and remarrying, namely, desertion by a mate who is not a Christian who leaves the Christian because of his/her religious profession and practice. (3) People out of Christ may marry, divorce, and remarry any number of times, but when they become Christians, then they are allowed no divorce and remarriage except according to the above two grounds. (4) And then they found a way to get around the restriction which they said Matthew 19:3-9 imposes on two Christians in a marriage. They “reasoned” that when a marriage between two Christians has been broken up for some other grounds, and both parties marry someone else, surely the new marriages in all cases (some of which may have gone on for years and involve new children) would not have to be dissolved. Yes, the parties have committed sin, but surely they could repent of their sins and be forgiven by God with-out having to dissolve their current marriages. A hypothetical case was given (which turned out to be quite common and real) of a married man and a married woman, both in the church choir, having an affair, divorcing their mates and marrying each other. They decided that after it was all done, the two could repent and be forgiven without having to separate. But they thought it best that they attend another church so as not to embarrass their former mates and make for an awkward situation in that church.
This shows how men and women can rationalize, and get around the word of God, and make it suit their purposes. But the most disturbing thing is that many who profess to be New Testament Christians, members of the Lord’s church, have reached all of these same conclusions. Reader friend, Matthew 19:3-9, which emphasizes what was God’s will “from the beginning,” still applies to all marriages and gives the only grounds that God recognizes for divorce and re-marriage. And 1 Corinthians 7:15 is not even addressing the subject of divorce and remarriage. Of course the Bible allows those whose mates have died to marry again (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).
Rather than rationalizing and rendering meaningless some clear Bible passages, let’s get serious about informing the human race about the existence and sovereignty of God, his right to regulate the divine origin of marriage, and the divine regulations that govern marriage. With so many convinced that marriage is merely a social arrangement developed by the human race, having many forms, and properly subject to change, we have our work cut out for us. With so many thinking that it is all right for any man or woman to live together intimately without being married, that in many cases it might be a wise prelude to being married, that it’s perfectly permissible to get out of a marriage if you become dissatisfied with it, and that “same-sex marriages” (a ridiculous contradiction of terms) should be permitted, we certainly have our work cut out for us!
Before God every accountable human being has the responsibility of living a sexually pure life, of viewing all sex outside the context of a lawful marriage as sinful, and, if he chooses to marry, of selecting a marriage partner with the mutual determination to love, honor, and cherish until death separates them. The only step in life more serious than that of marriage is that of becoming a Christian.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 24, p. 5
December 19, 1996