By Johnny Stringer
Unless he put away his spouse for the cause of fornication, the divorced person has no right to marry a second mate while his first spouse is still living. If he does so, he is guilty of adultery (Matt. 19:9; Lk. 16:18). The reason for this is that one who is divorced continues to be bound to his first spouse; they are bound to each other for as long as they both live (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39). Since he is bound to his first spouse, he commits adultery every time he has intercourse with his second spouse.
In order to be forgiven of this adultery, one must repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22); hence, he must quit committing it; his adulterous relationship must be severed. Brethren, however, have propagated theories which make it unnecessary to sever adulterous marriages. Two of the most popular of these theories in the Lord’s church are identified with their most prominent proponents, E.C. Fuqua and Lloyd Moyer.
Fuqua championed the theory that the alien sinner is not .under the law of God, hence not subject to God’s law on marriage. Consequently, he argued, no matter how many times one has divorced and remarried unscripturally, he can remain with whatever mate he is married to when he becomes a Christian; for God’s law did not apply to him when he was divorcing and remarrying as an alien. Here are his words:
I therefore boldly stated the World is in no sense under law to Christ but lives and breathes under self-made laws called Civil law . . . While in the World . . . they are not under Christian law, but are under civil law exclusively . . . the World is without law from God or Christ: the church alone is under Christ’s law . . . We have removed Marriage, as per Christ’s law to the Church, entirely from the World. It is God’s perfect marriage law in the church, for Matthew 19:9 states Christ’s law to His Church. It has no particle of reference to the World (Fliqua- Warren Debate).
Fuqua’s theory is false. Aliens are subject to God’s marriage law. If God’s marriage law did not apply to aliens, they could not be guilty of adultery and fornication, for these are violations of God’s marriage law. Yet, the Bible teaches that aliens are held accountable for these sins. The Corinthians had been guilty of them before their conversion (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Moreover, Paul spoke of fornicators of the world, as distinguished from brethren who were fornicators (1 Cor. 5:11).
While in Athens Paul said that all men everywhere were commanded to repent, because Christ would judge the world (Acts 17:30-31). This means that all men everywhere (including aliens) are required to cease disobedience to God’s law. They would not be required to repent, ceasing disobedience to God’s law, if they were not subject to God’s law.
God today has no law on marriage other than the law of Christ (Heb. 1:1-2) and His law applied to all men. He has been given authority over all, not just over the church; and all owe Him their obedience (Matt. 28:18; 1 Pet. 3:22; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 19:16). It is clear that His authority extends over alien sinners, even though they rebelliously refuse to submit to it. He rules supreme, and all who refuse to submit to His law will be held accountable (John 12:48; Rom. 2:6-9).
According to Romans 2:6-9, those who do not obey the truth will receive tribulation and anguish when Christ exercises His judgment; and Paul in that passage has reference to “every soul” (v. 9). Hence, every soul (including the alien) is responsible for obeying the truth. Since Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce is obviously part of the truth, it follows that every soul is responsible for obeying that teaching. If the alien is involved in a relationship which the truth of Jesus says is adulterous, he is guilty of sin and he cannot be forgiven unless he ends that relationship.
Lloyd Moyer propagated the theory that when one marries unscripturally, the first act of adultery with the second mate automatically dissolves the first marriage; hence, subsequent acts of intercourse are not adulterous, and the second marriage can, therefore, continue. Lest anyone think I am misrepresenting brother Moyer’s position, I cite his own words. In the Gospel Guardian (Aug. 22 and 29, 1963), he wrote:
The first marriage has been destroyed by the sin of fornication . . . Though adultery was committed when they first joined themselves together in intercourse because they were still the husband or wife of someone else, subsequent sexual intercourse between them is not adultery. They are no longer the husband or wife of someone else . . . And by this sin of adultery they cause their previous marriage to be dissolved . . . No marriage exists. Where no marriage exists, the parties may marry someone else . . . We have shown that by the very act of adultery the first marriage was defiled, adulterated, and therefore dissolved. Subsequent sexual intercourse would not be adultery. It would be simply a man and his wife cohabiting in the confines of marriage.
Then in his debate with Gene Frost, Moyer affirmed:
Though adultery was committed when they first joined themselves together in intercourse because they were still the husband or wife of someone else, subsequent sexual intercourse between them is not adultery. They are no longer the husband or wife of someone else. . . And by this sin of adultery they caused their previous marriage to be dissolved . . . Jesus shows . . . that fornication (illicit sexual intercourse) is that which dissolves a marriage.
Moyer’s theory means that if a man commits adultery and his wife does not know it, the adultery dissolves the marriage without her being aware of it; hence, she unknowingly continues to live with a man to whom she is not married! Moreover, the innocent party who knows of the adultery cannot simply forgive the guilty party and continue living with him, for they are no longer married. As Moyer said in his debate with Frost, “The innocent party may not cohabit with the guilty companion without taking a member of Christ and making him a member of an harlot. The innocent cannot knowingly participate on the ‘marriage bed’ which is defiled without becoming a party to the unholy union of three people becoming one flesh. ” Moyer continued to explain that in order for the innocent to continue living with the guilty, they must “make an agreement to live together again as husband and wife.” The legal aspect of the marriage, he says, is the only aspect of the marriage which is still intact and does not have to be re-established.
This theory is unscriptural. No where does the Bible teach that the act of adultery dissolves the first marriage. According to Jesus’ teaching, adultery gives the innocent party the right to divorce a spouse, but it does not itself sever the
marriage (Matt. 19:9).
Moyer’s theory is contrary to the clear teaching of Romans 7:2-3, which says, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth . . . So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress.” She is bound to her husband for as long as he lives, not just until she has intercourse with someone else. Even though a woman is married to another man, she is still bound to her first husband, so that her second marriage is adulterous. Since she is still bound to the first husband, she has no right to live with the second; she must end the adulterous relationship.
It is not at all easy to teach people who are in adulterous marriages that they must sever their marriages. No one finds it a pleasant duty. Consequently, many have found theories such as Fuqua’s and Moyer’s very attractive. We, however, must look to God’s word and accept what it says; and we, must reject all theories which are contrary to scriptural teaching, even though we might wish we could believe them.
Guardian of Truth XXIX: 7, pp. 200-201
April 4, 1985