From: Tom M Roberts [tmr65@juno.com]
Sent: Sunday, February 12, 2006 7:49 AM
To: ckellywilson@sbcglobal.net
Cc: sportsstan@yahoo.com; oldfolkss@Aol.Com; jgallman@aol.com; bholmes180@sbcglobal.net
Subject: Bible Teaching On Divorce
 

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February 11, 2006

 

Dear brother Wilson:

 

Before anything else, I would like for it to be made crystal clear what I fear about this discussion and what I hope will/will not be accomplished.

 

I accept without question your honesty and sincerity, but fear that you are plunging headlong into a divisive attitude that will cause brethren to be splintered and divided needlessly. Note that I say "needlessly." I make no apology for "contending for the faith" (Jude 3), but when we attempt to bind opinions and judgments upon others that the Lord has not bound, we will surely divide from one another. Let me illustrate.

 

While we are committed to observing the Lord's supper scripturally, some brethren went beyond the divine order and bound their opinion that there could only be one container. They divided brethren. Others decided that it was sinful to have Bible classes. They divided brethren. Some have opposed women teachers. They divided brethren. This has happened altogether too many times. In each case, those who bound opinions felt that they were being sound, conservation and faithful - but they were not. They were binding where God did not bind - just as sinful as loosing where God did not loose.

 

You are doing the same thing, however unwittingly you do it. While faithful brethren agree to "one man, one woman, for life, with one exception," you are binding opinions and judgments beyond that, which cause division. Some have bound that the word "adultery" must be in the divorce decree. They divide brethren. Some are binding opinions that result in a race to the courthouse. They divide brethren. You are binding that there is only one cause for divorce. This is not the will of Christ, and you are dividing brethren. If you want to hold an opinion that there is only one cause for divorce (fornication), you will have no problem from me, so long as you hold that opinion to yourself. However, you are binding where God did not bind and are causing division needlessly. It is evident that men like Jeff Belknap and others have settled on a course of action that imitates the divisiveness like the cases set forward above and unless you change your direction, you will certainly align yourself with Belknap and those determined to splinter brethren asunder.

 

Additionally, you are causing faithful preachers to be branded as false teachers when such is not true and this has the capability of hurting the cause of Christ because their work is hindered. This is no small thing and I hope you will think carefully and consider what I have to say before it is impossible to repair the damage you are doing. You may hold any number of opinions and judgments that differ from your brethren without sinning, but when you bind those opinions on others and damage others' reputations, you are causing damage that may never be repaired. The fact of division hinders belief in Jesus Christ (John 17:21).

 

Please let me note that I have no intention of setting up a defense of brother Bobby Holmes. He is quite capable of defending what he preaches and I do not need to prop up his arguments. In your letter to me, you spent a great deal of time and space (17 pages) in dealing with material that I did not offer, directing your material toward him and not what I sent you. At the same time, you did not address the material that I did send so I will not respond to your charges against brother Holmes.

 

Also, correct me if I am wrong, but it seems evident to me that you have been coached in your response to me by someone else other than yourself. I would like to ask you whose material you included other than your own.

 

Now, I want to address the fact that you did not answer my material.

 

First, we are not in disagreement about what the Bible teaches about divorce and remarriage. Your arguments about Matt. 19 are beside the point and needless. Where we disagree is concerning the Bible teaching about divorce. I gave two concrete passages (more if you note the parallel passages in the other gospels) that prove exactly what I teach. How can one be a false teacher when one teaches exactly what Jesus taught? I asked you: "How is it possible to do what Jesus instructed us to do, leave your husband or wife for the sake of the kingdom of God , without sinning?" You did not answer the question and it is necessary that you do to sustain your position.

 

The response you did make assumes that the person who obeys Jesus commits a sin. Are you aware that your answer condemns yourself? You are a divorced person and the divorce is not for the cause of adultery. According to your own doctrine (it is sinful to divorce for any cause other than adultery), you are living a sinful life (as long as you remain divorced) and should not be received into the fellowship of any congregation. (This is according to your own doctrine, not mine!). It makes no difference, in your view, of what you do to resolve the situation - remain single or be reconciled, you sinned when you divorced (or had someone divorce you) and will continue in sin as long as you remain divorced. Your own doctrine condemns you. How can brethren fellowship you?

 

But we need to be clear about the teaching of the Lord in Luke 18:29-30. Nothing in the immediate or wider context denies what Jesus taught. If Peter's wife had hindered him from serving the Lord, he would have had to sunder the marriage to go to heaven. If not, why not? Your argument is ridiculous when you assume (page 13f) that Peter "had left all," and conclude that this means Peter's wife was faithful. This begs the question. If Peter's wife hindered him from going to heaven, could he do what Jesus taught? This is not hyperbole, as you suggest. Jesus was warning his disciples that the kingdom of God must be first in their lives (Matt. 6:33) and if it came down to it, a disciple must be willing to leave (sunder the marriage) husband or wife in order to go to heaven. If so, that act of faith is not sinful and the action is commended by Jesus. Luke 18 establishes the fact that adultery is not the only reason for sundering a marriage. Therefore, not all who are in a divorced condition are living in sin, regardless of your doctrine.

 

Your use of Luke 14:25-27, 33 certainly strengthens my position, not yours. Yes, it was a command (your emphasis, p 14, para. 2) that disciples "hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters" compared to Christ. If it came to a choice between a disciple and his relatives, Christ must come first. This agrees with Luke 18, it enforces Luke 18. This passage teaches what I believe, not what you believe.

 

Brother Wilson, you have assumed (but not proven) that all divorce except for the cause of fornication is sinful. Therefore, you are assuming (again) that a Christian at Corinth (1 Cor 7:10-11) was in sin. Again, you are wrong. You state, "God forbids all divorce, save for the cause of fornication (Matt. 19:9; Matt. 5:31-32) and this command is repeated in 1 Cor. 7:10-11, 12-13" (p. 14). It is not stated in Matt. 19, Matt. 5 or 1 Cor. 7. You have assumed it in each case, you have read into 1 Cor. 7 that sin is present. According to Paul, it was not! Their options did not include repentance, but to "remain single or be reconciled." Where is the sin stipulated?

 

I Cor. 7:10-11 does not cite a hypothetical case! It was an actual case of a divorce and the cause is not stated! The marriage was sundered! We can know for sure that at least one person in that situation was not in sin because they were told to "remain unmarried" (i.e., stay as your are!) or "be reconciled." Would the apostle Paul tell a sinner to "stay as you are?" Could a Christian in a divorced situation in which they were in sin remain in sin? I will sign my name to a proposition that denies that. But you are forced to that conclusion. Since every divorce (not for fornication) is sinful, you have Paul telling a Christian to stay in a sinful situation as an option. But you are putting words in Paul's mouth and having him say something that he didn't say.

 

Who said that "the victim is not culpable?" (Your words on page 15, para. 4). Be careful or you will disagree with Jeff Belknap! He says that the victim is culpable since the innocent party cannot remarry when the guilty party puts away the innocent by getting to the court house first! Your own doctrine makes the innocent culpable by making the disciple guilty for sundering the marriage for the kingdom's sake (Luke 18).

 

You describe what Jesus commends in Luke 18 as "personal choice" (P. 15, para. 5). You say, "our service is a personal choice (Jos. 24:15) not contingent upon any other persons' actions or decisions." Kelly, you are just wrong as can be, and foolishly so. Disciples, especially women, were treated like chattel and not protected by the law. Likewise, I have personally known of situations where it was physically dangerous for a woman to remain in a marriage while serving Jesus. The only protection they had was to sunder the marriage and get a civil divorce. It was that or suffer death. Don't you understand that a person can become so discouraged and disheartened over years of religious abuse that they can lose their faith - thus, lose their souls. In order to go to heaven, they would have to sunder the marriage. That is exactly what Jesus commended! It is not just "personal choice."

 

Questions:

  1. You did not answer question # 1.
  2. You did not answer question # 2.
  3. In your reference to question # 3, you assumed that the divorce in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 is sinful - thus, assuming what needs to be proved and forcing a conflict in the text. That conflict is: if they (either of them) were in sin, why did Paul say to "remain single?" Is it right to remain in a sin? Did Paul advise a sinner to stay as they were?
  4. Question # 4: You stated: "I have already outlined the bible principles involved. My wife divorced me for an unlawful cause. Thus, God's word says that she is the violator."  Believe me, Kelly, when I say that I am sympathetic to your situation and have no desire to heap trouble on you. However, by your own doctrine, you are living in sin simply because there is no cause for divorce except for adultery! By your own doctrine, you should not be allowed fellowship with any sound congregation. I say this, not because I agree with it, but to help you see the consequences of your own doctrine. In your own case, you imply that "the victim is not culpable." But that does not agree with Jeff Belknap or your own doctrine. A divorce took place without adultery being the cause. All divorce without that cause is sinful. Therefore, you are the put away person (Belknap's doctrine) and sinned because of the divorce. According to your own doctrine, you are living in sin.
  5. Question # 5: Brother Wilson, you did not touch top, side nor bottom of that question. The fact of the matter is that a man and a woman (both single or divorced; unmarried) were living together. I do not believe it is scriptural for even a "sister-in-Christ" and a "brother-in-Christ" to live together even "temporarily." How could you attempt to convert your neighbors in such a situation? The natural assumption that is made in today's world is that a man and woman living together are cohabiting. A man and a woman living under the same roof, sharing evenings, watching TV, preparing for bed, sharing bathroom facilities, having conversations about personal situations, etc., are subjected to temptations of the flesh. I am not accusing either of you of any sexual sin. But I am saying that the Bible tells us to avoid temptation and both of you, in an unchaperoned situation could not be immune to those temptations. Your influence was compromised, to say the least. Given what you did, how could you object to another man and woman living together "temporarily" in similar circumstances? I am more than a little shocked that you passed it off with such a light response.

 

Finally, you dismissed Romans 14 as out of context as to what "constitutes a lawful divorce." Please understand that I was not making such an application. Romans 14 applies to "authorized liberties" about which some brethren disagree (eating meats, observing days, etc.). I have given a lawful right for a person to sunder a marriage "for the kingdom of heaven's sake" (Luke 18; 1 Cor. 7). There are applications of the biblical principles about which some disagree (what's in the divorce decree, etc.). While agreeing on what the "faith" teaches about marriage, divorce and remarriage, there must be some room for private opinion and judgment about some applications of that principle. We do the same for baptism (must baptism be in running water, can a candidate wear a plastic cap to cover her hair, must the baptizer be a Christian?, etc.). Unless we can learn to leave private opinions and judgments as they are and not bind them upon our brethren, we will continue to split and divide until we "bite and devour" one another. I am appealing to you to see the difference, to recognize that you are binding where God has not bound, and are causing needless division in the body of Christ.

 

I continue to pray that God's will be done and that we endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

 

Brotherly,

 

Tom Roberts

15801 Spring Crest Cir

Tampa, FL 33624

Email: tmr65@juno.com; tmr1935@msn.com