Second Response from C. Kelly Wilson to Tom Roberts (March 5, 2006)
Editor's Note: In this second response to Tom Roberts, I reference page numbers in my first response, which was in Microsoft Word document format. The pages in my first response on this website are different than the original Word document. In this article, quotes from brethren are in maroon (italic and bold), scriptures are in red, and regular text is in blue. On quotes from brethren, the footnotes are hyperlinked to the document that contains the quote
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Dear brother Tom,

I thank you for your response, and I apologize for the delay in responding.

First, I am very concerned about the current state of division in the Lord's church, and you are absolutely correct that we cannot bind were God has not bound. In every case, however, when brethren bind that which God has not specified they are guilty because they are teaching false doctrine (Prov. 30:6). For instance, using an example from your emails, we cannot stipulate whether the divorce papers must say adultery or not because God does not stipulate this. In all the examples you rightly used concerning binding were God has not bound, we cannot bind those things because God's Word is silent about them. However, you greatly err when you attempt to then conclude that God does not bind what constitutes the lawful cause by which one may divorce their mate. Here is what you said in your last response:

"...You are binding that there is only one cause for divorce. This is not the will of Christ, and you are dividing brethren..." 1

Am I binding that God only allows one to divorce their mate for one lawful cause or is God binding this principle in His Word? If God binds the specified cause by which one may lawfully divorce their mate and the scriptures show that there is no other lawful cause, neither I, nor anyone else, is guilty of binding where God has not bound when they teach what God has bound on this subject. The crux of our examination of scripture and "...rightly dividing the word of truth..." I Tim. 2:15 is going to hinge upon whether the evidence of the scriptures teach that God has given approval for only one cause by which one may divorce their mate, or whether God approves of other causes. Would you agree?

Preliminaries aside, here is how you started the discourse on the subject at hand in your second email:

"...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.Now, I want to address the fact that you did not answer my material..." 2

I addressed both your and brother Bobby's arguments and refuted your reasoning on all the relevant points you addressed in your previous email. In your first response you wrote that I had falsely charged brother Bobby with teaching error. Given your charge, I was compelled to show from the scriptures why what brother Bobby taught in reference to the lawful cause for a divorce was not in accordance with bible teaching.

Here are the points I dealt with in my previous response:

  • Your exegesis of Matthew 19:3-9 consists of the following: Jesus' teaching in this passage, including His one exception of fornication, only prohibits one from divorcing their mate and remarrying. In other words, you contend that divorce (by either party) is not prohibited whatever in this passage, only remarriage, unless someone divorced their mate and remarried for the cause of fornication. The summation of your argument essentially is this: as long as remarriage is not under consideration, divorcing your mate for a cause other than fornication is not prohibited in this passage. I answered this in my response in pp. 1-3 (last 2/3rd of p.3).
  • Your exegesis of I Corinthians 7:10-15 hinges on the following principles:
    • One can violate God's direct command in v.10 and not sin. According to your exegesis, one could also disregard the direct and contextual prohibitions against one divorcing their mate short of the cause of fornication in Matt. 19:6, Mk.10:10-12, Matt. 5:32, Luke 16:18, and I Cor. 7:10-11 since those passages, according to you, have absolutely nothing to do with prohibiting someone from divorcing their mate.
    • One who is divorced (has the divorce action taken against them), even against their will, is just as culpable ( guilty) as the one who divorced them.
    • The constraints given by the Spirit in v.11 to the one who violated the direct command of the Lord in v.10 actually mitigate the violation of that command, thus making the command of God in v.10 of none effect
    • The above points summarize questions numbered 3, 4 and 4 (their were two question 4's) in your original email, and I addressed them in pp. 5-10 in my original response
  • Your exegesis of Luke 18:29 and the companion passages hinge on the following:
    • The word left in Luke 18:29 means divorce in this passage
    • One can be prevented from serving God by someone else's actions or decisions
    • This supposition that one can be prevented from serving God by someone else (presumably their mate, in this case) authorizes the individual in this supposed circumstance to divorce their mate for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
    • The above points encompass questions numbered 1 and 2 from your first email, and I answered those points on pp. 10-14 in my original response

1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

2Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

What is the context of the Lord's teaching on divorce in Matt. 19: 3-9, Matt. 5:32, Mark 10: 10-12 and Luke 16:18, and I Cor. 7:10-16?

Here is what you wrote in your last response concerning the teaching of the passages in the above heading:

"...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. 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...?" [my emphasis]1

As I pointed out in the first bulleted point above, you contend that the Lord's teaching in Matt. 19:3-9 (and the other passages on this subject) does not prohibit one from divorcing their mate, but only divorcing and remarrying, except if they divorced their mate and remarried for the cause of fornication. The end of your argument, based on your reasoning, is that no sin has occurred if one divorces their mate, as you asked the question concerning the passages on divorce (particularly I Cor. 7:10, in this case): "...Where is the sin stipulated...? The conclusion from this question and your critique of my exegesis is that no sin is stipulated if one divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication and does not remarry. I would like to ask some directed questions based on Matt. 19:3-9, Matt. 5:32, and I Cor. 7:10-16 which should encapsulate the Lord's teaching on this subject:

Concerning Matt. 19:3-8:

  • Were the Pharisees who came to test Jesus with their question in v.3 asking whether it was lawful to divorce their wives for any cause or divorce their wives and remarry for any cause?
  • Will Jesus' response to their question have to be kept and understood in the context of this original question asked by the Pharisees concerning divorce ?
  • Would you agree that Jesus' answer in v. 4-5 illustrated God's original plan for the home and permanency of the marriage relationship, God not even making provision for divorce, not divorce and remarriage?
  • Did Jesus' statement in v. 6 ("...therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate..." ) constitute a command concerning divorce or divorce and remarriage? In other words, are we not to separate what God has joined together, or not separate and remarry what God has joined together? While we recognize that those who are lawfully remarried also are bound by God's Law of marriage, what does Jesus' command in v. 6 mean in context of the original question the Pharisees asked about whether it was lawful to divorce their wives for any cause?
  • In v.8 ( "...He said to them, 'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so..." [my emphasis] ), what was permitted by Moses' Law that Jesus is addressing here that was not so from the beginning, divorce (regardless of subsequent remarriage) or divorce and remarriage? Will the context of the Pharisees' original question in v.3 dictate how we understand this verse?

Concerning Matt. 19:9:

  • Can God contextually illustrate that an action violates His Law without specifically designating it as sin? For instance:
    • In Matt. 25, the Lord said: "...'Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.' 44 Then they also will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?' 45 Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me...''" Matthew 25:41-45 (NKJV)
    • In the above passage of Matt. 25: 41-45, is the Lord illustrating that failure to minister to those we have opportunity to help is sin (Js. 4:16) by virtue of the consequences these individuals will suffer (eternal punishment), even though the Spirit never uses the word sin in this passage?
  • Similarly, "...He said to them, 'Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery...'" Matthew 19:8-9 (NKJV)
  • Is the Lord using the same principle (illustrating the adulterous remarriage by one who divorces their mate for any cause other than fornication) to demonstrate that:
    • Though the man divorced his wife, he is still bound by the Law of God to his mate, hence the adultery upon remarriage
    • What God had joined together, they were not to separate. In other words, do not divorce your lawful mate.
    • Moses Law permitted them to divorce their wives, but from the beginning it ( divorce, not divorce and remarriage) was not so
    • One is guilty of transgressing God's instructions and therefore commits sin if he divorces his mate for any other cause than fornication?
  • While we understand from the Lord's teaching that a subsequent remarriage does result in adultery when one divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication, does the Pharisees' original question ( "...is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any cause..?" ) put Jesus' illustration of the adulterous remarriage in context? In other words, the adulterous remarriage occurred as a consequence of the unlawful divorce? If the divorce had been lawful, would not the remarriage also been lawful? How would one been able to lawfully divorce their mate, but then commit adultery upon remarriage?

1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

Concerning Matt. 19:10:

  • The disciples stated in response to the Lord's teaching in this passage: "...His disciples said to Him, 'If such is the case of the man with his wife, it is better not to marry...'"
  • Given the entire context of the Lord's teaching, were the disciples saying that it would be better not to marry because:
    • Once married, they would not be able to lawfully divorce their wives except for the cause of fornication? OR
    • Once married, they would be able to lawfully divorce their wives (separate what God had joined together) for whatever reason they wanted to, they just wouldn't be able to remarry unless they divorced their wives for the cause of fornication?

Concerning Matt. 5:31-32:

  • "'...Furthermore it has been said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' 32 But I say to you that whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced commits adultery...'"
  • Who causes who to commit adultery in this verse? The Lord says that the man divorces his wife in this context. Does the Lord designate the husband as the violator in this instance, since he divorces his wife and causes her to commit adultery, or does the Lord say that both individuals are equally guilty of the divorce?
  • Does Jesus say that if one divorces their mate for a cause other than adultery, that action (divorce, not divorce and remarriage) is the causal factor in their mates' subsequent temptation to sin?
  • The Lord illustrates that the saying of old was that if someone desired to divorce their wives, they were to simply give them a writing of divorce and send them away. Does the Lord then teach in v. 32:
    • Under His new Law, if you divorce your wife for any cause other than fornication you transgress God's Word and put your wife in vulnerable position to sin? OR
    • Under His new Law, if you divorce your wife and remarry for any cause other than fornication you transgress God's Word and put your wife in vulnerable position to sin?
  • Consider the following:
    • "...For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter , because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified..." 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
    • Does God teach in the above passage about abstaining from sexual immorality:
      • If you defraud your brother in this matter, you have committed sin and caused your brother to commit sin? OR
      • If you defraud your brother in this matter, only your brother has sinned, you didn't do anything wrong?
  • How do we cause someone to commit sin without committing sin ourselves?

Concerning I Cor. 7:10-16:

  • Once a bible principle is established, does that principle remain true? For instance:
    • "...Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness..." 1 John 3:4 (NKJV)
    • "...Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son..." 2 John 1:9 (NKJV)
    • "...I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish..." Luke 13:3 (NKJV)
    • Would we understand that whenever we transgress God's Word, including His explicit commands, and do not abide in the instructions that God has given, we have sinned? Does God have to explicitly state in every context that sin has been committed for us to understand this principle? Does God's Word consistently establish that when we sin, we must repent or does He teach that we can sometimes sin and not repent?

Consider the following from I Cor. 7:10-15:

  • "...Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband..." (v.10) [my emphasis]
  • "...and a husband is not to divorce his wife..." (v.11) [my emphasis]
  • "...But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her ..." (v.12) [my emphasis]
  • "...And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him ..." (v.13) [my emphasis]
  • "...But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace..." (v.15) [my emphasis]
  • Given the previous teaching by the Lord (Matt. 19:3-9, Matt. 5:31-32, Mk. 10:10-12, Luke. 16:18) which Paul reiterates (v.10-11 [do not divorce your mate]) along with the other admonitions in this passage, does this passage teach:
    • One is not to divorce their mate? OR
    • It is acceptable to divorce their mate?
    • If the Lord teaches the Christian that they are not to divorce their mate, how does one divorce their mate, contravene God's direct instructions, and yet not sin?

Consider I Cor. 7:11:

  • You have asserted (in the above quote) that no sin is present and that no repentance is necessary when God's direct command is violated in v.10, due to the constraints of the Holy Spirit in v.11.
  • If God gives constraints when one violates His Law, do those constraints mitigate the violation of His Law? For instance:
    • "'...If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins...'" Ex. 22:16-17 (NKJV)
    • When God gives the conditions in the following passage, is He saying:
    • If a man lies with a virgin to whom is he not married, he commits sin and must pay the monetary penalty? OR
    • If a man lies with a virgin to whom he is not betrothed, no sin has been committed; he just needs to pay the monetary penalty?
    • Do the constraints the Lord placed on this man in this passage set-aside God's command? In effect, was the Lord teaching: go ahead and commit fornication all you want, but make sure you have some money to pay the penalty?
  • Is repentance always required by the Lord when we transgress His Law, even, as with almost every passage, repentance is not directly mentioned in the context? For instance:
    • "...Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need..." Eph. 4:28 (NKJV)
    • Even though no acknowledgment (Prov. 28:13), confession (I Jn. 1:9), and prayer to God for forgiveness (Acts 8:22) is instructed in this passage, are we to conclude from this passage:
      • If one steals, he need not acknowledge his wrong and confess his sins to the Lord since that is not mentioned in this passage; he just needs to stop stealing? OR
      • If one steals, he has sinned, must acknowledge his sin, make confession to the Lord, cease stealing and make restitution where possible?
  • Along the bible principles of repentance, does God teach that restitution, whenever and wherever possible is necessary to show fruits worthy of repentance?
  • For instance:
    • "...Then Ezra the priest stood up and said to them, 'You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives, adding to the guilt of Israel. 11 Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the pagan wives...'" Ezra 10:10-11 (NKJV)
    • Was the Israelites' admission of wrong alone acceptable to God, or did God also require restitution of the wrong they had committed?
    • Is this example of restitution tied to the old Law, or does God teach this principle elsewhere (Prov. 6:30-31; Lk. 19:6-9)?
  • Similarly, "...Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband ..." 1 Cor. 7:10-11 (NKJV) Is the Lord teaching:
    • A woman is not to divorce her husband. If she does violate the Lord's instructions and separate what God has joined together, she has sinned and must show fruits worthy of repentance by attempting to restore her marriage. If she cannot restore her marriage, she is constrained to remain unmarried? OR
    • A woman is not to divorce her husband. If she does violate the Lord's instructions and separate what God has joined together, she has not sinned and no repentance is necessary. She just needs to remain unmarried?
    • Do the constraints placed on the woman who violated the Lord's command (v.10) make the command of God of none effect? In other words, God gives a command in v.10 and sets it aside in v.11?
    • Since the woman, in the Spirit's illustration, is the one who transgressed God's instruction of v.10, does this fact illustrate why the constraints are directed toward her?
  • Finally, concerning v.11, when the Spirit uses the word let in scripture when it is accompanied with an instruction, does the use of that word convey the idea of constraint (something that someone must do) or allowance (something someone may do, if they wish)? Consider the following verses:
    • "...He answered and said to them, 'Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death...''" Matt. 15:3-4 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
    • In the above verse concerning the Law of Moses, did the word let mean:
      • If one cursed their mother or father, they were constrained to be put to death? OR
      • If one cursed their mother or father, they had the choice of whether or not they were going to be put to death?
    • "...Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit...'" Acts 2:38 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
    • In the above verse, is the Spirit teaching:
      • In order to have one's sins forgiven, they are constrained to be baptized? OR
      • In order to have one's sins forgiven, they have the choice of whether or not they want to be baptized, but they will still have their sins forgiven, even if they are not?
    • "...Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband..." 1 Cor. 7:10-11 (NKJV)
    • In the above passage, does the Lord place the constraint on the woman to remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband?
    • Is the constraint to be reconciled just as much a constraint, especially in light of the Lord's instructions about restitution, as the constraint to remain unmarried? In other words, the Lord constrains her to attempt reconciliation?
    • Does God's previously established principles that we are not to separate what God has joined together (Matt. 19:6), of which Paul reminded the brethren (v.10) assist us in determining whether restitution, if possible, is required by the Lord?

Does God (and I, by association) teach that one who is 'divorced' by their mate is just as guilty before Him as the one who divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication?

You have contended that my exegesis will condemn all who are in a divorced condition as you assert that it does not matter who takes action to divorce their mate:

"...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..." [my emphasis] 1

You consistently disregard God's revealed order of cause and effect (one divorces their mate and causes them to commit adultery [Matt. 5:32]) and contend that when one divorces their mate, both parties become guilty of divorcing . You then attribute that false conclusion to my exegesis and conclude that my exegesis will condemn all who are divorced. Here is what the scriptures say, and what I wrote in my previous response:

"...While we certainly recognize that a divorce indeed sunders the marriage, God's Word plainly points out that someone did the sundering. A marriage is not just ended, but rather someone in the marriage takes action to end it and that the other one is the recipient of that action:

"...But I say to you that whoever divorces [takes action against] his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her [as a result of the action taken against her] to commit adultery; and whoever marries a woman who is divorced [she is called divorced because of the action taken against her] commits adultery..." Matthew 5:32 (NKJV) [my emphasis]2

"...In the Lord's example, the man is guilty of putting away his wife, who is the innocent victim of his unlawful action..." (p. 8)3

"...My wife divorced me for an unlawful cause. Thus, God's Word says that she is the violator..."(p.16) 4

A couple of questions:

  • Did I teach in my response:
    • The individual who divorces their mate for a cause other than adultery is the one who violates God's command (Matt. 19:6) and commits the divorce action against their mate? OR
    • The individual who divorces their mate for a cause other than adultery and the one who is divorced are equally guilty before God as divorced people?
  • Does God teach that all who are divorced are equally guilty before Him? OR
  • Does God teach the one who divorces his/her mate for a cause other than fornication is the one who violates His command (Matt. 19:6; Matt. 5:32; I Cor. 7:10) putting a stumbling block of sin in his/her mates' path (Matt. 5:32)?
  • Did you accurately represent both my and the Lord's teaching on this point?

1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

2Wilson, C. Kelly. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to Tom Roberts. 27 January 2006.

3Wilson, C. Kelly. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to Tom Roberts. 27 January 2006.

4Wilson, C. Kelly. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to Tom Roberts. 27 January 2006.

What does Luke 18:29 teach?

Here is what you wrote in your first and second response concerning Luke 18:29:

"...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...Please note that this "leaving" would be the same if one just left or if leaving involved a divorce decree. The marriage is sundered for the sake of the kingdom. To be faithful to Christ, a Christian would have to leave a marriage (sunder it) if staying with the mate meant that they would not be able to go to heaven. Note that Jesus commended one who made the right choice and promised him "many time more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life." Jesus commends sundering a marriage if necessary to go to heaven! I ask you to deal with the teaching of this passage..."1

"...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... If Peter's wife had hindered him from serving the Lord, he would have had to sunder the marriage to go to heaven..." [my emphasis] 2

Concerning whether someone can be prevented from serving God, here is the "proof" you offered:

"...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..."3

Your arguments hinge on several suppositions:

  • I purposely did not deal with a statement of error you made in your first response because I did not want to detract from this discussion about God's teaching on the cause for divorce, but I will briefly deal with it now. You contended in the above quote from your first response that the marriage would have been sundered, regardless of whether the requirements under the civil law, which God as ordained (Rom. 13:1-4; I Pet. 2:13) have been met. In other words, if the wife simply separated herself from her husband, she would have divorced her husband. The scriptures do not teach that separation alone constitutes a divorce, God instructs Christians to submit themselves to the earthly authorities who govern the procedures by which one divorces their mate, and thus your assertion that the leaving alone constitutes the divorce is false.
  • In both your responses, you assume, with absolutely no scriptural proof, that someone can prevent their mate from serving God. Instead, you offered an emotional argument (illustrated by the quote immediately above), bereft of any scripture, and assert that it is foolish to conclude that our service to God depends only upon our personal choice.
  • The Greek word translated as left in Luke 18:29 can have several meanings and is used in scripture in many contexts, but divorce is not inherent in the definition. In other words, the context must be examined to see exactly what the definition of left means in this passage. However, as you have consistently done in your exegesis, you ignored the context and simply stated: "...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..." assuming that the word left means divorce without any appeal to the context.
  • Based on the preceding suppositions that are vacuous any scriptural support you then conclude that one may have to divorce their mate for the sake of the kingdom.

1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

2Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

3Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

Concerning our choice to serve God:

  • "...And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it-29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' 31Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple ..." Luke 14:27-33 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
  • Is the Lord teaching in this passage, as well as others on this subject:
    • We must personally decide to serve God, counting the cost of our discipleship? OR
    • Whether we can serve God or not is contingent upon someone or something else outside of our control and therefore we are not really accountable for our individual choice to serve God?

Concerning whether we will be persecuted as Christians:

  • "...Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 22 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved ..." Matthew 10:21-22 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
  • "...But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, 11 persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra-what persecutions I endured . And out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution ..." 2 Timothy 3:10-12 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
  • "...Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life ..." Revelation 2:10 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
  • "...Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you , as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. 14 If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people's matters. 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter ..." 1 Peter 4:12-16 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
  • "...And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom . To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen..." 2 Timothy 4:18 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
  • In the above passages, as well as many others, does God teach:
    • If you choose to serve God faithfully, you will suffer as a result, perhaps even to the point of death, but rejoice in that the Lord will deliver you, preserve you to His heavenly kingdom, and you will be glorified with Christ? OR
    • If you choose to serve God faithfully and suffer because of it, this ought to surprise and offend you. You should do whatever you have to extricate yourself from that circumstance because those persecutions will discourage and prevent you from serving God?

Concerning giving up because of offenses arising out of our service to Christ , consider the parable of the sower explained by the Lord:

  • "'...Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty...'" Matthew 13:18-23 (NKJV)
  • Here the Lord presents four scenarios:
    • The one who does not understand the Word, because he rejects it, and Satan snatches away what was sown
    • The one who receives the Word but has no root in himself. He endures for a while but when he is persecuted, he is offended and falls away
    • The one who receives the Word, but covetousness and the cares of this life interfere with his service and he becomes unfruitful
    • The one who receives the Word, patiently endures, and brings forth fruit
  • The scripture affirms that we must bring forth fruit to God to be counted as faithful (Matt. 3:10; Jn. 15:5-8). Given this fact, which scenario in the Lord's parable of the sower is the one praised by God:
    • The one who, when persecutions or the cares of this life arise, gives up and won't bring any more fruit to righteousness? OR
    • The one who patiently endures sufferings and tribulations and brings consistent fruit to God?

Furthermore, concerning a believer married to an unbeliever:

  • "...Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols..?" 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (NKJV)
  • In the above scripture, God affirms that the Christian has no commonality with an unbeliever. The unbeliever obeys lawlessness while the believer obeys God's Law (Js. 1:25). The unbeliever is walking in darkness while the Christian is to walk in the light (I Jn. 1:7). The unbeliever is associated with the prince of this world while the believer is the son of God (Gal. 3:26-27). If ever there were authority in God's Word for an individual to divorce their mate for the kingdom of God, the example of a believer divorcing their unbelieving mate would be that example, would it not? Furthermore, no matter how upright that unbeliever may be, they still are not a child of God and would not be assisting their believing mate's service to the Lord. Consider the following:
    • "...Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear..." 1 Peter 3:1-2 (NKJV)
    • "...But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace..." 1 Corinthians 7:12-15 (NKJV)
    • In the preceding two passages, does the Lord teach:
      • While you have no spiritual commonality with your unbelieving mate (they do not obey the Word), you are not to divorce them, but to set a godly example with fear? OR
      • You should divorce your unbelieving mate for the sake of the kingdom because they might persecute you and staying with them could only prevent you from serving God?

Concerning the word left in Luke 18:29:

  • A rich, young ruler came to Jesus asking what he needed to do to inherit eternal life (v.18) to which the Lord instructed him to keep the commandments of the Law (v.19-20). The young ruler affirmed that he had kept all these so what did he still lack (v.21)? The Lord instructed him to sell all he had and distribute to the poor, then he would have treasure in heaven (v.22). The rich, young ruler went away sorrowful when he heard the Lord's instructions because he had many possessions, and Jesus commented that it would be very difficult for those who had riches to enter into the kingdom (v.23-25). The disciples asked then who could be saved to which the Lord replied that all things were possible with God (v.25-26). In the context thus far, is the Lord teaching:
    • All who have riches are in sin and must repent by getting rid of their riches or they cannot enter into the kingdom of God? OR
    • All who have riches are to set their service to God above their riches (I Tim. 6:17-19) and be ready to distribute to those who have need? In other words, though they may be blessed with worldly goods, they are not to love those goods more than the Lord?
    • Are we going to need to keep the rest of the discussion in context with the Lord's teaching thus far?
  • "...Then Peter said, 'See, we have left all and followed You.' 29 So He said to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life...'" Luke 18:28-30 (NKJV) [my emphasis]
  • Your question in both responses was: "...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..?"
    • In other words, your assertion is that one may (you qualify) have to divorce his wife for the sake of the kingdom. You stated flatly that left means divorce in this passage.
    • Given your exegesis, we would also have to conclude that one must abandon children, abandon parents, and abandon familial responsibilities to serve God, would we not? If the Lord gives instructions to abandon our wives, is he not also giving instructions to also abandon the other entities mentioned in this passage (parents and children)?
  • A couple of questions:
    • Did Peter and the other disciples leave all ? Did Peter not tell the truth or was he misguided when he said that he and the other disciples had left all ?
    • Since Peter and the other apostles did not divorce their wives (Matt. 8:5; I Cor. 9:15), did they do what Jesus said to do, leave all ?
    • When Jesus praised those who did as Peter and the others did, leave all , was His praise misplaced, since Peter and the other disciples obviously did not divorce their wives or abandon their children and parents, which they would have had to do, according to you, in order to obey the Lord's instructions and leave all?
    • The Lord Jesus offers promises, including eternal life in v.29-30. Did the Lord offer those promises to:
      • The ones who might have to leave all? OR
      • The ones who do leave all?
      • In other words, is the Lord commanding that you must leave all to inherit the promise of eternal life?
      • If the word left in v.29 means divorce , as you have contended that it must, then are we not then commanded to divorce our wives for the sake of the kingdom? If the word left in this passage means divorce, then how could we not do what the Lord instructed and still inherit eternal life? In other words, we would have to divorce our wives in order to follow the Lord's instructions and have the promise of eternal life, would we not?
    • Given the context of the rich, young ruler's refusal to set his love of the Lord above his love of riches, is the teaching of this context that:
      • In order to serve God, you must get rid of (abandon, divorce ) everything you have, including riches, houses, wives, children, and parents? OR
      • In order to serve God, you must set your love and affection to the Lord above all these things?
      • Given the context, where does the Lord give authority in this passage for one to divorce their mate for the sake of the kingdom since divorce is not under consideration?

Concerning Luke 14: 26-27, 33:

  • "'...If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple...So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple...'" Luke 14:26-27,33 (NKJV)
  • You stated in your email that the above passage in Luke 14 affirms what you have taught, that one may have to divorce their wives, and presumably abandon children and parents, as well, in order to serve God.
  • Does the scripture teach that we are to love our wives (Eph 5:25), love and raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:2), care for our parents in their latter years (I Tim. 5:4), and honor our familial responsibilities (I Tim. 5:8)?
  • Given the context of the above point, does the Lord's command to hate in this passage mean:
    • We are to despise, utterly reject, and abandon our wives, parents, children, and responsibilities for the sake of the kingdom? OR
    • We are to set our affection, love, and loyalties to the Lord above all things even as we love our wives, children, parents, and honor our familial responsibilities in accordance with the other instructions of scripture?
    • In other words, when the Lord uses the word hate in this passage is He not demonstrating the following: In comparison to your love for the Lord, the love you should have toward your families and everything else would be as hatred ?
    • Given the context, where does the Lord give authority in this passage for one to divorce their mate for the sake of the kingdom since divorce is not under consideration?
  • Does the Lord teach that we must forsake all that we have to be His disciple or can we decide whether or not we will forsake all ?
  • Considering the context of our obligations to our families (including our wives), how will this command to forsake all impact our understanding about what the Lord is speaking about here?

Summary: comparing your assertions to the Lord's teaching:

Is sin stipulated when someone divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication?

  • Here is what you asserted in your email: "...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..?"1
  • Here is what the Lord says:
    • Matt. 19:3-11:
      • In v.3, the Pharisees asked if it was lawful for them to divorce their wives for any cause?
      • Jesus replied, comprehensively, NO (v.4-5), and further stated that we are not to separate what God has joined together (v.6).
      • The Pharisees asked why Moses had commanded them to give their wives a writing of divorce and put them away (v.7).
      • Jesus responded that because of the hardness of their hearts, Moses gave them this permission, but from the beginning, it (divorce) was not so (v.8).
      • Jesus states His new Law that whoever divorces their wife for a cause other than fornication and remarries commits adultery illustrating that the bond still remains and that they had violated God's command to not separate what He had joined together (v.9).
      • The apostles realized that given this strict teaching prohibiting one from divorcing their mate for any cause other than fornication, it would be better not to marry (v.10)
      • Only one exception is given by the Lord in this passage that would authorize them to divorce their mate (regardless of whether remarriage is under consideration), fornication. If they divorce their mate for any other cause, they have violated God's instructions. Scripture teaches that when we violate God's instructions, we commit sin (I Jn. 3:4).
      • Thus sin is stipulated in this passage if one divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication.
    • Matt. 5:32
      • If someone divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication, they cause him/her to commit adultery.
      • The Lord uses the illustration that if a man divorces his wife for a cause other than fornication, that action he takes against his wife (the divorce) is the causal factor in his wife's temptation to sin.
      • The only cause for which the husband could divorce his wife and not cause her to sin would be for the cause of fornication.
      • The Lord uses this illustration to demonstrate that if we divorce our mate for a cause other than fornication, we cause them to commit adultery and we commit sin ourselves.
      • Thus sin is stipulated in this passage if one divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication.
    • Concerning I Cor. 7:10-15, here are the commands from the Lord:
      • Don't divorce your husband (v.10)
      • Don't divorce your wife (v.11)
      • Don't divorce your unbelieving mate (v.12-13)
      • If the woman violates God's instructions and divorces her husband, she has sinned (I Jn. 3:4), she needs to make restitution by attempting to reconcile her marriage. If she cannot restore her marriage, she must remain unmarried (v.11).
      • The constraints of v.11 do not mitigate or excuse the sin of v.10; the woman has still sinned. The Holy Spirit is simply giving the instructions about what is to be done if sin has occurred, but sin has occurred.
      • Thus sin is stipulated in this passage if one divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication.
    • Luke 16:18 and Mark 10:10-12, while not as detailed as these other passages, certainly further reinforce that one cannot divorce their mate lawfully for any cause except for the cause of fornication.
  • You are in error that someone who divorces their mate for any cause other than fornication does not sin.

1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

Can someone prevent their mate from serving God?

  • Here is the "proof" you offered, devoid any scriptural support, that someone can prevent their spouse from serving God: "...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..."1
  • Here is what the Lord says:
    • The Lord affirms that we must individually choose to serve Him (Lk. 14:27-33).
    • You seemed to express surprise and offense that disciples were treated "...like chattel..." , but the Lord affirms that if we follow Him, we will pay the price in persecution, possibly even being put to death (Matt. 10:21-22, Rev.2:10, I Pet. 4:12-16).
    • You charge that years of religious abuse could cause a person to lose their faith and lose their souls and this justifies a person divorcing their mate. Do the scriptures support this reasoning?
      • God says that we will suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12).
      • We will not be praised by the Lord for giving up due to that persecution, but rather lose our souls (Matt. 13:21).
      • God promises to deliver us out of every persecution and evil work (Heb. 13:5-6; II Tim. 4:18; Phil. 4:13; I Cor. 10:13) and ensures us that if we endure to the end, we will receive the crown of life (Rev. 2:10)
      • While we recognize that God does give us authority to use the civil authorities for our protection (Acts 22:22-25, Paul appealed to the authorities for protection), we do not have unlimited authority to do whatever we think that we have to avoid persecution. For instance, can we deny Christ to avoid persecution? Can we organize armed insurrections against the government that may be persecuting Christians in order to escape persecution? Thus, we cannot violate the constraints of God's Word to protect ourselves from persecution.
      • Even if someone is married to an unbeliever, who would not assist the believing mate's service to God and in fact may hinder it, God gives no authority for the believer to divorce their mate and in fact forbids it (I Cor. 7:14-15; I Pet. 3:1-2).
    • You assert that the only protection a Christian who was being persecuted by their mate had was to divorce their spouse. Where does God teach this?
      • God teaches that He will never leave us (Matt. 28:18-20; Heb. 13:5-6), He will not allow us to be tempted above our ability to resist (I Cor. 10:13), He will deliver us from every evil work and preserve us to His heavenly kingdom (II Tim. 4:18), and that no created thing , which includes your mate, can separate you from the love of God in Christ (Rom. 8:38-39).
      • Does God teach that the only option a Christian being persecuted by their mate has is to take matters into their own hands and divorce their mate or does God teach that we are to put our faith and trust in Him?
  • You are in error in both points you made:
    • You assert that someone's mate can prevent them from serving God due to persecution from their mate.
    • You assert that someone can then divorce their mate due to this persecution that will prevent them from serving God.
    • God's Word teaches that no one can prevent you from serving Him and thus no authority is given for someone to divorce their mate on this ground thus you are in error.

1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

Does Luke 18:29 teach to us to divorce our mates for the sake of the kingdom?

  • Here is the question you stated in both responses: "...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..?" 1In other words, your question is: Jesus tells us to divorce our mates for the sake of the kingdom and how does one do this without committing sin?
  • Your exegesis hinges on the supposition that the word left means divorce in this passage, but the leaving is conditional, you suppose; one may not have to leave their mate for the kingdom.
  • Here is what the scriptures say about Luke 18:18-30:
    • The context shows that the rich young ruler would not set his love of the Lord above his love of riches.
    • Peter affirmed that he and the other disciples had left all for the Lord. In effect they were saying that, unlike the rich, young ruler, they had set their loyalty and service to Him above all else.
    • The Lord praised those who did as Peter and the disciples had done and promised them, in the end, eternal life.
    • The context establishes that each disciple must leave all to serve the Lord.
    • Neither Peter, nor the other apostles divorced their mates, any more than they abandoned their children, parents, or familial responsibilities. Thus, divorce is not under consideration in this passage.
    • The companion passages (Luke 14:26-27, 33; Matt. 10:37-38; Mk. 10:30) teach the same thing this passage teaches: in order to serve the Lord, you must set your love, loyalty, and service to Him above all else, not divorce your wives, abandon your children and parents, and reject your familial responsibilities.
  • You made no attempt whatever to appeal to the context and establish that the word left means divorce in Luke 18:29, as the definition of divorce does not fit this passage or any of the accompanying passages. Thus, you applied a false definition for the word left and then asked an invalid question based on this faulty definition.
  • In order to obey the Lord in this passage one needs to do leave their loyalty to their wives, children, parents, houses, etc. and devote their loyalty and service to the Lord first.

Brother Tom, the doctrine you have taught here is evil doctrine and one who follows it will lose their soul. Individuals who hear your teaching could or will believe that they can divorce their mate for a cause other than fornication, as long as that reason is for the sake of the kingdom. God gives no authority for one to divorce their mate for this cause. The one and only cause that God has revealed in His word which will permit someone to lawfully divorce their mate is the cause of fornication (Matt. 19:9; Matt. 5:32). Whoever divorces their mate for any other cause separates what God has joined together (Matt. 19:6), causes their mate to commit adultery (Matt. 5:32), and violates God's direct command (I Cor. 7:10-11,14-15), thus committing sin.

You accused me and others who are standing for what God has revealed on this subject of "...causing faithful preachers to be branded as false teachers..." 2 In addition, you have accused me and others who are holding fast to what God has revealed of dividing the brethren. However, here is what God says:

"...But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed..." 2 Peter 2:1-2 (NKJV)

Contrary to your accusations, God affirms that those who bring the doctrine "...contrary to the doctrine we have received..." (Rom. 16:17) are guilty of dividing brethren and causing the way of truth to be blasphemed. Either you are teaching the truth, and I am in error; I am teaching the truth, and you are in error; or we are both wrong. The whole counsel of God's Word reveals the truth on this matter. I cannot find any support from God's Word for the doctrine you are teaching and you have been unable to show the confirmed proof that the position you are teaching is God's will. We are left to conclude that what you are teaching is false.

I am and will continue to pray that both you and Bobby will forsake this teaching.

Your brother,

Kelly


1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 18 January 2006.

2Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 12 February 2006.

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