Final Response from C. Kelly Wilson to Tom Roberts
Editor's Note: This final correspondence with brother Roberts has had no response. He has not agreed to a debate as of the publishing of this article. 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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Brother Tom,

Here are the cornerstones of your argument, using your own words:

No sin is present when one divorces their mate: "...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

A person's mate can prevent them from serving God: "...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"..."2

Luke 18:29 tells a person they may have to sunder their marriage for the sake of the kingdom: "...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..."3


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.

Here are the pertinent facts from the scriptures:

  • Whoever divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication commits sin
    • The Pharisees asked Jesus if they could divorce their mate for every cause (Matt. 19:3); Jesus answered no (v.4-6). The context of Jesus' answer and the remainder of the teaching of this passage is dealing with divorce, separate from the consideration of remarriage
    • God created the marriage relationship from the beginning, and what He had joined together, man was not to separate (Matt. 19:6)
    • God permitted divorce under the Law of Moses because of hard hearts, but from the beginning, it (divorce) was not so (Matt. 19:8)
    • Jesus Law: whoever divorces their mate, except for fornication, and remarries, commits adultery, indicating:
      • The violation of God's command to not divide what He had joined together (Matt. 19:6)
      • The violation of the remaining bond between the husband and his wife upon remarriage (Matt. 19:9; Rom. 7:1-2)
      • When one separates what God has joined together (Matt. 19:6), he commits sin as he would if he contravened any of God's instructions such as lying (Col. 3:9) or failing to assist those we have opportunity and ability to help (I Jn. 3:17; Js. 2:15)
      • The only cause by which one can separate what God has joined together (divorce their mate), without transgressing His Law is fornication (Matt. 19:9). God then releases the bond.
    • Whoever divorces their mate for any cause, except fornication, causes their mate to commit adultery (Matt. 5:32) illustrating the sin they have committed.
    • Can one divorce their mate for a cause other than fornication, defrauding them of their rightful affections (I Cor. 7:5), separating what God had joined together, violate His directives (Matt. 19:6; I Cor. 7:10-11, 12-13), and place a stumbling block of sin in their path (Matt. 5:32), without committing sin themselves?
    • The Holy Spirit often demonstrates an action to be sinful by virtue of the consequences of the action. Nadab and Abihu were consumed by the Lord when they offered strange fire, which He had not authorized (Lev. 10:1-2). The Lord told those who did not minister to the brethren that they were going "...into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels..." (Matt. 25:41) In these cases, we learn from necessary conclusion that these acts constitute sin, even though the word sin is not used in the passage.
    • In the same way, God uses the following illustrations:
      • "...He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. [9] And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery..." Matthew 19:8-9 (ESV) In response to the Pharisees' question in Matt. 19:3, Jesus uses the illustration of how one commits adultery upon remarriage to demonstrate the unlawfulness of one who divorces their mate for any cause other than adultery
      • "...It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.' [32] But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery. And whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery..." Matthew 5:31-32 (ESV) Again, while divorce for various reasons was overlooked under Moses Law, Jesus uses the illustration that if you divorce your mate for any cause other than fornication, you cause your mate to commit adultery, illustrating the sin committed when you divorced them
    • In I Cor. 7:10-15, there are four commands from God:
      • Don't divorce your husband (v.10)
      • Don't divorce your wife (v.11)
      • Don't divorce your unbelieving wife (v.12)
      • Don't divorce your unbelieving husband (v.13)
    • When one violates the command of God, they have become a transgressor of the Law (Js. 2:10; I Jn. 3:4)
    • Jesus will tell the lawless to depart from Him, for He never knew them (Matt. 7:21-22)
    • I Cor. 7:11 intimates God's commands of equal restraint, not liberty, on the sinner, who violated His directive in v.10
      • She must ( let her ) remain unmarried in accord with the consequences illustrated by the Lord Jesus in Matt. 19:9 and other places
      • She must ( let her) be reconciled, if possible, in accord with God's requirements of restitution (Lk. 19:6-9; Prov. 6:30-31) and repentance with godly sorrow to clear oneself (II Cor. 7:9-11)
    • If the unbeliever decides to divorce their believing mate, the believer can let them go (v.15); no authority is given to the Christian to divorce their mate in this passage, even if their mate is an unbeliever who does not obey the truth (I Pet. 3:1-2)
  • No created thing can prevent you from serving God
    • The Lord's caveats to serving Him:
      • You must count the cost of discipleship (Lk. 14:26-33) and forsake all (Matt. 10:34-39)
      • The eternal blessings are only given to those who leave all (Lk. 18:24-30)
      • All who desire to live godly in Christ shall suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12), even by those of your own household (Matt. 10: 35-36)
      • One may even be put to death for the faith (Rev. 2:10; Matt. 10:21)
      • You will be hated by the world (I Jn. 3:13)
      • Only those who bear fruit and endure to the end will be saved (Matt. 10:22; Matt. 13:23)
    • The Lord's assurances
      • He will always be with the faithful (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5-6)
      • He will deliver the godly out of temptations (II Pet. 2:9)
      • He will never allow His faithful to be tempted above their ability to endure (I Cor. 10:12-13). God , not man, provides the way of escape that His faithful may endure the temptation and God gives no authority anywhere for one to divorce their mate to escape temptation.
      • He will deliver the faithful from every evil work and preserve them to His heavenly kingdom (II Tim. 4:18) indicating not a lack of suffering (His servant Paul, who boasted this, suffered greatly!) but rather the ability to endure to the end (II Tim. 4:6-8)
      • No created thing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:35-39)
      • Thanks be to God that no person , including your mate, can prevent you from serving Him!
  • Luke 18:29 teaches that one must leave all for the kingdom which does not include divorce
    • The promises of the blessings, including eternal life, are only made to those who leave all (Lk. 18:29).
    • The requirement to leave all is not conditioned upon someone else's actions; you must choose to leave all, no matter what anyone else does, including your mate (Lk. 14:26-33)
    • The word leave in Lk. 18:29, the word hate in Lk. 14:26, and the words forsake all in Lk. 14:33 mean that each one must individually choose to set their service to Christ above all other affections and loyalties
    • The scriptures affirm that Peter and the other disciples had left all (Lk. 14:28). They had done what the Lord instructed, yet they honored their marital and familial commitments (I Pet. 5:1-2; I Cor. 9:5). If this passage taught that Peter and the other disciples were to divorce their mates in order to serve God, they obviously did not obey the Lord's instructions because they did not divorce their mates, abandon their children and parents, or their other responsibilities
    • What the disciples practically did to leave all:
      • They left behind their secular careers (Matt. 4:18-20) to serve the Lord
      • They set their service to the Lord above their consideration of their own safety and their families' safety (Matt. 10:18-21)
      • They risked rejection by all men, including their mates, for serving the Lord (Matt. 10:35-36; I Cor. 7:15)
      • Not one shred of scriptural evidence shows that they divorced their mates or forsook the responsibilities to their children or parents in order to serve God
    • The conclusion from Lk. 18:29 that one might have to divorce their mate to serve God contradicts the context of Lk. 18:24-30 and the companion passages (Lk .14:26-33; Matt. 10:37-39) which teach that you must forsake all that you have to be the Lord's disciple
    • Since the scripture affirms that Peter and the disciples had left all and they accomplished that without divorcing their mates, we can only rightly conclude that divorce is not under consideration in this passage (Lk. 18:24-30)
    • Jesus does not give someone the authority to divorce their mate for the sake of the kingdom in this passage, anymore than He gives authority for one to abandon their children, parents, or other responsibilities (Eph. 6:1; I Tim. 5:8)

The fact is, brother Tom, that when we compare the cornerstones of your position (quoted above) with the facts of scriptures, we see a glaring disparity. Your arguments cannot be reconciled with the teaching of God's Word, plain and simple.

I have a couple of questions:

  • Why are you insisting that I get the endorsement of the Westside elders, or any elders for that matter, as a condition of debate? Brother Stan Cox has agreed to host a written debate on http://watchmanmag.com or I am confident that we can find another suitable forum. Why won't you just agree to a debate, written or oral, regardless of whether a certain congregation or eldership endorses it?
  • You have insisted consistently that the bible teaching on divorce belongs in the realm of matters of judgment and yet you insist that I am in error. The question is rather simple: either God teaches that one can divorce their mate for only one lawful cause, or God does not teach that. Disputable matters covered per Romans 14 involve both positions being correct (i.e. he who does not eat is not to judge him who eats and he who eats is not to judge him who does not eat for God has received them both (Rom. 14:3)). I affirm that God allows one to lawfully divorce their mate only for the cause of fornication. You affirm that sin is not stipulated when someone divorces their mate (your quote above) and that one may just divorce their mate for any reason they want and then just choose to remain unmarried. Either I am correct, you are correct, or we both are incorrect, but we cannot both be correct!
  • Here is the proposition that you said you would affirm: "...The Scriptures teach that when a marriage is sundered for a cause other than fornication, a Christian may either remain unmarried or be reconciled without inherently being guilty of sin..."1 This statement is problematic on its face as you suggest that a divorce "just happens" ( "...the marriage is sundered..." ) similar to how an acorn might "just fall" out of a tree. The scripture affirms that a divorce is the result of someone divorcing their mate (Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9); the marriage isn't "just sundered". However, this so-called proposition is rather puzzling. In the sample quotes above (and in other places) you assert that sin is never stipulated when someone divorces their mate for a cause other than sexual immorality and that one can (and should) divorce their mate for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Why won't you stand on those propositions? That is how you have argued in your emails and it only makes sense that you would stand behind the words you have written up until now, unless you have changed your mind.

I await your answers.

Your brother,

Kelly


1Roberts, Tom. "Bible Teaching on Divorce". Email to C. Kelly Wilson. 29 March 2006.

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