Why The Faithful Cannot Fellowship
By Jeff Belknap
In a recent Truth Magazine article [Editorial Left-overs (August 19, 2004)] brother Connie W. Adams wrote, “When it comes to the issue of divorce and remarriage, we must be careful to respect exactly what the Lord has said. There is a good deal of tension now over what is being called ‘mental divorce’ in which a party who was put away for some other cause than fornication may later put away a mate who either marries again or else commits adultery after the fact of the divorce. Jesus said, ‘And whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery’ (Matt. 5:32). The same thing is stated in Matthew 19:9. When we have exhausted all the emotional arguments about fairness, and the intricacies of what constitutes ‘putting away,’ these passages will still say what they have always said.” To these timely words, as well as to all that expose the error of unapproved remarriages, we say “Amen!”1
Furthermore, it is important to notice some of the things brother Connie W. Adams stated regarding this doctrine at the time of The Warnock-Deason Exchange. First of all, Connie equated this theory with “‘mental divorce’” and “the ‘waiting game.’” Secondly, according to the words of brother Adams, for one to arrive at the second “putting away” position for post-divorce fornication advocated by brother Warnock, he “must trade on the silence of the scriptures.” Connie also revealed that the flaw in Weldon’s (and others) post-divorce “putting away” contention is that the cause of fornication occurs “after the fact of divorce and not before…for one waits until the other sins and then claims scriptural cause” (emp. jhb).
In no uncertain terms, the Master taught that all put away persons who marry another while their original partner lives participate in adultery (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b; cf. Romans 7:2-3). Since this rule is true without any divinely revealed exclusions, consider the consequences regarding those who do not “respect exactly what the Lord has said” and who advocate the very opposite.
The “Mental Divorce” Doctrine is Advocacy of Adultery
Jesus said, “And whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” The use of the word “adultery” infers that this put away person’s bound partner is still alive (Romans 7:2-3). When discussing the promotion of an adulterous relationship, there are serious consequences to consider, no matter who is practicing and/or teaching it. However, just as the Corinthians in I Corinthians 5, gloried in their shame by continuing their fellowship with adultery, many carnally minded brethren today are frantically looking for “loopholes” to justify their never-ending fellowship with those who preach and practice this “work of the flesh” today (Galatians 1:6-9; 5:17, 19-21).2
Nevertheless, just as Jesus strongly rebuked the brethren who tolerated the doctrines which resulted in “fornication”/“adultery” in the 1st century, He continues to forewarn the compromisers of His will in the 21st century as well (Matthew 12:30; Revelation 2:14, 20-22; 21:8).
The “Second ‘Putting Away’” Theory is Not Revealed in the Light
No authority can be found anywhere within the scriptures for post-divorce “putting away” and remarriage to another by a put away person. We are only authorized to preach and practice what is revealed in the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (II Corinthians 4:4; I John 1:7). In fact, we are not only commanded to “walk as children of light,” but Paul went on to say, “Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them…But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light” (Ephesians 5:6-13). “For” Paul stated, “what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (II Corinthians 6:14). Cf. Isaiah 8:20
Post-Divorce “Putting Away” And Wrongful Remarriage by the Put Away is Contrary To Christ
Certain brethren are insisting that some put away people whose original mates are still living do not commit adultery when they remarry another. This is diametrically opposed to the Lord’s divine decree that “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” In such a case, if we are to remain loyal to the Lord, we have no choice but to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18; cf. I Corinthians 14:37).
The “Waiting Game” Position is Causing Division in The Body of Christ
Both sides of this controversy are painfully aware of the fact that much division is presently taking place over the issue of “The Second ‘Putting Away.’” Additionally, scripture teaches that those who are responsible for causing division within the body are they who advocate “contrary” doctrines – not those who expose the error. Without the respect of persons, we are ordered to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Why? Paul affirmed, “For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18).
Advocacy of Adultery Constitutes Walking Disorderly
In II Thessalonians 3:6 the ambassador of Christ stated, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.” Within the above “command” the words “every brother” is all inclusive. There is to be no partiality before God (I Timothy 5:20-21; James 2:1, 9).
Furthermore, within this epistle we find some other serious guidelines as well. For example, the sacred text says: “...and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness” (II Thessalonians 1:11); “…stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2:15); and “we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you” (3:4).
Additionally, amongst each and every one of the commands within this letter to obey all of God’s will, inspiration goes on to say, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed” (3:14). Again, within these scriptural requirements, the words “any man” is universal. Our favorite friends and preaching associates are not in any way excluded (Galatians 1:10; James 4:4). Regardless of what type of divorce and remarriage error we are considering, when adultery is the end result, it cannot be lawfully fellowshipped.3
Teaching An Unauthorized Remarriage for The Put Away is Going Beyond The Doctrine of Christ
Since the teaching under examination is that which “transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,” we are forbidden to “receive” those who advocate it. Additionally, John also commanded “neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 9-11).4
Hence, we must not only “respect exactly what the Lord has said” regarding the topic of divorce and remarriage; we must also “respect exactly” what He has said in regards to fellowship. The scripture warns us to “observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality…neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure” (I Timothy 5:21-22). Those who are committed to ALL Truth will strive to be consistent in their application of Biblical fellowship. If Homer Hailey’s doctrine could not be fellowshipped because it resulted in adultery, then neither may the present error, which results in the same.5
1 In brother Donnie V. Rader’s book, he condemned the post-divorce “putting away” theory as an erroneous “application” (p. 74). Within this chapter, brother Rader equated post-divorce “putting away” and subsequent remarriage with “instrumental music in worship” and “ice cream on the Lord’s table.” Moreover, he called it “sin,” “adultery,” and what the Bible “emphatically forbids” (p. 78). [“Divorce and Remarriage: What does the text say?,” Lesson 8, Mental Divorce (May Some Put Away People Remarry)].
5“Brethren, opposition to sin is impotent when you fellowship it!” (emp. his). - Tom Roberts [A Deadly Parallel, Guardian of Truth, Vol. XLI, No. 6 (March 20, 1997)]
“Yet, as much as I loved McGarvey, candor requires me to say that he did not oppose the use of mechanical instruments in worship as effectively as he should have done. He was weak in the course that he pursued. And he did not oppose it consistently…And it has been well said – by Brother Sewell, I think – that his influence went with his fellowship, and not with his arguments.” - Henry S. Ficklin [McGarvey, And The Course of Digression…, The Gospel Guardian, Vol. 10, No. 38 (January 29, 1959)]