Question:

There is a book I was wondering about called A Review of Homer Hailey's The Divorced & Remarried Who Come To God by Weldon Warnock. Have you read it or know the author? He takes a stand against Homer Hailey's, but I was wondering your opinion on it.

I still need the divorce and remarriage issue explained to me. You have explained it over and over again, but the one question about if they commit adultery after they are divorced and why they can't get remarried still puzzles me. I understand the position, but how do you prove that from the text? Like, why does he need to restate what he just said about being able to remarry if he says a person commits adultery then whoever marries that person be repetition. I get confused. I just wish I could read it and study it. I understand how you say it, but I need it dumbed down for me. :)

Also, with the old man being washed away and a new person created, how is that viewed? I could say that just like any other sin you are to stop it. But marriage is different; yet, it's not a sin to divorce, so it's not washed away.

I'm so confused. I've heard many things. I like to see all sides because one of my friends is getting divorced. Her husband, tried to kill someone and got put in jail when they were both going to college. She married him in hopes of getting him less years. She was stupid and didn't realize he was abusive and everything. She is going to ask if she can get remarried after the divorce. The divorce is not her choice, but her husband's choice. I told her to follow through with her commitment. I've told her she can't remarry unless he commits adultery, but she is wondering about the passages concerning a person committing adultery after the divorce. I have to be able to explain it in a sense that is understandable to a new Christian and basic. Any help be very appreciated!


Answer:

I haven't met Weldon Warnock personally, but I've read some of his writings, including those on marriage and divorce. I haven't read this book, but I would be fairly sure his position is sound. Homer Hailey was a fine scholar and a good gospel preacher, but he deservedly received criticism late in life when he started teaching that baptism made an adulterous marriage acceptable.

Let's start with something most people understand. Let's assume that Jack is married to Sally, but he decides to marry Jill without first divorcing Sally. According to the Bible, such a situation is called adulterous. "For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man" (Romans 7:2-3). If Jack got baptized while married to Jill, that baptism won't change his situation. He would still be in adultery. In fact, we could argue that his baptism wasn't even valid because he was in sin and did not repent of it. Peter points out that there is at least two preconditions for the forgiveness of sins: "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). Being baptized without repentance won't do a person any more good than repenting without being baptized.

The problem is that people today are not taking covenants seriously. It isn't a new problem. Israel did the same thing. "And this is the second thing you do: you cover the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping and crying; so He does not regard the offering anymore, nor receive it with goodwill from your hands. Yet you say, "For what reason?" Because the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant" (Malachi 2:13-14). Covenants are not to be lightly made because they cannot easily set aside.

Your friend made a very dumb mistake in picking a man who clearly wasn't someone she would want to spend the rest of her life with and she did it for poor reasons. But the fact remains that she made a covenant with this man before God. Her bad choices doesn't alleviate her responsibilities to that covenant. What people fail to understand as well, her husband's breaking of the covenant doesn't mean her responsibilities also end. "Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife" (I Corinthians 7:10-11).

There is one exception that Jesus gives which releases a person from a marriage covenant before the death of their spouse. "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 19:9). Jesus' statement isn't hard to understand. People don't like what the clear meaning implies, so they look for some way to stretch it to mean something else.

The general rule is: A man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery. (Mark 10:11-12 shows that it also applies to a woman who divorces her husband.) A corollary to this rule is that whoever marries this man is also guilty of adultery. The words being used, "commits adultery" means in the Greek that it is an active, on-going sin. The wedding itself is not the sin of adultery, it being married to the other person which is adultery. The corollary makes it clear that the person marrying someone who breaks a marriage covenant is not an innocent party. God holds them responsible, even if the marriage takes place years after the divorce.

Notice that there are two conditions for this particular situation: a divorce takes place and a later remarriage. This doesn't mean that this is the only way adultery can happen. It is just the one under consideration for this discussion.

The exception to the rule is if the divorce was because of fornication (sexual immorality). The placement of the exception clause in English is even clearer in the Greek. The exception applies to the divorce. It is not an independent condition. If the reason for the divorce was because of fornication, then Jesus implies that it does not lead to adultery when innocent (non-fornicating) spouse marries someone else. In other words, in the case of a spouse committing fornication, God allows the non-fornicating spouse to leave the covenant without obligation if he so chooses.

The placement of the exception also puts a restriction on the time of the fornication. Jesus is not saying, if you divorce your spouse and then sometime later she commits fornication, then you are free to remarry. Jesus is saying that the reason for the divorce is because of an on-going problem of fornication by the other spouse.

Let's assume just for a moment that it didn't matter when the fornication took place. If that was the case, then a couple could get divorced. One of them remarries, which Jesus said would be adultery. Then the other spouse would be free to remarry because of the sexual sin of his former spouse. In other words, if it could be sexual immorality at any time, then the second person to marry would always be free to remarry, but the first one would not be. I would hope you see that that is an unreasonable position in regards to when something is a sin. The first person to rob a store is guilty of stealing, but the second person is free to take whatever he wishes. Obviously, that will not work.

The problem with Homer Hailey's position is that he refused to acknowledge that the second marriage was adulterous. What he claimed is that sinners are not accountable to God's laws. Therefore, their marriage covenants were not binding if they ended before becoming a Christian. The flaw in his position is that if sinners are not accountable to God's laws, then why become a Christian? Why even call them sinners? Sin is transgressing the law and supposedly non-Christians are not accountable to God's law, so they can't transgress it. This is obviously false. All the world is convicted of sin; therefore, all the world is under the law of Christ.