Question:

Many years ago a couple got married and after short time the husband had a "secret affair" and for obvious reasons did not tell her about it. He just said their marriage was a mistake and he didn't love her and divorced her. Some years later Betty married another man, Tom, and they had children together. Now they wanted to join the church and the elders and minister told them they could not be baptized unless they got a divorce because they were living in sin. Tom and Betty both said they loved each other and felt it was wrong to divorce, so they left and some eight or nine months later were killed in a car accident, but the children survived.

Now if you need any more information and facts about this before you can answer these two questions I can provide all you need.

  1. What did Betty and Tom do to cause God to condemn them?
  2. Who is going to be held accountable for this?

I'm going to give you the short version of my many years of studying this and that is we should just do what Christ told us to do and that is to preach and baptize(Matthew 28:19) and let the Lord add to the church(Acts 2:47). To be honest, it's none of our business what people did before coming to the Lord (II Corinthians 5:17). I feel that if we would just do that this would never happen because I'm sure it's happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future. As you have stated before ignorance is no excuse.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this I have had some in the past ignore me and send me elsewhere to keep from answering the questions. I hope to hear from you. Thank you.


Answer:

Normally I don't take hypothetical questions since they are often geared to create a controversial point that becomes a launching point of a false doctrine. For that matter, I'm not certain why you are writing to ask these questions when you make it clear that you have already made up your mind what the answers are. Asking questions to bait people or to stir up controversy is not proper behavior. "If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain" (I Timothy 6:3-5).

Betty's first marriage ended because of adultery on her husband's part. If Betty was unaware of this fact, then she should not have remarried. Christ's laws apply to everyone one, Christian and non-Christian alike. See: Who is Amenable to God's Laws?

When Betty and her new husband desired to become Christians, the advice they received was accurate based on the information they presented. As far as Betty knew, her marriage ended because of reasons other than fornication. That means her current marriage, as far as everyone knows -- including Betty, is that the marriage is adulterous. "Do you have faith? Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin" (Romans 14:22-23).

Betty chose to remain in a marriage that she believed to be adulterous. She loved her husband more than being obedient to God. "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" (Luke 14:26).

Your conclusion is false. You don't encourage a person to be baptized without repentance of past or on going sin (Acts 2:38). The alcoholic must be told that he must give up getting drunk before he can become a Christian. The homosexual must be told that he must give up his sexual sin before he can become a Christian. Those living in fornication must be told that they must end the fornication before they can become Christians. Giving someone a false hope of salvation while they remain in their sin is not doing the person any good. The verse you used to claim that we should not be concerned about what a person did in the past is only true once a person becomes a Christian and a person can only become a Christian when his sins of the past have ended. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come" (II Corinthians 5:17).

That all who were involved did not understand all the facts does not matter. In fact, if this was a secret affair that no one knew about, then that would include you as well. You could not determine that advice was given based on a lack of information because this information was supposedly not available to anyone. People acted on the basis of the facts as they knew them and based on the known facts, Betty violated God's laws and refused to repent of that violation.

I never once told you this was hypothetical you just assumed that even after I told you I could provide you with more facts about this you wouldn't take advantage of that. Assuming without facts is what got this in a mess to start with. This happened to my family and, yesm I know all the facts about it. You keep saying that my aunt Betty violated God's law. That's false, she did no such thing. You can try and spin this all you want, but the facts are just that facts.

As I mentioned in my first note, the core of your argument was that the real reason for the divorce was secret. No one knew that Betty's first husband divorced because of his adultery. Now you claim that you and others, including Betty, did know the reason. You can't have it both ways.

If Betty knew that her divorce was due to her husband's adultery, then she had the right to remarry and the elders, knowing these same facts, would not have objected to her being baptized while married to her second husband.

No, I never said Betty knew about the affair. No one knew about it until the ex-husband came to visit. He got to talking to some and found out what went on at church several months ago. He broke down and spoke to one of the family members about it. That's the first time anyone knew anything about it. I'll agree it was a big mess. But don't think I'm lying or making this up because I'm not!

Then why are you upset with people in the church? They made an accurate decision based on the information they were told. You too asked me to make a judgment without presenting all the information as well.

As I stated originally, at the time your aunt asked about baptism, as far as she and everyone else knew, she was improperly married. Yet her marriage was more important to her than living righteously and being a Christian.

I'm not going to try to deal with a question which keeps changing because the facts are being doled out in pieces.