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Slide 1 - Divorce “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one's garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, That you do not deal treacherously.” ~ Malachi 2:16
Slide 2 - Background Sermon preached by Bobby Holmes at the Northside church of Christ in Mansfield, TX on June 26th, 2005. Subject: Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage Brother Holmes taught some things regarding Divorce (without remarriage) in the lesson that were cause for concern. This teaching is the subject of the lesson today
Slide 3 - Background - 2 At the time of the lesson, we were supporting Bobby Holmes, and Gregg Madden As a result of Bobby’s lesson, and the aftermath of that lesson regarding events that happened at the Northside congregation, we received reports from Bobby and Gregg that differed in their perspective of the situation.
Slide 4 - B. Holmes Support Letter “On the down side, we had two families leave because they disagreed with the Truth taught here on marriage and divorce. This was after several weeks of studies with them failed to produce any change. The law of God is clear on the subject. One man [one woman] for life with one exception. If one leaves their mate for ANY reason other than fornication, they have two options. Remain unmarried or be reconciled. (cf. 1 Cor. 7:10-11).” July 2005 Report
Slide 5 - G. Madden Support Letter “Sad to say, we have heard of two congregations in the past couple of weeks that have split over simple issues of divorce and remarriage. In one case the brethren stood for the Truth… In the other case the few that stood for God’s Word were shown the door and told that they would not be allowed to speak on the matter publicly before the congregation. We pray for the brethren who stood for the truth on these issues. We also pray for those that opposed the truth that they might come to repentance soon.” July 2005 Report
Slide 6 - Background - 3 The elders were uncomfortable with supporting two men who were clearly on different sides of the issue, and determined it important to look into the matter more fully First step taken: Private studies between Stan Cox and Bobby Holmes, where the issue was discussed. Stan wrote two separate documents, discussing the issue, and gave them to brother Holmes
Slide 7 - Background - 4 Second step: When the issue was not reconciled, the elders had two studies with brother Holmes. At the end of the first of the two studies, the elders (at that time brother Gilliland was not serving as an elder), wrote a letter to Brother Holmes, indicating that his support from our congregation would cease.
Slide 8 - Excerpt from Letter “After our meeting with you, and our discussion of the lesson you preached at the Northside congregation, it is evident that we have differences with regard to the exegesis of several passages, as well as what the scriptures teach on the subject of divorce. “While we remain ready and willing to continue any study with you on such matters, unfortunately these differences have the potential to cause conflict within the West Side congregation. In our role as shepherds of this congregation, we feel it best to protect the church by taking this step…” continued
Slide 9 - Excerpt from Letter “…We retain great personal affection for you, and respect your integrity and honesty. We are saddened at taking this step, and pledge a willingness to continue our study of these matters with you, if you so desire, and on our own. “It is our prayer that at some future date we will all have a more perfect understanding of such issues that will enable us to resolve our differences. We pray for God’s favor upon each of us as we struggle to understand God’s will on such difficult matters…” (January 11, 2006)
Slide 10 - Background - 5 Brother Gallman took the additional step to call brother Holmes before the delivery of the letter. He told brother Holmes of the letter, and repeated the confidence expressed in that letter regarding Bobby’s integrity and honesty He further indicated that a second component (which also led to the rescinding of brother Madden’s support) was the need to reduce outside support due to financial considerations.
Slide 11 - Background - 6 The second study with brother Holmes came after the letter was sent and received. Neither of the two studies, nor email exchanges between brother Holmes and Stan Cox have led to any perceivable headway in resolving the differences in teaching. The pledge to continue study on this matter remains to this day.
Slide 12 - Background - 7 Due to Bobby’s teaching, the elders did not feel comfortable endorsing his efforts, and continuing our fellowship in his preaching. His support has been rescinded, and the West Side congregation no longer has any ties with him in his preaching work. As an autonomous congregation we have this right. The elders have this right to exercise their judgment in this matter.
Slide 13 - Background - 8 Bobby Holmes recognizes these rights. While he disagrees with the position we have taken regarding these issues, he has expressed his understanding that the elders have acted in a way in keeping with their scriptural right. He has spoken and written of his confidence in the character and integrity of the elders at West Side.
Slide 14 - Background - 9 Materials available to the congregation (if requested) Audio of this sermon, and handout of slides Audio of Bobby Holmes’ sermon (6/26/05) Support letters from Holmes and Madden Bulletin articles written by Stan Cox on the subject of Divorce (with exegesis of Matt. 19; Matt. 5; 1 Cor. 7; Luke 18) Further study if needed… If you have questions, or would like to study further with the elders, let them know
Slide 15 - An Admonition to Us All Issues such as these always have potential to divide brethren. Our treatment of this issue should be with love and deference to one another. Their should be light, not heat on this matter. The appeal must be to God’s word, rather than men. We must not allow this to be a cause of dissension or unrest in our congregation.
Slide 16 - The Issue Is there any other exception other than the one explicitly stated in Matthew 19, wherein a Christian may divorce his or her spouse without sinning. (It is accepted that sexual immorality is the sole exception that would allow for the innocent party to remarry).
Slide 17 - Areas of Agreement (Claimed areas of agreement, as per Bobby Holmes. Presented in second study) “Do we not all agree that God’s law for marriage is one man for one woman for life with one exception?” “I firmly believe and advocate that Christ must be put first in every relationship including marriage. Conceivably, situations CAN arise where that relationship must be ‘sundered’ or ‘leave’ in order to keep Christ and His kingdom first.” “Now, please tell me wherein we are in disagreement?”
Slide 18 - The Contention God’s law on marriage, divorce & remarriage is a specific law, with one specific, explicitly stated exception to the law. God’s law on marriage and divorce (when remarriage is not considered) is a general law. And there are factors which may allow for at least one unstated exception. (Bobby’s reference, Eph. 5:24)
Slide 19 - Ephesians 5:24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Bobby contends… There are exceptions to the “everything” of Ephesians 5:24 There are exceptions to God’s law regarding divorce.
Slide 20 - Problems with the Argument It is only an assertion that God has two laws, one for “remarriage”, one without remarriage. (Invalid, as we will prove). It is only an assertion that God’s law regarding divorce only is a general one, allowing for non-explicit exceptions. (Unproveable, but moot point, as the first contention is not true). If one non-explicit exception is allowed, why not many? Who determines the validity of any particular exception?
Slide 21 - Further Problems Ephesians 5:24 sets man (delegated authority) VS God (ultimate authority). Bobby’s argument, however, sets God against God God says, “I hate divorce” (cf. Mal. 2:16) God says, “Divorce O.K.” (Holmes’ contention) Parallel to Mormon Doctrine of Mental Reservation God says, “Lying is a sin” (cf. Rev. 21:8) God says, “Lying O.K.” (Mormon contention) Parallel to Jewish Traditions (cf. Mk. 7:9-13)
Slide 22 - Mark 7:9-13 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.‘ 11 "But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban"-' (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."
Slide 23 - A Discussion of Verses Which Bear on our Subject Matthew 19:3-9 Matthew 5:32 Luke 18:29-30 1 Corinthians 7:10-11
Slide 24 - Matthew 19:3-9 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?”…
Slide 25 - Matthew 19:3-9, cont… … 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. 9 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.”
Slide 26 - Matthew 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.
Slide 27 - Commentary Quotes Fowler indicates that she (the divorced wife) is “the unfortunate victim of a vicious system which subjects her to the caprice of her husband. What is unequivocally clear is that the stigma of adultery is related to her remarriage.” Bible Study Textbook Series, Matthew, Volume 1, page 281
Slide 28 - Commentary Quotes Boles is bold in his assessment of Jesus’ teaching: “He is clear on this point; he lays down his teaching here with entire precision; he admits but one valid ground for divorce, namely fornication. Whoever puts away his wife for any other reason tempts her to marry again; Jesus assumes that the pretended divorce goes for nothing; that she is still his wife, and that marrying again involves adultery. Not only does she become an adulteress, but whoever shall marry her becomes an adulterer. New Testament Commentaries, Gospel Advocate, H. Leo Boles, Matthew, page 143.
Slide 29 - Commentary Quotes “The mere fact of divorce did not make her an adulteress, but it brought her into a state of disgrace from which she invariably sought to free herself by contracting another marriage, and this other marriage to which her humiliating situation drove her made her an adulteress” McGarvey, Pendleton, The Fourfold Gospel, page 242
Slide 30 - Commentary Quotes “(4) Our Lord showed how this conduct operated against the Law. It made an adulteress of the divorced wife; for it treated her as though she has been such. It exposed her to the temptation to commit adultery. Bound by the law of her husband during this natural life, even did she marry another she would be an adulteress (see Rom. vii.1-3). By parity of reasoning, whoever married her would be an adulterer. The proper husband is responsible as the cause of all these consequences…” Pulpit Commentary, Matthew, page 217
Slide 31 - Matthew 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. No remarriage (for the “whoever”) in the context of this verse Answers our question! “For any reason except sexual immorality” (Divorcer guilty!)
Slide 32 - Luke 18:28-30 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.”
Slide 33 - Problems with the Argument Divorce is not mentioned explicitly, and is not at all in the context of Luke 18. Whatever the leaving is, Peter had done it! (And yet, Peter “led about a wife” cf. 1 Corinthians 9:5) If you can divorce for the “kingdom’s sake”, then you can also abandon your children, and abdicate your responsibility to you parents (cf. Mk. 7) Is sin sometimes not sin? (Sit. Ethics?)
Slide 34 - 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 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. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.
Slide 35 - Problems with the Argument The context indicates that Paul was repeating Jesus’ teaching, not establishing a new teaching. (cf. vs. 10) We have already seen that there are no “second exceptions” in Matt. 19 or 5. There is nothing in the passage which requires this action to be sinless (arguing from silence … proves nothing) Same instructions would be given to one who divorces for frivolous reasons Paul was dealing with a question concerning the state of the marital relationship
Slide 36 - Commentary Quotes (vs. 10), “…Whereas in vv. 8-9 Paul has simply given his advice since whether one marries or not is an optional matter, in this verse Paul commands. Paraggello is a verb meaning “to order, command, direct or charge.” There are no options left for this person; he simply obeys the Lord or stands in rebellion to him…” (emphasis mine, SC) Mike Willis, 1 Corinthians, pages 98-99
Slide 37 - Commentary Quotes “The statement “but if she depart” (ean de kai choristhe) describes an exception whether past, present, or future. In the event that the wife (or husband) leaves her husband (or wife), then she (or he) must remain unmarried. Paul recognized that, in spite of the commandments, [emphasis mine, SC], some would nevertheless choose not to live together. In such cases, there were only two alternatives available. (1) To remain single or (2) be reconciled to one’s mate…” Mike Willis, 1 Corinthians, pages 98-99
Slide 38 - Commentary Quotes “This passage undoubtedly teaches that the believer is to take no steps to hinder the restoration of the marriage relations, but to be ready to seek to restore them. Divorce is intended to make the separation permanent and to make unlawful marriage possible. No Christian can do this. Nothing severs the marriage relationship between Christians save the sin of adultery.” David Lipscomb, 1 Corinthians Gospel Advocate Commentaries
Slide 39 - More problems The context strongly denies the right to divorce. “not to depart” (vs. 10); “not to divorce” (vs. 11); “let him not divorce” (vs. 12); “let her not divorce” (vs. 13). Coach, “Don’t turn the ball over, but if you do, hustle back on defense.” (Doesn’t indicate that in certain circumstances, turnovers are OK). Though a Christian can allow a non-believer to depart (vs. 15), there is no authority to seek a divorce.
Slide 40 - Conclusion Nowhere in scripture is there a valid rationale for Christians to divorce without sinning, “except for sexual immorality” (cf. Matthew 19:9). While we retain our deep affection for brother Holmes, we can not endorse his teaching, and must defend the truth against any error taught. We must treat others (including one another) with kindness and patience. If you have questions, talk with the elders. May God bless us with peace at West Side.
Slide 41 - God’s Law for Marriage One Man One Woman For Life With one exception