The Reformists of the SDARM generally BELIEVE and TEACH:
- A very strict view on divorce. They forbid divorce and remarriage, even for the innocent party whose spouse has committed adultery.
- Being divorced does not include the right to remarry.
- Jesus’ stated exception in Matt 5:32, 19:9 and Mar 19:9, ‘except in the case of unchasity’, supposedly only concerns unmarried women who come to a marriage without being a virgin.
The Reformists are WRONG because:
- Under OT Law, the right to divorce always implicitly included the right to remarry, as confirmed by Deut 24:2. The Jewish bill of divorce did (and still does) contain the words ‘You are free to marry again.’
- Jesus contemplated divorcees remarrying. That is why in Matt 5:32 Jesus talked about a man causing his wife to commit adultery, because a woman simply discarded would have no choice but to commit adultery by remarrying; otherwise, she and her children would starve to death. There was no social security and women without husbands faced ruin, as the story of Ruth largely demonstrates.
- Jesus’ exclusion clause is not mentioned in Mar 10:11-12 or Luk 16:18 for the simple reason that to their Gentile Christian audiences the right to divorce and remarry in the case of adultery was so well known and obvious that recalling Jesus’ words here were probably not needed.
- Ellen White herself approved of a woman divorcing her husband who had committed adultery.
- Divorce does not in itself allow remarriage.
- Adultery is different from fornication.
- The exception clause only applies to cheating on a fiancée through pre-marital sex (i.e. a woman coming to the marriage-bed not a virgin).
- Jesus’ exception in Matt 19:9 would contradict Paul’s counsel in 1 Cor 7:10-15,29; Rom 7:1-3.
- Sex with an unmarried woman, but who is already engaged, where the punishment is death: Deut 22:23-27.
- Sex with an unmarried woman, but who was not already engaged, where the punishment is a fine and forced marriage: Deut 22:28-29.
- Paul makes clear in v10 that this is not a command from God from his own personal opinion. He comes to this view because He believes time is too short. Paul’s comment that virgins in vs26-28 shouldn’t marry is reflective of this. Thus, his comments represent an ‘interim ethic’ because of ‘the current crisis’ that is not necessarily reflective of more general morality.
- The SDARM claim that ‘heathen men would certainly become involved with other women after putting away their Christian wives’ is not borne out. There were cases of heathen men in ancient Roman who retained Jewish-God-fearing or Christian wives – Emperor Constantine’s own mother being a notable example. Moreover, because of polytheistic nature of Greco-Roman religion, the fact that one’s spouse believed in another god, such as the Jewish God, would not in itself be special cause for alarm or divorce under Roman law.
- There are crucial ‘ifs’ in vs 12 and 13. It is only ‘if’ a Christian has a disbelieving spouse and ‘if’ that heathen wife is willing to live with him or her that the unbelieving spouse should not be divorced. However, ‘if’ the unbelieving spouse leaves, then vs 15 says the Christian is ‘not bound’ to his or her spouse.
- The passage is only concerned about whether divorce is permitted in the case of a disbelieving spouse. As the SDARM right say, it says nothing about adultery. Thus, one cannot presume that Paul was trying to teach that divorce and remarriage was not permitted in the case of adultery, which was so obvious to the point of not mentioning it, to both Jewish and Gentile audiences. At most, all Paul is saying is that being separate religions is not necessarily sufficient grounds to divorce one’s spouse, at least where the unbelieving spouse seeks no divorce.
- The SDARM view suggests the possibility of polygamy. If a disbelieving spouse does obtain a divorce and then remarries, what is the legal status of the first believing wife if she is not permitted to remarry? How could the first believing wife be expected to reconcile with her husband under vs39? If such a reconciliation did occur, what would happen to the second wife? It is for this sort of bizarre possibility that the Law in Deut 22:3 prohibits reconciliation with an ex-wife. Thus, Paul is clearly saying ‘if’ an unbelieving spouse stays, then divorce on religious grounds should not occur; however, ‘if’ they leave, and divorce occurs, then the marriage is at a total end with no possibility for reconciliation.