Churches Of Christ/Divorce and the churches of Christ
I appreciate very much your stance on marriage and divorce. You have written about this so well and with such clarity. I am totally in agreement with you after having read the work of David Instone-Brewer.
However, I have a problem and a question, as follows. I was baptized into a church of Christ in March of 2011, but was allowed to do so only after agreeing to separate from my second husband. Parting from this husband after 30 years of marriage was a heart-wrenching decision, but I was determined to do right by God according to the elders' understanding of the Bible. Their understanding was that literal adultery was the ONLY permissible grounds for divorce and remarriage, and that my situation did not meet their criterium.
Although everything within me cried out that I had sound reasons for divorcing my first husband, I stifled my feelings as best I could and went along with the church elders because I really wanted to be baptized into this congregation. Deep down, I believed I had true grounds for divorcing my first husband based on all the words of Jesus and on Deuteronomy 24, but these were not acceptable to these elders.
A few months later, I discovered the in-depth work of David-Instone Brewer, which clearly showed that there are other justifiable grounds for divorce and remarriage other than literal adultery. I realized that the church of Christ elders were wrong, so I broke off with them. My depression lifted and I returned to my second husband with peace in my soul.
NOW, HERE IS MY QUESTION:
Are there any churches of Christ that you know of where the elders hold to a more complete understanding of marriage and divorce, similar to yours? And how might I find such a church without a lot of time-consuming trial and error?
In 2003, I came out of the Catholic system and have been seeking a Bible-based church ever since. Of the many I have visited, the church mentioned above came closest to what I've been looking for. I live in Alabama, but am willing to commute and even relocate to attend the right church. I long for spiritual companions.
Thank you for taking time to answer my question. Bless you for providing a real service on the internet.
I have read some of David-Instone Brewer and the little I read I agreed with but haven't read everything on MDR from that in-depth study. I was sad to hear your story but happy you returned to your second husband with peace in your soul. You ask a difficult question. You see, it is not easy to locate a church of Christ which has ministers and Elders and Deacons who all have what I would consider a biblically accurate understanding of Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage...even one similar to my understanding. I also am not familiar with every church of Christ congregation and what their overall teaching is on this topic. There are congregations who may overall have a similar understanding on it to mine and I believe more and more individuals as well as preachers and church leaders are starting to understand marriage, divorce, and remarriage more accurately. But one problem I have seen is that many congregations which might hold a similar understanding on it to me are typically in great error in many other areas of Christianity - some will see no problem using musical instruments in worship for instance. Some might even hold to the Baptist false teaching that you are not saved at the point you are water baptized but when you say "the sinner's prayer".
But there are some biblically sound congregations who overall do have a similar understanding of this topic to me. The only one I can point you to right now is in Lubbock Texas. My brother in law is the preacher there and my second oldest brother is an Elder there too - it's the Park Ave church of Christ in Lubbock Texas.
The congregation where I am a member here in north Dallas does not believe and teach this topic anywhere near like what I believe is the correct biblical teaching. They hold to what has been most widely taught and accepted for over 100 years within the churches of Christ. That is the view the elders of the church who told you to leave your second husband hold to as well. I do not openly profess my understanding of MDR in my congregation but when in one on one with a member if asked my understanding of it I will share it - but I know many would automatically reject my understanding without really studying with me and even considering the possibility they might be wrong. I have to pick my battles carefully.
So here is my advice. I recommend that you two find a good congregation that you find to be very Biblically sound in all other areas or most other areas but be sure you feel accepted and comfortable with them. It would be good also if you are pretty sure no one there knows you or your husband. Then if the elders or anyone asks you about your marriage you don't really have to tell them anything but if you wish this is what I would tell anyone who asked me. I would admit this was my second husband and simply say that you had scriptural authority to divorce the first husband and according to God's Word you were free to marry your second husband without sin. That is all they need to know and it is not a lie either.
No one should have a desire to even question you further. Then you and your husband should be embraced with open arms to work side by side with your fellow Christians. There is no one congregation that is perfect just as there is not one person who is perfect. Just find a local church that you feel is truly solid overall and that you feel comfortable with and try not to focus on the small flaws every local church will have and enjoy being part of the body of fellow Christians. I hope my advice is helpful to you.
God bless you both.
In Christian Love, Joe Norman