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Adventist Views on Divorce and Remarriage

Adventist view Divorce and Remarriage

Marriage is an institution that was established by God. It started right from the garden of Eden. In marriage the couple pledge their love, loyalty, and devotion to each other as long as they are both alive.

Ephesians 5:28, 29 says ‘Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church. The marriage covenant is built upon love as seen in the text above.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church have studied the topic of marriage and the issues of divorce and remarriage through various committees, commissions, and councils. the views of the church is sorely from the Bible.

What is God’s plan for marriage?

God Himself performed the first marriage on the sixth day of creation when He brought together Adam and Eve as husband and wife (Gen 2:18-25). In declaring their marital union God said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Christ endorsed the original concept of marriage (Matt 19:3-6). Thus marriage was blessed by God as the closest human relationship.

The Sacred Agreement of Marriage

Mark 10:2-9 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female. ‘ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. ‘ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate“. Marriage is a life-long commitment of both partners to each other Paul indicates that the commitment which Christ has for the church is a model of the relationship between husband and wife (Eph 5:31, 32). God intended this relationship to be as permanent as Christ’s relationship with the church.

Paul recognized the husband-wife relationship as the primary relationship in the family (Eph 5:22-33). Marriage takes precedence over all other human relationships, even those between the spouses and their parents (Gen 2:24). No other human relationship should interfere in an inappropriate way with the marriage relationship.

Should Adventists Marry an Unbeliever?

Spiritual compatibility is vital if marriage is to be fully in harmony with God’s plan. Amos 3:3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?; 2 Cor 6:14) Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?. God desires that, through their union, husband and wife experience His love, exalt His name, and witness to His power. Throughout Scripture, marriage is used as a figure of the relationship between God and His people (Isa 54:5-7; Hos 2:19, 20; Eph 5:25-28; Rev 21:2).

Marriage as Partnership

Adventists believe husband and wife bear equal responsibility for the success of the marriage (Gen 1:26-28). While their responsibilities may differ, neither is more important than the other and neither is to dominate the other. Their relationship is one of mutuality and companionship (Gen 2:18). As husband and wife mutually submit to one another (Eph 5:21), they seek to encourage and build each other up in love (1 Thess 5:11).

Adventist Views Regarding Divorce and Remarriage

The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s treatment of divorce and remarriage must be divinely guided. In addition to directives and specific examples, the Bible provides broad principles that enable the Church to be faithful to the divine intent and gracious in caring for its members who experience divorce.

Divorce is contrary to God’s original purpose in creating marriage (Matt 19:3-8; Mark 10:2-9), but the Bible is not silent about it. Because divorce occurred as part of the fallen human experience, biblical legislation was given to limit the damage it caused (Deut 24:1-4).

The Bible consistently seeks to elevate marriage and to discourage divorce by describing the joys of married love and faithfulness (Prov 5:18-20; Song of Sol 2:16; 4:9-5:1), by referring to the marriage-like relationship of God with His people (Isa 54:5; Jer 3:1), by focusing on the possibilities of forgiveness and marital renewal (Jer 3:1; Hos 3:1-3; 11:8, 9), and by indicating God’s hatred of divorce and the misery it causes (Mal 2:15, 16; Hos 2; 3). Jesus restored the creation view of marriage as a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman (Matt 19:4-6; Mark 10:6-9). Much biblical instruction affirms marriage and seeks to correct problems which tend to weaken or destroy the marriage covenant (Eph 5:21-33; Heb 13:4; 1 Peter 3:7).

The covenant of marriage rests on principles of love, loyalty, exclusiveness, trust, and support upheld by both partners in obedience to God (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:6; 1 Corinthians 13; Eph 5:21-29; 1 Thess 4:1-7). When these principles are violated, the essence of the marriage covenant is endangered. Scripture acknowledges that tragic circumstances can destroy the marriage covenant.

Reasons That Can Lead to Divorce

  1. Sexual immorality
  2. Death
  3. Unbelieving partner no longer willing to be married

Jesus taught that the marriage covenant may be irreparably broken through sexual immorality (Matt 5:32; 19:9), which includes a range of improper sexual behaviors. Paul indicated that death brings the marriage covenant to an end (Rom 7:2, 3), as does desertion by an unbelieving partner no longer willing to be married (1 Cor 7:15). The above do not exhaust the destructive factors that may lead to brokenness and divorce.

Violence in Marriage

God’s Word condemns violence in personal relationships (Gen 6:11, 13; Ps 11:5; Isa 58:4, 5; Rom 13:10; Gal 5:19-21). It is the spirit of Christ to love and accept, to seek to affirm and build others up, rather than to abuse or demean them (Rom 12:10; 14:19; Eph 4:26; 5:28, 29; Col 3:8-14; 1 Thess 5:11). There is no room among Christ’s followers for tyrannical control and the abuse of power or authority (Matt 20:25-28; Eph 6:4). Violence in the setting of marriage and family is especially abhorrent, destroying the marriage covenant (Mal 2:14-16).

Church Effort

When a couple’s marriage is in danger of breaking down, every effort should be made by the partners and those in the church or family who minister to them to bring about their reconciliation in harmony with divine principles for restoring wounded relationships (Hos 3:1-3; 1 Cor 7:10, 11; 13:4-7; Gal 6:1).

For the brokenness of divorce, divine grace is the only remedy. When marriage fails, despite efforts toward reconciliation, former partners should be encouraged to examine their experience and to embrace the mercy and compassion of God. God is willing to comfort those who have been wounded. God also accepts the repentance of individuals who commit the most destructive sins, even those that carry with them irremediable consequences (2 Samuel 11, 12; Ps 34:18; 86:5; Joel 2:12, 13; John 8:2-11; 1 John 1:9).

Church members are called to forgive and accept those who have failed as God has forgiven them (Isa 54:5-8; Matt 6:14, 15; Eph 4:32). The Bible urges patience, compassion, and forgiveness in the Christian care of those who have erred (Matt 18:10-20; Gal 6:1, 2).
Implicit in God’s forgiving grace and healing is the possibility of a new beginning (Ps 34:22; Jer 3:22; 31:17; Mark 5:1-20; John 8:11; 2 Cor 5:17; 1 John 1:9; see also 2SM 339, 340).

Marriage is an important part of the social fabric of the community of believers and involves responsibilities of the couple to the church and of the church to the couple. In their marriage, the couple bears witness to their Adventist faith and accepts the moral authority of the church (1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4). The church, as the body of Christ in which His Spirit dwells, is called upon to affirm, bless, nurture, preserve, and uphold marriage.

The church has the responsibility to provide guidance and the authority to apply the principles of God’s Word in difficult and complex cases of divorce and remarriage (Matt 16:19; 18:18; John 20:22, 23; 1 Cor 5:3-5; 6:1-6). Further, through the exercise of redemptive discipline and pastoral care and nurture, the church has the obligation to help erring members return to discipleship (Matt 18:15-20; Gal 6:1; Heb 12:7-12).

Role of the Church in Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage

Because marriage is part of the fabric of the community of believers, the Seventh-day Adventist Church upholds, affirms, and supports this primary human relationship. It recognizes the challenges that characterize marriage in our age and is committed to biblical principles in its ministry to families. The local church is primarily responsible for administering the policies and standards of the Seventh-day Adventist Church with reference to marriage, divorce and remarriage.

Encouraging Marital Reconciliation

The church encourages individuals in marital crisis to resolve differences and build healthy marriages. It provides appropriate spiritual nurture and support. When violence and abuse are involved, special care is taken to protect the vulnerable, stop the abuse, and hold the abuser accountable for the abuse. In some cases of abuse and violence, reconciliation may not be possible.

Ministering After Marital Breakdown

Despite their own efforts and the pro-active ministry of the Church, some couples fail to sustain their marital relationship. Such breakdown calls for God’s grace to be demonstrated by the church. It fosters a healing ministry which provides divorce recovery for adults and children, referrals for abusers and for victims of abuse and violence, and assistance with everyday needs.

Ministering to Remarried Couples

The church provides specialized premarital guidance for individuals considering remarriage. It also offers marriage enrichment experiences adapted to the unique issues confronting remarried couples and parent education designed for families with children joined together through remarriage.

Maintaining Church Integrity and Discipline

In carrying out its responsibility to reflect to the world the justice and grace of God, the church cares for the well-being of its members and thereby protects its reputation. The behavior of each member affects the entire community. Likewise, the demeanor of the church affects each member. As a worshiping and witnessing body, the church has a responsibility to teach and apply the principles of the Word of God. Thus, it builds up and supports; it comforts, teaches, and corrects. With respect to the individual, the church understands the ultimate purpose of discipline to be the restoration of the person to faithful discipleship and fellowship within the church. Discipline is also an opportunity for the church to reaffirm and demonstrate its commitment to biblical standards.

When Divorce Occurs. In order to protect its members when divorce occurs, the church guards the reputation and privacy of the spouses and all those impacted directly by the divorce. It reaches out to those going through the divorce process, encouraging them to remain within the fellowship of the community of faith. The church also makes the security and welfare of children a priority. It encourages the parents to put their children’s needs above their own interests and desires. It holds parents accountable for their responsibilities to their children, including financial obligations.

Divorced individuals are encouraged to take sufficient time, usually a period of years, to address the reasons for the failure of their marriage, to accept responsibility for their part in the breakdown of the marriage, to work through the process of healing and forgiveness, and to experience a sense of closure. In order to protect the community of faith when divorce occurs, the church endeavors to minimize divisive and disruptive behavior often associated with divorce.

In the interest of pastoral care, the church may decide that those in divorce recovery will not function in leadership roles. If, in the judgment of the church, individuals demonstrate no repentance, make little or no effort to support their families, bring the church into disrepute, or otherwise refuse to accept the above guidelines, the congregation may regretfully discipline them. Such discipline may include a period of removal from church office, censure, or disfellowshipping.

Considerations Regarding Remarriage.

Before individuals become involved in another serious relationship, they should be encouraged to complete the above recovery process. If remarriage is contemplated, the local church offers counsel. It supports their decision when it is in harmony with biblical principles. Those whose remarriage is out of harmony with biblical principles are subject to church discipline.

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