Just As I Am…
Married, Divorced AND Remarried
By: Wayne Dunaway & Richard O’Connor
This Church is dedicated to helping those who have been married, divorced and remarried to come to Jesus for salvation as well as encouraging those who have already come to Jesus and are already saved. Some of you have suffered enough guilt, rejection and/or suspicion because your marriage did not work out and you have started over. It is time for healing. It is time to focus on God’s grace, mercy and peace. It is time to “rejoice in the Lord and again I say rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). You may not be able to regain some of the things you have lost, but you can rejoice “in the Lord”- always. If you are “in Christ,” all of your sins are forgiven and this includes marital mistakes or sins against marriage in the past. It is now time to move on and we are here to help you do just that. We should all learn from the past, but never live in the past. As Christians, we have a new heart for a new start. There is a new birth for those on earth and if you have not experienced it, you can (John 3:3-5). This is true no matter your current marital state. You can reach out to Jesus and be saved in spite of the fact that you may be in a second or subsequent marriage.
If you have been divorced and remarried, we encourage you to come to this Church. Divorce is sometimes an option and, sadly, in some cases it is the only option. For someone to teach that we can divorce our faithful mates for just any and every cause is sinful. But on the other hand, for someone else to teach that one must remain in an abusive marriage filled with domestic violence, or remain in a marriage that causes one to be unfaithful to Jesus, or else that person must remain single for the rest of their lives is, in our judgment, both cruel and heartless. Furthermore, breaking up established families is not in God’s plan or purpose and is not practiced by this Church or any Church faithful to what God has taught us. Please rest assured that God is not responsible for the false ideas and apparent unmerciful attitudes displayed by some preachers and others in some Churches.
Just so you know, our view is based on what the Bible clearly teaches concerning those who have divorced and remarried and have come to Jesus for salvation. There were quite obviously numerous MDR couples in the Corinthian Church as well as those who had committed numerous other sins according to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. Surely there were many who had divorced and remarried before they heard the gospel of Christ. Did they sin in doing so? We are sure that some did and some had simply made bad marital choices and some were, no doubt, sinned against. What course of action does God require in those cases? We are not left to wonder. God answered that question in the very next chapter of First Corinthians. In doing so, three times he said to “remain in the calling/state” that they were in when they were converted. Read it for yourself: “But as God has distributed to each one, as the Lord has called each one, so let him walk. And so I ordain in all the churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17).
“Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called” (1 Corinthians 7:20).
“Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called” (1 Corinthians 7:24).
Three times Paul said to “remain in the calling” they were in when they became Christians. This was the rule “in all the churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17) But does it include marriage relationships? The answer to this question is also found in this very context. Read it for yourself:
“Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be loosed. Are you loosed from a wife? Do not seek a wife” (1 Corinthians 7:27).
In addressing those “bound to a wife” the inspired apostle plainly said, “Do not seek to be loosed.” That is, do not seek a divorce. Why would he say that? It was because that was the “calling” or “state” that they were in when they became Christians. Married couples are told to stay married. He did not say, “Are you bound to your first wife?” He said, “Are you bound to a wife?”
There are already enough divorces in America without us demanding more. Breaking up established marriages, leaving children in a single parent home, refusing to baptize and fellowship the divorced and remarried or demanding that they “divorce” again may be the teaching and practice of some Churches, but not this one. It is not the practice of this Church or our leaders to refuse to baptize those who have been divorced and remarried and we do not limit fellowship based on the fact that one is divorced and remarried. “Just as I am” applies to the divorced and remarried just as it does to any other sins of one’s past.
We do admire and respect you for coming to Jesus for forgiveness and strength. Even though some of you knew the negative atmosphere that you would be in if you went to some Churches, you came anyway. Many of you were unjustly put away by a mate who simply wanted someone else. Some of you were abused either physically or emotionally or both. Some of you were deserted. Some of you were put away because of your own unfaithfulness to a marriage partner. Some of you were guilty of abusing a faithful partner. Some of you were divorced for other reasons. Some of you were in marriages that did not work out for whatever reason. But now you have remarried and started over and most importantly turned to Jesus and the Church for help and healing. We are sorry to say that in most cases, most divorced and remarried people do not turn to Jesus, but you did. We are proud of you for making that decision. We encourage you to rest your hope completely on the grace and mercy of Jesus and go on from where you are now (Phil. 3:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:13).
Faithful families are too important to our society to allow them to be destroyed because of the unfounded opinions of some who demand that divorced and remarried people divorce their present faithful partners in order to be faithful to Jesus. Furthermore, your souls are too valuable and your children are too precious for us to be intimidated or influenced by the opinion of others on this important matter.
The Pharisees were the ones who would “bind heavy burdens, hard to bear” on others but would not admit their own hypocrisy, self-righteousness or sinfulness (See Matthew 23:4). We want no part of their teaching or their attitude. This Church believes in grace and forgiveness for all sins and mistakes of the past including those involving divorce and remarriage.
Finally, those in this Church who have never been involved in divorce cannot relate to those who have been involved in divorce like you can. We encourage you to use what you have learned to help others. If we read Psalm 51, which records David’s prayer for forgiveness, adultery and murder, one of the things that you will learn is that when forgiven, he intended to “teach transgressors Your ways and sinners shall be converted to You” (Ps. 51:12-13).
We encourage you to use what has happened in your own lives to help others recover and discover the salvation and strength that Jesus gives us all. Let others know that the gospel is good news for all including those whose previous marriages did not work out.
Just as I am,
Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!
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