I’m a student of the early church. Many people who study the early church take a very strong stand against divorce, even saying that all remarried people are living in adultery.
I don’t take that stand because such an attitude is sinful, wicked, and pharisaical.
I understand wrestling with such a doctrine, but those who stick to it are hard-hearted and separated from the Spirit of God, who is strongly opposed to such an attitude. May God grant them to repent of their bondage to intellectualism and carnality and become open to the love of God that is shed abroad in the hearts of those who follow Christ and are not Pharisees.
Here’s my argument that the early churches did not have such an attitude, and that those who interpret their writings that way are mistaken …
Why the Early Church Did Not Teach That All Remarriage Was Adultery
We believe that life begins at the new birth. Everything else before that dies, including remarriages.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s clear that the early churches agreed with this. Tertullian (c. A.D. 200), even as a Montanist (see side note) stated:
To one who, before believing, had been loosed from a wife, she will not be counted a second wife who, subsequent to believing, is the first. For it is from believing that our life itself dates its origin.
I don’t know how Tertullian could be more clear. To me, the early church advocates to whom I’ve talked are hypocrites, with evil and dishonest hearts choosing to hold to a doctrine that they know the early Christians do not support.
We don’t allow divorce and remarriage after believing with one exception …
We don’t consider a marriage a marriage until the church has given an amen to it. Thus, if a person arrives married to an unbeliever, and then after a time the unbeliever departs because he or she can’t bear the reality of Christ in his or her spouse, then we consider that person never to have been married. (From 1 Cor. 7, of course.)
There’s an interesting set of verses in 1 Cor. 7.
In verse 8, Paul gives instruction to the unmarried and widows. In verse 10, he gives instruction to the married. Then, in verse 12, he gives instruction to the rest.
Who is left after the unmarried, widows, and married?
We believe that the rest are those who have unbelieving spouses, whose marriages have not yet been given the amen from the church.
That seems clear enough from the verse itself. He gives instruction to those with unbelieving spouses that they should live with their spouse if the spouse is willing. If not, then the believer is not under bondage.
Seems clear enough to me, and that’s the position Rose Creek Village holds and that we feel God has blessed.