By Gordon Anderson

MEMORY VERSE: “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Galatians 5:14.

STUDY HELP: Thoughts for the Mount of Blessing, 134–137.

INTRODUCTION: “Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be a social being. Without companionship, the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of the same nature to love and to be loved.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 46.


  1. As Adam was giving names to the different animals and birds, what lack in his own life did he become aware of? Genesis 2:20.

NOTE: “After the creation of Adam every living creature was brought before him to receive its name; he saw that to each had been given a companion, but among them ‘there was not found an help meet for him.’ Among all the creatures that God had made on the earth, there was not one equal to man. And God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.’ ” Patriarchs and Prophets, 46.

  1. How did God supply Adam’s need? Genesis 2:21–22.

NOTE: “Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self, showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 46.

  1. What counsel are we given that would help us to avoid some of the problems that arise in marriage? 2 Corinthians 6:14–15.

NOTE: “No one who fears God can without danger connect himself with one who fears Him not. ‘Can two walk together, except they be agreed?’ Amos 3:3. The happiness and prosperity of the marriage relation depends upon the unity of the parties; but between the believer and the unbeliever there is a radical difference of tastes, inclinations, and purposes. They are serving two masters, between whom there can be no concord. However pure and correct one’s principles may be, the influence of an unbelieving companion will have a tendency to lead away from God… The marriage of Christians with the ungodly is forbidden in the Bible. The Lord’s direction is, ‘Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.’ 2 Corinthians 6:14, 17, 18.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 174, 175.

  1. What counsel is given to husbands and wives? Ephesians 5:22–25, 28, 33.

NOTE: “Marriage, a union for life, is a symbol of the union between Christ and His church. The spirit that Christ manifests toward the church is the spirit that husband and wife are to manifest toward each other. Neither husband nor wife is to make a plea for rulership. The Lord has laid down the principle that is to guide in this matter. The husband is to cherish his wife as Christ cherishes the church. And the wife is to respect and love her husband. Both are to cultivate the spirit of kindness, being determined never to grieve or injure the other.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 46–47.


  1. How did Christ express the permanence which marriage should have? Matthew 19:4–6.

NOTE: “Examine carefully to see if your married life would be happy, or inharmonious and wretched. Let the questions be raised, Will this union help me heavenward? Will it increase my love for God? And will it enlarge my sphere of usefulness in this life? If these reflections present no drawback, then in the fear of God move forward. But even if an engagement has been entered into without a full understanding of the character of the one with whom you intend to unite, do not think that the engagement makes it a positive necessity for you to take upon yourself the marriage vow, and link yourself for life to one whom you cannot love and respect. Be very careful how you enter into conditional engagements; but better, far better, break the engagement before marriage than separate afterward, as many do.” Review and Herald, January 26, 1886.

  1. Why, according to the Lord, was divorce permitted? Matthew 19:8.

NOTE: “He referred them to the blessed days of Eden, when God pronounced all things ‘very good.’ Then marriage and the Sabbath had their origin, twin institutions for the glory of God in the benefit of humanity. Then, as the Creator joined the hands of the holy pair in wedlock, saying, A man shall ‘leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one’ (Genesis 2:24), He enunciated the law of marriage for all the children of Adam to the close of time. That which the Eternal Father Himself had pronounced good was the law of highest blessing and development for man. Like every other one of God’s good gifts entrusted to the keeping of humanity, marriage has been perverted by sin; but it is the purpose of the gospel to restore its purity and beauty. In both the Old and the New Testament the marriage relation is employed to represent the tender and sacred union that exists between Christ and His people, the redeemed ones whom He has purchased at the cost of Calvary.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 63–64.

  1. How did Jesus express the condemnation of heaven for many divorces? Matthew 19:9.

NOTE: “Among the Jews, a man was permitted to put away his wife for the most trivial offences, and the woman was then at liberty to marry again. This practice led to great wretchedness and sin. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared plainly that there could be no dissolution of the marriage tie, except for unfaithfulness to the marriage vow.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 63. “In cases of the violation of the seventh commandment, where the guilty party does not manifest true repentance, if the injured party can obtain a divorce without making their own cases and that of their children, if they have them, worse by so doing, they should be free. If they would be liable to place themselves and their children in worse condition by a divorce, we know of no scripture that would make the innocent party guilty by remaining. Time, and labor, and prayer, and patience, and faith, and a godly life, might work a reform. To live with one who has broken the marriage vows, and, covered all over with the disgrace and shame of guilty love, and realizes it not, is an eating canker to the soul; and yet, a divorce is a life-long, heart-felt sore. God pity the innocent party. Marriage should be considered well before contracted. Why! oh, why! will men and women who might be respectable, and good, and reach Heaven at last, sell themselves to the Devil so cheap, wound their bosom friends, disgrace their families, bring a reproach upon the cause, and go to hell at last? God have mercy. Why will not those who are overtaken in crime manifest repentance proportionate to the enormity of their crime, and fly to Christ for mercy, and heal, as far as possible, the wounds they have made? But, if they will not do as they should, and if the innocent have forfeited the legal right to a divorce, by living with the guilty after his guilt is known, we do not see that sin rests upon the innocent in remaining, and her moral right in departing seems questionable, if her health and life be not greatly endangered in so remaining.” Review and Herald, March 24,1868.

  1. What counsel did Paul give to those who are married to unbelieving partners? 1 Corinthians 7:12–16.

NOTE: “He who has entered the marriage relation while unconverted, is by his conversion placed under stronger obligation to be faithful to his companion, however widely they may differ in regard to religious faith; yet the claims of God should be placed above every earthly relationship, even though trials and persecution may be the result. With the spirit of love and meekness, this fidelity may have an influence to win the unbelieving one.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 175.


  1. What counsel did Paul give to Christians who are aware of the nearness of Christ’s Second Coming? Hebrews 10:25.

NOTE: “The Israelites needed the benefits of assembling for worship and entering into covenant together to serve the Lord. In separating themselves from the place of worship divinely appointed, they lost much. God had servants whose lips he unsealed to speak words of warning, encouragement, and reproof, so that the light received from Heaven by one shone not for himself alone, but to lighten the path of others. God knows best what His people need. His words come down to us, in warning and instruction, ‘Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.’ At the present day, as in ancient times, the people of God plead their own ease or convenience as an excuse for neglecting divine service. They will devise means to preserve the Christian name without making any sacrifice of time or means. God requires His people to maintain His worship. And those who are burdened with care and responsibility, should be the last to excuse themselves from religious privileges. They need wisdom from above. They need to be constantly reaching upward to lay hold on the divine arm, lest they stumble and fall.” Signs of the Times, July 28,1881.

  1. What testimony is given of the practice of the early Christian believers? Acts 2:42.

NOTE: “Everyone should feel that he has a part to act in making the Sabbath meetings interesting. You are not to come together simply as a matter of form, but for the interchange of thought, for the relation of your daily experiences, for the expression of thanksgiving, for the utterance of your sincere desire for divine enlightenment, that you may know God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. Communing together in regard to Christ will strengthen the soul for life’s trials and conflicts. Never think that you can be Christians and yet withdraw yourselves within yourselves. Each one is a part of the great web of humanity, and the experience of each will be largely determined by the experience of his associates. We do not obtain a hundredth part of the blessing we should obtain from assembling together to worship God. Our perceptive faculties need sharpening. Fellowship with one another should make us glad. With such a hope as we have, why are not our hearts all aglow with the love of God? We must carry to every religious gathering a quickened spiritual consciousness that God and His angels are there, co-operating with all true worshipers. As you enter the place of worship, ask the Lord to remove all evil from your heart. Bring to His house only that which He can bless. Kneel before God in His temple, and consecrate to Him His own, which He has purchased with the blood of Christ. Pray for the speaker or the leader of the meeting. Pray that great blessing may come through the one who is to hold forth the word of life. Strive earnestly to lay hold of a blessing for yourself. God will bless all who thus prepare themselves for His service. They will understand what it means to have the assurance of the Spirit because they have received Christ by faith.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 362–363.


  1. What duty is an essential part of the Christian’s life? Galatians 5:14.

NOTE: “The World’s Redeemer clearly defines what our duty is. To the lawyer who asked Him how he should obtain eternal life, He said: ‘What is written in the law? How readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. And He said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?’ Then Jesus related the parable of the good Samaritan, and clearly showed that he is our neighbor who most needs our charity and help. We are to practice the commandments of God, and stand true to the relation which God has designed shall exist between man and his fellow man. It was never God’s purpose that society should be separated into classes, that there should be an alienation between the rich and the poor, the high and the low, the learned and the unlearned. But the practice of separating society into distinct circles is becoming more and more decided. God designed that those to whom He entrusted talents of means, ability, and gifts of grace, should be good stewards of His beneficence, and not seek to reap all the advantages for themselves. God does not estimate man by the amount of wealth, talent, or education that he may have. He values man in proportion as he becomes a good steward of His mercy and love.” The Southern Work, 37.

  1. In what way did Jesus show that this duty to our neighbor extends to little things as well as great deeds? Matthew 10:42.

NOTE: “Do not shut yourselves up to yourselves, satisfied to pour out all your affection upon each other. Seize every opportunity to contribute to the happiness of those around you, sharing with them your affection. Words of kindness, looks of sympathy, expressions of appreciation, would to many a struggling, lonely one be as a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul. A word of cheer, an act of kindness, would go far to lighten the burdens that are resting heavily upon weary shoulders. It is in unselfish ministry that true happiness is found. And every word and deed of such service is recorded in the books of heaven as done for Christ. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren,’ He declares, ‘ye have done it unto Me.’ Matthew 25:40.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 50.

Editorial – The Church that Appears to Fall, Part I

“My mind is deeply exercised in regard to our condition as a people. We ought to be far in advance of any other people on the earth because we have greater light and greater knowledge of the truth, which lays us under increased accountability to advance that light and not only profess to believe the truth but to practice it. When we do practice the truth we are then following Jesus, who is the Light of the world; and if we as a people are not constantly elevating, becoming more and more spiritually minded, we are becoming like the Pharisees—self-righteous—while we do not the will of God.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 12, 318. [Emphasis added.]

Ellen White is talking about all who profess the Adventist faith, but she is concerned that we not only “profess to believe the truth” but “practice it.”

“When Jerusalem was divorced from God it was because of her sins.…The depth of our ruin is measured by the exalted light to which God has raised us in His great goodness and unspeakable mercy. Oh, what privileges are granted to us as a people! And if God spared not His people that He loved, because they refused to walk in the light, how can He spare the people whom He has blessed with the light of heaven in having opened to them the most exalted truth ever entrusted to mortal man to give to the world?” Ibid., 319.

When and how was Jerusalem divorced from God? Because of her sins. What sins? “By shedding Jesus’ blood the Jewish people were about to divorce themselves from heaven. Christ knew that some of those now apparently so sympathetic would soon close against themselves the door of hope and the gates of the city of God. A scene was about to take place, in His humiliation and crucifixion, that would result in the destruction of Jerusalem.” Youth’s Instructor, April 27, 1899.

“In the Jewish nation we behold a chosen nation divorced from God because of unbelief. Jesus, the lover of humanity, was called upon to pronounce sentence against the people for whom He had lived and labored, but from whom He had borne insult, mockery, and rejection.…The salvation of the Jews would have been the joy of Christ, the rejoicing of the angels, but they would not. No man will be saved against his will.” Review and Herald, April 18, 1893. [Emphasis added.]

“When the Saviour saw, in the Jewish people, a nation divorced from God, He saw also a professed Christian Church united to the world and the papacy. As He stood upon Olivet, weeping over Jerusalem till the sun sank behind the western hills, so He is weeping over and pleading with sinners in these last moments of time. Soon He will say to the angels who are holding the four winds, “‘Let the plagues loose; let darkness, destruction, and death come upon the transgressors of My law.’” Will He be obliged to say to those who have had great light and knowledge, as He said to the Jews, ‘If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes’?” Ibid., October 8, 1901.

The above quotations show clearly that the Jews divorced themselves from God by their unbelief, and the final development in this divorce was the crucifixion of Christ, which made the destruction of the unbelieving in Jerusalem inevitable.

But these quotations also show that the same end result that came to the Jews, by crucifying Christ, will happen to a professed Christian church at the end of time, and the divorce will be the result of being

  1. united to the world and
  2. being united to the papacy.

Editorial – Divorce, Part I

Divorce is generally the end of a relationship that was originally intended to continue. Although Lucifer could have chosen to remain as a covering cherub, the highest of all the angelic host, he left his position. Eventually, “He who was once the covering cherub, whose work it was to hide from the heavenly intelligences the glory of God, perverted his intellect, and divorced himself from God. If a being so exalted could fall so low as to become the author of sin, let not man boast, but learn to wear gracefully the yoke of Christ, revealing His meekness and lowliness, believing on Him, cooperating with Him.” The Upward Look, 286.

Concerning this divorce there was no hope of a reinstatement: “Understanding the character of God, knowing His goodness, Satan chose to follow his own selfish, independent will. This choice was final. There was no more that God could do to save him.” The Desire of Ages, 762.

However not all divorces are final. “It is a wonderful thing that after man had violated the law of God and separated himself from God, was divorced, as it were, from God—that after all this there was a plan made whereby man should not perish, but that he should have everlasting life. . . .” In Heavenly Places, 11.

“The world, divorced from God by sin, has been restored to favor by the sacrifice of his Son. With his own body the Saviour has bridged the gulf that sin has made.” The General Conference Bulletin, April 8, 1901.

“Christ took upon him the nature of man, that he might carry man with him, and place him in the domains of mercy, in the arms of the infinite God. Through disobedience, man had divorced himself from God, and had become an apostate against his government. But it was God’s design that man should be restored, and again have access to the tree of life.” Review and Herald, May 30, 1899.

Following a divorce, the relationship cannot be developed again without a price being paid. In the case of Adam’s sin, the price involved all heaven in sacrifice. For the human being, who wants again to have the benefits of this atonement, a price must be paid—this price is not in terms of money or merit developed from human works. It is repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as both savior and Lord. (See Acts 2:36; Acts 20:21.) This price includes everything, every asset that a man has. (See Luke 14:33.)

The development of a relationship with God again, after a divorce has occurred, has happened many times in human history. For example, Isaiah writes, “Thus says the Lord, where is the certificate of divorce by which I sent your mother away? . . . Behold you were sold for your iniquities and for your transgressions your mother was sent away. . . . Is my hand so short that it cannot ransom or have I no power to deliver?” Isaiah 50:1, 2. (See also Jeremiah 3:1–20.)

The forbearance of God, in allowing rebels or offenders against His law and government to return and repent, is beyond our comprehension. It happens over and over again, often for a period of many years. However, the forbearance of God does have limits, and there comes a time, just as in the case of Lucifer, when the choice becomes final, and an irrevocable or final divorce is enacted. We want to understand this, because during the closing period of the age of grace, Bible prophecy predicts a final divorce occurring again.

To be continued . . .

As We Near the End of Time, Part II

I need to share with you about something which I do not want to address, but which I must address. It concerns something that snared the children of Israel just before they entered the Promised Land. The Bible says, “And these happened to them for examples, and it is written for our warnings, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11. These things happened to them as types of things that would happen again at the end of the world.

One of the things that brought them to the position of committing fornication with the daughters of Moab was that they were “allured by the beauty of heathen vestals.” Their consciences were defiled by lewdness. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 454.)

Defiled by Lewdness

I am going to go directly, very pointedly, to the subject at hand. The consciences of the children of Israel were defiled by lewdness—they were allured by the beauty of these heathen vessels. What was going on? After Adam and Eve had sinned, the Bible says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:7. The Hebrew word used in this text for coverings, kahgoroth, means a loin covering. Loin coverings are still being made, and people are still wearing them. Just go anyplace where people are sunbathing or swimming and you will see men and women clothed in the loin covering.

When God came to the Garden, did Adam tell God that he was clothed, or did he tell God that he was naked? He was wearing the fig leaves, but what did he tell God? He said he was naked. Even he knew it. We live in the blindest generation. Let me put it very, very simply. People think when the Bible uses the word naked it means someone is not wearing any clothes. It does not mean that at all. In the Bible, a person was called naked if they did not have on sufficient clothing. Adam had the fig leaves on, but he knew that he was naked. God also knew he was naked. The Bible says that God clothed them. If God clothed them, it means they were naked before that.

Another literal definition of the Hebrew word kahgoroth is a belt. That is what Adam and Eve made, they made little belts. Such belts are still being made today. They are called mini-skirts. Those are the two most literal definitions of this Hebrew word. It is also translated as girdle or apron. Neither one of those would make you think you were fully dressed, would they?

An Outer Garment

In Bible times both men and women, before they went out in public, put on an outer garment, and that garment covered them from their shoulders to almost their ankles. If they did not have on this garment, they were called naked. When Isaiah 20 speaks of Isaiah walking about barefoot and naked among God’s people for three years, he was not talking about the prophet going about without any clothing. No, God never asked any prophet to do something obscene such as that. But Isaiah did not wear the outer tunic, and that was a sign that the children of Israel would be similarly dressed as they entered into captivity.

In John 21, when Peter was fishing about 300 feet from shore with the other disciples after the resurrection, Jesus appeared on the shore, and it says that Peter put on his outer garment and cast himself into the sea, because he was naked. (Verse 7.) That does not mean that he was fishing all night without any clothes on but that he did not have on his outer garment. He was not afraid for the Lord to see him with his clothing wet, because he swam in, but he did not want the Lord to see him without his outer garment on, being naked.


We need to understand what the Bible says about the subject of modesty. The next time you study Exodus 20, notice very carefully what it says in the last verse. And in Revelation an account of the seven last plagues is given, and right in the middle of the discussion the Creator of the universe issues a warning, a call to all of the peoples of this world, and He says, “I am coming like a thief. Watch and keep your garments lest you walk naked and they see your shame.” Revelation 16:15. If you understand what the word naked means in the Bible, you will realize that we have congregations full of naked people every Sabbath, according to the Bible definition; we have people coming into our churches everywhere, naked. But we do not understand what it means. We are so blind; we think it means you do not have on any clothes. That is not what the Bible is talking about. In the Bible, anyone who is clothed immodestly is called naked.

Sometimes we fall on our face before the Lord, and we ask for the Holy Spirit to come upon us, like Joshua, after the Israelites were defeated at Ai. Joshua fell on his face, and he said, “Lord, if you do not go with us, we cannot do anything.” The Lord said, “Get up, and go clean up the camp!” (See Joshua 7:6–15.) Friends, we need to get on our knees and ask the Lord to help us clean up our camp. God is not going to pour out the latter rain upon a naked people. God did not accept the fig leaves in Adam’s day—and those fig leaves were probably more modest than some of the fig leaves people wear today. He is not going to accept a kahgoroth now, because God does not change. This is one of the things that brought Israel into terrible apostasy. Ask the Lord to deliver you from the curse of nakedness that is afflicting professed Christians all over the world, especially in the western countries.

Sensual Indulgence

“All along through the ages there are strewn wrecks of character that have been stranded upon the rocks of sensual indulgence. As we approach the close of time, as the people of God stand upon the borders of the heavenly Canaan, Satan will, as of old, redouble his efforts to prevent them from entering the goodly land. He lays his snares for every soul.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 457.

The Bible says, “But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away. So also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” Matthew 24:37–39.

I used to read those verses and I would ask myself the question, What is Jesus talking about? Even as a boy I had gone to many weddings in Seventh-day Adventist churches, conducted by Seventh-day Adventist ministers. We ate every day, and we drank water and other healthful beverages every day. But what is the problem with the things that Jesus mentioned there? Ellen White comments on these verses in Matthew: “Very plainly Christ saw what the condition of society would be in the future. He saw that selfindulgence would control men and women. What of the marriage relation today? Is it not perverted and defiled, made even as it was in Noah’s day? Divorce after divorce is recorded in the daily papers. This is the marriage of which Christ speaks when He says that before the flood they were ‘marrying and giving in marriage.’ Manuscript Releases, vol. 7, 56.

“As it was in the days of Noah, every kind of evil is on the increase. Divorce and marriage is the order of the time.” Ibid., vol. 10, 261.

Marriage after Divorce

What we are studying is very sensitive material. With this subject, it is possible that people will get wrong impressions, and there are ditches on both sides of the road. We need to study this completely. We must be clear about what the Bible teaches, or we can go into the ditch on one side or the ditch on the other side. We can become part of Babylon, or we can become part of the Pharisees. The Bible says, “Just as it was in the days of Noah, like this it shall be in the days of the Son of Man. They ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage until that day Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” Luke 17:26, 27.

After Ellen White quoted the verses from Matthew 24:37–39, she said, “How true a description this is of the condition of the world today. The daily papers are full of notices of divorce and marriage after divorce —the marriage condemned in the words of the Saviour.” Letter 153,1901 (unpublished). What was Jesus talking about in Matthew 24? Jesus was talking about marriage after divorce! Ellen White wrote to the general conference president and said: “We must, as a people, arouse and cleanse the camp of Israel. Licentiousness, unlawful intimacy,and unholy practices are coming in among us in a large degree; and ministers who are handling sacred things are guilty of sin in this respect. They are coveting their neighbors’ wives, and the seventh commandment is broken. We are in danger of becoming a sister to fallen Babylon, of allowing our churches to become corrupted, and filled with every foul spirit, a cage for every unclean and hateful bird; and will we be clear unless we make decided movements to cure the existing evil?” Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 380.

So, you can be a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, even if you get divorced and remarried three, four, or five times. That is what Jesus was talking about happening in the last days, just like it happened in the days just before the flood. Ellen White says if we do not do something about this, if we just let it go and do not do anything about it, we will become a sister of Babylon. Do you want to become part of Babylon? Do you want your church to become part of Babylon?

She says, “The Lord is soon to come; there must be a refining, winnowing process in every church, for there are among us wicked men who do not love the truth. . . . Will the church arise and put on her beautiful garments?” Review and Herald, March 19, 1895.

She also said, “When God works so wondrously, man, the human agent, should become intelligent in regard to the machinery of his body, that this temple of God shall not be misused, and become the habitation of devils, the hold of every foul spirit, and the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 4, 364, 365.

“Today the nominal churches are full of every foul spirit, the cage of every unclean and hateful bird. The work is becoming confusing because the converted and the unconverted have united in them.” Ibid., vol. 20, 252. Ellen White said to the general conference president, If we do not do something about this, we are going to become a sister of fallen Babylon. Babylon is a system that allows for the full development of sensuality, while at the same time condemning it.

If you read the public notices, the Pope is against divorce. The Catholic Church is against fornication, and they have lots of publications against it. They are against adultery. If you go to almost any Babylonian church, they will tell you that they are against divorce, fornication, and

adultery, but they allow it, just the same. You can be a member while doing all those things. Yes, they have a little trouble once in awhile. Somebody in the choir goes to bed with the organist, and then they have a little upheaval in the church. Things have to be ironed out, and there may be a switch with some people going to a church on the other side of town. Things like that happen all of the time. That is what happens in Babylon. And friends, I am sorry to tell you that it has come into Adventism, even into historic Adventism.

Unscriptural Marriage

There are people throughout Adventism who are unscripturally married. There are two ways that a person can be unscripturally married. One is if a Christian decides to marry a non-Christian. That is forbidden in the Bible. (See Deuteronomy 7:1–4; 2 Corinthians 6:14.) It is forbidden for a person who is in the faith to marry a person who is not in the faith.

Another example of an unscriptural marriage is a person whose wife or husband did not commit adultery against them, but they divorced and remarried someone else. (See Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11, 12; Luke 16:18.) That practice is the very essence of Babylon. There is a reason why, in the Scriptures, Babylon is referred to over and over and over again as a harlot, and that she commits fornication, because she administers the communicants committing fornication. She administers the whole process.

The Church Debates

When I was a young minister, Adventism was in the process of making the changes that have come to pass now. We used to have debates about whether you should be able to divorce your spouse when there is no adultery and go and marry someone else and stay in the church with nothing happening. This was a big debate when I was a young minister. Vehement arguments would occur in these debates. One time this debate came up among a group of seminary students in the Andrews University Field School of Evangelism. The teacher said, “We have studied that, but Romans 7 still says the same thing.”

We, as Seventh-day Adventists, used to believe and use Romans 7 as one of our proof texts that such things should not be allowed. “Do not be ignorant, brothers, for we know the law says that the law is lord over a man as long as he is alive. For the woman having a living husband, is bound by the law to that husband. But if the husband is dead, she is released from the law of the husband. Therefore, then, if the husband is alive, she shall be called an adulterous if she be [married] to another man. But if the husband is dead, she is free from the law so that she shall not be called an adulterous if she be [married] to another man.” Romans 7:1–3.

God’s Moral Standard

After the teacher read this text, there was still some arguing, but there was not much to say. The Scripture says, this is the way that it is. Ellen White says the same thing. She wrote to a physician one time, “Your ideas in regard to the marriage relation have been erroneous. Nothing but the violation of the marriage bed can either break or annul the marriage vow. . . . “Men are not at liberty to make a standard of law for themselves, to avoid God’s law and please their own inclination. They must come to God’s great moral standard of righteousness. . . . God gave only one cause why a wife should leave her husband, or the husband leave his wife, which was adultery. Let this ground be prayerfully considered.” “A woman may be legally divorced from her husband by the laws of the land and yet not divorced in the sight of God and according to the higher law. There is only one sin, which is adultery, which can place the husband or wife in a position where they can be free from the marriage vow in the sight of God. Although the laws of the land may grant a divorce, yet they are husband and wife still in the Bible light, according to the Laws of God.” The Adventist Home, 341, 342, 344.

This is a problem that the church has been wrestling with for a long time. The Catholic Church has also been wrestling with it for a long time. The conclusion is, if your spouse has not committed adultery against you and you divorce, or your spouse divorces, and you marry somebody else, you are committing adultery. Our ministers thought that through, and they said, “All right, that means that you are living in sin for the rest of your life.” So, there were many Adventists that came to the conclusion that these unscriptural marriages should be broken up, because these people are living in sin. They said that anybody who stayed in such a marriage, since he was constantly living in sin, should not be allowed to be a member of the church, let alone a teacher or a pastor, unless they separated.

Standards Relaxed

Over a period of several decades, this literal understanding was relaxed a little bit so that by the time I was a young man, growing up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a person who was unscripturally married was allowed to be a member of the church but was forbidden to be a pastor, minister, or leader in the church. I remember one of the first times I saw this happen in the church of which I was a member. A man, who was a leader in the church, left his wife and children and married another woman. He faced the potential of being disfellowshipped. So he moved to another state, was rebaptized, and became a leader in that church. Have you ever heard of that happening? That is the way it was in the 1950s or 1960s. By the time the 1980s arrived, instead of moving to another state, a person in such a situation just went to another church 20 to 30 miles away and started over again. Soon they were again teaching a Sabbath School class and taking up church leadership.

There has been an internal fight going on in the Adventist Church over what to do about these situations, because we have had the same thing develop in Adventism that happened with the Hebrew people just before they entered Canaan. This problem has gotten worse and worse. There are churches that say they have no one in the church that can meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 to hold the office of an elder or a deacon.

Approaching the Problem

How should the problem of unscripturally married individuals holding church office be approached? There are two common ways of dealing with this problem. One is that you talk against it, say you are against it, but let it happen. You allow the people to stay in the church as teachers and leaders, even ministers. That is what happens in Babylon, and Ellen White told the general conference president that, if we did not step up and do something, we would become a sister of Babylon.

The other way Seventh-day Adventists have approached this issue is to become very strict. Some, in Ellen White’s day, decided they were going to break up some of these unscriptural marriages so that these people quit living in sin. They became so strict in enforcing their ideas, that Ellen White accused them of becoming like the Pharisees. As you read the context, you see that she is talking about people who have been involved in sexual sins and unscriptural marriages. She said, “I am more pained than I can express to see so little aptitude and skill to save souls that are ensnared by Satan. I see such a cold Phariseeism, holding off at arm’s length the one who has been deluded by the adversary of souls, and then I think: What if Jesus treated us in this way? Is this spirit to grow among us? If so, my brethren must excuse me; I cannot labor with them. I will not be a party to this kind of labor.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 242. That is a very strong statement in regard to what the church was doing.

The question that I suppose we have never yet answered in Adventism is this: Can we avoid becoming a sister of Babylon and at the same time avoid becoming Pharisees? You see, there is a ditch on both sides of the road. In my opinion, we have not succeeded yet. But when Jesus comes, would you want to be found a Pharisee even if you were not in Babylon? [All emphasis supplied. Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

To be continued . . .

As We Near the End of Time, Part III

In this series we are studying about the fact that there is a ditch on both sides of the road of life on which we travel. One ditch is the ditch of Babylon. Ellen White wrote to then general conference president, G. I. Butler, stating that the ministers are “coveting their neighbors’ wives,” that there is fornication among us, and that if something is not done to cleanse the camp we are going to become a sister of Babylon. Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, 380. That is one ditch. The Babylonian churches will all tell you they are against fornication, adultery, divorce and remarriage without biblical grounds, but even though they are against it, they tolerate it. There are many people in these churches who have the highest moral standards, but the churches are in the same predicament as are Adventists. The devil has worked in our society so that the churches have become corrupted and defiled through the fall and seduction of their members.

The other ditch, on the opposite side, takes the same position that the Pharisees took. They say, Get those people out of the camp, so the camp can be cleansed, and then the Lord will be able to use the rest of us to finish the work. Jesus got in trouble, because He offered salvation to the people in the church who were fallen and outcasts. He said, “For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him. But the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And you, seeing, did not repent later that you should believe in Him.” Matthew 21:32.

Remember the lady to whom Jesus offered salvation at the well? One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because He went to the people in the church who had messed up—like this woman. Jesus told her, ” ‘You have said well that you do not have any husband, because you have had five husbands, and the one that you have now is not even your husband.’ ” (John 4:17, 18.) “You did not even go through the ceremony this time. You did not even sign the piece of paper; you just decided to give up.”

We are in a situation where there are unscriptural marriages throughout Adventism, even in the revival and reformation movement. This is something that we must study, even though it is delicate and sensitive.

A very sincere man once came to me and told me, “I divorced my wife, and I married the woman to whom I am married now. I know that I am unscripturally married. Now, here I am, and what do I do? I want to be saved! If you tell me that I have to leave my wife to be saved, I will do it.” That is not a desirable position for any pastor to be in, so you can understand that I have given this subject a great deal of study.

Understand Principles

How can the sinners in the church be saved without the church itself becoming part of Babylon? When can the church disfellowship sinners without the development of Phariseeism? Those are not the easiest questions to answer.

Seventh-day Adventists have an advantage over other churches in that we have the Spirit of Prophecy writings to help us come to wise decisions. What we want to understand is principles. If you have not read the book, Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce (The Ellen G. White Estate, 1989), you should. From the many private letters Ellen White wrote dealing with similar complicated situations that are now published in this book, principles are given for your understanding so you can make wise decisions.

Evil Results

Ellen White always warned people against unscriptural marriages. She taught, as does the Bible, that evil results would follow the people in unscriptural marriages for the rest of their lives. But after giving that warning, she said that when people go ahead and get involved in an unscriptural marriage, to leave them alone. That in no way condones what they have done, but there is not a single instance that I know of where she said to break up those people. (See Testimonies, vol. 4, 503–508.) I did not tell that man that he must divorce his second wife; I could not do that with a clear conscience. Mrs. White wrote concerning this exact thing.

People are married who have no right to be married—an unscriptural marriage. This is much more complicated than the person who has committed fornication or adultery. They can confess, say they are sorry, and stop. But in an unscriptural marriage, vows have been given for which there was no right to give. We should remember that a person in a situation like this has committed a grievous sin, and there is no salvation for any sinner if the sin is not confessed (to the individuals who have been wronged—in an unscriptural marriage there are always parties who have been wronged and hurt) with complete repentance. Mrs. White wrote, “You have asked my counsel in regard to this case. I would say that unless those who are burdened in reference to the matter have carefully studied a better arrangement, and can find places for these where they can be comfortable, they better not carry out their ideas of a separation. I hope to learn that this matter is not pressed, and that sympathy will not be withdrawn from the two whose interests have been united.

“I write this because I have seen so many cases of the kind, and persons would have great burden till everything was unsettled and uprooted, and then their interest and burden went no further. We should individually know that we have a zeal that is according to knowledge. We should not move hastily in such matters, but look on every side of the question. We should move very cautiously and with pitying tenderness, because we do not know all the circumstances which led to this course of action.

I advise that these unfortunate ones be left to God and their own consciences, and that the church shall not treat them as sinners until they have evidence that they are such in the sight of the holy God. He reads hearts as an open book. He will not judge as man judgeth.Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery and Divorce, 218, 219.

Those statements have helped me a great deal. In an unscriptural marriage, the parties have created for themselves a dilemma that no church or prophet can solve. Only the Lord can solve such a dilemma, and we must leave such with Him. I believe that we are on the border of the kingdom, and Satan has successfully attacked God’s people. These unscriptural marriages greatly weaken the church.


Everything that we do has consequences, and the unscriptural marriage will make it impossible for those involved to do what could otherwise have been done in God’s work.

Consider what is called “The Case of Brother G,” from which this principle is derived.

C. White wrote a letter explaining the situation: ” ‘Regarding Brother G, I can speak quite freely. About 1875 he married a very brilliant school teacher. . . . She was very talented, but after a number of years she became quarrelsome and made his life miserable. [That was probably according to his report.] At that time he was associated with a very brilliant young woman who was an accountant at X College, and formed a fondness for her. Sister White wrote him a very plain warning, which he promised to heed. Shortly after Sister White had gone to Europe, Brother G resigned his position at X College, went to Michigan to visit his sister, and offered no obstruction to his wife in getting a divorce.

” ‘Thus far, those who knew the case approved, but shortly after this he married the bookkeeper before mentioned; then all his friends were greatly grieved. He taught a while at _______, then settled near ________, and for many years worked very hard, his wife helping him to make a living on a little fruit and vegetable farm. They came to see the wickedness of the course they had taken. They repented of it very bitterly, and their brethren and sisters were satisfied that their repentance was genuine. They had three beautiful children growing up, and no one, as far as I know, encouraged them to separate. When the matter was put before Sister White, she did not encourage a separation, nor could she encourage any movement to exclude him from participation in the work of the third angel’s message. In his later life he labored in a humble way in self-supporting work in the South.

” ‘If persons living in the light of the third angel’s message purpose to leave one companion for the sake of uniting with someone else, it is our duty to warn and reprove and discipline.

” ‘If persons before embracing the message have entangled themselves, and afterward have repented, confessed their sins, received forgiveness of God, and won the confidence of their brethren, it is better for both ministers and laymen to leave them alone, enjoying the forgiveness and justification which have been wrought through Christ, without undertaking to tear up existing relations.’—February 21, 1927.” Ibid., 219–221.

Now we return to what Ellen White said about this man. Remember, he had married a schoolteacher, but he had developed a fondness for someone else. His wife got a divorce, and he immediately married the other person. “We had conversation after the meeting with Elder Starr. The question was in reference to a teacher of grammar for the advanced classes. There is no perplexity in regard to the first classes of grammar, but we need well-qualified teachers in all branches, and we hope Elder Olsen will find either a man or woman that can come to Australia as a thorough teacher. If only G had kept himself straight, he would be just the one to come. But the question is whether his record will not follow him. We scarcely dare venture the matter and run the risk. That the man has sincerely repented I have not a doubt, and I believe the Lord has forgiven him. But if obliged to make explanations it would not be an easy matter to do; so what shall we do with G? Leave him where he is, a prey to remorse, and to be useless the remainder of his life? I cannot see what can be done. [This is a prophet speaking.] Oh, for wisdom from on high! Oh, for the counsel of One who reads the heart as an open book! How Satan watches for souls to bind them with his hellish cords that they become lost to the work and almost helpless in his hands. ‘Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.’ [Mark 14:38.] —Letter 13, 1892. (Written five years after Brother G’s unscriptural marriage.)” Ibid., 221, 222.


Unfortunately, people try to excuse what they have done by referring to David or to Solomon, or someone like them. In Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce (pages 92–97), Ellen White goes into a long discussion about David. As a result of David’s sin, even though he later confessed it, was forgiven, and will be in the kingdom of heaven, there were consequences. In the remainder of his life, he was embittered; he found out that what he had done resulted in a wretched evil. It caused unhappiness in his family, in discord, rivalry and jealousy. Not only that, he received reproof and heavy denunciation, and God visited him with judgments. He lost four of his sons, and each one of those was harder for him than if he had to die himself. If you are a father, it is harder to watch your son die than to die yourself, and David had to go through that four times. Ellen White said he was “made to feel the full weight of the injustice done.” Ibid, 97.

Example of Principle

Here is an example of this principle. In the Spirit of Prophecy this man is simply called William E. He was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1856. He attended Battle Creek College, and he labored as a minister or colporteur in several different states. He was married, but his first marriage ended in divorce. After that, he fathered a child by a second woman, without marrying her, and then in 1892 he married a third woman. He stayed married to her until he died in 1934. In 1901 this man’s father and brother insisted, since he was in an unscriptural marriage, that he should leave his wife. In other words, he should make things right.

About this, Ellen White said:
“I would gladly do something to help poor Will E to make things right, but this cannot be done as matters are now situated [notice, a prophet cannot make it right, the church cannot make it right; you just have to leave it with the Lord], without someone’s being wronged.” Ibid., 227. If you do this you are wrong, if you do that, you are wrong—you are in a dilemma that only God can solve and heal.

A Hard One

Even though we follow the given principles, great and perplexing problems occur for the church when the person who is in an unscriptural marriage decides that he is called to be a minister. This is not uncommon. You would probably be shocked, if you knew the personal history of ministers with whom you are acquainted. Brother E moved to Birmingham, Alabama, to the largest church in that conference. He was quite personable, a very good speaker, and he became quite popular in this church. He was active in the church work; became an elder, and started giving Bible studies and holding evangelistic meetings. The time came when he was working so hard in evangelism that the church talked to the conference and said, “This man needs to have some support. He’s working almost full time in evangelism, and he is successful.” So the conference started paying him $8 a week. Of course, he could not live on $8 a week, even in 1900! He was really interested in the restoration of his credentials and recognition as a minister again. The conference president wrote to Ellen White. After talking about the things just mentioned, he states, ” ‘His wife is a nervous wreck and her confidence has been so shaken that while she wants him to preach, there is constant danger that as he becomes popular and mingles with the people that she will become jealous, whether [there] is any cause or not [that is easy to understand in this situation], and herself bring on a scandal by talking and telling of the past which she is prone to do when she becomes suspicious of him. All would be greatly relieved if there is any definite counsel from the Lord.’ ” Ibid., 229. The people often went to Ellen White for counsel, and although we cannot go to her personally anymore, we can seek counsel through her inspired writings. People still get into these complicated situations.

Brother E was being successful in evangelism, but the people said, look at his past. What are we going to do? They received a letter from W. C. White in which he said that he had talked the situation over with his mother. Notice all of the “ifs” in this letter. He wrote: ” ‘Mother says that those who have dealt with the perplexities arising from his many transgressions in the past should take the responsibility of advising regarding our present duty toward him. Mother does not wish to take large responsibility in this matter, but she says regarding Elder E as she has said regarding other men in a somewhat similar position, if they have thoroughly repented, if they are living such lives as convince their brethren that they are thoroughly in earnest, do not cut them off from fellowship, do not forbid their working for Christ in a humble capacity, but do not elevate them to positions of responsibility.’ ” Ibid., 230. So the conference decided not to issue Brother E ministerial credentials, but he was allowed to work in evangelism. At the close of this letter by W. C. White, his mother penned in the following words; ” ‘This is correct advice in such cases. Let him walk humbly before God. I see no light in giving him responsibilities.’ ” Ibid., 231.

Things went on, and a few years later, because of his success in the church in Birmingham, Alabama, and his success in evangelism, some people in the church said, “This man should be made a minister of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.” He still thought that he should be made a minister again, too. The conference president decided to write Ellen White again. This time he said, “The church is disagreed upon the point in question [this was causing problems in the church], and it is having a bad influence upon the work in the city and a more or less deleterious effect throughout the conference. [The whole conference was being affected by this situation.] The majority think, because of his capabilities and his late work in the city . . . that he should be made elder of the church and act as its pastor, or leader, while others do not favor it because of his life record . . . .” The conference men met together and told him that he could do evangelism, but that they did not feel right about ordaining him and giving him ministerial credentials. Brother William E had been so successful in evangelism, he thought that the Adventist ministers were just too hard-hearted. He said, I have repented, I have reformed, and I am not like that anymore. So he decided he would leave Birmingham, Alabama, and go to St. Helena, California, to talk with Ellen White himself. He thought that when he talked to Ellen White she would see the situation and help him get everything cleared up. However, when he got to St. Helena, California, Ellen White refused to see him. So the decision stayed the same.

Learn to Get Along

You see from this story just how complicated these situations can get. You may say that the mistake was made many years ago. That may be, but the unscriptural marriage has consequences. If there are young people reading this, and you are thinking that you cannot get along with your spouse, you had better do some fasting and praying before you decide to separate. Ask the Lord for direction.

Ellen White, in writing to a couple who was having terrible trouble because their dispositions just did not blend at all, advised that they had made some promises to each other, so they needed to pray and ask the Lord to help them change their dispositions. (See The Adventist Home, 345.) You see, that is God’s plan. If we are going to go to heaven someday, and we are all going to get along there, we have to learn to get along here. The first place we learn to get along with other people is in our homes. The second place where we learn to get along with others is in the church. Think this through in your mind, friends. If we cannot get along, what does that mean about our prospects of going to heaven? Whether it is in the home or in the church—it is something very serious.

Friends, we need to understand the principles. We need to be sure that we do not become like the Pharisees and decide that we are going to tear everything up that is not right. If we tear it up, then how are we going to put it back together? On the other hand, we must not be like Babylon and just let anything happen, saying, We are against it, but you can be a member of this church no matter what you do. We cannot do that.

We are living in a time when the ministers, the teachers, the elders among God’s people have some very delicate and difficult questions with which to deal. These problems exist because the devil has been successful, just like he was with Israel before they entered the Promised Land, in getting God’s people involved in sensuous practices which have led to divorces and remarriages that are not scriptural. Friend, decide, before you get involved in an unscriptural marriage, that you are not going to get involved! Make a decision!

We are not saying that such people are lost. We want to see them saved. But they have gotten themselves in situations where they cannot do, in God’s work, what they could have done otherwise. We have young people, today, who have decided, just as did Daniel, Joseph, and Isaac, that they are going to follow God, no matter what the cost. We need more young people like this to finish God’s work. We need young people who will make the same decision, as did Timothy. Paul told him, “Do not be a partaker in other men’s sins, keep yourself pure.” 1 Timothy 5:22.

[All emphasis supplied. Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]

To be concluded . . .

Editorial – What God Has Joined, part 2

Although, in extreme cases, separation is at times necessary, we note that this course was something that even the prophet of God left to the judgment of those who were in these trying situations—she did not advocate the separation of that which God had joined together and she gave serious warnings to anyone who would do this even when there was question as to whether the persons involved had a biblical right to marry in the first place.

Example 1: “Your letter has been received and read. I have had acquaintance with several such cases and have found those who felt conscientious to do something in similar cases to the one you mention. After having stirred things up generally, and torn to pieces, they had not wisdom to put things together to make matters better. I found that those who were so zealous to tear things down did nothing to build them up in right order. They had the faculty to confuse, distress, and create a most deplorable condition of things, but not the faculty to make them better.

“You have asked my counsel in regard to this case; I would say that unless those who are burdened in reference to the matter have carefully studied a better arrangement, and can find places for these where they can be comfortable, they better not carry out their ideas of a separation. I hope to learn that this matter is not pressed and that sympathy will not be withdrawn from the two whose interests have been united. I write this because I have seen so many cases of the kind, and persons would have great burden till everything was unsettled and uprooted and then their interest and burden went no further. We should individually know that we have a zeal that is according to knowledge. We should not move hastily in such matters, but look on every side of the question; we should move very cautiously and with pitying tenderness, because we do no know all the circumstances which led to this course of action.

“I advise that these unfortunate ones be left to God and their own consciences, and that the church shall not treat them as sinners until they have evidence that they are such in the sight of the Holy God. He reads hearts as an open book. He will not judge as man judgeth.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 1, 164, 165

Example 2: “I have just read your letter concerning Will E. I regard the matter in the same light that you do, and think it a cruel, wicked thing that the father of Will E. Should take the course that he is taking; but I have not dared to answer his letters. If anything can come from me through you to him, I would say that his case cannot be improved by leaving the present wife. It would not better the case to go to the other woman in the question….

“I have not written to Will E., but know that if the father would repent before God and do his first works, and cease to consider himself as one that can help his son, he would ask himself the question, ‘Is my name written there, on the page white and fair?’ He might well begin to humble himself before God, and leave Will Wales with God.

“Let the father and brother make diligent work for themselves. They both need the converting power of God. May the Lord help these poor souls to remove spot and stain from their own characters, and repent of their wrongs, and leave Will E. with the Lord.

“I am so sorry for the man, for his course is in such a shape that it will not answer to be meddled with, for there are difficulties upon difficulties. I would say that the Lord understands the situation, and if Will E. will seek Him with all his heart, He will be found of him. If he will do his best, God will pardon and receive him.

“’Oh, how precious it is to know that we have One who does know and understand, and will help the ones who are most helpless. But the rebuke of God is upon the father and the brother who would drive to destruction and perdition one who stands in the sight of God under no worse condemnation than themselves, and yet they will so use their gifts of speech as to dishearten, discourage, and drive Will E. to despair.

“‘Will E. may hope in God and do the best he can to serve God in all humility of mind, casting his helpless soul upon the great Sin Bearer. I have not written a word to either father or son. I would gladly do something to help poor Will E. to make things right, but this cannot be done as matters are now situated, without someone’s being wronged.

“I understand perfectly the situation between Will E. and his first wife….and I knew how the case would terminate; for Will E. cannot endure to be a slave, his identity lost in a wife who made herself his judge in conscience, in his duty, and in his work generally.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 225-227

Editorial – What God Has Joined, part 1

Jesus said, regarding marriage, “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (See Matthew 19:6.) There are many areas of life where God has left us free to choose. In the Garden of Eden, man was able to choose his diet from any tree in the garden; but there was a limit to this choice. God reserved one tree as off limits. In regard to this one tree, a divine command was given not to eat of it. “God might have created them without the power to transgress His requirements, but in that case there could have been no development of character; their service would not have been voluntary, but forced. Therefore He gave them the power of choice—the power to yield or to withhold obedience.” Education, 23

This restriction was not arbitrary but came from the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God as to what was for the happiness of His creatures. “God, in His great love for man gave him that law by which to order his conduct, that he should be restricted to doing those things which would tend to increase his real happiness, and that of his fellow creatures even in this life. The principles of the commandments, carried out in the daily life, ennoble and sanctify the heart and mind and give one a moral fitness through Jesus Christ for the society of holy angels. Our all wise heavenly Father knew what rules were required to guard man from sin and to regulate his life, leading him to practice such virtues as would make him a fit subject for heaven.” Signs of the Times, July 18, 1878

While we should be cautious, in much prayer and seeking for counsel before marriage, and we are forbidden by an express command of God to unite in marriage with unbelievers (see 2 Corinthians 6:14–18), human beings are forbidden to put asunder what God has joined together. Only one reason is sufficient cause for divorce in the New Testament. (See Matthew 19:9.)

Many times Adventist pastors are asked by this one or that one for permission to obtain a divorce for other than this biblical reason. This is permission that no human being has a right to give—Jesus, the mighty God and everlasting Father, has already made that decision; and His decision is, “What God has joined together let not Man put asunder.” “It has ever proved a dangerous thing for men to carry out their own will in opposition to the requirements of God. Yet it is a hard lesson for men to learn that God means what He says.” Ibid., May 19, 1881

“The instruction given to Abraham touching the sacredness of the marriage relation was to be a lesson for all ages. It declares that the rights and happiness of this relation are to be carefully guarded, even at a great sacrifice. Sarah was the only true wife of Abraham. Her rights as a wife and mother no other person was entitled to share.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 147

Any minister or person helping the public comes in contact with cases which are so serious that sometimes a separation is necessary, at least temporarily, because of physical danger or serious mental trauma. Ellen White had to deal with these, too, but notice that she did not advise divorce, even when separation was necessary.

Example 1: “I cannot see what more can be done in this case, and I think that the only thing that you [Walter C] can do is to give up your wife. If she is thus determined not to live with you, both she and you would be most miserable to attempt it. And as she has fully and determinedly set her stakes, you can only shoulder your cross and show yourself a man.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 57

Example 2: “I have received your letter; and in reply to it I would say, I cannot advise you to return to _____ unless you see decided changes in him. The Lord is not pleased with the ideas he has had in the past of what is due to a wife. . . .

“I feel very sad about this matter. I feel indeed sorry for _____, but I cannot advise you to go to him against your judgment. I speak to you as candidly as I spoke to him; it would be perilous for you to again place yourself under his dictation. I had hoped that he would change. . . .

“The Lord understands all about your experiences, Sister _____. Be of good courage in the Lord; He will not leave you nor forsake you. My heart goes out in tenderest sympathy for you.” Letter 148, 1907(Next month we will look at more examples and consider counsel given, relative to dealing with difficult marriage situations.)

The End