March 26, 2017

The Appropriate Standard

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

The Appropriate Standard:

Changing Societal Views Or God’s Word?

By Don R. Patton

“but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress: and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.” (Matthew 5:32 ASV)

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.” (Matthew 19:9 ASV)

Creeds are authoritative man-made attempts to express God’s will. It would seem obvious that they imply God’s inspired expression is inadequate. The compulsion to try to express God’s rules better, seems to imply that God’s inspired Word needs some help.

Creeds are reflections of man’s imperfect understanding and the imposition of man’s “wisdom” on God’s. I believe we can see this in the history of continually changing doctrine in the creeds. It cannot be denied that the doctrine of the Methodist Church regarding divorce has changed dramatically over the years. God’s Word has not. Could the changes reflect man’s increasing self-confidence as well as decreasing God-confidence.

Following are quotes taken from the Methodist Discipline over an 88-year period. As if viewing time lapse photography, we can see attitudes change right before our eyes.

“No divorce, except for adultery, shall be regarded by the Church as lawful; and no Minister shall solemnize marriage in any case where there is a divorced wife or husband living; but this rule shall not be applied to the innocent party to a divorce for the cause of adultery, nor to divorced parties seeking to be reunited in marriage.” (The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church1896)

“The Ministers of our Church shall be prohibited from solemnizing the rites of matrimony between divorced persons, except in case of innocent parties who have been divorced for The One Scriptural Cause.” (The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South—1914)

“No Minister shall solemnize the marriage of a divorced person whose wife or husband is living and unmarried; but this rule shall not apply (1) to the innocent person when it is clearly established by competent testimony that the true cause for divorce was adultery or other vicious conditions which through mental or physical cruelty or physical peril invalidated the marriage vow, nor (2) to the divorced persons seeking to be reunited in marriage.” (The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Church1940)

“Where marriage partners, even after thoughtful consideration and counsel, are estranged beyond reconciliation, we recognize divorce as regrettable, but recognize the right of divorced persons to remarry. We express our deep concern for the care and nurture of the children of divorced and/or remarried persons. We encourage that either or both of the divorced parents be considered for custody of the minor children of the marriage. We encourage an active, accepting, and enabling commitment of the church and our society to minister to the members of divorced families.” (Discipline of the United Methodist Church1984)

In stark contrast, God’s word has not budged.

“Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4 ASV)

Adapted By Don R. Patton from and anonymous author




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