Divorce Part 2December 17, 2007
The most up to date statement on divorce and remarriage for SDA Church members was was voted at the 57th Session of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, August, 2000 as a revision of chapter 15 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 1995 edition. A full copy of the statement may be found here. For the moment I’d draw your attention to the following statement–particularly the section in bold:
It is recognized that sometimes marriage relations deteriorate to the point where it is better for a husband and wife to separate. “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)—and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10, 11, RSV). In many such cases the custody of the children, the adjustment of property rights, or even personal protection may make necessary a change in marital status. In such cases it may be permissible to secure what is known in some countries as a legal separation. However, in some civil jurisdictions such a separation can be secured only by divorce.
A separation or divorce which results from factors such as physical violence or in which “unfaithfulness to the marriage vow” (see sections 1. and 2. above) is not involved, does not give either one the scriptural right to remarry, unless in the meantime the other party has remarried; committed adultery or fornication; or died. Should a member who has been thus divorced remarry without these biblical grounds, he/she shall be removed from church membership; and the one whom he/she marries, if a member, shall also be removed from church membership.
So let us summarize the SDA Church’s current position
- If your spouse commits adultery you may divorce & remarry without church sanction.
- If your spouse physically abuses you, you may divorce but must spend the rest of your life celibate and alone unless they enter into a sexual relationship first.
- If you are “abandoned by an unbelieving spouse” (whatever that may mean) you may also divorce and remarry without sanction.
Does anyone else see how sad and perverse such a position is?
I’d also like to draw your attention to a paper by Australian SDA Phil Ward on divorce. As part of his paper, Ward undertakes a very interesting examination of the position of Ellen G. White on this issue.