Methodist Changes On Divorce

Matthew 19:9:  … whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.   (NKJV)

Mark 6:17-18:  For Herod himself had … laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias’ sake, his brother Philip’s wife: for he had married her.  For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.

Some conservative groups believe that divorced people who marry another spouse are living in sin.  However, the number of divorces in the United States has led most denominations away from that teaching. – Anthony Dunnavant in the Orange County (California) Register

1896 Methodist Creed Book:  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 ….  (The Doctrines and Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church)  →   That looks just like Matthew 19:9, right?

1914 Methodist Creed Book:  … Ministers shall be prohibited from solemnizing … matrimony between divorced persons, except … innocent parties who have been divorced for the one scriptural cause.

1940 Methodist Creed Book:  No Minister shall solemnize the marriage of a divorced person whose wife or husband is living and unmarried; but this rule shall not apply … 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 …

1960 Methodist Creed Book:  In view of the seriousness with which the Scriptures … regard divorce, a minister may solemnize the marriage of a divorced person only when he has satisfied himself by careful counseling that (a) the divorced person is sufficiently aware of the factors leading to the failure of the previous marriage, (b) the divorced person is sincerely preparing to make the proposed marriage truly Christian, and (c) sufficient time has elapsed for adequate … counseling.

1984 Methodist Creed Book:  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 encourage an active, accepting, and enabling commitment of the church and our society to minister to the members of divorced families.

2015   United Methodist Church … leadership voted to submit … a … legislative proposal … that removes “prohibitive” language from The United Methodist Book of Discipline concerning homosexuality.  … the proposal would allow United Methodist pastors to perform same-sex marriages in United Methodist churches. … this proposal does not consider homosexuality incompatible with Christian teachings even though Methodists have historically recognized the practice … as sinful.

See the gradual, but drastic change?

Compromise on adulterous marriages leads to compromise on gay marriage – preacher Ken Wilson writes:  I have proposed a path for these pastors that allows them to embrace people who are gay, lesbian, and transgender and to accept them fully — welcome and wanted — into the company of Jesus. I wrote A Letter To My Congregation when I realized my views had changed and I needed to communicate the intense theological, biblical, pastoral, and spiritual process that I had been through to get to this new place.  It began with a burr beneath the saddle of my conscience: why was I willing to let so many divorced and remarried couples know that they are welcome and wanted while refusing that same welcome to gay and lesbian couples? How could I say to the remarried couples, whose 2nd marriage was clearly condemned by the plain meaning of scripture, ‘You are welcome and wanted,’ while saying to the two mothers raising their adopted child together, ‘I love you, but I hate your sin’?

Romans 7:2-3:  For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.  So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress:  but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

Almost all type churches have made similar changes on divorce, and on other topics:

  • Romans 1:26-27 the same change is beginning on the marriage of homosexuals – it is just a matter of time – see
  • Acts 20:7 denominations changed the frequency of the Lord’s Supper from once a week to less often
  • I Corinthians 14:34-35 almost all churches used to forbid “women preachers” – now almost all allow it
  • many other changes/departures from the Bible over the centuries

3 Responses to “Methodist Changes On Divorce”

  1. Deborah Leath Says:

    It seems as though the Methodist Church and all those other churches who have relaxed their values on the divorce topic have done a dis-service to the parties of the divorce, GOD, and also the lives of any others they come in contact with. The seriousness and the sanctity of marriage has fallen by the wayside. The churches are then part of the problem, and not part of the solution. People enter into marriage thinking they can just get out if it doesn’t work. Some ministers of God’s Word. I bet God is not happy with the changes to HIS COMMANDS!

  2. Terry Hulbert Says:

    God’s Grace and Mercy are new every day. I am Methodist and we DO believe in the sanctity of marriage. But if there are scriptural grounds for divorce (adultery, willful desertion, physical abuse) then the injured spouse isn’t condemned. If we all did good towards each other and did what God wanted us to, we’d be a lot better off. But there is sin in the world.

    • Patrick Donahue Says:

      Terry – What Bible verses justify divorce for willful desertion and physical abuse? And what do you think about the Methodist church now showing approval for gay marriages?

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