By Johnny O. Trail — After a lengthy discussion over divorce and remarriage, the couple we were studying with determined that they would examine “other teachings” on the topic. They were not pleased with the answer that was given to them. Matthew 19.9 says, “And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”
Instead of accepting this answer, they determined to visit a Christian bookstore to see what else they could find on the topic. In our follow up emails, they were “surprised to find the large number of notable church of Christ ‘pastors’ who had varying views on marriage, divorce, and remarriage.” While this response is pregnant with denominational language, I understood what they were saying. It is not hard to find people who are writing materials that provide “alternative” views of God’s marriage laws.
The fact of the matter is that there should not be several different doctrines regarding marriage, divorce, and remarriage. It creates confusion and condemns souls to eternal torment. It is false teaching. To me, this encounter underscored the need for truth, unity, and clarity in teaching God’s word.
These principles can be applied to more topics than God’s marriage laws. It is not hard to find people who are willing to argue “the other side” of any issue. What matters is God’s word. The opinions of men in the absence of truth are worthless. Proverbs 30:5-6 says, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” Let God be found true and all men liars.
Jesus and the inspired writers of the New Testament understood the need for unity and truth. Jesus prayed for the unity of all believers. In John 17. 20-22, Jesus says, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one.” The Master saw this as a vital part of reaching lost souls. This is underscored in John 17.23 when Jesus goes on to say, “ I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” When there is a lack of unity in regards to doctrine, there is the creation of doubt and a hindrance of the truth.
The Apostle Paul dealt with division in the church at Corinth. He was greatly distressed at their willingness to follow after personalities rather than the truthful message. I Corinthians 1.10 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” The factions at Corinth hindered the proclamation of the truth just as they hinder the church today.
In fact, Paul was so concerned about division that he encouraged the church to mark and to avoid those who created sects in the body of Christ. Romans 16:17-19 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.”
Let the opinions of men perish when God has spoken. It should not matter about the things “notable” men have said. All such speculation is worthless in service and respect to God. In Matthew 15:9 Jesus says, “In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'”