Resolution on Divorce and Remarriage (Mennonite Brethren Church, 1969)

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Resolution on Divorce and Remarriage (Mennonite Brethren Church, 1969)

As the Mennonite Brethren Conference, we are deeply convinced of the sanctity and permanence of the marriage relationship. We believe, on the authority of Scripture, that it is God's design that husband and wife live together in love and harmony until they are separated by death. But we also recognize that man, again and again, fails to live according to the will of God. It is with man who lives in disobedience to his will that God has called us to work. As bearers of his reconciling gospel, we are called to go fearlessly into this world of disharmony and corruption, believing that the gospel we bring is able to meet the needs of every kind of transgressor. We believe that it is then God's will that such persons become members of some local church in which they can find the fellowship and the nurture which they need for spiritual growth. We believe that this is also true of persons who have been divorced, and also of those who, having been divorced, have subsequently remarried. Concerning such persons we believe:

  1. Wherever there is divorce, there has been a violation of God's will for husband and wife. Every divorce action has its history and this history includes a series of transgressions and failures of man to conform to God's command. The actual divorce is the last and culminating act of disobedience in the series. However, as with all other transgressions, when these have been repented of and confessed they are forgiven by God and therefore should also be forgiven by man.
  2. We know that believers are not immune to the influence of the environment in which they live. As members of a society in which divorce and remarriage occur with increasing frequency, and in which many elements abound which loosen the mutual loyalties of husband and wife, some believers are caught up in this spirit, and finally terminate their marriage in divorce. Forgiveness and cleansing from such transgression come the same way as cleansing and forgiveness for any other transgression, through repentance and confession, even though this transgression occurred in the presence of a knowledge of God's way. It may be necessary for the church to establish more carefully the depth and the sincerity of the repentance, and to strengthen its efforts to lead the person or persons to a deeper commitment to the sanctity of marriage. We believe that such persons should be received as members in a local church.
  3. We believe that when remarriage has taken place, either while the person was not a professing believer or while he was, that the church ought not to seek the dissolution of this union. It would contradict the church's witness to the sanctity of marriage if it insisted that this marriage should be broken up. Such insistence would only add to the destructive factors in the lives of the persons concerned and restore nothing. It would make no amends, correct no wrongs.
  4. We believe that when a person has been received into the membership of the church as divorced, and then should wish to remarry, he should seek the counsel of the brethren concerning such action. The intensely personal nature of each case and the great variety of factors involved, make one summary conclusion which would be equally applicable to all, impossible.
  5. We believe that where two believers live together in a state of constant turmoil and tension, it may be better for them to separate, without seeking divorce. In this time special efforts should be made to strengthen their Christian life and work towards the possibility of an eventual reconciliation.
  6. The services such members can render in a church will largely be determined by what the membership is ready to receive from them. However, we believe that a member who has been divorced, or divorced and remarried, should not be eligible to serve in the diaconate or in the ministry.
  7. We believe that true repentance concerning divorce and/or remarriage, involves the full recognition that such acts have violated God's will and purpose for man in the marriage relationship, together with a genuine sorrow over such a violation. Underlying this recognition, there would be the deep conviction of the sanctity of the marriage relationship, and the fact that it is binding for the duration of life.

[edit] Bibliography

"Resolution on Divorce and Remarriage." Mennonite Brethren Herald (3 October 1969): 14.

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