The United Methodist Church: Divorce and Remarriage


The United Methodist Church:

Divorce and Remarriage

Part 16



The United Methodist Church: Divorce and Remarriage

  1. The United Methodist Church has opened the door to divorce, remarriage, and adultery.

Another concern we would have pertains to divorce and remarriage.  In the past in America, the only grounds for divorce was the sexual unfaithfulness of the spouse or perhaps desertion. Then, in the twentieth century, “no fault divorce” entered society with disastrous effects. It was assumed that if two people were divorced by the state, then it was permissible that they remarry someone else, with God’s blessing.

In contrast, the Word of God is clear that divorce is the separation of two people whom God has “joined” in marriage (Matthew 19:6-8). The Lord Jesus declares, “I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery” (v. 9). When the divorcer puts away his faithful companion and remarries, he commits adultery. If a person is divorced by his or her companion for any reason, remarriage results in adultery. Furthermore, when a single person marries a formerly married person such as this, he also commits adultery. Unfaithfulness in marriage and the instigation of illegitimate divorce results in adultery. (See particularly Matthew 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; 1 Corinthians 7:10-16.)

We should also keep in mind that this adultery will keep one from inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) and will bring God’s righteous judgment (Hebrews 13:4). “Fornication” or “sexual immorality” are from the Greek porneia, meaning any sexual sin. All of the places where fornication or sexual immorality are mentioned also show that adultery will bring God’s wrath, judgment, and punishment (Ephesians 5:5-7; Colossians 3:5-7; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; Revelation 21:8).

The United Methodist Church doesn’t acknowledge this disastrous effect of divorce and remarriage, with consequent adultery and God’s judgment.  We read this official statement:

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.[i]

They have easily wiped away the clear prohibition of the inspired Word. Sadly, though the Methodist hierarchy might accept remarriage after a wrongful divorce, Scripture continues to read the way it always has: remarriage results in adultery, and adultery brings judgment and the wrath of God.

Along with other mainline denominations (and even Evangelical churches!), the United Methodist Church has a “soft” stance in regard to divorce, remarriage, and adultery. One writer puts it this way:

Though the UMC is officially opposed to immorality, in practice there is rampant moral sin. This denomination has fallen light years away from the holiness position of its forefathers. We have seen the UMC position on homosexuality and abortion. Divorce is rampant in the UMC. A comprehensive survey conducted by the denomination in 1986 revealed that divorce among the clergy is more than three times higher than among the non-ordained members.

As of 1984, all three of the new Methodist bishops for the western part of the U.S. were divorced. United Methodist professor and minister Robert Elliott has developed a divorce service for couples seeking a blessing on their breakup. Joseph Quillian, dean of the school where Elliott teaches, called the divorce service a sound concept. The dean said, “There’s no reason something shouldn’t be done ceremonially for committed Christians who divorce.”

Writing in the Christian Century magazine for Oct. 31, 1984, Methodist minister David Jaeger claimed that a pastor who has had sexual relationships with other women besides his wife may still be considered faithful to his wife, and claimed that adultery should not disqualify a man from the ministry. The UMC meeting held to celebrate Methodism’s 200th anniversary featured country-western entertainer Willie Nelson, who glorifies adultery and drunkenness in his music. Nelson said, “I think all music is religious. We’re all given our talents by some supreme being–God, Buddah, whatever. They categorize it and call it country, gospel, rock and roll, but it all comes from the same place.”

The UMC Board of Discipleship, prior to 1980, owned many explicit sex films which it used in conjunction with its “human sexuality forums.” The movies depicted all sorts of moral reprobation, including male and female homosexuality.[ii]

Thankfully, not all Methodist Churches would agree with these violations of Biblical teaching and norms, but there are such examples. The bottom line is that there must be tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of Methodist couples sitting in the pews who have entered and remain in adulterous marriages and relationships.[iii]

You may also want to check further into the United Methodist Church:

[i] The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church, 1988, p. 94.


[iii] See our Serious Questions about Divorce, Remarriage, and Adultery (True Discipleship, PO Box 330031, Fort Worth, TX 76163-0031).

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