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    • By Jim_Alaska in Jim_Alaska's Sermons & Devotionals
         14
      Closed Communion
      James Foley
       
      I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

      INTRODUCTION

      Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

      We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

      The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

      Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

      Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

      The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

      IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

      A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

      B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

      The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

      Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

      When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

      "In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

      C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

      D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

      E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

      I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

      "The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

      “The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

      IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

      A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
      19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
      20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

      There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
      I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

      Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
      8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

      B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

      IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

      A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

      B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

      II Thes 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
      Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
      To commune together means to have the same doctrine.
      II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
      II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

      C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

      The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 
      So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 
      Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 
      Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 
      Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 
      It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
      Mt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
      Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
      1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

       28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

       29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

       30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Pastoral Qualifications


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I see nothing they said as calling divorced people "second class". The fact that some things in a persons life might mean they can't serve in certain positions or areas doesn't make them "second class".

A person can be careful about the "legal" aspects while doing so with grace. They are not mutually exclusive and I don't see an absence of grace here.

Blossom said "they" wouldn't consider being a Sunday school teacher if they were divorced, not that there is a biblical command against such. There is actually nothing in Scripture about Sunday school, it's a rather modern concept.

If you look at what Christ said about the "exception" for divorce, He declared God hates it, it's a sin and the only reason God allowed even that "exception" was because of the hardness of the peoples hearts. Jesus never declared divorce not to be sin.

Scripture also tells us that if a person is saved and their spouse can't stand that and they divorce them, that saved person isn't guilty of sin. However, that only applies to that situation. In other situations a person is to do all they can to maintain their marriage or to reconcile it if it falls apart or they become divorced.

Remember, Scripture teaches that those who would consider leadership positions should really think about such because they come with high expectations, very high, and the Lord expects those who take on leadership roles to hold to those standards that are much higher for them than for others.
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I see nothing they said as calling divorced people "second class". The fact that some things in a persons life might mean they can't serve in certain positions or areas doesn't make them "second class".


Why don't you ask a biblically divorced person who has had to deal with this treatment all his life and see if he feels like he's being treated like a second-class Christian? Call it what you want, I'm just being real here.

A person can be careful about the "legal" aspects while doing so with grace. They are not mutually exclusive and I don't see an absence of grace here.

Blossom said "they" wouldn't consider being a Sunday school teacher if they were divorced, not that there is a biblical command against such. There is actually nothing in Scripture about Sunday school, it's a rather modern concept.


By saying what she said Blossom strongly implied that she doesn't think anyone who's ever been divorced can teach a Sunday School class. This is very common, and I'm wondering how many more privaliges of service will be stripped from them for something that God forgave them of (or didn't need to because they did nothing wrong) decades ago.

If you look at what Christ said about the "exception" for divorce, He declared God hates it, it's a sin and the only reason God allowed even that "exception" was because of the hardness of the peoples hearts. Jesus never declared divorce not to be sin.


If divorce is always a sin, that means that Jesus said it's okay to sin sometimes. If divorce isn't always a sin, then you're holding something against someone that God doesn't.

Scripture also tells us that if a person is saved and their spouse can't stand that and they divorce them, that saved person isn't guilty of sin. However, that only applies to that situation. In other situations a person is to do all they can to maintain their marriage or to reconcile it if it falls apart or they become divorced.


So now divorce isn't always a sin. Make up your mind, brother.

Remember, Scripture teaches that those who would consider leadership positions should really think about such because they come with high expectations, very high, and the Lord expects those who take on leadership roles to hold to those standards that are much higher for them than for others.


I agree, and no one should put a higher standard on something or someone than God does. That's what cults do when they tell certain people they can't marry, eat meat, or drink coffee. Edited by Rick Schworer
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You seem to more interested in picking things apart in order to find an argument when none is being presented.

For now, I'll only take the time to point out that just because someone "feels" they are being treated second class, that doesn't mean that's the case. Many people take offense far too easily and that's on them.

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Everyone, well not everyone, wants to argue with God on this matter. When all they can do is trust & obey the verses. The qualifications for a pastor have been stated, its right there in the Bible. You either accept it, or reject it.

I'm not mad, but I refuse to argue about it answering questions over & over & on & on about the same subject when its clear as a bell for those who accept God's Word as the final truth.

1Ti 3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

Tit 1:6 ¶ If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.

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You seem to more interested in picking things apart in order to find an argument when none is being presented.

For now, I'll only take the time to point out that just because someone "feels" they are being treated second class, that doesn't mean that's the case. Many people take offense far too easily and that's on them.


John, The cut comes because of dislike for God's ways.
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Very disappointed in some of your hateful responses Rick. Just ultimately deciding that blossom has already decided to look down upon divorced people, that's an extremely fleshly response to another Christian.

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The Bishop (pastor) must be the husband of one wife. Well, since his wife divorced him and her married another, he is the husband of one wife. Divorce and remarriage does not disqualify one from pastoring. Period.


So, I guess there is no way you could be wrong about this. There is absolutely no possible way that God, who hates divorce would possibly mean that no one who has been divorced in the past is qualified to be a Pastor.
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I think even if you take these verses out of context you can come with a better meaning:

1 Corinthians 7:27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

Straight forward it says if you are loosed from a wife, seek not a wife.(period)

----------------------

1 Corinthians 7:28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

This is starting a new thought about marrying. It's saying you can marry if you like (it's not talking about re-marrying). It's saying there is no law concerning marriage (that you should or shouldn't). It's not talking about the last verse and being loosed then remarrying. That has already been covered by "seek not a wife".

I think you have made your argument weaker by stating these verses.

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Here is a commentary from Barnes that goes the other way from my opinion that I thought was interesting:


The husband of one wife. This need not be understood as requiring that a bishop should be a married man, as Vigilantias, a presbyter in the church at Barcelona in the fourth century, supposed, however desirable, in general, it may be that a minister of the gospel should be married. But, while this interpretation is manifestly to be excluded as false, there has been much difference of opinion on the question whether the passage means that a minister should not have more than one wife at the same time, or whether it prohibits the marriage of a second wife after the death of the first. On this question the Notes of Bloomfield, Doddridge, and Macknight, may be consulted. That the former is the correct opinion, seems to me to be evident from the following considerations:

(1.) It is the most obvious meaning of the language, and it would doubtless be thus understood by those to whom it was addressed. At a time when polygamy was not uncommon, to say that a man should "have but one wife" would be naturally understood as prohibiting polygamy.

(2.) The marriage of a second wife, after the death of the first, is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as wrong. The marriage of a widow to a second husband is expressly declared to be proper, 1Co 7:39; and it is not unfair to infer from that permission that it is equally lawful and proper for a man to marry the second time. But if it is lawful for any man, it is right for a minister of the gospel. No reason can be assigned against such marriages in his case, which would not be equally valid in any other. Marriage is as honourable for a minister of the gospel as for any other man, (comp. Cmt. on Heb 13:4; and, as Doddridge has well remarked, "circumstances may be so adjusted that there may be as much reason for a second marriage as for the first, and as little inconvenience of any kind may attend it."

(3.) There was a special propriety in the prohibition, if understood as prohibiting polygamy. It is known that it was extensively practised, and was not regarded as unlawful. Yet one design of the gospel was to restore the marriage relation to its primitive condition; and though it might not have seemed absolutely necessary to require of every man who came into the church to divorce his wives, if he had more than one, yet, in order to fix a brand on this irregular practice, it might have been deemed desirable to require of the ministers of the gospel that they should have but one wife. Thus the practice of polygamy would gradually come to be regarded as dishonourable and improper, and the example and influence of the ministry would tend to introduce correct views in regard to the nature of this relation. One thing is clear from this passage, that the views of the Papists in regard to the celibacy of the clergy are directly at variance with the Bible. The declaration of Paul in Heb 13:4, is, that "marriage is honourable in all;" and here it is implied that it was proper that a minister should be married. If it were not, why did not Paul prohibit it altogether! Instead of saying that it was improper that a bishop should have more than one wife, why did he not say that it was improper that he should be married at all! Would not a Romanist say so now?

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So, I guess there is no way you could be wrong about this. There is absolutely no possible way that God, who hates divorce would possibly mean that no one who has been divorced in the past is qualified to be a Pastor.
There is not a single verse in the entire Bible that says a remarried man cannot pastor.
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There is not a single verse in the entire Bible that says a remarried man cannot pastor.


Some would say husband of one wife means you cannot divorce and remarry as God still considers you married to the other. I would say that verse in 1 Timothy could be that single verse.
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We must examine what constitutes marriage in God’s eyes. Must a couple stand in a church and have a ceremony performed by an ordained minister? If so, what denomination does God accept? Does God recognize the marriage of a Baptist couple if the wedding was performed by a Methodist minister? What if it was officiated by a female Methodist minister…is the wedding valid in God’s eyes? Suppose the wedding wasn’t performed by an ordained person at all? What if the couple was married by the Justice of the Peace…Does God recognize this marriage?

When we examine the scriptures it becomes clear what God identifies as marriage. Marriage takes place when a man and woman come together in an intimate relationship. Notice how Isaac became married to Rebekah: Genesis 24:67And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. Paul makes it clear: I Corinthians 6:16What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

Now, how many churches ask a pastoral candidate how many women he has been intimate with during his life? If we are to dig into one’s past, rather than examine his present, this must be asked. In fact, churches should begin questioning their current pastors about this immediately to ensure they are qualified. Of course I am being facetious here, but the principle applies.

Again, I feel the Bible is referencing a man’s current standing with God. Is he faithful to his wife as Christ is faithful to His? Just because a man only has one wedding ceremony under his belt does not mean he is always faithful to his wife. Also, is it reasonable to accept a man as pastor, who prior to salvation, molested children, murderer innocent people, yet has only been married once over a man who has been divorced? I realize God hates divorce, but does He hate it more than He hates other sins? Will God forgive murder and allow a man to pastor but forbid a man who has been divorced?

The question was raised how could a divorced pastor give sound advice to a struggling couple thinking about divorce? Well, how could a pastor who used to be an alcoholic give sound advice to someone struggling with alcohol? How can a pastor who was addicted to porn give Godly advice to someone addicted themselves? The answer for all three questions is simple -- Jesus.

Edited by chapabel
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We could sit here and try to list a bunch of sins and see what "level" they might be but there are times when we need to take the Bible at face value and just have faith that God has reasons for certain things. Can our limited mind understand all of these things? No. So, while murder might be right up there or worse than divorce (in my human mind I would consider murder worse than divorce)...we have to believe God knows what he's talking about when he says husband of one wife.

And yes, Churches should ask about the past relationships (marriage/divorce) when looking for a new Pastor. Just as they should ask point blank if the Pastor is saved, try to get as much out of him as possible so you can make a good judgement of his past/character/etc.

I have no problems with others believing it's only someones current situation but I will not be a part of a Church where the Pastor has been divorced (among other things). I would say with this, we should err on the side of caution. There is a chance (no matter how hard headed we can be about it and believe that we cannot be wrong about this particular issue) that God is talking about the other side of which opinion we are on. I see the argument for both but if we err on the side of caution, we should hold the Pastor to the higher standard and that higher standard would be the husband of one wife throughout his entire life.

Edited by DennisD
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If a man is not qualified to pastor because he has been divorced, is God worthy of our worship because He has also been divorced?

Isaiah 50:1 Thus saith the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves, and for your transgressions is your mother put away.

Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

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Are you really going to use that argument? A spiritual divorcement and spiritual marriage. Does it not seem God is trying to explain in earthly terms what He did? Come on, it's strawman.

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No, it's Bible. Divorce is divorce whether spiritual or literal. It is a putting away. I understand your position, I really do. I do not comdemn any for holding this position. Like I said, I have heard this all my life. But I became more concerned with what God says rather than what man says. I believe that if God meant divorce He would have had Paul use the word for divorce "apostasion". It appears, to me, that God is more concerned with how a man is living his life right now, in the present tense.

It seems hypocritical, to me, to tell a lost world that God will forgive all sins if they accept Jesus then turn around and hold a sin over a Christian brother's head if God has forgiven that sin and removed the consequences for that sin. But it has been nice discussing this with you. :)

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Very disappointed in some of your hateful responses Rick. Just ultimately deciding that blossom has already decided to look down upon divorced people, that's an extremely fleshly response to another Christian.


Hateful? That's pretty strong. I wonder how a divorced Christian would feel about her stating that they're a bad example and can't even teach a second grade Sunday school class? Who cares if it happened twenty-years ago and they didn't do anything wrong? I'm not being hateful; I'm being honest about what she's saying. I do regret if I came across like I was picking on Blossom, that's not my intention. She's saying the same thing that many other good people say, and I'm sure she's a good person and a good Christian who loves the Lord - it's just that what she's saying is wrong. I wasn't trying to be hateful; I didn't do any name calling. I'm just tired of people saying, "I don't look down on someone who's been divorced..." only to follow that up with list of things they aren't good enough to do.

Now that you've said my comments were hateful, are you going to be consistant and assign a label to Jerry for habitually telling people they're arguing with God and His Holy Scriptures when they disagree with what he thinks? Or he safe because he agrees with you?

I'm not defending people who have their house out of order or are recently going through divorce proceedings. I'm defending people who have recovered from something like that years and years ago in which they were biblically divorced and have been showing Christian fruit in thier lives for years (and there's plenty of people like that).


Some would say husband of one wife means you cannot divorce and remarry as God still considers you married to the other.


Jesus wouldn't. He told the woman at the well that she had several husbands in her life. Jesus didn't consider her still married to her first husband, he recognized several different marriages as being separate and individual. From what you're saying, God only sees one spouse - unless that spouse dies. That not what Jesus said here.

John 4:16-18, "Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."
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