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Every marriage engagement should be carefully considered; for marriage is a step taken for life. Both the man and the woman should carefully consider whether they can cleave to each other through the vicissitudes of life as long as they both shall live. Letter 17, 1896 , p. 4. (To W. F. Caldwell, May 10, 1896.)
A woman may be legally divorced from her husband by the laws of the land, and yet not divorced in the sight of God and according to the higher law. There is only one sin, which is adultery, which can place the husband or wife in a position where they can be free from the marriage vow in the sight of God. Although the laws of the land may grant a divorce, yet they are husband and wife still in the Bible light, according to the laws of God.
I saw that Sister _____, as yet, has no right to marry another man, but if she, or any other woman, should obtain a divorce legally on the ground that her husband was guilty of adultery, then she is free to be married to whom she chooses. Ms 2, 1863 , p. 4. ("Testimony to Monterey Church," June 6, 1863.)
Your ideas in regard to the marriage relation have been erroneous.
Nothing but the violation of the marriage bed can either break or annul the marriage vow. We are living in perilous times, when there is no assurance in anything, save in firm, unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. There is no heart that may not be estranged from God through the devices of Satan, if he does not watch unto prayer.
Your health would have been in a far better condition had your mind been at peace and rest; but it became confused and unbalanced, and you reasoned incorrectly in regard to the matter of divorce. Your views cannot be sustained on the ground from which you reason. Men are not at liberty to make a standard of law for themselves, to avoid God's law, and please their own inclination. They must come to God's great moral standard of righteousness.
If the wife is an unbeliever and an opposer, the husband cannot, in view of the law of God, put her away on this ground alone. In order to be in harmony with the law of Jehovah, he must abide with her, unless she chooses of herself to depart. He may suffer opposition and be oppressed and annoyed in many ways; he will find his comfort and his strength and support from God, who is able to give grace for every emergency. He should be a man of pure mind, of truly decided, firm principles, and God will give him wisdom in regard to the course which he should pursue. Impulse will not control his reason, but reason will hold the lines of control in her firm hand, that lust shall be held under bit and bridle. . . .
God gave only one cause why a wife should leave her husband, or the husband leave his wife, which was adultery. Let this ground be prayerfully considered. Marriage was from the creation, constituted by God, a divine ordinance. The marriage institution was made in Eden. The Sabbath of the fourth commandment was instituted in Eden, when the foundations of the world were laid, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God
shouted for joy. Then let this, God's institution of marriage, stand before you as firm as the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Letter 8, 1888 , pp. 1, 2.
I have received a letter from your husband. I would say that there is only one thing for which a husband may lawfully separate from his wife or a wife from her husband, and that is adultery.
If your dispositions are not congenial, would it not be for the glory of God for you to change these dispositions?
A husband and wife should cultivate respect and affection for each other. They should guard the spirit, the words, and the actions, so that nothing will be said or done to irritate or annoy. Each is to have a care for the other, doing all in their power to strengthen their mutual affection.
I tell you both to seek the Lord. In love and kindness do your duty one to the other. The husband should cultivate industrious habits, doing his best to support his family. This will lead his wife to have respect for him.
You both need to overcome pride and selfishness. Do not wound one another by harsh words. Speak kindly and gently. I cannot give you better advice than this. No tongue can express, no finite mind conceive, the satisfaction that comes from appreciating the goodness and love of God.
My sister, you cannot please God by maintaining your present attitude. Forgive your husband. He is your husband, and you will be blessed in striving to be a dutiful, affectionate wife. Let the law of kindness be on your lips. You can and must change your attitude. Letter 168, 1901 , pp. 1, 2.
In regard to the marriage of your daughter with A_____, I see where you are troubled. But the marriage took place with your consent, and your daughter, knowing all about him, accepted him as her husband, and now I can see no reason why you should carry any burden over this matter. Your daughter loves A_____, and it may be that this marriage is in the order of God in order that both A_____ and your daughter may have a richer Christian experience, and be built up where they are deficient. Your daughter has pledged herself to A_____ in marriage, and to break her marriage vows would be far from right. She cannot now disannul her obligations to him. . . . I had a personal knowledge of his former relations with his first wife B_____. A_____ loved B_____ far too well; for she was not worthy of his regard. He did all in his power to help her, and sought in every possible way to retain her as his wife. He could not have done more than he did do. I pleaded with her, and tried to show her the inconsistency of her course, and begged her not to obtain a divorce; but she was determined and willful and stubborn, and would have her own way. While she lived with him, she sought to secure all the money possible from him, but she would not treat him kindly as a wife should treat her husband.
A_____ did not put his wife away. She left him, and put him away, and married another man. I see nothing in the Scripture that forbids him to marry again in the Lord. He has a right to the affection of a woman. . . .
I cannot see that this new union should be disturbed. It is a serious matter to part a man and his wife. There is no Scriptural ground upon which to take such a step in this case. He did not leave her, she left him. He did not marry again until she had obtained a divorce. When B_____ divorced herself from A_____ he suffered most keenly, and it was not until B_____
had married another man that A_____ married again. The one he has chosen I feel certain will be a help to him, and he can be a help to her. . . . I see nothing in the Word of God that would require her to separate from him. As you have asked my advice, I will freely give it to you. Letter 50, 1895, pp. 1-6.
I have been considering your case in connection with _____, and I have no other counsel to give than I have given. I consider that you have no moral right to marry _____; he has no moral right to marry you. He left his wife after giving her great provocation. He left her whom he had vowed before God to love and cherish while both should live. Before ever she obtained her divorce, when she was his lawful wife, he left her for three years, and then left her in heart, and expressed his love to you. The matter has been negotiated largely between you and a married man, while he was legally bound to the wife he married, who has had two children by him.
I see not a particle of leniency in the Scriptures given either of you to contract marriage, although his wife is divorced. From the provocation he has given her, it was largely his own course of action that has brought this result, and I cannot see in any more favorable light his having a legal right to link his interest with yours or you to link your interest with his. . . .
I am astonished that you should for a moment give thought to such a thing, and place your affections on a married man who had left his wife and children under such circumstances. I advise you to lay your thoughts and plans regarding this matter just as they are before our responsible brethren, that you may receive their counsel, and let them show you from the law of God the error
into which you have fallen. You have both broken the law even in thinking that you might unite in marriage. You should have repelled the thought at its first suggestion. Letter 14, 1895 , pp. 1, 2.
Your letter has been received and read. I have had acquaintance with several such cases and have found those who felt conscientious to do something in similar cases to the one you mention. After having stirred things up generally, and torn things to pieces, they had no wisdom to put things together to make matters better. I found that those who were so zealous to tear things down did nothing to build them up in right order. They had the faculty to confuse, distress, and create a most deplorable condition of things, but not the faculty to make them better.
You have asked my counsel in regard to this case; I would say that unless those who are burdened in reference to the matter have carefully studied a better arrangement, and can find places for these where they can be comfortable, they better not carry out their ideas of a separation. I hope to learn that this matter is not pressed and that sympathy will not be withdrawn from the two whose interests have been united. I write this because I have seen so many cases of the kind, and persons would have great burden till everything was unsettled and uprooted and then their interest and burden went no further. We should individually know that we have a zeal that is according to knowledge. We should not move hastily in such matters, but look on every side of the question; we should move very cautiously and with pitying tenderness, because we do not know all the circumstances which led to this course of action.
I advise that these unfortunate ones be left to God and their own
consciences, and that the church shall not treat them as sinners until they have evidence that they are such in the sight of the Holy God. He reads hearts as an open book. He will not judge as man judgeth. Letter 5, 1891 , pp. 1, 2.
I have just read your letter concerning _____. I regard the matter in the same light that you do, and think it a cruel, wicked thing that the father of _____ should take the course that he is taking. . . . I would say that his case cannot be improved by leaving the present wife. It would not better the case to go to the other woman in question.
I consider the case of the father one that is singular, and his record is one that he will not be pleased to meet in the day of God. He needs to repent before God of his spirit and his works. The best thing for him to do is to cease to stir up strife. . . . Let the father and brother make diligent work for themselves. They both need the converting power of God. May the Lord help these poor souls to remove spot and stain from their own characters, and repent of their wrongs, and leave _____ with the Lord.
I am so sorry for the man; for his course is in such a shape that it will not answer to be meddled with, for there are difficulties upon difficulties. I would say that the Lord understands the situation, and if _____ will seek Him with all his heart, He will be found of him. If he will do his best, God will pardon and receive him.
O, how precious it is to know that we have One who does know and understand, and will help the ones who are most helpless. But the rebuke of God is upon the father and the brother who would drive to destruction and perdition one who stands in the sight of God under no worse condemnation than themselves; and yet they will so use their gifts of speech as to dishearten, discourage,
and drive_____ to despair.
_____ may hope in God and do the best he can to serve God in all humility of mind, casting his helpless soul upon the great Sin-bearer. I have not written a word to either father or son. I would gladly do something to help poor _____ to make things right, but this cannot be done as matters are now situated, without someone being wronged. Letter 175, 1901 , pp. 1-3.
I have received your letter, and in reply to it I would say, I cannot advise you to return to _____ _____ unless you see decided changes in him. The Lord is not pleased with the ideas he has had in the past of what is due to a wife. . . . If Brother _____ holds to his former views, the future would be no better for you than the past has been. He does not know how to treat a wife.
I feel very sad about this matter. I feel indeed sorry for _____, but I cannot advise you to go to him against your judgment. I speak to you as candidly as I spoke to him; it would be perilous for you to again place yourself under his dictation. I had hoped that he would change. . . .
The Lord understands all about your experiences, Sister _____. Be of good courage in the Lord; He will not leave you nor forsake you. My heart goes out in tenderest sympathy for you. Letter 148, 1907 , pp. 1, 2.
I cannot see what more can be done in this case, and I think that the only thing that you can do is to give up your wife. If she is thus determined not to live with you, both she and you would be most miserable to attempt it. And as she has fully and determinedly set her stakes you can only shoulder your cross and show yourself a man. Letter 40, 1888 , p. 1. White Estate Washington, D.C. August 22, 1948