Cline Paden Letter on MDR at Sunset

March 6, 1973
Probably no Bible topic has so much diversity of thought surrounding it as does marriage, divorce, and remarriage.

Each time we come to those sections of Scripture which relate to marriage we have to deal with practically every viewpoint that anyone has ever entertained. Our students come from every section of the country, and they come with every conceivable shade of brotherhood thought on these matters. They present these positions in class in the form of questions and comments. Our task is to leave the student with a position which can be substantiated by a “thus saith the Lord”. This is no easy task, and we do not always succeed. But we do try. We cannot control what a student may believe, for he may have believed it long before coming to Sunset. We can only control what he is taught.

Briefly stated:

  1. We believe that God joins a man and a woman in marriage. We believe that God is a witness to the covenant, but is Himself no partner in it.
  2. We do not believe that unfaithfulness in sexual matters necessarily dissolves the marriage. The guilty may repent, the innocent may forgive, and the marriage may continue. However, if the innocent party elects to do so, he may “put away” his mate—but only in case of adultery.
  3. We believe that this putting away, as the Greek words teach, “looses and sets free” each participant. After one has been put away for adultery neither of the contracting partners is left bound to the other.
  4. We believe that the truly innocent party may remarry. This is strongly implied in Matthew 19:9, and may be as some contend, actually taught.
  5. And while it is crystal clear that the now-put-away-guilty-party is no longer bound to anyone in marriage, we know of no positive Biblical warrant which would unquestionably sanction a remarriage for him. It may be inferred that since he is not now married to anyone he may for that reason be justified in joining himself to another, yet the position is devoid of outright Biblical consideration, and is left clothed in an atmosphere of doubts and uncertainties. To speak either way is to speak from indefiniteness—and from indefiniteness on any Biblical subject one should not presume to speak authoritatively.

Therefore, Sunset School of Preaching does not, and will not teach that the guilty party may remarry.


[Signed Cline R. Paden

Director, Sunset School of Preaching

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Author: jfm

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