Should Seventh-day Adventists be Signing Separation or Divorce Papers?
Nothing concerning Christians [Christian Family] should be brought before people who are not of the same faith. [i.e. courts/unbelievers]. This in principle should apply to spouses who are having problem with their marriages. It is clear from Bible and the Writings that the course of Matthew 18 should be followed or the one who is spiritual strong accept to be defrauded in such cases. I am not even convinced that a spouse should sign divorce or separation papers where there has been no adultery or gross misconduct respectively. If the one who has turned against plain counsels of the Bible and wants to leave, let them leave but you should not be partisan to their apostasy by agreeing to sign any papers.
ANOTHER GRAVE EVIL THAT HAD ARISEN IN THE CHURCH WAS THAT OF BRETHREN GOING TO LAW AGAINST ONE ANOTHER. Abundant provision had been made for the settlement of difficulties among believers. Christ Himself had given plain instruction as to how such matters were to be adjusted. “If thy brother shall trespass against thee,” the Saviour had counseled, “GO AND TELL HIM HIS FAULT BETWEEN THEE AND HIM ALONE: IF HE SHALL HEAR THEE, THOU HAST GAINED THY BROTHER. BUT IF HE WILL NOT HEAR THEE, THEN TAKE WITH THEE ONE OR TWO MORE, THAT IN THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY WORD MAY BE ESTABLISHED. AND IF HE SHALL NEGLECT TO HEAR THEM, TELL IT UNTO THE CHURCH: BUT IF HE NEGLECT TO HEAR THE CHURCH, LET HIM BE UNTO THEE AS A HEATHEN MAN AND A PUBLICAN. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:15-18. {AA 304.1}
To the Corinthian believers who had lost sight of this plain counsel, Paul wrote in no uncertain terms of admonition and rebuke. “Dare any of you,” he asked, “having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, ARE YE UNWORTHY TO JUDGE THE SMALLEST MATTERS? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. IS IT SO, THAT THERE IS NOT A WISE MAN AMONG YOU? NO, NOT ONE THAT SHALL BE ABLE TO JUDGE BETWEEN HIS BRETHREN? BUT BROTHER GOETH TO LAW WITH BROTHER, AND THAT BEFORE THE UNBELIEVERS. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. WHY DO YE NOT RATHER TAKE WRONG? . . . Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” {AA 304.2}
Satan is constantly seeking to introduce distrust, alienation, and malice among God’s people. We shall often be tempted to feel that our rights are invaded, even when there is no real cause for such feelings. Those whose love for self is stronger than their love for Christ and His cause will place their own interests first and will resort to almost any expedient to guard and maintain them. Even many who appear to be conscientious Christians are hindered by pride and self-esteem from going privately to those whom they think in error, that they may talk with them in the spirit of Christ and pray together for one another. WHEN THEY THINK THEMSELVES INJURED BY THEIR BRETHREN, SOME WILL EVEN GO TO LAW INSTEAD OF FOLLOWING THE SAVIOUR’S RULE. {AA 305.1}
CHRISTIANS SHOULD NOT APPEAL TO CIVIL TRIBUNALS TO SETTLE DIFFERENCES THAT MAY ARISE AMONG CHURCH MEMBERS. SUCH DIFFERENCES SHOULD BE SETTLED AMONG THEMSELVES, OR BY THE CHURCH, IN HARMONY WITH CHRIST’S INSTRUCTION. Even though injustice may have been done, the follower of the meek and lowly Jesus will suffer himself “to be defrauded” rather than open before the world the sins of his brethren in the church. {AA 305.2}
Lawsuits between brethren are a reproach to the cause of truth. Christians who go to law with one another expose the church to the ridicule of her enemies and cause the powers of darkness to triumph. They are wounding Christ afresh and putting Him to open shame. By ignoring the authority of the church, they show contempt for God, who gave to the church its authority. {AA 306.1}
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