R.C. Sproul took a question from a pastor on his radio show that interested me quite a bit. The pastor had a new convert in his church that had been a polygamous Mormon. The man had left Mormonism but not any of his three wives. The pastor was curious how he should go about disciplining this man and if he should be encouraged to leave his two additional wives.
I expect Christians to encounter more situations like this one. And the dilemma isn’t just for polygamist. What should two married women with children be counseled to do if they join a church? Two married men? How about a man who divorced, as a believer, for unbiblical reasons and remarried?
I’m sure the situation is semi-regular in the LDS church. What must a polygamous man do to be baptized and enjoy full communion in the LDS church?
I think divorce is one of American culture’s greatest sins. It’s an epidemic and the church and Christians are by no means exempt. Sadly, divorce stats among Christians are exactly the same as the rest of society. I actually think that Jesus in his teaching on marriage allows for divorce but not for remarriage (except in some cases). [see Matthew 5 and Matthew 19]
As I’ve begun to study the LDS church there is a cultural phenomenon within Mormonism that leaves me perplexed. In countless stories I’ve read from Mormons who are thinking of leaving the faith they are constantly faced with the fear of losing their immediate families. (see this link for instance) It seems Mormon spouses are quite quick on the divorce trigger if their partner no longer believes. This is not something I have seen in Protestantism.
The reason this saddens and confuses me is because Mormons are Bible-believing. While Jesus does make room for divorce, Paul quite clearly counsels that believers should NOT divorce unbelievers.
I Corinthians 7:12-16 12To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
Paul does make it clear that these are his words and not the Lord’s. But is it still not good counsel? I understand what a difficult situation it must be, but I don’t understand how an ultimatum like that would help anyone with doubt. “Believe or I’ll divorce you.” Personally I would rather live with my wife in authenticity than conformity (you can never force anyone to believe, the best you can get is outward conformity).