We are requested by a correspondent to give our views on Romans 7: 2, 3. "For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then, if while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man." From this apostolic exposition of the law of God upon the subject of matrimony, we are fully sustained in asserting that nothing short of the death of the husband can so exonerate the wife from her marriage obligations as to leave her at liberty to marry another man. That cases may and do sometimes occur in which a wife may lawfully separate from her husband, or a husband may put away his wife, we believe the Scriptures are sufficiently clear and to the point. See Matt. 5:32; also 19:9; but in no case do we find authority for such persons to marry again. Cases may occur in which a separation may take place against the will of one of the parties, and not for the cause mentioned, Matt. 19:9; but in such cases the parties are forbidden to marry again. "But unto the married I COMMAND, yet not I, BUT THE LORD, let not the wife depart from her husband; but and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband." (I Cor. 7:10, 11) "The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband Liveth." (I Cor. 7:39) From the plain testimony of the Scriptures as referred to above, we give it as our decided conviction that no married wife can, under any circumstances whatever, marry another man while her husband is living, without involving herself in the crime of adultery. Nor can a man marry again while his wife lives, without involving the same sin. We do not say, first husband and first wife, for a second marriage does not constitute the parties husband and wife, where this legal impediment exists.
A bill of divorcement, legally obtained, may in the eye of our civil code disannual a former marriage contract, so that, as far as the civil law is concerned, the parties may contract to live in adultery with impunity, and their issue be legally their heirs; but the Bible gives them no such liberty. Nor has the God of heaven given any authority to any earthly legislature to divide asunder what God has joined together.
We could as soon extend our fellowship and approbation to the direct crime of adultery, where no separation has taken place between the husband and wife, as where such separation has taken place, a divorce obtained and the new connection legalized by the marriage of parties where one or both have a living wife or husband.
We know there is a difference of opinion among professors of religion on this subject; but we have ever refused to perform the marriage service, in any such case, as we should as soon connive directly at or countenance the sin of adultery. We hope NEVER TO HEAR OF AN INSTANCE AMONG OLD SCHOOL BAPTISTS; nor can we hold any as Old School Baptists who would thus live in adultery. The very use the apostles makes of this law, in the text at the head of this article, shows that the church of Christ could not be lawfully wedded to Him, in her visible Gospel order, until she became dead unto the law. Her being put away and cursed by her former husband, (the law) did not release her - she must die, and she did die to the law; Christ became the end of the law, for righteousness to every one that believes. We might extend this article; but we hope enough is said to satisfy the mind of our inquiring correspondent.
Elder Gilbert Beebe, Sept. 15, 1840