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A Letter by John A. Broadus on Divorce

      A letter on the subject of divorce had been received from Dr. John A. Broadus, of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

     This letter is as follows:

LOUISVILLE, KY., July 24, 1885.

"MR. W. Z. LEA:
      "DEAR BRO. I did not intend to delay so long in answering your letter.

     "The case you describe belongs to a class sometimes causing great pain in the action necessary to be taken. To me it seems perfectly plain that our Lord expressly prohibits divorce, except for the cause of unchastity. When, therefore, two persons have been by law divorced on other grounds, and one of them, during the lifetime of the other, marries again, I do not see how a church can recognize this second marriage, or fail to treat it as adulterous. It may sometimes be a very painful action to take.

     "Well-meaning people often confuse in their minds the civil and the religious element of marriage, and so may honestly think their action allowable in the second marriage, as it is according to the law of the State; but it seems to me clearly the duty of the church to exclude a member who has entered into such a marriage.

      "But some prominent brethren among us incline to the opinion that Paul, in I Corinthians 7, authorizes divorce on the ground of desertion - a view from which has been developed, by degrees, all the loose divorce legislation of many Protestant countries. It seems to me a great mistake to suppose that Paul has changed the Savior's law on the subject, when his language means nothing more than that the Christian partners may live apart (separation, not divorce), if the heathen will not consent to their living together. But it ought to be borne in mind that some Baptists hold desertion to be a scriptural ground of divorce. The view I have taken is also that of [Alvah] Hovey on 'The Scriptural Law of Divorce,' where the subject is fully and ably discussed.

Yours truly,

[Taken from T. C. Schilling, Abstract History of the Mississippi Baptist Association, From Its Preliminary Organization in 1806 To The Centennial Session in 1906, 1908. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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