Question 27 (ABM) - Are the rules for remarriage different for men and women?
The following are a series of questions and answers between one of our editors (referred to as BTS) and an anonymous Branham minister (referred to as ABM). This series of Q&A relates to William Branham's doctrine and teaching. The full text of this question and its answer is below.
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Question 27 - Are the rules for remarriage different for men and women?
I hate to revisit the issue of marriage and divorce but feel that I need to, specifically from the aspect of William Branham differentiating between the ability of a man and a woman to remarry. I know that you have stated that I am misunderstanding William Branham. Your view was that he was stating that the guilty party in his sermon was the woman so she could not remarry as a result. I also understand that you believe that, if the guilty party was the man, the wife could remarry (and that this is what William Branham was really teaching).
Honestly, I find this interpretation to be completely illogical based on what William Branham said. He points back to the Old Testament and states that, since men could practice polygamy, this translates into the New Testament allowing men to remarry but not women.
To reiterate, in his sermon on marriage and divorce, William Branham stated:
He gives the example of David, who did commit adultery with Bathsheeba. His example is not Bathsheeba, it's David and Solomon.
William Branham is clearly drawing a distinction between men and women when it comes to remarriage after divorce. I don't want to get into a discussion of whether remarriage is allowed after divorce. However, it is clear that one of the primary changes that Jesus brought to the Mosaic law on divorce was to apply them equally to men and women.
But William Branham states...
I expect you will say that he just did not communicate clearly and many people (including message people) misunderstand what he meant. But honestly, I think he is very clear and, in fact, repeats the issue sufficiently that there is no way that he can be misunderstood. He even ties it back to the fact that polygamy was OK for men in the Old Testament but was not allowed for women. He is clearly allowing men to remarry in certain situations but not women.
Was William Branham such an unbelievably poor communicator that he completely messed this up? Am I understanding your view correctly by stating that you believe William Branham did not believe women should be treated differently from men when it comes to the issue of remarriage? Am I correct in stating you believe remarriage is permitted only for the non-offending spouse where the offending spouse commits adultery (the guilty spouse would not be permitted to remarry) and that the ability to remarry does not depend on gender?
Response from ABM
I do not mind to revisit the subject. I am afraid perhaps you have only ever heard the idolaters try to explain what Bro. Branham meant. I can assure you, our beliefs on marriage and divorce were formed directly from these sermon's Bro. Branham preached. I completely agree with you, that many people in the movement hold different views and they use Bro. Branham's statements to justify all manner of evil. But I know you know we are not all like that.
Emphasis on the guilty party, not the gender
I am surprised a little bit that you never considered his emphasis to be on the guilty party rather than the gender. I know some of the groups you fellow shipped with subscribed to that view while they were still in fellowship with us. So it surprises me a bit to find this is new to you. I admit, I am not sure how Byskal taught on this subject.
Context is important
Before reading what Bro. Branham says in the quote you give, it is important to have full context. Bro. Branham believed two believers could not divorce, except for the case of adultery. This was only acceptable case where two believers could divorce. Bro. Branham said such in the sermon. You must keep that fact in mind, or you will get confused reading what he said. So, in light of that fact, read what he says and consider its implications. The only scenario he is considering here is where two believers have divorced, and one committed adultery. He is dealing specifically with the right to remarry in that situation. If instead, you read this with the thought that Bro. Branham is talking about divorce on demand for any reason, then you come away with a completely different understanding. Wicked men looking for a reason to justify their divorces and sin ignore the context. But read it right. He is only talking about divorce for adultery. Because he did not believe in divorce between believers for any other reason.
Don't be like the idolaters. Read this in proper context. Bro. Branham is dealing specifically with the issue of remarriage in the case of a divorce between two believers due to adultery.
See, she has got a living husband, so no man can marry her. [ABM: She committed adultery. This is the only reason she would be divorced to begin with! A divorce should not have been granted in any other case.] Care what she does and who she is, she’s got a living husband, there is no grounds for her at all. But, it’s not, for him. “Causes her,” not him. Get it? [ABM: He is innocent, he did not commit adultery. He is free to remarry.] You have to make the Word run in continuity. See, nothing saying he couldn’t, but she can’t. See, “causes her,” not him. That’s exactly what the Bible says, “causes her.” It is not stated against him to remarry, but “her.” Why? Christ in the type.
In this last quote you give, Bro. Branham is referring back to an earlier statement, which indicates he was clearly speaking of putting away for cases of adultery and fornication, wherein the woman is the guilty party. This quote, standing alone, makes it sounds like any divorce and time is ok. But really he is referring back to an earlier statement you need for the critical context. So I am going to give you the preceding relevant quote first.
Now, He plainly shows here in these types there is one Christ and many members of that Wife. Notice, He can put us away for spiritual fornications and false doctrine anytime - (65-0221M - Marriage And Divorce, para. 39-1)
And then here is the quote you noted, which refers back. He can put her away anytime he wants... in the case of fornication.
Consider all the facts before drawing a conclusion
Now it is a sad fact that Bro. Branham taught things sometimes in a very confusing manner. But mispeaking and being confusing is different than teaching error. Some people took this sermon and used it to implement polygamy. People went crazy with this stuff, and Bro. Branham never supported any of that.
I know one man here where we live, after Bro. Branham preached this sermon, he went and divorced his wife because she was not a virgin when he married her. He had been married to her for year, had children by her. He up and left her. Bro. Branham heard about it and he let him have it. He was clear in no uncertain terms that is not what he meant. Truth was, that man was having an affair on his wife and just was looking for an excuse to leave her.
I know another man, he took this sermon and said it enabled polygamy. He took three wives. His first wife went to Bro. Branham and told him what had happened. Bro. Branham ran them out of church. That was not what he was talking about either. People are nuts. There are so many nuts that claim to be in the message.
There are plenty more example I could give. I guess in short, I take both Bro. Branham's teachings and his actions as it relates to marital counseling into consideration when I interpret his beliefs on this topic. I understand you may be unaware of any of the counseling he did, and thus do not have that to help give you context and understanding.
In his sermon, Bro. Branham made the following statement.
Some ministers were able to get a copy of this. Bro. Branham had wrote out some clear instructions. I would encourage you to review that document, which you can find published in some message literature.
Finally you get down to the end of his sermon and he begins to state his position very clearly. I see no ambiguity in it at all.
He is very plain here. NO DIVORCE! And he is scolding the people who have been involved in divorce. Yet idolators took this sermon to justify all manner of divorce. To me, this is unequivocal evidence of his position.
So under the modern conditions, I command you to go to your home with your wife now. If you are happy with her, live with her, raise your children in the admonition of God; but God be merciful to you if you ever do that again. You teach your children to never do a thing like that. - (65-0221M - Marriage And Divorce)
How in the world, reading what he says, can we say he was some type of supporter of liberal divorce terms? I just don't understand... Then in his closing prayer, he asks God to forgive the people who have partaken of divorce, because it was sin.
God, I pray that the people will go home being thankful that God has granted this grace to them. I only spoke it, Lord, through permission. And I only say it through permission, Lord. And let the people be so grateful that they'll never try to do that sin again. - (65-0221M - Marriage And Divorce)
You ask: Was William Branham such an unbelievably poor communicator that he completely messed this up?
Answer: That is not out of the question...
You ask: "Am I understanding your view correctly by stating that you believe William Branham did not believe women should be treated differently from men when it comes to the issue of remarriage?"
Answer: That would be correct, we believe he believed men and women should be treated equally in matters of divorce and remarriage. We believed he taught it, and he demonstrated it in his marriage counseling.
You ask: Am I correct in stating you believe remarriage is permitted only for the non-offending spouse where the offending spouse commits adultery (the guilty spouse would not be permitted to remarry) and that the ability to remarry does not depend on gender?
Answer: In the case where both were believers, yes, that is generally our approach. We look at things case by case though. In the majority of cases in our fellowships, the couple reconciles. In other cases, the adulterer leaves and does whatever they want without our blessing. There are alot of nuances to consider. Was the adulterer committing adultery with another married person or a single person? Was it double adultery (both spouses in the marriage had committed adultery)? Is it serial adultery with multiple partners, or just one? Was the act of adultery also an act of homosexuality? All these things, and more, could impact the final decision on how to handle the case. Because you also have to consider the person with whom the adulterer committed their sin and how the scripture would treat that person. For example, if the person with whom adultery was committed was unmarried, then the scriptural remedy for the other person would be to marry the person they committed fornication with. So then we have to weigh the right thing to do. Do we allow the fornicator to marry the adulterer? Maybe. So it is just a complex subject. It is difficult to make too many blanket statements, but better to evaluate case by case.
We conclude that Bro. Branham did not bring a one size fits all doctrine for divorce. Ultimately it all goes back to case by case, using the scripture to guide the decision. He explicitly said in his sermon on marriage and divorce: "If you don't understand it the way that I teach it, well, you have a right to that as a minister, as a shepherd, and I respect anything that you believe." This seems to me, to endorse the ability of the individual pastor to judge based on their individual circumstances.