Marriage between professing individuals is expected.
2 Corinthians 6:14 – Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath right with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
Marriage to outsiders (being unequally yoked) is strongly discouraged. Depending on their location, those who do so may be banned from participation in meetings, including communion. The length of the temporary ban is not usually disclosed up front. Workers have indicated the purpose is to shame or to make them an example to the unmarried.
Worker Quote: God’s children are admonished to marry “only in the Lord” 1 Cor.7:39. So if you want a Godly home you’ll want a Godly partner, and the best way to attract a Godly partner is to be a Godly person (Ed Cornock, 1965 Denver Conv.)
Worker Quote: God planned the first home. It was not a divided home and God’s children are admonished to marry “only in the Lord” 1 Cor.7:39. (Ed Cornock, 1965 Denver Conv.)
Worker Quote: It is sad to see some of our young people who have gone away from the way of God. They have married outsiders. They have lost their taste for the way of God. Maybe some have got offended because of what someone said or did. They start staying away from meetings. They are not seeing the importance of the meetings anymore. Afterwards, they are not hearing the voice of God anymore. Where are they today? They are not here. They are far away. We hope they come nearer (Alec Wright, Serima, Zimbabwe Conv., 2006).
Workers believe Adultery means unfaithfulness after marriage to one’s spouse. Fornication is immorality before marriage. Remarriage after divorce is considered living in adultery or sin.
The Overseers views about remarriage after divorce depends on their location. They strongly encourage marriage only to a professing 2×2 member (otherwise, their home would be a divided home, which is less than desirable). In some areas, communion is withheld if/when one marries outside. There was/still is much disagreement among the Workers and Overseers over divorce & remarriage (D&R).
In America, up until the late 1980’s or early 1990’s:
Remarriage was only acceptable after the death of a spouse. Or if the divorced couple had remarried prior to becoming a 2×2.
Divorce is discouraged, but accepted, provided the individuals remain single.
A professing 2×2 divorcee may take part in meetings or communion; but if s/he should marry, they are considered living in sin/adultery, and they may no longer take part in meetings or communion. It is considered doubtful they will be allowed to enter heaven.
In America in the late 1980’s to beginning with the late 1990s, the rules for remarriage changed in some areas:
In the area East of the Rocky Mountains under the responsibility of the Eastern USA Overseer, while Remarriage is/was not encouraged, divorced and remarried couples began to follow their consciences as to their participation in meetings (giving testimonies and taking communion). Colorado Overseer Leslie White led this change.
The Western Overseers in America/Canada did not and still have not revised their D&R rules. Some Workers have gone so far as not to allow remarried couples to silently attend Fellowship meetings.
Other Countries: Rules depend on what larger country has the jurisdiction over the smaller country (the country where the assigned Overseer hails from); e.g. if the Overseer was sent to that country by Canadian Overseers and is under Canadian responsibility, the D&R rules for Canada are used.
Worker Quote: Marriage is always to be within the Kingdom…Remarriage of divorced people is adultery. Unchaste behavior before marriage is fornication. Separation under certain circumstances was permissible, but never remarriage. (Marilyn Wheeler, California*)
Worker Quote: Adultery means unfaithfulness after marriage and being untrue to one’s first mate. Now the next sin is fornication. That’s different. Fornication is immorality before marriage. Listen you teenagers, and you twenty-agers, please: a man and woman are not husband and wife until after those marriage vows are performed, you understand that?…A man and woman are not husband and wife until after they’re married…Do you have that clear?….Fornication is immorality before marriage–“except it be for fornication” he can put her away. If when he married her he found out that she had been untrue to their courtship with somebody else before they were married, the next morning after the marriage he could put her away if he wanted to. That is, if he didn’t love her enough to forget it and go on and make a success of the marriage anyway. But that putting away would have to be done within 24 hours after the marriage vows were said (Dan Hilton, Texarkana TX Conv, 1966).
If he decided, “Well, this is not what I thought, she’s not a virgin after all.” It doesn’t say except for the cause of adultery. Nowhere in the New Testament does it say “except for the cause of adultery.” I don’t find anything in God’s word on this subject that there is any problem about understanding. It’s as clear as the noonday sun. “Except it be for fornication.” If she had been untrue to their courtship or even before that and when they got married he discovered it he could put her away the next morning if he wanted to… or that night for that matter.
Worker Quote: Marriage and marriage relationship. Jesus said here and in other places about divorce and remarriage. Matthew 5; Matthew 19; Mark 10; Luke 16; Paul writes in Romans 7 and I Corinthians 7. If we read these with a very open mind and try to understand, we can look at them for loopholes, or, we can look at them trying to understand what is being said. We’ll see without question, that God does not appreciate or favor divorce in any way. Malachi 2:16, “For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that He hateth putting away.” Other translations and languages say, “God hates divorce.” The Lord doesn’t favour remarriage after divorce (Matthew 19:9 except in the case of fornication; Matthew 5.32 saving for fornication). It is adultery for the sinner. Paul calls it adultery . We might try to make this vague, but the message is clear (Western USA Overseer Dale Schultz, Cape Town, S. Africa Conv., 2011).
Worker Quote: When people divorce and remarry, they commit adultery and every time they have relations as man and wife, they commit adultery. These people continue right in their sin. Only if they forsake their sin and put it away can it be forgiven. Prov. 28:13. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Overseer Overseer Eldon Tenniswood, Young People’s Meetings, California, 1982).
Question: Are divorced and remarried people who knew nothing of the truth before remarrrying still living in adultery?
Overseer Worker’s Answer: This is a question I cannot answer. When I went into the work in 1927, those who had never heard the truth before they were divorced and remarried were received into fellowship and baptized. The older workers felt that they didn’t know anything about the truth when they divorced and remarried and they did it in ignorance. We workers leave that in God’s hands and we know that He will take care of it in His time and way. We workers do take a definite stand when people who decided to serve the Lord are divorced and remarried. We have an outline on this and if anyone wishes one, we can give it to you to study.