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Divorce - changing viewpoints


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18 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

I know there are many members on this board who have probably experienced divorce.  My parents divorced, I hope I never have to face that.  Many of the leaders of the Church have also had spouses leave and issued divorces including most of the early prophets.
But another thread just got me thinking about our ongoing attitude change in the Church.

I would like some opinions on the following quotes.  I AM NOT LOOKING TO DEBATE WHETHER DIVORCED PEOPLE ARE SINNERS.  And I will stay out of any such breakdown in argument.
I am looking at the doctrinal teachings available on the principle and how the view of divorce has changed among members over the years.

Some of our older beliefs might be:

1. The obvious one:
Matthew 5:32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

2. Brigham Young June 28, 1874
I tell a man he has to give me ten dollars if he wants a divorce. For what? My services? No, for his foolishness. If you want a bill of divorce give me ten dollars, so that I can put it down in the book that such a man and such a woman have dissolved partnership. Do you think you have done so when you have obtained a bill of divorce? No, nor ever can if you are faithful to the covenants you have made. It takes a higher power than a bill of divorce to take a woman from a man who is a good man and honors his Priesthood—it must be a man who possesses a higher power in the Priesthood, or else the woman is bound to her husband, and will be forever and ever. You might as well ask me for a piece of blank paper for a divorce, as to have a little writing on it, saying—“We mutually agree to dissolve partnership and keep ourselves apart from each other,” &c. It is all nonsense and folly; there is no such thing in the ordinances of the house of God; you cannot find any such law. It is true Jesus told the people that a man could put away his wife for fornication, but for nothing short of this. There is a law for you to be obedient, and humble and faithful.

3. Brigham Young January 20, 1861
A great many of these Elders of Israel, soon after courting these young ladies, and old ladies, and middle-aged ladies, and having them sealed to them, want to have a bill of divorce. I have told them, from the beginning, that sealing men and women for time and all eternity is one of the ordinances of the house of God, and that I never wanted a farthing for sealing them, nor for officiating in any of the ordinances of God's house; but when you ask for a bill of divorce, I intend that you shall pay for it. That keeps me in spending money, besides enabling me to give hundreds of dollars to the poor, and buy butter, eggs, and little notions for women and children, and otherwise use it where it does good.
You may think this is a singular feature in the Gospel, but I cannot exactly say that it is in the Gospel. Hear it, O ye Elders of Israel; and ye sisters, hear it: There is no ecclesiastical law that you know anything about, to free a wife from a man to whom she has been sealed, if he honors his Priesthood. I do not want you to run after bills of divorce. I would rather be without the money you pay for them. 

Important to note that Brigham himself had several divorces in his lifetime.  Given these statements he may well have considered those divorce documents invalid.

4. The Gospel Topics page on Divorce
Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven.

5. Apostle Paul
I Corinthians 7:10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.


So again, to reiterate the topic isn't "is divorce sinful" but "has the Church membership or the Church itself changed its view of divorce, and how do we justify that in the gospel and does that matter in the eyes of God"?

I think a good comparison between these and current Church attitudes is with this: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/divorce?lang=eng

"When men and women marry, they make solemn covenants with each other and with God. Every effort should be made to keep these covenants and preserve marriage. When divorce occurs, individuals have the obligation to forgive rather than to condemn, to lift and to help.

"The sanctity of marriage and families is taught repeatedly in the scriptures. It has been reaffirmed by modern prophets and apostles. Despite the truths taught about the sanctity of marriage, divorce has become commonplace in the world. Because the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan for His children, Satan seeks to destroy marriages and families. Because of the poor choices and selfishness of one or both marriage partners, marriages sometimes end in contention, separation, and divorce.

"If, instead of resorting to divorce, each individual will seek the comfort and well-being of his or her spouse, couples will grow in love and unity. The gospel of Jesus Christ—including repentance, forgiveness, integrity, and love—provides the remedy for conflict in marriage.

"Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven. Those whose marriages have failed because of what others have done can receive strength and comfort from the Lord, who promised: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28, 30).

"Related Topics

  • Charity
  • Family
  • Love
  • Marriage
  • Temples"

So I think while this "Gospel Topic" covers the same points as your quotes, but provides a more well-rounded perspective that the specific quotes by circumstance or design did not contemplate or cover.

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22 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think a good comparison between these and current Church attitudes is with this: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/divorce?lang=eng

"When men and women marry, they make solemn covenants with each other and with God. Every effort should be made to keep these covenants and preserve marriage. When divorce occurs, individuals have the obligation to forgive rather than to condemn, to lift and to help.

"The sanctity of marriage and families is taught repeatedly in the scriptures. It has been reaffirmed by modern prophets and apostles. Despite the truths taught about the sanctity of marriage, divorce has become commonplace in the world. Because the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan for His children, Satan seeks to destroy marriages and families. Because of the poor choices and selfishness of one or both marriage partners, marriages sometimes end in contention, separation, and divorce.

"If, instead of resorting to divorce, each individual will seek the comfort and well-being of his or her spouse, couples will grow in love and unity. The gospel of Jesus Christ—including repentance, forgiveness, integrity, and love—provides the remedy for conflict in marriage.

"Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven. Those whose marriages have failed because of what others have done can receive strength and comfort from the Lord, who promised: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28, 30).

"Related Topics

  • Charity
  • Family
  • Love
  • Marriage
  • Temples"

So I think while this "Gospel Topic" covers the same points as your quotes, but provides a more well-rounded perspective that the specific quotes by circumstance or design did not contemplate or cover.

I certainly suppor the Church 100% but that is an inane formula when there is infidelity on the part of one spouse.  That spouse usually and almost always doesn't want to go along with this program.

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48 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think a good comparison between these and current Church attitudes is with this: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/divorce?lang=eng

"When men and women marry, they make solemn covenants with each other and with God. Every effort should be made to keep these covenants and preserve marriage. When divorce occurs, individuals have the obligation to forgive rather than to condemn, to lift and to help.

"The sanctity of marriage and families is taught repeatedly in the scriptures. It has been reaffirmed by modern prophets and apostles. Despite the truths taught about the sanctity of marriage, divorce has become commonplace in the world. Because the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan for His children, Satan seeks to destroy marriages and families. Because of the poor choices and selfishness of one or both marriage partners, marriages sometimes end in contention, separation, and divorce.

"If, instead of resorting to divorce, each individual will seek the comfort and well-being of his or her spouse, couples will grow in love and unity. The gospel of Jesus Christ—including repentance, forgiveness, integrity, and love—provides the remedy for conflict in marriage.

"Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven. Those whose marriages have failed because of what others have done can receive strength and comfort from the Lord, who promised: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28, 30).

"Related Topics

  • Charity
  • Family
  • Love
  • Marriage
  • Temples"

So I think while this "Gospel Topic" covers the same points as your quotes, but provides a more well-rounded perspective that the specific quotes by circumstance or design did not contemplate or cover.

I specifically quoted from this topic as one of the quotes.  The portion pertinent to the topic at hand.
The other elements in this topic are correct and valuable but not pertinent to the topic.  The topic is the idea that divorces are more accepted and considered valid as ending covenants in the Church than they once were and how we explain that from a gospel and doctrine perspective.  The topic is not marriage and family good/divorce bad but sometimes necessary.

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28 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

I certainly suppor the Church 100% but that is an inane formula when there is infidelity on the part of one spouse.  That spouse usually and almost always doesn't want to go along with this program.

In that case the question of the gospel validity of a divorce is probably moot since covenants were clearly broken.

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52 minutes ago, Bob Crockett said:

I certainly suppor the Church 100% but that is an inane formula when there is infidelity on the part of one spouse.  That spouse usually and almost always doesn't want to go along with this program.

Wouldn't the formula call for voluntary repentance by the unfaithful former spouse and voluntary forgiveness by the offended former spouse? The divorce as the solution is still recognized and intact.

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29 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

I specifically quoted from this topic as one of the quotes.  The portion pertinent to the topic at hand.
The other elements in this topic are correct and valuable but not pertinent to the topic.  The topic is the idea that divorces are more accepted and considered valid as ending covenants in the Church than they once were and how we explain that from a gospel and doctrine perspective.  The topic is not marriage and family good/divorce bad but sometimes necessary.

So you did! The Brigham Yong quotes wore me out a little :) !

I don't see how "Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven" suggests that divorce is more accepted or seen as valid means to ending covenants than it used to be, especially in context of the whole essay, which I see as being congruent with Brigham Young's message on the sanctity of marriage as instituted of God and folly to mess with.

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24 minutes ago, CV75 said:

So you did! The Brigham Yong quotes wore me out a little :) !

I don't see how "Those who have caused a divorce through their own poor choices can repent and be forgiven" suggests that divorce is more accepted or seen as valid means to ending covenants than it used to be, especially in context of the whole essay, which I see as being congruent with Brigham Young's message on the sanctity of marriage as instituted of God and folly to mess with.

The quote doesn't suggest that divorce is more accepted or a valid way to end a covenant.  I also consider the quote congruent with President Young which is why I included it with the other quotes.
The question at hand is since divorce isn't frowned on by members as much but the quotes seem to remain congruent as Church teaching, how do we reconcile our divorces with the gospel?  Do we believe they are valid in God's eyes and that divorced members are no longer joined in eternity in those cases where no covenant was broken through major sin?

Edited by JLHPROF
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2 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Yes, that is exactly my point.  What you have stated appears to be how these things are viewed from a gospel standpoint.
But the point of this thread is that this is no longer how divorce seems to be viewed in the Church, so I am curious about how we have reconciled the ideas and based on what gospel principles do we think God would allow a divorce to mean an eternal sealing is no longer in place.
Are divorces valid in the eternities (in those situations where no covenants were broken or sealings cancelled?)  Or will many divorced members find themselves still married to their ex when they cross through the veil?

This is a semantics issue, as I see it. A "marriage" usually refers to a civil marriage, based on the law of the land where a man and woman are "married", whereas a "sealing" refers to that "marriage" being sealed/made eternal by the power of the priesthood.

In the Church both usually happen at the same time, the civil "law of the land" part done by obtaining a marriage license and then signing it and sending it in to the local civil authorities after the ceremony administered in a temple by priesthood authority.

So a divorce... a dissolution of a civil marriage...doesn't affect an eternal sealing, because the civil marriage in and of itself is not eternal.  It takes the power of the priesthood to make a "marriage" eternal, otherwise it only pertains to the civil law world.

An eternal sealing can be annulled, though, technically referred to as being loosed or cancelled.  It just isn't a civil divorce that does it, because civil law doesn't have the power to do it.  It takes priesthood power to seal or bind as well as to loose or cancel.

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26 minutes ago, Ahab said:

So a divorce... a dissolution of a civil marriage...doesn't affect an eternal sealing, because the civil marriage in and of itself is not eternal.  It takes the power of the priesthood to make a "marriage" eternal, otherwise it only pertains to the civil law world.

An eternal sealing can be annulled, though, technically referred to as being loosed or cancelled.  It just isn't a civil divorce that does it, because civil law doesn't have the power to do it.  It takes priesthood power to seal or bind as well as to loose or cancel.

This is all true.
Which brings us back to the question at hand.  If no covenant was broken and there is no sealing cancellation, how would a member be justified after divorce in considering themselves single?  Is there a gospel principle that would allow that.

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45 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

The quote doesn't suggest that divorce is more accepted or a valid way to end a covenant.  I also consider the quote congruent with President Young which is why I included it with the other quotes.
The question at hand is since divorce isn't frowned on by members as much but the quotes seem to remain congruent as Church teaching, how do we reconcile our divorces with the gospel?  Do we believe they are valid in God's eyes and that divorced members are no longer joined in eternity in those cases where no covenant was broken through major sin?

I would say there is accountability for anyone undermining the principles in the Family Proclamation. Only the person with the power to seal/bind and loose can do that in relation to marriage and divorce, and the ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise.

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2 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I would say there is accountability for anyone undermining the principles in the Family Proclamation. Only the person with the power to seal/bind and loose can do that in relation to marriage and divorce, and the ratified by the Holy Spirit of Promise.

Agreed.  I think many who consider themselves divorced and single may yet find themselves with their eternal companion.  (Unless they choose to reject that blessing in eternity).
Brigham certainly indicated as much.
What of the Savior's statement concerning remarriage after divorce (presumably without a sealing cancellation)?  That's a scary concept.

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3 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

In both your examples I think it seems that covenants were actually broken.

I agree with this, but I'm curious to know what covenants you think were broken as neither matter involved adultery.

Quote

Not all divorces are as clear.

Neither of the men I mentioned above found their situations clear either. In the case of my former bishop, he has been meeting with and seeking counsel from his past two bishops and members of our past two stake presidencies ... in addition to fasting, prayer, personal actions to try to improve things, etc.

As someone above suggested, it's hard to know what is happening behind closed doors (or how long it has been happening).

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45 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

This is all true.
Which brings us back to the question at hand.  If no covenant was broken and there is no sealing cancellation, how would a member be justified after divorce in considering themselves single?  Is there a gospel principle that would allow that.

The only justification/reasoning for the idea that they were single would be based on the law of the land, rather than a perspective that included their eternal status. 

Civil authorities can declare someone is either married or divorced based on how they define their civil laws, but all of that is only from the perspective of civil authorities and civil laws, rather than God's laws or eternal laws. 

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44 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

Agreed.  I think many who consider themselves divorced and single may yet find themselves with their eternal companion.  (Unless they choose to reject that blessing in eternity).
Brigham certainly indicated as much.
What of the Savior's statement concerning remarriage after divorce (presumably without a sealing cancellation)?  That's a scary concept.

The logic goes something like this:  A man and a woman get married by both civil law and eternal law when they are married and sealed in a temple wedding ceremony.  If they or their marriage is not sealed, then it is only a civil marriage for time only.

Then, later, if they get divorced by civil authorities of civil law, they are no longer married by civil law but they are still sealed to each other unless or until those with priesthood authority later loose or cancel their sealing.  But those with priesthood authority don't automatically do that when civil authorities issue a divorce decree.  That isn't a service that is provided by those with priesthood authority automatically based on what civil authorities have done or decided to do.  The sealing remains in force unless or until it is cancelled, and it won't be cancelled unless one of those involved in the sealing petitions priesthood leaders to cancel that sealing.  

So, yes, those who are sealed to each other as husband and wife are still husband and wife even if civil authorities declare them to be divorced.  Civil authorities do not possess the power to alter God's laws or decrees on their own, unless those with civil authority also have priesthood authority, but even then they must be petitioned to cancel or annul the sealing as well as the civil marriage.

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1 minute ago, Ahab said:

The sealing remains in force unless or until it is cancelled, and it won't be cancelled unless one of those involved in the sealing petitions priesthood leaders to cancel that sealing.  

Minor correction: the only person who can petition for a sealing to be cancelled is a woman. A man who is sealed but divorced can apply to the First Presidency for a clearance to be sealed to a second wife, but unless policy has been updated recently, he may never request that a sealing be cancelled.

This is what happened with my mate in America whose wife left him after just three months of marriage. He is still sealed to her and had to seek a clearance to marry(be sealed to) his second wife.

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1 hour ago, JLHPROF said:

Agreed.  I think many who consider themselves divorced and single may yet find themselves with their eternal companion.  (Unless they choose to reject that blessing in eternity).
Brigham certainly indicated as much.
What of the Savior's statement concerning remarriage after divorce (presumably without a sealing cancellation)?  That's a scary concept.

Ha ha, the uncancelled sealing of a divorced couple offers some incentive for them to work things out or else!

As for Matthew 5:32 / 19:8-9, Elder Oaks said this: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2007/04/divorce?lang=eng “Because “of the hardness of [our] hearts,” the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard. He permits divorced persons to marry again without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law. Unless a divorced member has committed serious transgressions, he or she can become eligible for a temple recommend under the same worthiness standards that apply to other members.”

I think that statement covers policy for temple recommends, but does not override the conditions / "higher law" for authorizing a subsequent temple sealing, not does it override the "higher law" in Alma 34:34 (“that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world,” the spirit by which we are judged).

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1 minute ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Minor correction: the only person who can petition for a sealing to be cancelled is a woman. A man who is sealed but divorced can apply to the First Presidency for a clearance to be sealed to a second wife, but unless policy has been updated recently, he may never request that a sealing be cancelled.

This is what happened with my mate in America whose wife left him after just three months of marriage. He is still sealed to her and had to seek a clearance to marry(be sealed to) his second wife.

Hmm.  I'll have to think some more about that.  Seems to me that if the woman was unfaithful to her husband, having affairs with other men, and had no desire to be faithful to her husband, that the man should be able to cancel that sealing because of her adultery and unwillingness to repent.  Otherwise he could be stuck with an unfaithful wife forever and she would be a wife in name only.

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7 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Ha ha, the uncancelled sealing of a divorced couple offers some incentive for them to work things out or else!

As for Matthew 5:32 / 19:8-9, Elder Oaks said this: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2007/04/divorce?lang=eng “Because “of the hardness of [our] hearts,” the Lord does not currently enforce the consequences of the celestial standard. He permits divorced persons to marry again without the stain of immorality specified in the higher law. Unless a divorced member has committed serious transgressions, he or she can become eligible for a temple recommend under the same worthiness standards that apply to other members.”

I think that statement covers policy for temple recommends, but does not override the conditions / "higher law" for authorizing a subsequent temple sealing, not does it override the "higher law" in Alma 34:34 (“that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world,” the spirit by which we are judged).

I consider adultery to be a serious transgression.  And an unwillingness to repent from any sin as another serious transgression of God's laws.

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17 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Hmm.  I'll have to think some more about that.

Here are the current policies copied from the Handbook:

Quote

38.4.1.2

Sealing of Living Members after Divorce

Women. A living woman may be sealed to only one husband. If she is sealed to a husband and later divorces him, she must receive a cancellation of that sealing from the First Presidency before she may be sealed to another man in her lifetime (see 38.4.1.4).

A living woman who is not currently married may be sealed to a deceased husband, even if they were divorced in life. A living woman who is currently married may not be sealed to a deceased husband without First Presidency approval.

Men. If a husband and wife have been sealed and later divorced, the man must receive a sealing clearance from the First Presidency before another woman may be sealed to him (see 38.4.1.4). A sealing clearance is necessary even if (1) the previous sealing has been canceled or (2) the divorced wife is now deceased.

A sealing clearance is needed if a man is divorced from the woman who was most recently sealed to him. For example, if a man received a sealing clearance to be sealed to a second wife after a divorce and his second wife dies, he would not need a sealing clearance to be sealed again.

 

Quote

Seems to me that if the woman was unfaithful to her husband, having affairs with other men, and had no desire to be faithful to her husband, that the man should be able to cancel that sealing because of her adultery and unwillingness to repent.  Otherwise he could be stuck with an unfaithful wife forever and she would be a wife in name only.

For what it's worth, I don't think that -- in the end -- anyone will be 'stuck' forever with anyone else. The Celestial Kingdom has some pretty strict entry requirements ...

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4 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Here are the current policies copied from the Handbook:

Okay, after further review I now see that nothing I said was wrong.  If a man desires to cancel a sealing to an unfaithful wife there is nothing to indicate our Lord has said that man may not cancel that sealing.  The handbook simply stipulates that if a man has divorced a wife he must receive a sealing clearance to be sealed to his next wife.

4 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

For what it's worth, I don't think that -- in the end -- anyone will be 'stuck' forever with anyone else. The Celestial Kingdom has some pretty strict entry requirements ...

Being stuck with someone isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I'm looking forward to my wife being stuck with me forever, and me with her too.  I just wouldn't want to see someone stuck with someone else they didn't want to be stuck with.

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18 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

For what it's worth, I don't think that -- in the end -- anyone will be 'stuck' forever with anyone else. The Celestial Kingdom has some pretty strict entry requirements ...

Neither do I.  But nor do I think they will get to take their pick of an alternative.
It may well be live up to your covenants or remain single.  After all, everyone there will be a heavenly Celestial being.

Edited by JLHPROF
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34 minutes ago, Ahab said:

I consider adultery to be a serious transgression.  And an unwillingness to repent from any sin as another serious transgression of God's laws.

So if a member who is sealed, gets a civil divorce but not a sealing cancellation/permission to remarry and then remarries in a civil ceremony do we consider that adultery?
If not, why not?

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With some temerity , may I suggest that all covenants entered into here are subject to worthiness and also require being " sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise " before they are eternally in force. That should help with the divorce problem. 

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12 minutes ago, JLHPROF said:

So if a member who is sealed, gets a civil divorce but not a sealing cancellation/permission to remarry and then remarries in a civil ceremony do we consider that adultery?
If not, why not?

Who do you mean by "we" ?  I would.  Wouldn't you?

When a man and woman are sealed as husband and wife together that means they are bound/sealed to each other as husband and wife forever, according to God and God's authority and God's law. 

So to get out of it they would need God or people with God's authority to get them out of it.  People without God's authority would have no power to do it, either way, either to get them into it or to get them out of it.

Is this not as clear as crystal to you now, already?

 

edited to add:  I may be a little unclear as to what you mean by "remarry".  Marrying someone else in addition to someone someone marries isn't necessarily adultery.

 

Edited by Ahab
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