Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 1, 1955

Brother Fuqua Speaks For Himself

Roy E. Cogdill, San Antonio, Texas

In an article in the Gospel Guardian of July 21, 1955, I pointed out that the brethren are divided on the marriage question among many other things and in doing so referred to what I understood brother E. C. Fuqua, among others, taught on the subject of divorce and remarriage in these words:

"Brother E. C. Fuqua and L. R. Wilson and others teach that if a man is living in adultery before he becomes a Christian and then obeys the gospel that he can go right ahead living with his wife, who wasn't his wife until he was baptized."

Brother Fuqua wrote me that I had not stated his teaching accurately and asked that I correct the statement. I replied that I had so understood his teaching and had no desire to misrepresent him in any way and that if he would state what he does teach, I would be glad to publish it and thus allow him to represent himself concerning the matter. We have received from him the following statement:

What I Do Teach:

A couple lawfully married by civil law authority are not living in adultery, nor are their children illegitimates. In desiring baptism after hearing the gospel, there is nothing to bar their immediate obedience. Their marriage, because lawful, stands inviolate; and to charge them with "living in adultery" is to bring false accusation against an innocent party. It is to flout the authority of the only law under which people in the world have to do. Such is a form of treason; and Christians are commanded to "let marriage be in honor," for Christians cannot marry without the authority of the civil government. Christians "honor" world marriages by desisting from judgment — by accepting them as the work of God's "ministers" placed as guardians of world society. (Rom. 13:1-8.) To dishonor lawful marriage is to "withstand the ordinance of God."

If a couple are actually living in adultery while in the world, they are unlawfully cohabiting — are in violation of civil authority — are living dishonorably. If they (or either of them) wish to be baptized there is nothing to hinder immediate obedience; but as soon as baptized the former relationship will be dissolved. After Baptism, if marriage is desired, they may be lawfully married according to the law of Christ as stated in Matt. 19:9. Whether in the world or in the church, lawful marriage must be honored by all Christians. That is my teaching on the subject, and it will stand the severest test of New Testament authority".

E. C. Fuqua

It is not our policy to misrepresent anyone and if such is done it is entirely unintentional and when called to our attention due correction will be made. We are glad to print the above statement from brother Fuqua and let him state in his own language what he believes. However, he teaches exactly what I thought he taught and from my point of view I did not misrepresent his teaching at all. He believes that the only law controlling marriage before obedience to the Gospel is the civil law of the land. A man living in the world and not a Christian might have to put away his wife because of "mental cruelty" and married again and be within the civil law of the land but an "adulterer" in God's sight as we view the matter. The law of the land is superseded in all matters by the law of God when it is not in harmony therewith. Wherever harmony is lacking, God must be obeyed instead of man. The only law that makes any relationship adulterous is God's law. It is difficult to see according to brother Fuqua's position how a man in the world could live in adultery, if he was married at all. He could be bigamous — be married to a second wife without being legally divorced from the first — or he could just "take up" with some woman without the benefit of civil ceremony, though many of the states recognize even that under specific conditions as legal marriage. But the same thing that makes adultery among Christians makes adultery among those who are not Christians from the viewpoint of God's Word. God has not given one marriage law to the world, and another to the Church. Marriage is not a "church sacrament" as the Catholics teach. If a man in the world puts away his wife and marries another saving for the cause of fornication, he is called an adulterer by the Lord, in the church or out of it. If he should come in such a condition and be baptized without dissolving the adulterous relationship, it would not constitute such obedience to God as would make him a Christian. He would not have properly repented. Being baptized wouldn't affect the fact that he would still be living in disobedience to God's marriage law. That is exactly what we had in mind in the reference made and though we stated it from our own point of view, it is in complete harmony with the above statement of what he does teach. We believe it is adultery whether it is in the world or out of it. We believe that the Gospel could not be obeyed without it being repented of and turned away from. We do not believe that being baptized or making acknowledgment for "having done" wrong would correct the fact that they are still living in wrong. So from the viewpoint of what we meant, we stated brother Fuqua's position pretty accurately though we can understand what he has in mind when he says the statement is inaccurate and incorrect. He doesn't believe a violation of Matt. 19:9 constitutes adultery unless it is between Christians. We do and we do not believe baptism will take care of the matter. If you would like to read a discussion of this matter between brother Fuqua and brother Thomas Warren, order the Fuqua-Warren Debate and you can study the whole question for yourself. The Gospel Guardian will gladly send it to you and send you a bill for it if you would like to have it.