Video available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyZH6kco2bI
I will never forget those long, hot evenings in the Branham
Tabernacle in Jeffersonville, Indiana, when the pastor would decide to play the
recorded sermon by William Branham, “Marriage and Divorce.” Sitting there listening to what I believed to
be “God’s Word” as children sat for over two, long hours counting the holes in
the ceiling tiles. Seems as though I
remember a few adults counting with them, trying to concentrate on the sermon
from 1965, but not succeeding.
At the end of the sermon, the pastor would say something to
the effect, “I’m so glad that brother Branham brought us this sermon so that we
would know the truth about marriage and divorce. Looking back, this statement is a bit
shocking when you consider that it comes from a pastor. One would assume that a pastor would base his
teaching upon the Bible, and the Bible tells us everything we need to know
about the union between a woman and a man.
Let me preface by saying that I am not in support of a man
or woman leaving his or her spouse for another.
I do not believe that this is God’s perfect plan. I truly believe that if we had the love that
Jesus displayed in His example of the perfect life, there would be no
separation. The man and his wife are a
representation of Christ and His Bride.
And I’m not going to argue or debate against the decisions
of a pastor as he teaches on this subject – so long as his teaching remains
based upon scripture. You’ll find many
articles on the internet describing “Branham verses Bible” that will show you
the Words of Scripture pointing to Truth without having to even begin to
debate. The Word of God should stand,
though every man be found a liar.
Instead, I think we should join together as an encouragement
for God’s children, no matter who they are or what they have done. This is what Christ taught us to do. While it was not God’s intention for any to
separate, it was also not God’s intention for love to fail. Sadly, it happens. This is a world filled with sin, and we are
all sinners saved by God’s Grace.
I am not a pastor, and do not consider myself a shepherd of
any kind. I am free to voice my opinion
without fear of how one of my “sheep” might be affected. I believe that if I were a pastor, I would
preach strongly against men and women separating, using the words found in
scripture to try to mend relationships before they are severed. What God has put together, let no man put
But this is only one small part of the responsibility of a
pastor. What I want to discuss now is
the other side of the issue: showing
support and love to those who have severed past relationships and have started
new lives. A pastor who stands in duty
on the first half of the issue and then hides from the second half of the issue
is not standing at all. Turning their
backs away from God’s children, they become less of a shepherd and more of an
open hole in the fence.
Very few outside of Jeffersonville know the background story
to Branham’s sermon entitled “Marriage And Divorce.” Even fewer know why the original founding
fathers of this religious movement have to pretend that they did not know what
the Bible said on the subject before Branham preached this sermon.
This sermon was the result of the failed union between
Branham’s son, Billy Paul, and his first wife.
Though he preached harshly against “marrying and giving in marriage” on
recorded tape, there were a number of men Branham gave a special “pardon” to
because their separation was prior to the preaching of this sermon. Billy Paul just happened to be one of those
But Billy Paul was not the first. According to government archives, Branham
officiated the second and third marriage for his brother Jesse. Jesse’s marriage to Agnes Gulleth and Mary
Merryman were both officiated by William Branham, though each was married
Melvin Branham, William’s brother, also traded women around
a bit. William Branham officiated
Melvin’s marriage to Charlotte Brumback (Hope’s sister), and later Catherine
Hendricks. Both Melvin and Catherine
were married multiple times when Rev. Branham officiated their wedding.
But my point is not to condemn Branham for helping his
brothers trade women around like cattle.
We do not know the background story behind each situation, and though
Branham did not practice what he preached, it is not our duty to judge his
actions. Only God knows why Branham
would preach one thing while doing another.
Pause for a moment and picture the stories of two women, two
separate stories that are similar in situation:
Both women are accused of living in adultery, guilty of
breaking the bonds of marriage. Both
women are shamed by their accusers. Both
women are certainly guilty of their sin, standing before their shepherds in the
face of the men who condemn them.
One Man falls to his knees in front of one of the women,
drawing something in the sand. The other
man raises his nose in scorn. One man
addresses the accusers, pointing to what he had drawn in the sand, while the
other man addresses the other accusers pointing his finger at the woman.
As the two sets of accusers watch the women and their
respective shepherds, we find a vast difference in the outcomes. One man asks the accusers which of them are
without sin. The other tells the woman
being accused that she will never be part of the Bride of Christ.
Both of these are true stories. One is found in John 8, when a woman was
brought before Christ to be stoned for her adultery. The other was brought before her pastor in a
church that follows William Branham.
The love that Jesus displayed for this woman changed her
life forever. Though she was guilty of a
crime that was punishable by death under the Mosaic Law, Christ stood by her
side against her accusers. While the Law
of Moses declared punishment and death, the Love of Christ declared new
Similar testimonies are coming in from around the
world. Pastors have made themselves
judge, jury, and executioner. Rather
than stand for the sinner in love, showing them the way to Christ, they stand
with the accusers like the Pharisees did during the days of Christ. They have based their teaching on the
extra-biblical doctrines that this religious movement have produced, and
declare judgment upon the guilty, telling them that they will never be part of
One woman tells me that they were instructed to divorce her
new husband, and then she might be a “servant to the bride” if she is
“lucky.” Instead of asking the accusers
“whoever is without sin, cast the first stone,” the pastors have proclaimed, “here
are some more stones, let me help you punish this woman for her sin.”
Nothing can separate us from the Love of God. The Bible says, “I will never leave you nor
forsake you,” and that the blood of Christ is sufficient.
As I said, I am against divorce and remarriage. Families are separated. Children are caught in the middle, and their
lives are changed forever. Some
relationships are never mended. God did
not intend for things to be this way.
The same love that he showed for the woman accused of adultery is the
same love that a man should have for his wife: unfailing.
But we were falsely taught that remarriage was “perpetual
adultery,” a sin that could never be forgiven.
We were taught that this sin was somehow greater than all others, and that
the power of this sin was greater than the power of the cross. We were taught that this could not be
Because of this, we find partners abusing the false security
of their seemingly unbreakable marriage.
Women refusing their marital duties to their husbands, falsely thinking
that he is stuck with her and can never leave.
Men who abuse their wives and treat them like servants – because he
falsely thinks she is unable to find another man.
What the pastors do not tell you is the elements of Jewish
custom. Women who did not perform their
marital duties under Jewish custom were put away. Divorce was permitted under the statutes of
Moses, and according to Jesus was due to the hardness of their hearts. They did not have this love that Christ displayed
for the Bride of Christ.
When a woman was put away, this was a death sentence. Women did not have skilled trades, and could
not provide for themselves. If they were
to survive, they must find another husband.
For this reason, the scriptures tell us that separating from your wives
causes the wife to “commit adultery.”
But notice, the scriptures do not tell us to condemn those
who went through a separation. We do not
find scriptures forcing ourselves to remain in an abusive relationship for fear
of denying the power of the cross – the work that Christ did on the cross was
once for all.
What we do find is several examples of Christ telling us
that no sin is greater than another. We
find examples telling us how damaging our sin of pride is towards others, and
how our condemnation of the sins of others is useless until we can remove the
“log from our own eye.”
Christ rebuked those enforcing the punishment of death
towards adulterers when he told the Pharisees that they were also committing
adultery as they looked upon another woman in lust. Christ was not imposing a new more difficult
rule as many pastors falsely preach – he was explaining to the Pharisees that
none were worthy and all had fell short of the Glory of God.
I never will forget when I met my first person that told me
that their failed marriage was the reason that they had left the message. Not long after that, another in a similar
situation who had not only left the message, but had left Christianity simply because
of the false teaching of condemnation for past sins.
Since SeekYeTheTruth started, I have came across several who
were trapped in failed marriages. Some
were the fault of the spouse still in the message, some the fault of the one
who left. One told me that he tried to
stay with his spouse, but reaching his arm under her head in the middle of the
night, his hand landed on an axe under her pillow! Not only was his marriage suffering, his life
was in danger – and the only reason he forced himself to stay with this woman
was the fear of eternal separation from God!
Now that we have exposed the failed prophecies of William
Branham, some have blamed their failed marriages on me, personally. While denying their spouses the love,
security, and even marital duties, they believe that their husbands or wives
are eternally bound into an abusive relationship.
I will be the first to tell you that God does intend for us
to be bound in chains to an abusive spouse until death causes those chains to
fall to the ground. But while there is a
chance of mending a relationship, I support finding ways to restore love where
love can be restored.
But I will say this:
If fingers pointed at me can help mend otherwise broken bonds of love
between mothers and fathers and their children or families, I’ll gladly bear
Scriptures tell us that it was not God’s plan for husband
and wife to separate. It was not
intended to be this way from the beginning, and the hardness of heart has led
to many separations throughout time.
But we find no punishment declared under either the Mosaic
Law or in the New Covenant of Grace.
Even the churches that support the teaching of William Branham, who
create a mixture of Old Covenant Law and New Covenant Grace have to add
scriptures to their Bibles to support this theology of eternal separation due
to marital separation.
Even their leader, William Branham, did not live his life
this way. If they would simply examine
the lifestyle of the Branham family, and study the men and women married and
remarried by Branham himself, they would never condemn another for their
difficulties in life.
We must remember that separation is not an easy thing. No genuine man and woman gets married with
intentions of separation, and the pain that drives them into leaving the love
of their life is severe. While we stand
condemning, like the men bringing the woman to Jesus, we must remember that
underneath that body of flesh is a broken and battered life.
But then, we must stand up for that life with the love that
Jesus displayed. We must offer the man
and the woman the same undying love and support that Christ displayed as he
drove the accusers from her side.
Remember the woman at the well. She had five husbands, and was living with a
man that was not her husband. She could
not provide for herself, so each time she was abandoned, she had to find
another man to support her. No woman in
Jewish custom willingly left a providing husband – to leave was to die of
Jesus did not tell her that her first remarriage severed her
from the body of Christ. He did not tell
her that her second remarriage excluded her from being part of the “little
bride.” He did not tell her that her
third remarriage limited her to status of “servant to the bride.” He did not tell her that her forth and fifth
marriage condemned her to hell.
What is interesting about that situation is that the woman
seemed to be a believer. She knew of the
coming Messiah, and was looking for his arrival. She believed it to the extent that she asked
Jesus if he was the One. Her many
remarriages seemed to be as a believer, and Christ offered her salvation.
Because of the love Jesus showed to this woman, lives were
saved. She found forgiveness and love at
the hands of the one who was going to soon die on a cross for her eternal
life. Because Christ did not scorn her
into broken spirit, not only her, but many in the city were saved! The love of the Gospel shown to one person
has the power to save!
Divorce was never part of God’s plan. But we must remember also that neither was
pride or selfishness. The scorn that the
pastors have shown towards brothers and sisters that have started new lives
after abusive or immoral relationships was never part of God’s plan – pastors
are supposed to be shepherds of the flock, not butchers.
I don’t believe that Christ intends for us to drive His
Children into leaving Christianity for decisions that we do not fully
understand. I do not believe it is God’s
perfect will that we excommunicate our brothers and sisters after they start
new lives, as many have now told us as part of their testimony. It is God’s will for all to be saved and to
come to knowledge of the Truth.
So let’s offer that same support and love that Jesus gave to
the woman at the well. Let’s show the
others that the love within us comes from Christ, and it knows no
boundaries. Let’s try to re-establish
love in the many failing relationships across this nation by leading them to
this Christ who died for their sins.
Let’s tell them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good
News that Christ came and lived the perfect life that we could not. Let’s tell them how Christ died on the cross
for both sides of that failed marriage, and with every blow of the hammer to
the nail, their sin was erased from the mind of God. Let’s assure them that Christ rose, and they
will one day rise with him – no matter what they have said or done!
And let’s remind ourselves that it is by Grace that we are
saved, through faith in Jesus Christ. It
is not of ourselves – there is nothing that we can do to save our sinful
flesh. It is a Gift, from Almighty
God. The Gift of the Father when He
offered His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.
For by grace you have
been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of
God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.