In September of 2002 a group of fifty brothers from our community met at a Conference Center in Plainfield, NH, for a Conference on Marriage. The articles in this special issue were written to complement the "Bible Principles Relative to Marriage" developed by the brethren at that conference. It is our hope that this Special Issue on Marriage in the Word, along with the inclusion of a copy of those Bible Principles, will serve as a handy reference that will help our community to be more proactive in our effort to avoid future marriage difficulties
(The following excerpt adapted from an Ecclesia information letter will explain the purpose for the Conference on Marriage.)
Singing Hills, Plainfield, NH - September 14-15, 2002, Lord Willing
Why this topic? How will it be addressed? There was serious concern expressed by the brethren who attended the 2000 Conference that Bible teaching concerning marriage is under assault, as the moral values of our surrounding society deteriorates. There was a need identified reinforcing the importance of marriage, and to encourage the coming generation to "marry in the Lord." This is one of our responsibilities as a community. In addition, the subject of Marriage, Divorce and Re-marriage has been recognized by many of the Conference participants to be one of the major areas of difference, affecting fellowship, for the household today. At both of the previous Conferences, the majority identified the topic of marriage as the most appropriate theme for a subsequent Conference.
The Conference committee is fully aware that while the household holds in common many principles of Bible teaching concerning marriage, there are sincerely and deeply held differences of conscience when it comes to Bible teaching concerning the circumstances, if any, in which divorce and remarriage might be acceptable to our Father in heaven. We do not believe that in a single weekend conference it would be possible to adequately address these differences. Accordingly, this conference will be reserved for a discussion based on scripture, of the subject of Bible teaching concerning the model for Marriage. Discussions about "divorce or remarriage" (exceptions to the model), will not be a part of this conference.
We are all very much in basic agreement regarding this Scriptural model for marriage. An appropriate task for this Conference would be to identify the Bible principles on this important subject, and to develop them into a presentable format that would be a suitable guide for us and for our young people.
This will include a presentation of the Bible principles that would also address the perversions of the model in this present world. For example, we must clearly address the principle that a marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman, and that the Bible considers any other combination to be an abomination. Furthermore, the widespread societal practice of a man and woman living together "in common-law" relationships is a violation of the divine principles concerning marriage.
We understand that in order to build any bridges in difficult areas, such as the marriage issue, we must be willing to start the process of communication with one another in a positive and constructive manner, with the Scriptures as our source of instruction. The committee is more than willing to help with the organization process. What the conference may be able to accomplish, God willing, is to identify those Bible principles concerning marriage held in common by us as believers in contradistinction to the mores of this world, and to increase our respect for one another as brethren.
It would be our hope that all of those delegates that are attending the Conference would be willing to dedicate themselves to a positive and constructive process of communication in the spirit of Christ. We would do well to conduct our discussions in respect for the "Bible Principles for Addressing Conflict and Differences among Brethren," as developed at our last Conference.
The objective is to develop a better understanding of the Bible teachings on this important subject by working together, sharing our knowledge in mutual respect and communicating a summary to our ecclesias.
The following Principles as presented in the Bible will be the topics for the discussion groups, Lord willing:
May God bless our efforts to discuss these matters in Spirit and in truth with the hope that the product of our efforts will be a useful contribution to the well being of our spiritual family in these latter days.
Conference on Communication
Ad hoc committee