Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 11 (1896)


Lt 17, 1896

Caldwell, W. F.


May 7, 1896 [typed]

This letter is published in entirety in 10MR 190-194.

Dear Brother:

Instituted by God, marriage is a sacred ordinance and should never be entered upon in a spirit of selfishness. Those who contemplate this step should solemnly and prayerfully consider its importance, and seek divine counsel that they may know whether they are pursuing a course in harmony with the will of God. The instruction given in God’s Word on this point should be carefully considered. Heaven looks with pleasure upon a marriage formed with an earnest desire to conform to the directions given in the Scripture. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 1

We read in God’s Word: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God has said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” [2 Corinthians 6:14-16.] 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 2

If we follow Christ, His Holy Spirit will work and speak through us, and we will be living epistles, known and read of all men. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” [2 Corinthians 7:1.] “And I will set my tabernacle among you; and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.” [Leviticus 26:11, 12.] “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” [1 Corinthians 3:16, 17.] 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 3

Once let the barrier which the Lord has erected in regard to the marriage relation be broken down, and unless this transgression against the law of God is seen in its true colors, the sacredness of the marriage relation will not be appreciated, and steps will be taken which show an utter disregard for the Word of God. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 4

The truth of God is to be held as more precious than anything else, and the man who will sacrifice truth to obtain a wife reveals that his appreciation of the law of God is of a very low grade, and that self-gratification rises superior to a “Thus saith the Lord.” Of a man who will put his own impulses before the Word of God a woman may well be afraid, for he has no just appreciation of what marriage means. He who obtains his wife by disloyalty to God cannot expect the blessing of God to rest upon his marriage. He practices a lie in order that he may avoid detection, violates the law of God that he may gratify an unholy passion or indulge his fancy, and he cannot be happy. He who is not true to his God cannot be true to his wife. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 5

Convicted of sin, he may repent of his action in yielding up the truth in order to obtain his wife, and may return to his obedience to the fourth commandment. But by doing this he places his wife in a most unfavorable position. She opposed the truth so strongly that she refused to marry one who believed it; and in order to gain her consent, he dishonored God by giving up the Sabbath, leading her to believe that this would be always so. Now that he has changed, it will be very hard for him to make up for his lack of honesty. How distrustful he should be of himself! How careful he should be never, by word or action, to give her cause for a further lack of confidence. If thoroughly converted, he will do all in his power to be a faithful husband and father, bearing with meekness whatever opposition he may receive from his wife, remembering that she is placed in a hard position by being united to one who believes a truth she would not receive. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 6

He will give her no occasion to think that he enjoys the society of young ladies more than he does that of his wife. He will abstain from the very appearance of disloyalty to his wife. He will not leave her to bear the larger share of the family cares, increasing her burdens by his exacting, fault-finding ways, but as increased responsibilities come, he will be tender and thoughtful, seeking to relieve her of all unnecessary suffering or anxiety. Even if she is not all he might desire a wife to be, he will remember that he has given her cause for a lack of confidence in him, and he is not all that a woman desires in her husband. He promised that if she would marry him, he would give up the Sabbath, and believing this she married him. This promise he has broken, and if he would once more gain his wife’s confidence, he must be faithful and true in every particular, in small matters as well as larger responsibilities. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 7

My brother, this is the course you should have pursued, but has it been so? Did you ask counsel and guidance of God before marrying your wife, or did you follow your own way? You bound yourself to love and cherish a woman who only accepted you on the condition that you would give up the Sabbath of God. But the man who yields to impulse and his own unconsecrated passions, and selects an unbeliever for his wife, and yields up the claims of God, promising to give up the Sabbath if she will marry him, takes a step that will bring unhappiness into his family. He sells his birthright for a mess of pottage. And the woman who trusts her life to such a man will never feel the respect for him that a woman ought to feel for her husband. Every marriage engagement should be carefully considered, for marriage is a step taken for life. Both the man and the woman should carefully consider whether they can cleave to each other through the vicissitudes of life as long as they both shall live. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 8

But you chose between God and your wife, and made the choice by becoming disloyal to God. You determined to have your own way, and you sold the Lord God in a very cheap market. By this act you brought upon your Christian life the reproach of disloyalty. You imperilled your soul by buying your wife, and the result has been as might be expected. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 9

Your object gained, you did what you had intended to do after you were married. You again accepted the Sabbath. But how did your wife regard this? What effect did it have upon her? A stumbling block was laid directly in the way of her regarding favorably your profession of faith. Having violated the law of God to obtain a wife, you were not happy in your marriage relations. Your wife did not forsake you, but you forsook her, leaving to her the care and responsibility of two sons. After you had been absent three years, you irreverently and recklessly disregarded the marriage relation by placing your love, or your fancied love, upon another, and sought to take another wife. Of how much confidence is a man worthy who will thus leave his wife and children and seek to contract a second marriage? Even before your wife obtained a divorce, you placed your affections upon another. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 10

In taking this step, you saw no further ahead in regard to the importance of it than when you first showed your disloyalty to God in order to gain your object. You showed that you had no experimental knowledge of God, but that your desire to please self overbalanced your desire to please God. Under such circumstances could your second marriage have borne the signature of heaven? Would you have been a faithful husband and a wise father? Your first marriage was a violation of the law of God; by seeking to contract another while your wife was still living, you dishonored God and showed that you either had not a sound religious faith, or were not of a sound mind. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 11

The divorce obtained by your wife was no more than could be expected. The man who will give up his loyalty to God in order to obtain a wife will not be loyal to his wife, and you yourself have laid the foundation of your trouble. The course you have pursued in your home life has been a mistake from the beginning, and your wife has reason to consider that she and the children would be happier without your company. Were I to hear of any woman purposing to enter into the marriage covenant with you, I would feel it my duty to warn her against it, for you have in your disposition the attributes of a tyrant. You expect a woman to submerge her will in yours, preserving no individuality of her own. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 12

The spirit you manifested in your connection with your wife’s mother was not as God would have it, but was directly against the principles contained in His holy Word. You are critical and exacting, and you have a harsh, cruel spirit. In your married life you have not pursued o a course which would keep your wife’s love or win her to the truth, and you need much of the softening influence of the Spirit of the meek and lowly Jesus in your life, that you may not bring a reproach upon the truth which you profess. 11LtMs, Lt 17, 1896, par. 13