Classis East met in regular session on Wednesday, May 14, 1986 at Holland. Each church was represented by two delegates. Rev. M. Joostens was the chair of this session.
The main item of business at this meeting was the consideration of an appeal from a brother who had protested a consistory’s decision concerning the remarriage of a divorced person. The consistory’s position (summarized) was that since the person in question had been married to a divorced person, the marriage was no marriage at all but an adulterous relationship. The only legitimate marriage is the first marriage; any other “marriages,” even though conducted by the state, are to be considered adultery and no marriage. If the person, then, confesses the sin of adultery, that person is free to marry. The appellant contended that the consistory erred in allowing the person the right to marry. The appellant’s position was that the person was indeed married, he was married legally by the state, which has the authority to marry, and therefore, the person must be considered as married, though sinfully, and now has the status of being divorced. The scriptures are clear, argued the appellant, that divorced persons may not remarry. Classis East sustained the appellant. At the risk of being too brief, the following (summarized) was adopted: (1) The appellant was sustained in his position that “the marriage of divorced person(s) is marriage before God and the Church, and though a sinful marriage, it is a legal union established by the State, which is the servant of God.” The grounds: (a) The Lord God has given to the State the authority and is His means to join persons in marriage. (b) The Lord God recognizes as marriage when the State even sinfully joins in marriage divorced persons. (There were appended references to scripture, the Church Order, and the marriage form.) (2) The appellant was sustained in his position that a man divorced from a woman previously married and divorced has not the right to marry another for he is married and a proposed marriage would constitute remarriage while one’s spouse lives. The grounds: (a) The marriage of divorced persons is adultery. (b) The appellant’s interpretation of John 4 is correct, viz., that the sixth man was not her husband but this has no bearing on her relationship to the other five. Authoritative commentators—Calvin, Lenski, Edersheim, Hendrickson, Meyer—all take this position. (The grounds are more lengthy, containing scriptural references, etc., so the above is to be considered as summary and should not be quoted.)
In other items of business, Classis heard reports from the Stated Clerk and the Classical Committee. Southeast and Covenant requested classical appointments and the following schedules were adopted: COVENANT: May 25, June 1—Rev. G. Van Baren; June 8—Rev. K. Hanko; June 15, 22—Rev. M. Kamps. SOUTHEAST: May 25—Rev. B. Woudenberg, June 1—Rev. R. Miersma, June 8—Rev. R. Flikkema, June 15—Rev. W. Bekkering, June 22—Rev. M. Joostens. Both consistories were advised to seek supply from students, the seminary, or other available ministers for the summer months. Expenses amounted to $738.72. Classis will meet next on September 10 at Kalamazoo.