to obtain a divorce decree dissolving the legal marriage by the laws of the land and then get legally married to the consensual partner before presenting himself for water baptism.
In certain lands under strict religious domination no divorces are allowed. It sometimes happens that an undivorced married person has been living for many years with a single person because his legal mate deserted him and took up living in adultery with someone else. This undivorced person then comes to a knowledge of the truth and wants to serve Jehovah. But he is unable by law to obtain a divorce. He may have a family in his consensual union and in fact the woman may also desire to serve Jehovah and raise the children in the admonition of Jehovah. In such lands we have made the concession to the pair who are living together without the benefit of marriage when they learn the truth.
Though unable to get a divorce from a legal married mate, they must take whatever legal steps are available to record the separation from the legal married mate; and then they must write a confession and set forth a declaration vowing faithfulness to each other in the marriage arrangement and that they will stay together despite legal ties to others which cannot be dissolved according to the existing law. They must also agree to having their relationship to each other legalized as soon as the legal obstacle would be removed, which would mean the death of the separated legal marriage mate.
We do this because the country’s law is unreasonably prohibitive and refuses divorce because it does not recognize God’s law, which allows divorce on the grounds of fornication or adultery. If the couple had been living in another land where divorce was available they would doubtless have straightened out their marital situation long before now and presented themselves to the New World society as legally married persons. Because of Jesus’ statement at Matthew 19:8, 9, the Society has made this concession, and we trust this meets with God’s approval.
Suppose an individual is living in such consensual arrangement, where the legal obstacle exists in a land where there is no divorce. If now he should learn the truth but the one with whom he is living does not recognize the truth and will not cooperate in signing a written statement vowing faithfulness, then the New World society will accept a statement signed by just the person who has learned the truth and who wants to make a dedication and serve God. It is in such consensual union situation that the declaration vowing faithfulness is accepted, as mentioned in paragraph 20, page 573, of the September 15, 1956, Watchtower. The declaration would not be accepted in a land where divorce is permitted under the law.
(Congregations having Kingdom Service Questions on file should make a note of this matter in the booklet for future reference, especially in connection with page 11.)
In view of the clear information in the Bible concerning our times, there is no need for a person to wonder what his responsibility as a Christian is. Awake to their responsibility, Jehovah’s witnesses will call at homes during May offering the Bible-study aid From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained, on a contribution of only 75c.
AROUND THE WORLD WITH “PARADISE”
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“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
June 10: Overseers of Life, ¶1-21. Page 265.
June 17: Overseers of Life, ¶22-24, and Overseers, Fully Accomplish Your Ministry. Page 270.