“In the case of adultery after marriage, it is lawful for the innocent party to sue out a divorce and, after the divorce, to marry another, as if the offending party were dead” (XXIV. 5).
It was a fatal calculation of Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:19, and Romans 7:2-3 that brought them to the conclusion that these verses upheld the confessional structure of marriage and divorce. Since the WCF focus is mainly upon the lawfulness of the “innocent party’s” marriage to another, we focus there as well.
Matthew 19:9 is thought by WCF adherents to be the unassailable pillar-text regarding the “innocent party’s” right to marry another. Taking the WCF’s own professed principle (i.e., I. 9), we see that the “innocent party” of Matthew 19:9 will be caused to commit adultery in Matthew 5:32. The correct interpretation of the “exception clause” (as it is commonly called) is that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication (Matthew 19:9), CAUSETH her to commit adultery (Matthew 5:32). Thus, from both of these passages the conclusion is clear: The “innocent party” is CAUSED by the other spouse to commit adultery upon their marriage to another. The “innocent party” is the one who is put away apart from a matter of fornication and is caused to commit adultery (Matthew 5:32; Matthew 19:9).
To put it another way, a man causes his wife — the innocent party of Matthew 5:31-32 — to become an adulteress upon remarriage except in the case where she has made herself one. And “whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commiteth adultery.” It is the innocent wife who is caused by the husband to commit adultery. This is why Jesus said that she is not to be put away unless she has first committed adultery herself — “except it be for fornication.” In verse 32 Jesus says that the one who marries this wife who was put away through no fault of her own, commits adultery with her.
Romans 7:2-3 is the proverbial nail that the Westminster Assembly used to hammer into their own interpretational coffin. Those who wrote the confession were logical enough to realize that a real death contradicted their fanciful interpretation of the relevant Matthew texts. But they did not humbly acknowledge the error of their way on that day. They dreamt up this creative phrase instead — “as if the offending party were dead”— and in their arrogance, they gave it meaning. 2 Peter 3:16 solemnly warns about such insidious interpretations. A violent wringing and twisting of a figurative “as if” death out of a literal (real) death is a glowing example of violently wresting the Scripture to one’s own destruction.
In comparing this damnable heresy of the WCF with the words of Jesus Christ, we see that the “innocent party,” so far from being encouraged to lawfully marry another, is said to be caused to commit adultery with whosoever shall marry them.
In an ironic twist, the learned men of Westminster show themselves to be the corrupt ones who are apt to study arguments unduly for the express purpose of justifying the wickedness of adultery.
We have witnessed a horrible thing in this section of the confession. The theologians at Westminster Abbey giving a nefarious nod to the commission of, and continuance in adultery. They strengthen the hands of evildoers that none may cease from wickedness (Jeremiah 23:14). They are destroyers of souls who are without understanding (cf. Proverbs 6:32).
For a fuller treatment of the stark contrast between the Biblical position of marriage, divorce, remarriage, and the heretical WCF position see: “The Law of Marriage” and “What Constitutes Marriage?”