A DARK BLOTCH IN THE EARLIER DAYS
OF THE WCG
by Keith Hunt
I have related in other posting on this Website certain
things in the Worldwide Church of God as it was in Canada during
the 1960s. I have recounted a few of the more "positive" sides of
being in a congregation on the Canadian Prairies, under a
minister who was anything but "typical" of the typical ministry
that developed in the 1970s and later. That minister - Bob Lay -
didn't last very long when transferred back to his native USA. He
left the ministry of the WCG in 1970. I actually wrote to him and
asked why. He wrote back and did not go into specifics, but from
his writing it was obvious he was not happy, and he probably
discovered a much darker side to the WCG that was not manifested
in the Canadian work under Dean Wilson.
One large BLOTCH in the WCG in the 60s (and before but I was
not in the WCG before 1961) was the teaching and practice of
Divorce and Re-marriage. I've said elsewhere that some teachings
of Herbert Armstrong were influenced by the attitude of the day.
His teaching on Divorce and re-Marriage was just about the same
as the Church of England, and other religious organizations of
that time period.
I encountered it very quickly being one of about half a
dozen first members of the then Radio Church of God, in our local
town. I met a couple (part of that small half a dozen) who were
having to be "judged" as to if they were "married" in God's sight
or not, as the man had been married before. They had three small
children at the time. I was just a young man of 21, and not
versed at all in understanding this "doctrine" of Divorce and
Re-marriage, didn't even have a girl-friend, so marriage was one
of the last things on my mind in those early years of the 1960s.
They told me how they had been in touch with Dean Wilson in
Vancouver, B.C. and that the WCG was "looking into" whether their
marriage was "of God."
For them the result was positive, by whatever the means was
in those days to determine if a marriage was "bond by God." For
others in the same situation it was not a positive answer.
The terrible fact is MANY couples were made to split up,
even if children were part of the equation. Some were told to
move to different "states" or even from one side of the country
to the other, to "avoid sexual temptation and adultery."
I do want to say this for the record, Garner Ted, Herbert
Armstrong's son, did not like at all, this teaching of Divorce
and Re-marriage. He voiced his dis-approval to his father a
number of times. His father would reply by saying, if he could be
proved wrong on this teaching, he would change it.
Well it was years later, the late 1980s that I was given a
book on the subject of Divorce and Re-marriage by Kenneth Westby.
I was amazed at how much it was like my study, that I did on the
subject in the early 1980s. That study, of mine, is on this
What hit me like a tone of bricks was the book I received
from Kenneth Westby was WRITTEN IN 1967. I immediately thought,
"Well old Herbert Armstrong did not go very far out of his way to
try and find all that was out there on this subject." If he had
done, he would have found the truth of the matter, WAY BEFORE the
1970s. And so would have stopped all that splitting up of
The truth of that subject had been published by others, and
some religious groups like the Baptists that I was familiar with
in Canada, had known that truth before the 1960s. I went to a
Baptist church when I first came to Canada in 1961, for about a
year, and had come close to having that Divorce and Re-marriage
explained to me, but I was 18 at the time and was not paying much
attention to the subject.
On important subjects that effect the direct lives of people
and children, like the issue of Divorce and Re-marriage, a church
organization should read all they can from various people, who
have written on the subject, and seek and search and PRAY
POWERFULLY for the Lord to show them the truth. If the Herbert
Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God had done that in the
1960s and even before that decade, THEY WOULD HAVE HAD THE TRUTH
ON THE MATTER, and all those marriages and families that were
broken up (because of WRONG theological understanding), would
NEVER HAVE HAPPENED!
The wrong understanding of the WCG on Divorce and
Re-marriage back in the 1960s, and the terrible results it had
for some couples and families, is a MIGHTY BLACK BLOTCH in the
history of one part of the Church of God!
When they did find the plain truth in the 1970s then the
pendulum eventually swung in the other direction, and people in
that organization, especially when the organization started to
split up, were getting divorced for just about any reason.
The human heart and mind, it seems, has a very hard time in
keeping to the center, it wants or is led to swing to extremes,
either too far to the left or too far to the right.
Many are the black blotches that have come in the history of
the Worldwide Church of God. But certainly the wrong teaching of
Divorce and Re-marriage was one of those bad blotches.
Written and Entered on this Website December 2007