Any practice that transgresses God’s word and involves a lot of people will somehow be “justified” by those who want to continue in it. A complicated research program will begin amassing “evidence” to prove that the Bible does not mean what it obviously teaches. Thus, justification is found to do that which God’s word does not allow. Many denominations do this with baptism and instrumental music. Almost all churches do this with marriage and remarriage. Thus the question: Does baptism wash away past unlawful marriages?
“Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled” (Heb. 13:4). In the beginning God instituted marriage and regulated it by his Word. Originally, He did not plan for marriage to be dissolved except by death. Marriage is a physical and fleshly union. It is not a spiritual union. They are no more twain but one flesh (Matt. 19:6). Only death and fornication can end a marriage (Mt 19:9 f; Rom. 7:3). Baptism has nothing to do with our marriage, but it is essential to our spiritual bond in Christ.
Adultery and fornication are sinful acts, just as lying, stealing, murder and idolatry are sinful acts. These sins are equally applicable to those in Christ and those in the world. Jesus taught that divorce and remarriage results in committing adultery. If a man puts away his wife for fornication, she is guilty of sin (adultery). If he puts her away for any other cause and marries another, he commits adultery; and he causes her to commit adultery. Any man who marries a woman who is put away commits adultery, and there is no exception clause (Matt. 5:32 cf; 19:9 ff; Mk. 10:11, 12; Lk. 16:18). Any twist or perversion of scripture that contradicts, modifies or invalidates these plain statements of Jesus is false doctrine.
Now, some are teaching that baptism “washes” away all previous unlawful marriages, and the one with whom they are married at the time of baptism is the scriptural spouse for the rest of their lives. There is no way that can be true.
If baptism washes away unlawful marriages, and makes them right, what about the man who is married to two wives at the same time, may he keep both of his wives after he has been baptized? If not, why not? Which one should he keep, since he had both when he was “baptized”? Does repentance demand that he put away one wife? If unlawful marriages are made right by baptism, why would not the homosexuals who “marry” each other be made right by baptism so that they could continue to live together? Would you baptize two homosexuals who intended to continue living together?
If baptism will wash away polygamy and homosexual marriages, is it any wonder that the advocates of this unholy doctrine claim that alien sinners are not amenable to the law of Christ? If the alien is not amenable to the law of Christ, he is not a sinner. Where there is no law, there is no sin (Rom. 4:15). Sin is the transgression of the law (1 Jn. 3:4). Therefore, being subject to the gospel, all who are baptized must of necessity first repent of their sins. Anyone who comes to the Lord in an unlawful marriage must put away this unlawful marriage and be willing to cease from all other sins. This is true repentance which can be washed away. The only way one can be cleansed from their sins is to both repent of their sins and be baptized. However, if one continues in their sins by continuing in an unlawful marriage, then where is the repentance? Thus, despite baptism, their sin remains.