If reconciliation is at all possible, even at the 11th hour, without breaching more commands in the process, then this should be attempted, especially since reconciliation and peace is the essence of God’s work through Christ. These earnest, untiring attempts, which may continue for years unknown to the ecclesia, should be the daily subject of prayer made powerful by self-denial, love and the Christ-like desire to glorify the Father, and the salvation of the erring spouse; all of which should be undertaken patiently and without the glare of ecclesial scrutiny. It is the reflection on these often too few and feeble attempts that leave problems unresolved, things unsaid, feelings cruelly ignored, legitimate needs and desires unrealised, let alone ever attempted to be understood which all too often implicates the “innocent spouse” in what at last becomes an ecclesial problem too late to fix―a problem which places unnecessary stress on more marriages and the unity of the body of Christ! But if remarriage has taken place, where is the scriptural evidence authorising the ecclesia to require a brother or sister to rescind another solemn lifelong binding vow? Is this not an encouragement in the very practice which the Lord Jesus Christ condemns in Matthew chapters 5 and 19? Shall such a brother or sister be required to continue in this sin of vow breaking, separation and divorce (1 Corinthians 7:14; Matthew 5) that God’s grace may abound? The apostle Paul answers, “By no means”.

Bro. Dowling in recounting discussions he had with Bro. Roberts on this very subject states, “I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness to the late Bro. Roberts for instructions received from him on the matter now being discussed. We were in correspondence for several years and he was a visitor in my home… It was my good fortune to attend a meeting in company with Bro. Roberts where this crotchet (the teaching that one had to divorce or separate from a second marriage as evidence of bringing forth “fruits meet for repentance”) was discussed and he roundly denounced it in unmeasured terms… The tendency of such teaching is to ‘corrupt the Word of God’, ‘giving the adversary the advantage over us’, ‘causing the way of the truth to be evil spoken of’, (2 Corinthians 2:11, 17; 2 Peter 2:2). The above is submitted with becoming humility, love and respect”

“The Clapham Change” pages 19–20, July 31st 1940.