Updated comment on The Exclusive Brethren web site in September 2007:-
I commented briefly in July 2006 on the piece on the Exclusive Brethren web site entitled “THE BRETHREN” “An Investigation into Marriage and Family Relations Among the Exclusive Brethren in Australia”
The piece was written by a Professor of Sociology and is dated 18 May 2006. One can see that the statistics contained in the piece appear to be of a standard which one would expect from a professor with the writer’s qualifications.
One can only assume that The Exclusive Brethren have had the investigation carried out to counter the idea abroad that the Exclusives break up marriages. One cannot conceive that Brethren in days gone by would have gone to the World to demonstrate that there is less marriage break up amongst themselves than outside ! One would have to assume from their known practice that Exclusives today would not take a cup of tea with the professor, assuming that he is not a member of their Exclusive fellowship.
As to Scripture: Christ when here “advanced.... in favour with God and men” (Luke 2:52). He fell out of favour with men when he bore witness that the works of the world were evil (John 7:7). It was not because of his manner of life unless we say, as some did, that He was given to eating and wine-drinking (Luke 7:34). Christ told us to do upright works so that men would glorify our Father who is in the heavens (Matthew 5:16). No hiding ourselves away. Our light is to shine before men ! Peter says similarly (1 Peter 2:11,12 & 15). Both Pilate and the dying thief testified that there was no fault in Christ - he had done nothing amiss (John 18:38, Luke 23:41). Then as Paul says, an overseer “should have... a good testimony from those without” (1 Timothy 3:7). In the life of Daniel it was only in respect of the law of his God that his enemies could find fault with him (Daniel 6:4/5).
Reverting to the piece regarding the Family Relations Among the Exclusive Brethren in Australia one notices that they have more young people compared with other Christian churches and the public generally. This bears out what one said in an earlier piece that Exclusives are just breeding E. B.’s (Comments 7 August 2005).
More significantly, one has noticed that there are less persons Divorced / Separated among the Exclusives than among the other categories considered. One assumes Separated means separated in fact whether there is a legal separation or not. Further, one assumes that the persons classified under that heading are only those having that status in March 2006. Presumably persons who have been divorced and have remarried would be classified as married. Further, the statistics do not show whether persons have been divorced more than once. From one’s experience it appears that persons who are divorced once often get divorced again. See for example the woman in John 4. See also Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Some other Brethren companies are not happy with remarriage after divorce so that there may well be more persons in those companies who remain unmarried after divorce and are therefore classified as Divorced.
Finally, one would ask as to the reason for divorces amongst Exclusives. The only justification for divorce according to Christ was fornication. The question is: “What does fornication cover ?” See my web site www.gsimmonds.com for articles on divorce and immorality in which what Scripture means by this term is considered.
As a matter of interest one has a copy of “The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations” and the only quotation taken from Mr. Darby is “Separation from evil is God’s principle of unity”. Today, as a Brother commented to me a few years ago: “Separation has become a dirty word with some”. We may say on a par with words like nigger and spastic. No doubt Satan’s object is to get the whole idea of separation discredited in people’s minds by the unscriptural way the E. B.’s have taken it up.