Saturday, December 3, 2016

Did Russell Separate From and Later Divorce His Wife?

A poster in:
makes the following claim:
"Charles Taze Russell separated from his wife Maria and later divorced…without a scriptural basis.

I do not have access to that forum, so am unable to post a reply there.

Did Russell separate himself from his wife? No!

Did Russell later divorce his wife? No!

Actually, it was Mrs. Russell who separated from her husband, and who later filed for divorce, actually what amounted to a legal separation. Brother Russell, of course, had no control over what his wife sought to do.

Here is some pertinent information from Joseph Rutherford's A Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens concerning this matter:

Pastor Russell was married in 1879. For the first thirteen years of their married life he and Mrs. Russell lived happily together. They were both engaged in religious work, and had been even before their marriage. A semi-monthly religious journal, THE WATCH TOWER, was published, of which Pastor Russell was and still is the editor. She became dissatisfied with his manner of conducting this journal and attempted to dictate the policy thereof. Being the head of the house, Pastor Russell would not submit to his wife’s dictating the manner of conducting his business affairs. Without notice, she voluntarily separated herself from him in 1897, nearly eighteen years after their marriage. For nearly seven years she lived separate and apart from him, he furnishing her a separate home.
In June, 1903, she filed in the Court of Common Pleas at Pittsburgh a suit for legal separation. They had been actually separated for nearly seven years. In April, 1906, the cause came on for trial before Justice Collier and a jury.
It has been remarked by a number of lawyers who have read the record in this case that "no court has ever before granted a separation upon so slight testimony as appears in this case."
There never has been an absolute divorce of either of the parties.
While in Ireland in the year 1911, Russell reported an event that is related to this:

The questions were of the usual order and were answered fully and promptly and to the apparent satisfaction of all the audience except the "Y.M.C.A." rowdies. One of the questions was inspired by an attack made on me there recently by the Rev. Dr. Torry. It was, "Is it true that you are divorced from your wife?"
I replied that my topic was, "Which Is the True Gospel?" and that my home affairs and my relationship to my God were my personal affairs. Nevertheless I would answer the question. "I am not divorced from my wife. The decree of the court was not divorce, but separation, granted by a sympathetic jury, which declared that we would both be happier separated. My wife's charge was cruelty, but the only cruelty put in evidence was my refusal on one occasion to give her a kiss when she had requested it." I assured my audience that I disputed the charge of cruelty and believed that no woman was ever better treated by a husband. The applause showed that the audience believed my statements.

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