A Response to Tim Haile’s
“The Repudiation Rights of the Innocent Party”

By David McKee

I’ve always appreciated brother Haile’s ability and willingness to plainly state what he believes on a given subject, and he has done so again in his latest article.  I would like to respond to it because it addresses the primary difference between those who believe in a second putting away (repudiation) and those who believe our Lord forbade such.  Brother Haile’s article also illustrates how far removed the language has gotten from the simple statements of our Lord.

The various statements our Lord made concerning marriage, divorce, and remarriage are not at all difficult to understand.  Brethren such as brother Haile know this to be true.  When the simple language could not be refuted, brethren looked to redefine our Lord’s terms.  These brethren would argue that the Greek words being used by our Lord had nothing to do with the civil procedure that we would refer to today when speaking of a “putting away” or a “divorce,” but rather, it means to “send away,” to “repudiate.” 

It soon became clear to brethren such as brother Haile that this argument changed nothing and afforded them no more room for deviation that did “divorce” or “putting away.”  It was easily shown that when one takes the action of a legal divorce in our country, the steps involved fully meet the requirements of the word “repudiate.”  One could state Matthew 19:9, to read, “And I say to you, whoever repudiates his wife, except for fornication, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is repudiated commits adultery.”  What remained true was that the one against whom the action was taken was indeed the repudiated (put away, divorced, sent away, dismissed) person who had no right to remarry.  If he or she chose to do so, while their ex-mate was living, it would result in an adulterous marriage. 

Brother Haile now admits that when the action of repudiation has been taken against a person, that person is repudiated.  But in an effort to defend his teaching, brother Haile brushes aside what our Lord said about her inability to scripturally remarry, and says: 

“The guilty party can repudiate his innocent mate until he is blue in the face, even beating the innocent party to the courthouse. He may have been the first to initiate the civil procedure, and he may even have won the civil divorce case. However, none of this makes any difference at all. The innocent party is the one who possesses the right to act. Though the fornicating mate may have already broken his marital vows and commitments to his innocent mate, and though he may have already walked out on that innocent mate, God has given the right of approved repudiation to that innocent party.”

You might notice that brother Haile uses the example of a fornicator repudiating his innocent wife, as this scenario draws more sympathy, but brother Haile believes the same thing even if no fornication has taken place before the repudiation.  Again notice his position: 

“Using biblical language, one can say there are as many ‘puttings-away’ as there are people doing that putting away! Hence, if a thousand people repudiated their mates for a thousand different reasons, whether those reasons were approved by God or not, there would be a thousand puttings-away.” 

Our Lord declared that a woman could be repudiated by her spouse.  Our Lord also declared that after having been repudiated, she could not marry another.  Tim Haile declares that a woman can be repudiated by her spouse.  Tim also declares that after having been repudiated, she can marry another.  Brother Haile goes on to say: 

“Jesus is not concerned about how many repudiations there might be, or who was the first to repudiate his mate. He is concerned about the reason why a person repudiates his mate!” 

Brother Haile would identify for us what our Lord is concerned about while failing to be sufficiently concerned with what our Lord plainly stated.  Our Lord’s concern is that there be no divorces.  He grants one exception and labels the rest as sinful, as well as the marriages that follow the sinful divorces.  Yet brother Haile would grant that a sinful repudiation has taken place and then give his blessing to the marriage that would follow.  This is how far we have come from the simple language of our Lord. 

Two other issues from brother Haile’s article need to be addressed.  The first deals with the perverting of simple biblical language.  Brother Haile is not the first to so mistreat the passages involved, but it is becoming a more regular feature in their arguments.  Let me first cite the passages involved: 

“So He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her.  And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.’” (Mark 10:11-12) 



“Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband.  But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.” (1 Corinthians 7:10-11) 

Reading both of these, one clearly understands that what is being forbidden of one is also forbidden of the other.  What is good for one is also good for the other.  Yet brethren such as brother Haile would want us to believe that this is chronological language being used.  He would have us believe that there is one repudiation followed by another repudiation, rather than the fact that the teaching places the same responsibility on both husband and wife.  Brother Haile does not cite the passage from Mark in this article, but note what he says concerning the following:   

“1 Corinthians 7:11 uses the Greek ‘chorizo’ to describe what a woman does against her husband. Though she had ‘departed’ from her husband, that husband was told to ‘not leave her.’ He was to be willing to take her back if she chose to be reconciled to him. He had not left her – she left him!  She renounced him, but he had not renounced her.  It can happen both ways.” 

Brother Haile wants to use such reasoning so that he can make the following statement: 

“Some brethren have no problem describing two distinct and separate acts of repudiation as constituting ‘two puttings-away.’ Others prefer to say there is ‘one per person.’ One thing is absolutely certain.  No matter how we phrase it, it is possible for two married people to repudiate each other.”  

Those who agree with the simple statements of our Lord do have a problem using such language.  The notion of two separate puttings-away, within the same marriage, is nowhere to be found in Scripture.  Once the action of repudiation has been taken by one against the other, the marriage has ended and there is nothing for the other to repudiate.  

The last issue I would like to address is this barbaric notion that the repudiated wife must remain true to her marriage vows.  Note how brother Haile states it: 

“For example, suppose an unrepentant fornicator civilly divorced his innocent mate, yet insisted that his innocent mate continue to satisfy his sexual desires, clean his house, and wash his clothes? Would that innocent person be responsible to do these things? If you say “no,” upon what basis would you say this? You cannot say “no” solely on the basis of the fornicator’s divorce decree.  If the innocent mate’s marital duties are automatically broken with the fornicator’s civil divorce decree, then the innocent is automatically free to remarry with the issuance of that decree, and this controversy would be over!” 

Ron Halbrook and others make this same argument.  They state that if the innocent repudiated spouse is to be eligible to later repudiate her mate, she must remain true to her marriage vows, though having been repudiated, and up until whatever time she repudiates him.  These would argue that if she does not remain true to her vows, then she is implying consent and forfeits her right to later repudiate him.  Such conditions are nowhere to be found in God’s word. 

So when brother Haile asks if an innocent civilly divorced person would have to continue to satisfy her mate’s sexual desires, clean his house, and wash his clothes, his answer would be, yes.  Now imagine the woman in such a setting.  A husband who no longer wants her, who most likely is no longer living with her, is already repudiating her, or has repudiated her, and yet she is supposed to subject herself to the role of his slave when he wants it?  Is that not what Paul relieves her of in 1st Corinthians 7:15?  

“But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.” (1st Corinthians 7:15)    

Brother Haile, and others, would have her living a life of anything but peace in her efforts to remain true to a husband who has made it clear he no longer wants to be with her.  God would not, and does not, require such.  How can men state such requirements and declare them to be the will of God?  Such is the case when human reasoning sets itself against the wisdom of God.   

Christ states that a man or woman who has been repudiated cannot remarry another.  Brother Haile states that a man or woman who has been repudiated can remarry.  Christ’s language allows for only one repudiation.  Brother Haile’s language allows for thousands of repudiations.  The apostle Paul, whom Christ authorized, relieved the woman of her marriage obligations after having been repudiated.  Tim Haile binds these obligations on the woman who has been repudiated. 

The language is not difficult or hard to understand.  It becomes more of matter of where we will stand on these issues; issues that are destroying souls and defiling churches.  Let none of us be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2nd Corinthians 11:3).

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Last Updated:  Thursday, January 26, 2006 12:41 PM