By Jeff Belknap
Marriage is a physical union in which two physical beings have become “one flesh” (Matthew 19:5-6). Divorcement (break up of the marriage) is the opposite of marriage (Matthew 19:9a), nothing more, nothing less.
When asked of the lawfulness of putting away (Matthew 19:3), God’s rule was stated when Jesus said, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9; cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11). Hence, this context only reveals that it is possible for one who is married to put asunder the “one flesh” relationship. No scripture teaches that God acknowledges the “putting asunder” of a relationship that is already sundered (no longer “one flesh,” but once again “twain”).
In other words, man is ordered not to put away (i.e. separate) this “one flesh” (physical) marriage relationship EXCEPT “for the cause of fornication” (Matthew 19:9a). This prohibitive command necessarily implies that it is possible for man to put asunder – both with and without God’s approval (Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; I Corinthians 7:10-11, 15)! Surely, if it is possible for man to accomplish this act against the will of the Almighty, it is absurd to contend that it cannot be done against the will of an “innocent” mate (cf. Matthew 5:32a).
Conversely, to discourage man from unlawfully sundering (separating) the marriage relationship via sinful divorcement, the Lord precluded all putting away except when done for the cause of fornication (Matthew 5:32a; 19:6, 9a; Mark 10:9; I Corinthians 7:10). This disapproval of separating the “one flesh” relationship does not mean that all will follow the Lord’s will (cf. I John 2:1). Therefore, the Lord also gave specific instructions regarding those who were involved in an unlawful divorce (cf. Matthew 19:12; I Corinthians 7:10-11). See: The Seven Sins of an Unscriptural Divorce
It is important to point out here, that when God specifies something, everything else is EXCLUDED! The only recourse after an unscriptural divorce has occurred that can be found in God’s Word (while one’s bound mate lives), is to “be reconciled,” or “remain unmarried” (I Corinthians 7:11; cf. Matthew 19:12). PERIOD! Other man-made “applications” do not agree with the Holy Scriptures (Amos 3:3)!
Since Matthew 19:9a is silent in regards to any post-divorce action that could reverse a “put away” person’s status (and abolish their preclusion from lawful marriage to another, Matthew 19:9b), it is fallacious to argue that post-divorce fornication (Mark 10:11) is the basis for authority to sunder one’s “marriage” and/or bond (Matthew 19:6, 9a). Unfortunately for those advocating post-divorce “putting away,” their doctrine is untenable (both logically and Biblically)! The revelation of “the Spirit” sanctions no such teaching.
To confuse the action that Jesus authorized regarding those who may break up an intact (“one flesh”) marriage (Matthew 19:6, 9a), with a manmade devised action “after the fact” which is said to break the God-enjoined bond, is like calling “apples” the same as “oranges”! See: “It Appertaineth Not Unto Thee”
The Bond (The Spiritual Obligation)
In Romans 7:2-3 Paul wrote, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth…but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law…”. In other words, God’s law obligates a man and a woman to each other for life, at the time of their lawful marriage (cf. Matthew 22:24-30).
In contrast to the physical marriage, we learn that God’s law (which obligates) is spiritual (Romans 7:14). In no way does a man or woman have power over the spiritual bond (Romans 7:2)! God is in control of His law that binds and looses, not man. In addition to the time of death (Romans 7:3), God will loose the bond (obligation) which He enjoined upon two people when one mate puts away their spouse (dissolves the “one flesh” relationship) for fornication (Matthew 19:9a; cf. Matthew 19:5-6).
The authorization to put away was given to the married and is in no way similar to the instructions given to the UNmarried (cf. I Corinthians 7:11)! To attempt to teach that a person can “put away” the bond after the fact of divorce, when the scriptures only speak of putting away one’s physical mate/marriage (Matthew 19:6, 9), is like comparing “apples” with “oranges”! See: God’s Law To The Married vs. The Unmarried
An accurate exegesis of Matthew 19:1-9/Mark 10:1-12 will articulate the fact that there were two questions asked in these verses (not just one), and that two terms are used interchangeably to answer them both:
Yet, contrary to this reality, some brethren who espouse post-divorce “putting away” deny that an unscriptural divorce is capable of making one a put away person, and thus they also disown belief in a second “putting away.” Others concede that when divorced for a cause other than fornication, one is indeed “put away,” but then argue that “innocent” put away individuals are now eligible to become the (married) person of Matthew 19:9a who can “put away” if and when their bound mate ever commits fornication! Amazing!
The misapplication of Matthew 19:9 is accomplished through mans’ exaggeration of the “rights” of “the innocent,” in the “a” clause (to include the unmarried), and diminishment of the Lord’s prohibition found in the “b” clause (to eliminate “innocent” put away people from Jesus’ decree that “whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery”). The end result turns the “innocent” (put away person) into those whom the Lord classified as “guilty” of ADULTERY (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b; cf. Romans 7:3).
This perversion is not only an obvious example of fragmented exegesis, but also an illustration of Peter’s words, regarding those who “wrest” the scriptures to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16). Notice Adam Clarke’s comments on this particular Greek word:
“I may just add that the verb streblow, which the apostle uses here, signifies to distort, to put to the rack, to torture, to overstretch and dislocate the limbs; and hence the persons here intended are those who proceed according to no fair plan of interpretation, but force unnatural and sophistical meanings on the word of God” (emp. jhb).
Albert Barnes also made similar comments concerning this word, and wrote:
“It implies a turning out of the way by the application of force, here the meaning is, that they apply those portions of the Bible to a purpose for which they were never intended” (emp. jhb).
Brethren, IF we are going to speak where the Bible speaks and be SILENT where the Bible is silent (I Peter 4:11), we are not going to try and force the “a” clause of Matthew 19:9 into the “b” clause! Those who force the exception within the “a” clause of Matthew 19:9 (addressed to the married) into the “b” clause (addressing the unmarried) are advocating an “elastic gospel.”
It is neither accurate nor sufficient to simply say that God allows “innocent” people to put away the guilty of fornication and remarry another, when some are claiming that put away people are among “the innocent” who have this “right.” Scripture teaches that God alone looses the bond when the divorce is carried out in accordance with His will. Nowhere in His written will does He authorize the put away to reverse his/her status as a put away person (who commits adultery upon remarriage to another for as long as his/her bound spouse lives). Nowhere does scripture teach that man has the power to “loose” a bond at any time, much less after becoming put away.
Once the marriage relationship has been separated, it is broken in TWO (scripture calls it chorizo, apoluo and aphiemi)! The very opposite of married is divorced (UNmarried)! Complete opposites cannot get any more extreme!
Contrary to this clear truth, we are told that the unscriptural divorce is a “farce,” that we might as well just take the divorce papers, blow our noses on them and throw them in the toilet. Why? Because the bond remains!
Let’s follow the same reasoning, in regards to a homicide (death by unlawful means). Can we just take one’s death certificate, blow our nose on it, throw it in the toilet and deny the reality of the killing, because an “innocent” person was murdered against his/her will and the soul remains? See: Life & Death; Marriage & Divorce
In scriptural marriage, two are joined by God in a “one flesh” relationship. In any divorce, the two become “twain” again, causing the death of that “one flesh” relationship (cf. Matthew 19:5-6). To claim that one has power to affect the state of the bond (that which remains) after the death of the marriage, is akin to the Catholic claim of purgatory and that prayer can effect the status/destination of a soul (that which remains) after one’s death. The reasoning behind both of these imaginings is equally flawed. Both are that of which the Lord “spake nothing.”
In Nehemiah 13:24 the scripture says “And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people” (cf. Romans 15:4). Spiritually speaking, we frequently identify “the speech of Ashdod” today, as the language of the world, that which is not of God (I John 4:1, 5-6). This includes the addition of foreign concepts and human terminology, rather than holding fast to Biblical terms that reveal sound doctrine.
Unfortunately, our denominational friends are not the only ones who speak other than “the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11; cf. Acts 15:24; Galatians 1:6-9). The apostles sufficiently warned us that “also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30; Galatians 1:6-9; II Timothy 4:1-5; II Peter 2:1; Jude 4).
The unfounded affirmations of those advocating the second “putting away” will not suffice. They must speak “half in the speech of Ashdod” along with the Word of God to promote their theory. They must miserably misapply the Word of God in many areas to teach their erroneous doctrine.
The chart below shows that Biblical use of “apoluo,” “chorizo” and “aphiemi” (in the context of putting away) all describe the break up of the marriage, nothing more, nothing less:
Where are the lexicographers who concur with such definitions (I Thessalonians 5:21)? Where are the words “apoluo,” “chorizo” and “aphiemi” defined as the loosening of a remaining bond after the dissolution of a marriage? The actions taken to marry and divorce are what man does (right or wrong). The binding and loosing is God’s end of the stick! These are two totally different things done by two different beings! Brother Robert Turner coined the adage many years ago, that no matter how hard man may try, he cannot whittle on God’s end of the stick!
In the final analysis, Jesus revealed His immutable Law (three times) when He stated, “and whoso marrieth her which is put away DOTH commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:16b)! Sadly, those who deny this unequivocal statement of fact, tell us that under certain circumstances (man-made provisos) the put away may remarry another and “DOTH NOT” commit adultery.
Institutional preachers were able to deceive many (II Peter 2:1-2) in regards to the teaching in Galatians 6:10 (which only addresses the work of the individual) by constantly affirming that the text authorizes church benevolence to non-saints. Likewise, a similar misapplication and digression is being witnessed today by the extension (to put away people) of the exception clause of Matthew 19:9a, which only addresses the married.
The evidence that the second “putting away” (mental divorce) doctrine is false teaching is based on two undeniable things:
1) There is absolutely no authority for a post-divorce “putting away” in God’s inspired Word!
2) Those who espouse this error have to “wrest” the scriptures, by forcing people who are put away into the exception clause that was given only to the married (and bound), in order to “prove” their theory.
When brethren differ in their perception of which marital relationships are adulterous (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b) and which are “honorable” and “undefiled” (Hebrews 13:4), we must acknowledge His Word – not the language of Ashdod (Isaiah 5:20; Hebrews 5:12-14). Brethren, the difference between the Word of God and the theories of men is like comparing “apples” with “oranges.”