Before, During and After Divorcement
By Jeff Belknap
The following are passages in which Jesus addressed the subject of divorce and remarriage. Please look at the verses and charts closely to see whether the Lord (as opposed to men) has authorized ANY person who is put away (whether lawfully or not) to remarry another.
Does Matthew 5:32 Authorize Any “Put Away” Person To Remarry Without Sin?
Mt. 5:32, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit ADULTERY: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth ADULTERY.”
Once one is divorced (“apoluo”) for either scriptural cause (in which case, the bond is dissolved) or unscriptural cause (in which case, the bond remains), Jesus condemned their remarriage to “another” as adulterous.
Does Matthew 19:9 Authorize Any “Put Away” Person To Remarry Without Sin?
Mt. 19:9, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth ADULTERY: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit ADULTERY.”
Once one is put away (“apoluo”) Jesus condemned any remarriage to “another” – whether the one who remarries was scripturally or unscripturally put away, regardless of the bond!
Since both verses above use the very same word (APOLUO) to denote both the unscriptural action of putting away and the state of the person who is put away, we must draw the inescapable conclusion that the person who is unscripturally put away has no right but to “remain unmarried or be reconciled to…” their ex-spouse (I Cor. 7:11). In all of Jesus’ teaching on this subject, He plainly taught that the subject of APOLUO becomes an adulterer upon remarriage to another. 1 + 2 = 3, every time you add it up. It’s as simple as that. Not 1 + 2 = 3 (in some cases, but not others).
Does Luke 16:18 Authorize Any “Put Away” Person To Remarry Without Sin?
Lk. 16:18, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth ADULTERY: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth ADULTERY.”
Once one is put away (“apoluo”), Jesus condemned any remarriage to “another” even when the one who unscripturally put away, remarries first, regardless of the bond (cp. w. Mt. 19:9a)!
In addition, whatever procedure makes a person “put away” (APOLUO) in the last halves of Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18 is the same procedure which one employs to unscripturally “put away” (APOLUO) their spouse in the first halves of those same verses. The conclusion some draw – that the woman is not APOLUO after some unscriptural divorces (because the bond is still intact) – is illogical. “APOLUO” is the very act that one perpetrates against the other (for BOTH fornication and unscriptural causes) in the first halves of those MDR verses; and “APOLUO” is the resulting state of the subject of that action. This status of being APOLUO constrains such a person to the restrictions imposed in the latter halves of those same verses, regardless of the bond.
Does Mark 10:11-12 Authorize Any “Put Away” Person To Remarry Without Sin?
Mk. 10:11+12, “…Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth ADULTERY *against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth ADULTERY.”
Note what brother Donnie Rader wrote on pgs. 84-85 in his book, Divorce & Remarriage; What Does The Text Say?, Chapter 8 - Mental Divorce (May Some Put Away People Remarry), under “VII. Arguments,” brother Rader wrote:
“‘In Mark 10:10‑11 when the man who unlawfully put away his wife remarries he commits adultery ‘against her; thus giving her a scriptural cause to put him away.’ This assumes that ‘against her’ refers to the first wife. There is nothing that demands that interpretation. It is very possible that it refers to the second wife. ‘Another’ (which refers to the second wife) is the nearest antecedent. Nigel Turner suggests that the word epi which is translated ‘against’ has the meaning here of ‘with’ (The Bible Translator, Oct. 1956, pp. 151‑152). Thus, when he remarries, he commits adultery with her (the second wife). (cf. Nestle’s Text and The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. one, p. 409.) I wonder if the woman of Mark 10:11 and the woman of Matt. 5:32b and 19:9b are not the same since the men of Mark 10:11 and Matt. 5:32a and 19:9a are. If so, then the woman of Mark 10:11 cannot remarry. There is not a word in Mark 10:11 about remarriage on the part of a put away one. If we grant that ‘against her’ refers to the first wife, so what? Neither this nor any other passage says one thing about her being able to remarry.”
[Additionally, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by Alfred Marshall (pg. 182) also translates Mark 10:11, “with her” as pertaining to the subsequent spouse, jhb.]
In Reflections, Robertson L. Whiteside (pg. 426), said:
“Yes Matt. 5:32 and 19:9 harmonize, but only on the grounds that the maker of a law has the right to name any exceptions that he chooses to make. Matt. 5:32 gives no hint that a divorced person would have any right under any circumstances to marry some one else; neither does Mark 10:11, 12.”
Brother Gene Frost, in his article, The Case For “Mental Divorce,” Gospel Truths, November 2001, Page 9, wrote:
“‘Mental divorce’ theorists make a big play on the statement of Mark 10:11, that in a second marriage the resulting adultery is ‘against the first mate.’ Why? ‘Why is it not just against God?’ It is implied that this indicates they are still married. No. Jesus says that the wife is ‘put away’ (divorced), and He does not indulge in the theorist’s game of ‘accommodatively divorced.’ The man marries another, so Jesus says—the theorists says, ‘No, Lord, not actually.’ In this second marriage, the man commits adultery. Why? Because he is still ‘bound’ (though not married). This moichatai ep auten, ‘adultery against her,’ is “‘in reference to her.’ Expositors say the expression may mean either ‘to the prejudice of, her (the first wife), or with her (the second.)’”6 Whichever, it is against the rights and interests of the first which are involved in the bond (the obligations and restraints). The expression does not mean he is still married to the first. Jesus plainly says he married another. Whom do we believe: the Lord or the theorist with his hermeneutical gymnastics?” (emp. his).
In closing, in brother Frost’s article, Marriage and Divorce in Various Cultures, Gospel Truths, December 2001 Page 9, he wrote:
“Brethren tread on dangerous ground when they begin to think about marriage and divorce without regard to regulations established by society. They encourage sin when they advise anyone who is “put away” to marry again (Matt. 19:9 Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18), claiming an exception (which the Lord does not give) for one who protests being put away. To say that the one who protests the divorce is thereby given the right to remarry, after the fact, when the former mate remarries (or otherwise commits adultery). A divorce (putting away) in such case is now actual and accepted by God. We ask, What record, validation, of society can this one now show to establish that the former marriage is now annulled? He/she has only the theorists to validate the claim. Frankly, as sincere as the advisers are, I would dread to stand before God with nothing more than their testimony that a second marriage, after being put away, is acceptable to God.”