Can Man Sunder A Marriage Against God’s Will? 

By Jeff Belknap 

In an effort to advocate the Second “Putting Away” doctrine (A.K.A. “Mental Divorce”/“The Waiting Game”), some are contending that the “one flesh” marriage relationship CANNOT be “put asunder” by man without just cause.1 Nevertheless, the scriptures clearly teach the contrary (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9)! Obviously, we can do many things “against” the will of God (Matthew 12:30).

When the Lord was asked in Matthew 19:3, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?,” the Lord revealed the Divine decree in verse 6 and stated, “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (# 5563, chorizo). Cp. w. Mark 10:2, 9

Let not” does not mean cannot. The question was, “Is it lawful?”not “Is it possible?” Although man is not to violate the will of God, his freedom of choice allows for transgression (I John 2:1; 3:4). Notice how the term “let not” plainly infers that the action being addressed is possible, though not authorized.

Matthew 6:3, “…let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth,”

Luke 21:21, “…let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.”

John 14:1, “Let not your heart be troubled…” cp. w. v. 27

Romans 6:12, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body…”

Romans 14:3, “Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not…”

Romans 14:16, “Let not then your good be evil spoken of”

Ephesians 4:26, “…let not the sun go down upon your wrath.”

I Timothy 5:9, “Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old…”

I Timothy 5:16, “…let not the church be charged…”

James 1:7, “…let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”

Obviously, man can and does act contrary to the will of God (cf. Acts 26:9). To act contrary to the law of God is sin (I Timothy 1:15; I John 5:17). Although an action is contrary to God’s law, that does not negate the fact of its occurrence, nor does acknowledgment of the sin’s reality indicate a lack of respect for God’s law in favor of man’s. Clearly, it is possible for man to do evil (I John 5:19), and cause negative consequences for both those who perpetrate the sin and those who are victimized by it (Matthew 18:6-7)!

Additionally, in I Corinthians 7:10-16, Apostle Paul made reference to what Christ taught when the Lord revealed His rule in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9, regarding an unapproved divorce. In such a case, the authorized courses of action for those wrongfully divorced is found in verse 11 of this context, where Paul instructs the one who sunders the marriage to remain “unmarried” or “be reconciled” to their obligated mate:

“And unto the married (# 1060, gameo) I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (# 5563, chorizo) from her husband: 11 But and if she depart (# 5563, chorizo), let her remain unmarried (# 22, agamos) or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away (# 863, aphiemi) his wife. 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away (# 863, aphiemi). 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave (# 863, aphiemi) him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart (# 5563, chorizo), let him depart (# 5563, chorizo). A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?” I Corinthians 7:10-16 

This is proof positive that God recognizes that an unapproved divorce renders those involved as “unmarried” (agameos), which is the opposite of “married” (gameo). Additionally, scripture refers to those who are involved in an unauthorized union as married. Remarriage to “another” after an unapproved divorce while one’s bound spouse lives, always results in adultery (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 6:17-18; 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:3a).

Although Jesus commanded man not to “put asunder” (NKJV, NASV, NRSV, “separate”) his “one flesh” relationship in Matthew 19:6 (Mark 10:9), He affirmed that it is possible for this sin to be accomplished (like all other lawless actions against God’s will). Notice that on numerous occasions, Jesus affirmed man’s ability to put away for unjust causes:

“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.” Matthew 5:32

“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.”  Matthew 19:9

“And he saith unto them, 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.” Mark 10:11-12

“Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” Luke 16:18

There are no ifs, ands, buts or maybes about it! Jesus not only affirmed that man can wrongfully put away his/her obligated spouse for unjust cause, He also acknowledged that after such an action, the other is divorced(Matthew 5:32b)/“is put away (Matthew 19:9b; Luke 16:18b). Furthermore, after the wrongful sundering of the physical marriage, the remaining spiritual bond causes not only the original man and woman to commit adultery if and when they remarry another, it causes the subsequent marriage partners to become complicit in their guilt as well. See The Divorced, The Divorcer, & The Third Party

The No Acceptance Argument

One of the foremost twists asserted by the proponents of post-divorce “putting away” is to affirm that since God does not “accept” an unapproved divorce, then it is not a divorce at all (i.e. it cannot happen).2

These same brethren would never contend that since the sins of murder, theft, fornication, drunkenness, etc. are not accepted by God they therefore, are not real. Nevertheless, these brethren argue the obvious point that God does not accept wrongful divorces (as if we disagree). Yet, the actual meaning of what they are saying is that He does not recognize the sinful actions. If this idea (which is fundamental to their doctrine) is true, then there is no such thing as sin, for God doesn’t recognize it! When closely examined, it is apparent that such subtle substitutions in terminology (used to lead others to accept post-divorce “putting away”) are absolute distortions.

Please acknowledge the three different Greek words that are used interchangeably (apoluo; chorizo; aphiemi) to define the separation of the physical marriage relationship. These three different Greek words are translated into five different English words in the King James Version of the Bible: put away/divorced (apoluo), put asunder/depart (chorizo), and put away/leave (aphiemi). See Chart - Synonymous Terms For Divorce

Apoluo (# 630)
Put Away
(“apoluo;” Matthew 5:31-32a; 19:3, 8-9; Mark 10:2, 11-12; Luke 16:18)
Divorced (“apoluo;” Matthew 5:32b)

Robinson’s Greek And English Lexicon, 1825, p. 67, “spoken in reference to the marriage state, and seq. th̀n gunaîxa, etc. to repudiate, to divorce, to dissolve the matrimonial connexion, Matt. 1: 19; 5: 31, 32. 19:3. Mark 10: 4. Pass. And seq. ὰπό cum gen. Luke 16: 18.— Diod. Sic. XII. 18.”

Arndt & Gingrich (second edition), Greek-English Lexicon, p. 96, “2. let go, send away, dismissa. divorce, send away th̀n guna îka one’s wife, or betrothed.”

The English definition of the word “away” means, “From a particular thing or place,” “At or to a distance in space or time,” “In a different direction,” “Out of existence or notice” and “So as to remove, separate, or eliminate.” The Greek use is the same. See: Apoluo Charts

You will notice that when “put away” is used to denote various other things in scripture, the implication is that those things were together until the time that they were separated (cf. I Corinthians 5:13; 13:11; Ephesians 4:31; I Timothy 1:19; Hebrews 9:26).

Chorizo (# 5563)
Put Asunder
(“chorizo;” Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9)
Depart (“chorizo;” I Corinthians 7:10-11, 15)

Arndt & Gingrich (second edition), Greek-English Lexicon, p. 890, “1. act. divide, separate tì someth.” “2. pass.—a. separate (oneself), be separated of divorce…1 Cor 7: 10. Abs. vss. 11, 15a, b.”

According to The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament by James Hope Moulton and George Milligan (p. 696), the Greek word “chorizo” is found in numerous divorce decrees and had “almost become a technical term in connection with divorce.”

The English definition of the word “asunder” means, “Into separate parts or pieces: broken asunder,” and “Apart from each other either in position or in direction: The curtains had been drawn asunder.”

We can read in Hebrews 11:37, that people of God were wrongfully “sawn asunder. We might ask the question, when those people were put to death, did they really die? Taking the unfounded theory that man CANNOT wrongfully put asunder and that if God does not accept something, it is a “farce” to its logical conclusion illustrates its absurdity. See Recognizing The Reality of Man’s Sin Via Human Agency

The English definition of the word “depart” means “To go away; leave,” and “To vary, as from a regular course; deviate: depart from custom.” Note closely what Paul stated in I Corinthians 7:10-11:

“And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (# 5563, chorizo) from her husband: 11 But and if she depart (# 5563, chorizo), let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” (emp. jhb).

You will notice that the Greek word translated “depart” in I Corinthians 7:10-11 is the same Greek word used by the Lord in Matthew 19:6 (Mark 10:9), where Jesus stated:

“Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” [# 5563, chorizo (emp. jhb)].

Again, it is important to acknowledge the difference between “let not” and “cannot.” These two terms are not synonymous. After the above unapproved divorce, the couple is divinely revealed as unmarried.” (If the one who wrongfully puts away is “unmarried,” it is necessarily inferred that the put away party is also “unmarried.”)

You will notice that when the word “asunder” is used in various other places in scripture, the implication is that those things were together before they were put asunder (cf. Matthew 24:51; Mark 5:4; Acts 1:18; 15:39; Hebrews 4:12; 11:37). Once put “asunder,” they are separated in every sense of the word!

Additionally, when the word “depart” is used in various other places in scripture the implication is that people departed from places and/or things. Cf. Matthew 7:23; 8:18, 34; 10:14; 14:16; 25:41; Mark 5:17; 6:10, 11; Luke 2:29; 4:42; 5:8; 8:37; 9:4; 12:59; 13:27, 31; 21:21; John 7:3; 13:1; 16:7; Acts 1:4; 16:36, 39; 18:2; 20:7; 22:21; 23:22; 25:4; 27:12; II Corinthians 12:8; Philippians 1:23; I Timothy 4:1; II Timothy 2:19; James 2:16.

Aphiemi (# 863)
Put Away
(“aphiemi;” I Corinthians 7:11-12)
Leave (“aphiemi;” I Corinthians 7:13)

Arndt & Gingrich (second edition), Greek-English Lexicon, p. 125, “‘in a legal sense divorce’ 1 Cor 7:11ff.”

Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. 1, pgs. 509-512): “To be emphasized is the legal use much attested in the pap.1 ‘to release someone from a legal relation,’ whether office, marriage, obligation, or debt, though never in a religious sense.”

“Corresponding is the use of the rarer subst., which often has the legal sense of ‘release’ from office, marriage, obligation etc., as also from debt or punishment, though never religiously…” (p. 509 under the Greek usage).

The English definition of the word “leave” means, To go out of or away from: not allowed to leave the room,” “To abandon or forsake: leave home; left her husband,” “To remove oneself from association with or participation in: left the navy for civilian life,” and “To set out or depart; go: When can you leave?”

Contrary to the assertions of men, God’s word teaches that man may choose to wrongfully “put away” (# 863, aphiemi; I Corinthians 7:11/“leave,” v. 13) their marriage partner, and consequently, their partner is “put away.” Clearly, this is synonymous with the fact that one can “put asunder” the “one flesh” relationship when they “depart” from their mate contrary to the will of God (chorizo, Matthew 19:5-6; I Corinthians 7:10-11). Moreover, in such circumstances, Paul said to the faithful, “let him depart” (I Corinthians 7:15; # 5563, chorizo). When one cannot prevent it, he is instructed to endure it patiently, as a Christian (I Peter 2:20; cf. Matthew 19:12; I Corinthians 10:13).

You will notice that when the English word “leave” is used in other places in scripture, the implication is that they departed from a person, place or thing. Cf. Matthew 5:24; 18:12; 19:5; 23:23; Mark 5:13; 10:7; 12:192; Luke 11:42; 15:4; 19:44; John 14:18, 27; 16:28, 32; 19:38; Acts 2:27; 6:2; 18:18; 21:6; II Corinthians 2:13; Ephesians 5:31; Hebrews 13:5; Revelation 11:2.  

The Difference Between Being Spiritually Bound (Obligated) and Being Physically Married

In Matthew 19:6, within the context of discussing the “one flesh” relationship and man’s action to undo it (putting asunder/away), the spiritual joining (yoke) is also addressed (what God’s does). However, in the book of Romans 7:2-3, a marriage situation is addressed within the context of discussing what God does [binding (i.e. joining or yoking), and loosing]. Nevertheless, Paul again reveals that it is possible for man to “be married” in an adulterous union, contrary to the will of God:

“For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” Romans 7:2-3

Just as man can “put asunder” against God’s will (break up a marriage), man can “be married to anotheragainst God’s will (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Mark 6:17-18; 10:11-12; Luke 16:18b; Romans 7:3a). Moreover, it is self-evident that God’s acknowledgement of unapproved marriages does not indicate that He is allowing man’s law to supersede His own! Marrying and divorcing is what man does, whether with or without God’s approval.

God “joins” (yokes together) couples with spiritual obligations revealed in His law (Matthew 16:19; 18:18; Romans 7:2-3, 14; I Corinthians 7:39) when they lawfully marry (I Corinthians 7:2; Hebrews 13:4). Additionally, scriptures such as Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Romans 7:2-3 and I Corinthians 7:39 indicate that He looses when certain individuals die and/or put away their “one flesh” partner for just cause.

Nowhere do the scriptures teach that man has the ability to loose the bond. God’s word simply teaches that IF man puts away (in the context of the “one flesh” relationship) for the cause of his bound partner’s fornication, that God will loose (release) him from his obligation to the guilty partner. This is a far cry from the errorist’s claim that man can free himself from the God-imposed “bond” by employing a post-divorce “putting away” (of which the Bible speaks nothing), for fornication after the fact.

Hence, advocates of the “mental divorce” theory reject what the Bible overtly teaches about unapproved putting away (and its consequences). They do so, because it conflicts with their claim (found nowhere in scripture) that one has the ability and scriptural “right” to put away what has, in reality, already been put away. This brethren, is a genuine example of placing man’s law above God’s law.

It is evident that man can “put asunder” that “one flesh” relationship against the dictates of God’s revealed will (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9; I Corinthians 7:10-11). This is why we can read of people being married to one while being bound to another (Mark 6:17-18; Romans 7:2-3). It is irrefutable that the scriptures affirm the ability of a person to be bound and not married (I Corinthians 7:11), or married while not bound (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b; Romans 7:3a).

Denial That Post-Divorce “Putting Away” is a Second “Putting Away”

The errorist’s denial of the first (unapproved) divorce is the foundation upon which the next step of their “logic” is built: Since the first (unapproved) divorce is supposedly not really a divorce, it is argued that a subsequent (second) “putting away” is, in reality, the first and only divorce.3

Ironically, those who say that man cannot wrongfully put away deny the charge that they are advocating a second putting away [despite the fact that post-divorce (#1) “putting away” (#2) equals two puttings away]. Obviously, this denial stems from a common understanding that the scriptures speak of no more than one putting away for a couple, whether right or wrong. It seems that some just cannot accept the fact that an “innocent” person could conceivably be wrongfully put away and thus, precluded from remarriage to another while their bound spouse lives (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b).

Nevertheless, once the “one flesh” relationship has been sundered (right or wrong), the marriage has been separated. The twain who became “one flesh” are now two once again (i.e. “unmarried;” Matthew 19:6; I Corinthians 7:10-11)! Like Grape-nuts cereal, which is neither grapes nor nuts, this post-divorce “putting away” (so-called “Biblical ‘putting away’”) is not biblical, nor is it “putting away.” See Who May “Put Away”?

When The “One Flesh” Relationship is Sundered, What Are The Consequences?

The synonymous meaning of all three Greek words (apoluo; chorizo; aphiemi) in the context of divorce is simply the dissolution of the “one flesh” marriage relationship! Nothing more, nothing less and nothing else! Those who advocate that one may still “put away” the remaining bond/obligation after the break up of the physical marriage can only assert that declaration! There is absolutely NO scriptural proof for such an affirmation (II Thessalonians 5:21; I Peter 4:11).

Does the Allusion To “Husband” and “Wife” Indicate A Marriage?

It is also argued that since the Bible subsequently describes those involved in a wrongful divorce as “husband” and “wife,” that they are still “married.”4 Therefore, they rationalize that since they are yet “married,” these already put away persons can still employ the divine prerogative that Jesus gave (Matthew 5:32a; 19:9a), for one to “put away” their “husband” or “wife” for the cause of fornication.

The fact of the matter is, there are no specific Greek words for “husband” or “wife.” Therefore the translation of the English word “husband” simply means “a man” (# 435, aner) and the translation of the English word “wife” simply means “a woman” (# 1135, gune). Evidently, the translators used the English words “husband” and “wife” to assist the reader to better understand the context (II Timothy 2:15). Hence these terms have reference to his woman and/or her man (I Corinthians 7:2). However, this many times has absolutely no reference to the “one flesh” marriage relationship. Paul proved that such was the case in I Corinthians 7:10-11:

“And unto the married (# 1060, gameo) I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (# 5563, chorizo) from her husband: 11 But and if she depart (# 5563, chorizo), let her remain unmarried (# 22, agamos) or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away (# 863, aphiemi) his wife” (emp. jhb).

Although the scriptures refer to a man and his lawful woman as bound (obligated) to one another, this does not indicate that the “one flesh” relationship still exists. In fact, sometimes these same terms are used in reference to one’s partner AFTER his/her death, in order to assist the reader with identifying who is being referred to (II Sam. 11:26; 12:9-10, 15; Matthew 22:24-25; Acts 5:9; Romans 7:3; I Corinthians 7:39). Yet, no one claims that just because the deceased mate is referred to as “wife” or “husband,” that the living mate is still married and/or bound to them.

Neglecting to clarify these details which disprove their theory either manifests gross ignorance on the part of the teacher, or an agenda to deceive the uninformed (Romans 16:17-18; II Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 4:14). See Does Reference To “Husband” and “Wife” Always Indicate Current Marriage Status?

What is being Put Away in these Verses:
(The bond or the mate)?

Matthew 5:32, “…whosoever shall put away his wife…”
Matthew 19:9, “…whosoever shall put away his wife…”
Mark 10:11, “…whosoever shall put away his wife…”
Mark 10:12, “and if a woman shall put away her husband…”
Luke 16:18, “whosoever putteth away his wife…”
I Corinthians 7:10, “…let not the wife depart from her husband…”
I Corinthians 7:11, “…let not the husband put away his wife
I Corinthians 7:13, “…if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.”

Consider the following parallel: The lawful, physical master/servant relationship of Philemon and Onesimus was divided (Philemon 1:10-16). When Onesimus (a servant) wrongfully departed (# 5563, chorizo) from Philemon (his master), the separation was complete. Obviously, Philemon could not subsequently divide the physical relationship that was already divided. Although reconciliation was expected, regardless of whether or not Onesimus returned to Philemon, Philemon could be faithful to God without his servant. Yet, in the letter written to Philemon, Paul stated in verses 15-16:

“For perhaps he therefore departed (# 5563, chorizo) for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever; 16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord?

Onesimus’s departure was not only in violation of Philemon’s will, but more especially God’s will! The word “departed” in this passage is the same Greek word used in I Corinthians 7:10-11 and 15 regarding an unapproved divorce. The question is—did this servant really DEPART from his master in the flesh in opposition to the will of God (Ephesians 6:5-6; Colossians 3:22; I Timothy 6:1; Titus 2:9; I Peter 2:18) or was Paul only speaking accommodatively (i.e. equivocating)?

According to the reasoning of some, to affirm a real departure would necessarily imply that man’s will was able to supersede the law of God. In no uncertain terms, inspiration states loud and clear that one can “DEPART,” “PUT AWAY” and/or “LEAVE” their duty-bound partner and thus cause the two to become “UNMARRIED” (I Corinthians 7:10-11).

In such a case, how can the put away who has already been dismissed “from the house” (J. H. Thayer, p. 66), “dismiss from the house” someone who no longer resides in (or is a part of) “the house”? The authority to put away for fornication was obviously given only to the married and was never extended to those who are put away! See: Those Who May Marry & Those Who May Not; Who Does the Exception Clause Apply To? and “It Appertaineth Not Unto Thee”

It was only after the Pharisees asked about the lawfulness of putting away [apoluo (Matthew 19:3; Mark 10:2)] “for every cause” that Jesus stated that man was not to “put asunder” (separate) the “one flesh” marriage relationship. Furthermore, when Paul wrote concerning this decree of the Lord, he addressed this rule specifically to “the married.” In that context, the Lord’s command to the wife was not to “depart,” from her husband, but and if she did “depart,” Paul wrote, “let her remain ‘unmarried,’ or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband ‘put away’ [aphiemi (I Corinthians 7:11)] his wife.”

Obviously, the command precluding divorce was to prevent the unapproved break up of the “one flesh” marriage relationship. However, there was one exception to this rule. The only authorized “cause” to “put away” (divorce; put asunder; depart or leave) one’s mate and dissolve the “one flesh” physical marriage relationship is “for fornication.”

The scriptures reveal unequivocally, that after an unapproved divorce (sundering of the “one flesh” relationship), any remarriage to another (for either party), while both obligated parties are living results in adultery (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:3a). For as long as one’s lawfully-bound partner lives (cf. I Corinthians 7:2, 16, 39), the only scripturally revealed options after such a divorce are to “remain unmarried” (Matthew 19:12; I Corinthians 7:11) or to “be reconciled” (I Corinthians 7:11)!

1 No laws of men, of any culture or country, in any century of time, can ‘join’ or ‘put asunder’ marriages for God. God does that, the Scriptures say (Gen. 2:23-24; Matt. 19:3-6; Mark 10:9; Eph. 5:31).” (emp. his). Bill Cavender, Truth Magazine (March 18, 2004), “Observations and Experiences Regarding Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage (1)”

Note: Not only was the above statement within the Truth Magazine article itself, this erroneous declaration was also highlighted in a “call out box.” Nevertheless, the Bible does not teach that God is the one who “‘put(s) asunder’ marriages.” Man marries (with or without God’s approval) and sunders the “one flesh” relationship (with or without God’s approval), whereas God binds and looses.

2 “It is the contention of this writer that it is a flagrant violation of language and reasoning to argue that a person is divorced and yet married to the person from whom he/she is divorced. A person may be divorced unscripturally, but he/she is yet divorced; and a person divorced from another person is not married to that person.  This business of insisting that one may be divorced ‘in the eyes of men’ and not divorced ‘in the eyes of God’ is nonsense. God may not approve of a given action (divorce or whatever), but that does not mean that the action does not occur because God does not approve of it.  A divorce without scriptural grounds is yet a divorce and renders the person divorced ‘unmarried.’ The argument being advanced here is that: ‘All actions not  approved of by God become non-actions or actions which do not occur.’ If this is the case, then is it legitimate in any sense to speak of an action as having occurred when in actuality it did not occur?  It is far better to take the language of a given text as meaning what it says (i. e. married means married, divorced means divorced), than to play this game of semantical gymnastics wherein words do not mean what they mean.” Maurice W. Lusk, III, [Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the Teachings of Jesus and Paul (Atlanta: Guild of Scribes, 1982), pp. 44, 45]. 

3 During our e-mail correspondence, I made the following statement in the top lines below. Within brother Osborne’s response, he used the >>><<< to encompass my words. His revealing reply follows:

“>>>My understanding is that when one is civilly put away (unscripturally or scripturally), they are put away, whether approved of by God or not. That is why I say that it is a second putting away.<<<  That assumes the first putting away is done by the procedure prescribed by civil law. I deny that it is. Where do you find a legal proceeding, court action, a court or the judicial procedure in God’s word as it pertains to divorce and remarriage? They are not there. There are, however, principles which show us what is involved in biblical putting away, sundering of the marriage or the other synonyms used in Scripture. As I have already stated, that is the only time ‘putting away’ takes place.” Harry Osborne, [e-mail letter (4-15-01)]

“And yet, some would suggest by the idea of making the civil proceeding that which is equated to Biblical putting away – here goes a person out here and takes the civil action – person doesn’t know that – I particularly know of a case of this happening in Houston. Man went away to Las Vegas. His wife thought he was leaving on a Monday to go on a business trip to New York; he actually went to Las Vegas with a girl he had been having relations with. He went out there on Monday, filed for divorce, and in Nevada you have a three day waiting period, you can mail the procedure to the spouse. When it was mailed, it didn’t get to her before they got back on Friday. When they get back on Friday, he says, ‘by the way hun, I didn’t go to New York, I went to Las Vegas.  I’ve divorced you, I’ve married her.’ The first his wife knew about it was at that time.  She told him, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with you if you’re ungodly and going to stay in that relationship. I’m going to put you away. That farce that you had of an action out there in Las Vegas is not what was putting away.’ If civil procedure is the putting away, that woman was divorced, didn’t know about it, and there is no way she can be protected by the law of God. I suggest to you the principles of God would show the very opposite. The principles would show she does have a right to say ‘here’s why I’m going away from you. I’m expressing that as the reason why. I’m taking action. You get your stuff out of here.’ That’s Biblical putting away - and it’s Biblical putting away for the cause, and it’s Biblical putting away after the very principles that Jesus made clear.” Harry Osborne, “What is Biblical Putting Away?,” Lakeland, FL (May 29, 2001) Play Clip!  See: The Nevada Straw Man

4 “And so, in conclusion from this, we learn that an unscriptural divorce releases neither party from marriage. When you have an unscriptural divorce, as men count it, it’s not so with God. That bond is still in tact. And that little piece of paper is nothing in the sight of God. Just as well use it as Kleenex and blow your nose and drop it in the toilet. It doesn’t mean a thing to God. God’s law rules over the laws of men.” Ron Halbrook, “Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage” in Wilkesville, OH [(6-14-90). Play Clip!] See: It Is Nothing

“The conclusion is this: unscriptural divorce releases neither party from marriage.” Ron Halbrook (Lesson on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (5-30-91) The Carriage Drive church of Christ, Beckley, WV]. Play Clip!]

“The statement but if she depart (emp. his)…In the event that the wife (or husband) leaves her husband (or wife), then she (or he) must remain unmarried. Paul recognized that, in spite of the commandments, some would nevertheless choose not to live together. In such cases, there were only two alternatives available. (1) To remain single or (2) be reconciled to one’s mate. Let her remain (emp. his)…denotes that this is a command that one must remain in a single state. The reason for this is obvious from Jesus’ command; the marriage is not dissolved by her departing (emp. jhb)…Even though civil laws allow divorce and remarriage for other reasons, such human laws cannot alter the law of God…We must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).” Mike Willis, Truth Commentary, First Corinthians (p. 184). Concerning chapter 7, verse 11.

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