Dear Brethren,

Recently (5-9-03), I heard about an article written by brother Bill Reeves (sent to brethren via e-mail), and about an exchange between brother Reeves and brother Gene Frost.

I called brother Frost to see if he would be willing to send me a copy.  During my conversation with brother Frost, I found that brother Reeves’ article was actually a rebuttal to an article that I had written months earlier.  In the article, brother Reeves was not only critical of my writing, but also that of brother Frost, whom I had quoted in the article to which brother Reeves was responding (this sparked the exchange between brothers Reeves and Frost).  At my solicitation, brother Frost agreed to grant my request and gave permission for me to publish his exchange with brother Reeves on my website. 

Consequently, I have posted brother Reeves’ rebuttal draft (only so you will be able to understand the context of what prompted brother Frost’s comments), and their revealing exchange follows.  I look forward to the completion of brother Reeves’ final draft of his rebuttal to my article, and will respond to it after it is published, Lord willing.  Or, if he does not publish a finished rebuttal in the near future, I hope to address the below (second) draft, which has been in circulation for three months. – Jeff

To: <undisclosed recipients>
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2003 12:30 PM

Brethren:  I am revising the section in which I reply to Bro. H. E. Phillips’ remarks on the grammar of Mk. 10:11, in reference to the antecedent of “her”.  I am deleting the following words:

The phrase, “and marries another”, is parenthetical.  As such, it can be omitted and the sentence is still complete: “Whosoever shall put away his wife committeth adultery against her”.  This proves that the adjectival pronoun, “another”, cannot be the antecedent of the word, “her”.

If “another” were the antecedent of “her”, then that phrase would not be parenthetical, but rather essential to the completion of the sentence.  But it is not essential!

I do not now consider those observations as accurate.  Although the sentence, having a subject and a verb, is complete without the phrase, “and marries another”, the THOUGHT is not complete.

In place of the above observations that are being deleted, I am inserting the following:

The “her” of Mt. 5:32, the wife who is put away by her husband, is the same “her” in the parallel situation depicted in Mk. 10:11.  In both passages Jesus is talking about the husband and his wife, and what is affected by the husband’s actions in relation to his wife.  The one made her, his wife, to commit adultery, the other one committed adultery against her, his wife!

Please scrap the previous version of my reply to Bro. Belknap’s article, and keep this one.  Any helpful suggestions for improving (or correcting) this reply would be appreciated.  Please remember that for the present, I do not want this draft circulated.  Thank you.   Brotherly, Bill Reeves


Note: My rebuttal of Bro. Belknap’s paragraphs are indented and bold.  Bill Reeves

An Examination of Mark 10:11-12

By Jeff Belknap

Mark 10:11-12 seems to be a favorite passage for use as a “proof-text” among those who seek to justify “Mental Divorce.”  Although its misuse to promote a second (post-civil-divorce) “putting away” has been soundly refuted and disproved in times past, it continues to resurface, as if it is some acceptable “application” that has stood the test of time.

The term “mental divorce” is a misnomer, a misrepresentation of brethren and of facts, a lie, a prejudicial term that manipulates minds.  Some have yelled it so loud and so long that many have come to believe that it exists.  Like yelling “wolf”, when there is no wolf, disconcerts people, so yelling “mental divorce” is disturbing the brotherhood.

There are as many puttings-away, in the issue of the present controversy, as there are persons who put away!  But each person does but one putting-away.  Note Mk. 10:11, 12, both the husband and the wife may put away.

Notice the language: “second (post-civil-divorce) ‘putting away’”.

1-Why not “a second (post-civil-putting-away) putting away”? To Bro. Belknap it’s either civil divorce or a mere mental determination, nothing else is possible! To Jesus it is put away, dismiss, repudiate, send away, depart, leave, release, divorce (separation).

2-Actually there is a person putting away before the civil divorce, and afterwards a second person does a putting-away

3-There are “two puttings-away” for the simple reason that there are TWO PERSONS putting away, each one time!

The theory is that Mark 10:11 authorizes an “innocent” mate to “put away” for the cause of adultery “against” him / her for as long as the couple is still bound - regardless of the person’s marital status at the time of fornication.  This reasoning translates to approval of post-civil-divorce “putting away” by divorced persons for the cause of post-civil-divorce adultery.

Did Jesus say anything about “marital status” in this passage?  Bro. Belknap adds it!  This is one of his man-made conditions.

At the time of adultery being committed, by one spouse marrying another, both spouses were bound by God to each other in marriage.  God will free the innocent one from that bond and give him the right to repudiate or reject the adulterer and to remarry (Mat. 19:9), if that one so chooses.

It matters not WHEN the adultery takes place (whether be-fore or after a civil divorce)!  Both spouses are bound to each other until God releases the innocent one from the bond of marriage.  He releases only the innocent one, if that one chooses to repudiate the fornicator and to remarry.

This article is written to redirect our focus to what the Lord has spoken (I Pet. 4:11) and expose the nakedness of the “mental divorce” fabrication. 

The “mental divorce” charge is human fabrication.  No one believes in it; rather, what is believed is that the innocent party, when fornication is committed by one of the spouses, has the right to do what Jesus calls putting-away, or repudiation, and to remarry.

The Greek word (APOLUO) that Jesus used for the English, put away or repudiate, is not something merely mental; it is an action!  Note the various passages where APOLUO is used, and see that it is action, although not with specific, minute, procedure implied nor indicated!

For example, is forgiving (Lk. 6:37) merely “mental action”, or is it an act of “releasing a debtor”?

What particular procedure was employed when Timothy was set at liberty (Heb. 13:23), or was it merely a thought process?  Did Timothy simply receive some “vibes” from the jailer’s mental apoluo, and then walked out of the jail?  When the disciples told Jesus to send the multitude away (Mt. 14:15), did they tell Jesus to merely have a thought in his mind?  Had Jesus sent them away (Apoluo), what exact procedure would he have had to follow?  Any specific one?   Of course not!

In the gospel of Mark 10:11-12 Jesus said, “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.”





Puts Away
His Wife

And Marries ANOTHER
Commits Adultery

A Woman

Who Puts Away
Her Husband

And is Married To Another
Commits Adultery

Note the headings of the three columns: “Divorcement”.  What he means is “civil divorcement”.  That is why he didn’t use the heading of “putting away”, which phrase he quotes Jesus as saying in his second column!  Jesus did not mean “civil divorce”.  (Jesus said, Apoluo, and there is no civil procedure in Apoluo).

First of all, note that absolutely nothing indicates whether the wife in verse 11 (or the husband in verse 12) was opposed to the above divorce or not.  This cannot be proven either way, nor does this text (or any other) reveal that opposition to an unscriptural divorce would make any difference in the consequences imposed upon the “put away.”  Scripture makes us “complete unto every good work” and provides “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:3).

I do not put the “prerequisite” of “opposition” in the equation.  But, if the innocent party does not oppose the putting away action of his spouse, it could be interpreted as consensual action.  If both consent to the putting-away, both are guilty of sin, violating Jesus’ command (Mt. 19:6), and neither would be permitted to remarry.

Consequently, it is certain that God’s word would have specified such a prerequisite if it determined whether subsequent marriage was lawful (“life and godliness”) or adulterous (death and ungodliness). Such man-originated rules are purely arbitrary and encourage reliance upon human (not divine) wisdom in regards to what is right (cf. Psa. 19:8; 119:128).

Bro. Belknap’s reference to “such man-originated rules” does not apply to me; I add nothing to what Jesus said.  The only reason some refer to “opposition” is to make clear that the innocent party did not consent to the repudiation nor to the civil divorce.  If one is not in agreement with a divorce, he naturally is going to state his opposition to it!

Secondly, observe closely that the “adultery” referred to in verse 11 is most likely committedagainst the last antecedent (i.e. another) and is, in all probability, NOT referring to the original “wife.”  This is true, not only because of the sentence structure but also because of the parallel passages (cp. w. Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Mk. 10:12; Lk. 16:18; Rom. 7:3)!  Additionally, several scholars believe that the word translated “against” actually means “with,” in reference to the second wife, not the first.

Bro. Belknap is not too convinced of his argument, using such phrases as “most likely” and “in all probability”.  He would like to have Jesus talking about the second woman under consideration, and not the original wife of the man.

He’s wrong about the “last antecedent” being the word “another”.  We’ll examine his “sentence structure” later, below.

His parallel passages don’t use the word “against”.  It appears only in Mk. 10:11.

Moreover, even if the Lord had specifically stated that the adultery was “against” the original spouse, where does He authorize a second “putting away” and remarriage for the put away victim of unscriptural divorcement (cf. II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:3)? 

Jesus didn’t address the scenario that Bro. Belknap presents, so naturally he doesn’t say anything specifically about it!

Bro. Belknap is not too convinced of his arguments that the original wife is not the one against whom adultery is committed. He is trying to take away the force of Mk. 10:11 that states that adultery is committed against the wife, which adultery would then be her reason for putting away the fornicating ex-husband.  This is what the Lord authorized!

After Jesus irrefutably taught that a man has the ability to accomplish an unlawful sundering of marriage (Mt. 19:6; Lk. 16:18), he stated that if such a man “shall marry another” (after perpetrating this unlawful act), he “committeth adultery.”

This is true; we all agree.  It is true because no fornication was committed in this scenario.  So, neither spouse may remarry!  If one does, he commits adultery.

However, the issue in the brotherhood has to do with a scenario where adultery has been committed!

Bro. Belknap and those with him toggle back and forth between the two scenarios, and hope that the reader/hearer will not detect it!

In addition, He revealed the consequence of remarriage by the one who was put away under such conditions: “and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Mt. 19:9; cf. Lk. 16:18). 

What conditions, Bro. Belknap? The condition that Jesus was asked about, and to which he directed his answer, was:  A man putting away his wife for every cause, no fornication being committed!  All such put-away wives, where no fornication is involved, when they marry again, certainly commit adultery, they and the men they marry.  Stay with the context, my brother!

Hence, the only authorized alternatives after an unscriptural divorce are to reconcile (I Cor. 7:11) or become a eunuch “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake” (Mt. 19:12a; I Cor. 7:11).  “He that is able to receive it, let him receive it” (Mt. 19:12b; cp. w. I Cor. 4:6; II Jn. 9)!

Let’s be sure and define “unscriptural divorce”.  It is the kind that Jesus was asked about, and to which he replied: a putting-away for any and every cause (except fornication).  In every case, where no fornication is being committed, if a spouse puts away his mate he must remain unmarried, and so must the mate, or else be reconciled to his mate (1 Cor. 7:11).   If no reconciliation is effected, the two must remain celibate.

If a fornicating spouse puts away his mate for any cause, the innocent mate, since both are still bound by God to their marriage covenant, has the divine prerogative to repudiate, or put away, the guilty spouse.  God, who binds, is the only one who can loose, and he looses the innocent spouse who chooses to repudiate the fornicating spouse and to remarry.  This is the principle that Jesus plainly teaches in Mt. 19:9.

Obviously this last scenario is not dealt with by Jesus for the simple reason that such a scenario was not put to him to answer; rather, a scenario not involving fornication was the one about which he was questioned!

The Mental Divorce advocates can cry aloud, jump up and down and cut themselves with knives and lancets, until the blood gushes out (cf. I K. 18:28-29), but the text says absolutely nothing regarding a second divorce and authorized remarriage to “another” for either the one who puts away or the one who is put away, when adultery transpires AFTER the fact of divorcement (cf. Acts 15:24; Gal. 1:6-9).

Of course the passage (Mk. 10:11) says nothing about such (nor about thousands of other things), because Jesus was not asked about such a scenario.  Jesus dealt with the issue put to him in ver. 2, an issue in which no fornication is committed!   The verse also says nothing about a court house, lawyer, putting "for fornication" on the divorce papers, etc., all of which some brethren find in the verse!

The Bible teaches that when one commits fornication / adultery, they sin “againstvarious persons and things.  David’s adultery constituted sin against God (II Sam. 12:13) as well as against Bathsheba and Uriah, fornication is a sin against one’s own body (I Cor. 6:18), homosexuality is a sin against nature (Rom. 1:26), and there are sins which become sins against the brethren (cf. I Cor. 8:12), especially when they are of a public nature (cf. Eph. 5:3). 

As we consider the assorted sins “against” others when one commits fornication / adultery, it is clear that inspiration is revealing the harm that such a sin causes to God, ourselves, and others.  I would accept the implication that subsequent adultery after the divorce would also be a sin “against” one’s bound mate, just as the unlawful divorcement was a sin against her (cf. Mt. 5:32a; 19:6).  However, this in no way authorizes (specifically or generically) that which is not revealed, regardless of what seems “right” in our own eyes (Cp. Deut. 12:8 w. 13:18; Prov. 14:12).

Bro. Belknap gives up his entire argument against “against”.  He admits that any case of adultery by the spouse is adultery committed against one’s mate.

What, my brother, is “that which is not revealed”?  Obviously the particular scenario that divides US was not presented to Jesus, and therefore does not appear in the Scriptures (is not revealed)!

What IS revealed in the Scriptures (Mt. 19:9) is that Jesus gives to the innocent mate the prerogative of repudiation of a fornicating spouse and of subsequent remarriage.

Once a marriage (the physical relationship) has already been PUT ASUNDER – DISSOLVED (repudiated, as well as ratified in the courts of men), there is nothing left under man’s control to be put away!

Look how Bro. Belknap switches terms in order to prove his contention!

Yes, a marriage (the physical relationship) can be put asunder (Gr., CHORIZO, Mt. 19:6).  This is done when a spouse departs (Gr., CHORIZO, 1 Cor. 7:10) from his mate.

And, there is no civil procedure here! The marriage then becomes dissolved, but not the bond. But, marriages are not repudiated. Spouses are repudiated!

Note that here Bro. Belknap admits that repudiation takes place before civil procedure (“repudiated, as well as ratified in the courts of men”). Yet, he makes civil procedure to be inherent in putting-away!  He can’t have it both ways!

You don’t “put away a marriage”; you put away a spouse!

After one spouse puts away the other, “there’s nothing left under man’s control to be put away”?  Has Bro. Belknap forgotten that the other spouse can do his own putting away?  Any spouse can put away, whether Scripturally or not!  Mk. 10:11,12.

Bro. Belknap would object, saying, “But there’s only one putting away in Mt. 19:9”. Why, of course! because there is only one putting away under consideration, one that the husband does (Mt. 19:3).

Notice what brother Donnie Rader wrote on pp. 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. 

Bro. Rader agrees with Bro. Belknap on this point, but Bro. Rader does not draw lines of fellowship over the issue! (*Please see comments at the end of this exchange regarding brother Reeves’ statement, jhb) Bro. Rader is not dogmatic here: “It is very possible”, he says, but he opposes what he calls an “assumption”.  The word “another” is NOT the nearest antecedent of “her”; it is not even an 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).

Bro. Rader cites one author who merely “suggests” that the preposition, EPI, here means “with”; that is, that adultery is being committed with the second woman, and not against the original wife.

Thayer, the authority recognized by all concerning the meaning of Greek words, tells us that EPI means “against”.  He does not give “with” as a translation.  He says, “against”, and cites Mk. 10:11 as an example!

 (cf. Nestle’s Text and The Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. one, p. 409.)

The first reference above is to Marshall’s Greek-English Interlinear, using the Nestle text.  The Nestle text says EPI; and Marshall, in his personal translation between the lines of Greek text, says “with”.

Well, I, too, can cite a Greek Interlinear, that of Berry, using the Textus Receptus. The Greek text says, EPI, of course, and Berry translates it, “against”.

So, Bro. Rader simply chooses to cite one man, Marshall, instead of another, Berry, for Marshall agrees with him.  But, whether Berry or Marshall, it is a one-man translation!

Thayer, the accepted Greek authority, says, “against”!  (Check your major English versions and see if any say, “with”!)

Bro. Rader’s reference to The Expositor’s Greek Testament only says that the word EPI “may mean either against, to the prejudice of, her (the first wife),or with her (the second wife).”

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.

Here Bro. Rader says, “the woman”. Which woman? the first wife or the “another”?  In order to make a point, he must mean the original wife.

The wife of Mt. 5:32 and 19:9 was put away where no fornication was committed by the repudiating husband.  No, she did not have the right to 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.”

Obviously “there is not a word in Mark 10:11 about re-marriage on the part of a put away one” for the simple reason that that was not the subject under consideration (ver. 2).  For the same reason there is nothing in Mr. 10:11 about the Lord’s Supper, baptism or baptistries!

Additionally, in The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Alfred Marshall (p. 182) translates the text under discussion in Mark 10:11, as “commits adultery with her” (emp. jhb).

This is not another argument, but simply a repetition of his quote of Bro. Rader, who gives a reference to “cf. Nestle’s text”.  The Greek text itself says, “epi”.  Marshall gives his one-man translation between the lines of the Greek text, saying, “with”.

Alexander Balmain Bruce states, “The ep auten at the end of ver. 11 may mean either against, to the prejudice of, her (the first wife), or with her (the second).  The former view is taken by the leading modern exegetes, the latter by Victor Ant., Euthy., Theophy., and, among moderns, Ewald and Bleek.”  (Marcus Dods, “The Synoptic Gospels,” The Expositor’s Greek Testament, p. 409)

Bro. Belknap pads his case here.  He simply gives the quote from the reference (Expositor’s Greek Testament, Vol. one, p. 409) that Bro. Rader had just mentioned.  Bro. Belknap makes it appear like something additional to Bro. Rader’s reference.

In a Mental Divorce article, under the heading of Mark 10:11, brother Gene Frost 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?’

Because Jesus said that it was against the wife that was unjustly put away.  (Is Bro. Frost a “Civil Procedure theorist”?  Is one a “theorist” just because someone labels him such? )

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.’

I do not imply this.  When one puts away a spouse, both become unmarried (divorced; i.e., separated), but it is not a divorce, or separation, that God approves, no matter what civil law somewhere might say!  And, they are still bound to each other by the marriage bond (Rom. 7:2,3).  

The man marries another, so Jesus says—the theorists says, ‘No, Lord, not actually.’

I do not say, “not actually”.  Jesus says that the man then marries another, but the first woman is still his wife! (Mk. 6:17,18, “Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her.  18  For John said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.”).

Bro. Gene: does repeatedly calling one a “theorist” make him one, and proves his contention wrong?

In this second marriage, the man commits adultery.  Why?  Because he is still ‘bound’ (though not married).

I couldn’t agree more.  And, he commits that adultery against his wife that he repudiated!

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).

No, he is not “still married to the first”, but he is still bound to her because God has not loosed him from his marriage bond!  She is still his wife (Mk. 6:17)!   Bro. Frost is in a poor position to call others hermeneutical gymnasts, and theorists. 

6Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest’s Word Studies, vol. I (Mark), page 198. [The Case For “Mental Divorce,” Gospel Truths, November p. 9 (2001)].

Wuest simply cites the Expositor’s Greek Testament.  So, this is not another “authority”, but rather another writer citing the same “authority”.

Wuest goes on to cite Robertson, who says, “Mere formal divorce does not annul actual marriage consummated by the physical union.  Breaking that bond does annul it”.  Now, do the Civil Procedure brethren accept that from Wuest?

Also notice how brother H. E. Phillips answered brother Marshall E. Patton in their written debate on this very issue:

“Brother Patton makes a point from Mark 10:11 with the statement: ‘Notice especially the expression ‘committeth adultery against her,’ i.e., against her that is put away.  Obviously, God’s bond is still intact, otherwise the adultery would not be against ‘her.’  His argu­ment is:  Because Mark says that the one who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery AGAINST HER, that this is the put away person of his proposition, who was put away against her will, who may NOW put away her former husband and remarry because she has had adultery committed against her.

Brother Patton assumes that the one who has adul­tery committed ‘against her’ is the first wife.  This is by no means certain.  All evidence does not agree that the ‘her’ is the wife.  Some commentaries say the ‘her’ is the woman who is number two wife.

Bro. Phillips is not very assured of his conclusion: “by no means certain, all evidence does not agree, some commentaries say”.  Now isn’t that strong language!

According to the rules of English grammar, the ante­cedent of a pronoun is the closest noun to it which would be ‘woman’ (understood.)  You will note that the text says, ‘…and marry another…’ (woman understood).  Thus the antecedent of ‘her’ would be ‘woman’ (wife number two).

Yes, as a rule the antecedent of a pronoun is the closest noun to it, but the noun, “woman”, is not in the text.

The word “another” is in this case a pronoun used as an adjective (i.e., not the same woman, but a different woman).  It is not a noun!

The nearest noun in the text is “wife”, the one that the husband repudiated!  She is the one against whom adultery is committed.

If Bro. Phillips has a point (and he doesn’t), then everyone who claims that “her” here refers to the original wife IS WRONG!  It can’t be both ways, if the grammar is such as he claims it is here.  Grammatically speaking, Bro. Phillips is mistaken.

The “her” of Mt. 5:32, the wife who is put away by her husband, is the same “her” in the parallel situation depicted in Mk. 10:11.  In both passages Jesus is talking about the husband and his wife, and what is affected by the husband’s actions in relation to his wife.  The one made her, his wife, to commit adultery, the other one committed adultery against her, his wife!

There is not a single syllable uttered in Mark 10:11 about the put away person remarrying” (emp. his). [Patton – Phillips Debate, First Negative, STS pp. 320-21 February (1987)].

Who says that “there is a single syllable in Mk. 10:11 about the put-away person remarrying”?  It is not there because Jesus was not asked about such! 

What is there is that the husband who repudiates his wife and marries again commits adultery against her.  The principle found in Jesus’ words in Mat. 19:9 is that the innocent may repudiate the fornicating spouse and remarry.  So, this applies to her!

The Civil Procedure brethren bring up a different scenario and then try to inject that scenario into the scenario that Jesus addressed, and then ask: Where did Jesus say so and so?

In brother Phillips’ second negative, he wrote under the heading of Mark 10:11:

“I insist that I am correct about the rules of English grammar.  The antecedent of a pronoun is the closest noun to it, which, in this passage, is ‘woman’ under­stood.  My case for ‘adultery against’ the second wife is stronger than your argument for the first wife.  You have by no means proved this point; you have simply asserted it.

If Bro. Phillips insists that he is correct on the point of grammar, why does he say that his case is “stronger” than Bro. Patton’s?  He needs to say that he is right and that Bro. Patton is wrong!

If Bro. Patton “by no means proved” his point, but “simply asserted it,” what more has Bro. Phillips done?

Does “my case is stronger than yours” mean “I am right and you are wrong”?  Does it mean that one proved and did not assert, but that the other one did not prove and did assert?

As I have shown above, Bro. Phillips, in spite of his insistence, in this case is not correct about the rules of English grammar.

The Greek epi that is translated ‘against’ in the King James Version is translated ‘with’ in Nestle’s Interlinear.  Nigel Turner in the Bible Translator of October, 1956, page 152 says of Mark’s use of epi in this context:  ‘i.e. unto or with…’  Your point on ‘against’ is not conclusive in establishing your case” (emp. his). [Patton – Phillips Debate, Second Negative, STS pg. 346 March (1987)].

Bro. Belknap has not found more “authorities” on the subject of “against or with”; he has found only more people who cite the same authorities.

We have already dealt with these points: Nestle’s text and Nigel Turner.

Incidentally, it is not “Nestle’s Interlinear”, but Marshall’s Interlinear, using the Nestle text.  Marshall gives his personal translation, “with”.  Berry, in his Interlinear, gives “against”, not “with.”    And Thayer does not agree with Nigel Turner.

Finally, in his third negative, brother Phillips stated under the heading of Mark 10:11:

“She has been put away, the marriage is dissolved and the relationship terminated.  What is SHE going to ‘put away’ even if he committed adultery?” (emp. his). [Patton – Phillips Debate, Third Negative, STS pg. 370 April (1987)].

Bro. Phillips question is based on the “ipse dixit” that “a put-away person can’t put-away”.

The marriage is put asunder (Mt. 19:6, CHORIZO) because one of the two spouses departed (1 Cor. 10:11, CHORIZO).  Both are now unmarried (1 Cor. 10:11).

There is no “even if he committed adultery”.  Jesus said that he did!  And, Jesus said that he did it against his wife!

To answer Bro. Phillips’ question: She may now exercise the prerogative or permission that Jesus gave her.  As he repudiated her, she repudiates him!   God did not release him on his repudiation, but he does on her’s.

The verb, put away (APOLUO), involves more than mere physical separation. It also means, “repudiate”. The marriage bond involves vows and commitment as well as physical union. So, when the faithful wife has fornication committed against her, she may repudiate, or reject, the fornicating husband, and then exercise her right to be loosed by God from that commitment and to marry again.

In Reflections, Robertson L. Whiteside (p. 426) says:

“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” (emp. jhb).

The “divorced person” of Mt. 5:32 and of 19:9 certainly has no right to remarry, because no fornication has been committed!  When will the Civil Procedure brethren learn to stay with the context?  Once fornication is involved, the context changes!  The issue that divides us is NOT the case of Mt. 5:32 and 19:9, etc., where no fornication is involved, but is the case of an innocent spouse whose mate has committed fornication!

The Civil Procedure brethren constantly change scenarios, from the one that Jesus treated, to an entirely different one.

One of the many flaws in the Mental Divorce theory is inconsistency.  If Mark 10:11 really authorizes an “innocent” mate to “put away” for the cause of adultery “against” him / her for as long as the couple is still bound - regardless of their marital status at the time of fornication—then the same door of potential is also opened for the party who perpetrated the unscriptural divorce.

There is no inconsistency at all!

Mk. 10:11 does not address the matter of remarriage of an innocent spouse; Mt. 19:9 does.

The man in MK. 10:11, who “perpetrated the unscriptural divorce” that Jesus is talking about, married again!  He had no adultery committed against him, but his wife did!  That explodes the “same door of potential” that Bro. Belknap claims is also opened to the man in Mk. 10:11.

What that man did certainly did not loose him from being bound to the put-away wife.  When he remarried, she had adultery committed against her, and so she may now exercise her God-given right to repudiate him and remarry, because God will loose her from being bound to him.

Most recent proponents of Mental Divorce deny this necessary conclusion, and would only authorize a post-civil-divorce “putting away” for the “innocent put away party.”  However, as has been clearly shown in times past, consistent application of such reasoning inevitably leads to “the waiting game” for both parties in an unscriptural divorce.  If not, why not? 

Of course only the innocent one is given the right to repudiate and remarry; certainly the spouse who is guilty of adultery does not have that right!

Mk. 10:11 treats of a husband that puts away his innocent wife and remarries!  The so-called “waiting game” involves a different scenario, one in which a husband and wife consensually divorce (separate), defraud one another, and wait until one of the two fornicates. Both are still bound to each other, must remain unmarried or be reconciled, and no adultery has yet been committed.  Both are guilty of divorcing without cause.  Bro. Belknap confuses the scenarios!

As for the “waiting game”, no godly spouse engages in such.  But once adultery is committed against him, he may repudiate and remarry by God’s permission.

As for a carnally-minded spouse, he is not concerned about needing any Scriptural reason for remarriage!  He disobeyed Christ when he put away his mate for any cause (Mt. 19:6), and with that heart he’ll disobey again--why wait?

It impugns the motives of the innocent one, in the scenario of Mk. 10:11, to charge her with merely waiting until her mate commits adultery.  Who sets anyone up to so judge another (Jn. 7:24)?  If two spouses agree to a separation, they both sin (Mt. 19:6) and the option of remarriage is not open to either one of them, no matter how long each might wait for the other to commit adultery.  Willful sinners don’t try to do things scripturally!

If the intact bond is truly the factor in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 that authorizes one to put away for adultery “against” them, then both partners of that bond would be eligible to exercise this right.

What is the phrase, “intact bond is truly the factor”, suppose to mean?  That which permits one to put away is not an “intact bond” but the cause of fornication (Mt. 19:9).

Two spouses are bound by God to their commitment to marriage (Mt. 19:6), and only God can loose them from it.  He looses only the innocent one who chooses to repudiate the fornicating mate and to remarry.

It is only Mk. 10:11 that speaks of “adultery against” a mate.  Mt. 5:32 says nothing about the repudiator remarrying and thus committing adultery “against” a mate.  Mt. 19:9 speaks of a spouse, who puts away his mate for any cause and who then remarries, committing adultery.

It is only an arbitrary, man-made rule that sanctions the post-civil-divorce “putting away” and remarriage by one partner (for adultery), but not the other.

God made the rules, my brother, not I.  The one putting away without God’s approval, and who then remarries, commits adultery (Mt. 19:9).  He has forfeited his right to another marriage.  God doesn’t sanction him at all.  God does not loose him from his vows that he took.  On the other hand, the innocent spouse in the scenario has had adultery committed against him, and when fornication is committed, the innocent is permitted to repudiate the fornicating mate and to remarry.  This is Jesus’ rule, not mine.

There is no scripture that implies different remarriage ramifications for one who perpetrates an unlawful divorce and for one who is the recipient of that action.  According to inspiration in Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke16:18, both persons become adulterers upon remarriage to “another” for as long as their bound spouse lives (cf. Rom. 7:2-3).

Of course no Scripture advocates “different remarriage ramifications” (whatever that is supposed to mean!) for one person in contrast to that for a different person.  Jesus gave one law for everyone: if fornication is in evidence, that fornication serves as the cause for the innocent spouse to repudiate and remarry.  That’s what Jesus taught, and is what I believe and preach.

Jesus nowhere speaks of “civil divorce”, how much less of “post-civil-divorce”.  It is Bro. Belknap that makes “civil divorce” synonymous with “putting away”, not Jesus.

How astutely Bro. Belknap confuses two different scenarios, as he talks about “different remarriage ramifications”!  Jesus treats of putting away for any cause (and so no fornication is committed in this scenario, and neither spouse may remarry), but the issue that divides Bro. Belknap and others is a scenario in which fornication, or adultery, is committed after a “civil divorce” (of which Jesus says nothing!), and that adultery is committed against the innocent one.

Who “perpetrates an unlawful divorce,” and who “is the recipient of that action,” has nothing to do with the issue.  That which gives the innocent spouse the right to put away and remarry is the presence of a particular CAUSE: that of fornication!

Although Jesus never used the words “innocent” and “guilty,” the presence of both of these elements in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 is undeniable.  However, the texts’ insinuation of these terms only implies innocence or guilt of fornication in the context of an existing marriage.

Bro. Belknap is desperately trying to establish a prerequisite for his case, his so-called “marital status”, so that he can claim that after a “civil-divorce,” there is no marriage status in evidence.  Then he passes on to conclude that the innocent spouse, against whom adultery has been committed, may not repudiate and remarry since he is not now married.

Monotonously Bro. Belknap confuses two different scenarios.  He finds a so-called “marital status” in the scenario that Jesus treated, where no fornication is committed by a spouse, but not in the other one, where adultery has been committed.  His conclusions are drawn from a faulty premise.

Of course there was a marriage, in the primary sense of “joined” (physically), in evidence in the scenario about which Jesus was questioned (Mt. 19:3), and after a spouse has put away a mate and remarried, the put-away mate is of course no longer joined physically to him.  But, in BOTH scenarios, the MARRIAGE BOND is still intact.  In the first scenario neither spouse could remarry, because no fornication had been committed, and in the second one, God alone grants to the innocent spouse the right to repudiate and remarry for the cause of fornication that has been committed!

Once a divorce is complete (whether scriptural or not), silence of the scriptures confirms that subsequent fornication is inconsequential to either party’s remarriage-ability.

This is fuzzy language.  First of all he says, “once a divorce”.  By this he means, not put away or repudiate, but “civil divorce” (that is completed!).

He says: “whether scriptural or not”.  If the putting-away is scriptural, it is because the innocent spouse repudiates the fornicating mate.  If it is unscriptural, it is because no fornication has been committed.  There is a difference.

Now about what “subsequent fornication”, and on the part of whom, is Bro. Belknap talking?  He is not at all clear here.  The subsequent fornication of the fornicator who was put away for fornication is certainly inconsequential to the right to remarry.  And if the innocent spouse, who put away his mate for fornication, goes and marries again, his subsequent fornication will have bearing on any right to remarriage.

But If he means the adultery committed against his wife that results from a husband putting her away, and marrying another woman (Mk. 10:11), then there is something “consequential”.  The innocent wife in this scenario has the “cause” for which Jesus gives the right to put away and to remarry

The issue is not about “re-marriage ability” but rather about divine permission to remarry!

The only authority given to remarry another AFTER an unscriptural divorce (for either party) is the DEATH – not fornication – of a bound mate (Rom. 7:3; cf. I Cor. 7:11).

Bro. Belknap continues to take out of context language of the first scenario by forcing it into an entirely different scenario.

Look who is talking about “silence of the scriptures”!  Where does our brother, in the scriptures that he cites, find anything said about “AFTER an unscriptural divorce”?  Where?  I may not apply the principle of what Jesus said in Mt. 19:9 to an innocent spouse who has had adultery committed against him, but he may apply what Rom. 7:3 and 1 Cor. 7:10 say to remarriage “AFTER an unscriptural divorce”.  Indeed the legs of the lame are not equal!

Will all who are of his general persuasion agree with him about his conclusion?  If a “put-away woman” may not remarry because she is a “put-away woman”, and so they claim, she may never remarry, because she will always be a “put-away woman”.  She was put away, and that is history!  The death of her ex-spouse cannot change that history, or fact.  Maybe Bro. Belknap can explain the matter by -- what did he call it? -- “an arbitrary, man-made rule.”

When reviewing the teaching of these men, it becomes apparent that their reference to “innocent party” isn’t what most of us recognize as an “innocent party.”  When I hear “innocent party,” I assume that there is a fornicator (“guilty party”) already involved prior to the putting away, as is unmistakably depicted in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

There is no fornication committed in Mt. 5:32 and 19:9 prior to the husband’s putting away.  Bro. Belknap is mistakenly depicting something in the two passages that is not there.  Nothing is said in Mt. 5:32 about the husband committing fornication BEFORE he puts away his wife, and in Mt. 19:9 the fornication (adultery), committed by the husband, by marrying again, is AFTER he puts away his innocent wife.  This is the fornication that serves as the cause for which the innocent, put-away wife may repudiate the fornicating spouse and remarry. This fornication occurred BEFORE she did her putting-away!  Fornication must be the cause in evidence before any spouse may scripturally repudiate, or put away.

If a spouse puts away, and later obtains a civil divorce, for just any cause, neither he nor the mate may remarry, because there is no fornication involved (this is what is taught in Mt. 19:9).      

Now -- watch him -- he is ready to switch scenarios!  From the putting-away that the husband does, per Mt. 5:32 and 19:9, Bro. Belknap switches to an entirely different scenario: to that of an innocent wife who now does her own putting-away!

However, according to those who advocate the post-civil-divorce “putting away,” one can still be an “innocent party” AFTER an unscriptural divorce – under certain (uninspired) conditions.

Jesus said absolutely nothing about “civil divorce”, post or otherwise!  Man-made laws do not alter, or affect changes in, a God-given right, or permission.

Does an innocent spouse become any less an innocent spouse just because his mate got a civil divorce in the courts of men.  He is innocent before and after anything that the fornicating mate might do.  The innocent spouse, put away for any cause by his mate, in Jesus’ scenario, is still innocent, but since no fornication was committed, that spouse may not repudiate and remarry.  But the innocent spouse of another scenario, of that in which there is fornication committed against him, may repudiate and remarry because he has the cause required by Jesus to be released from the marriage bond.  Simple, isn’t it?

These requirements are that she must not have been a willing participant in the (first) divorce, and that she must remain “faithful to the ‘marriage bond’” until her bound partner becomes guilty of adultery “against” her.  At such a time, we are told that she may employ a post-civil-divorce “putting away” for that cause, thereby securing her “right” to remarry another.

Let’s consider his “requirements”:

1. Had she been a willing participant in the (first) putting-away for any cause, she would have sinned as well as her husband (Mt. 19:6).  Agreed?

2. As long as one is bound to another in marriage, he must be faithful to the marriage bond.  Agreed?

3. When the person, to whom the spouse is bound by God to the marriage covenant, has adultery committed against him, he is granted, upon that cause of fornication, the right to repudiate and to remarry.  Agreed?  No!  Bro. Belknap does not agree with Jesus!

[Notice that the result of this line of human reasoning is diametrically opposed to what Jesus taught regarding the put away (Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Lk. 16:18; I Cor. 7:10-11).]

How many times does Bro. Belknap have to be reminded that in the scriptures cited Jesus said absolutely nothing about “post-civil-divorce ‘putting away’”?  Those words are Bro. Belknap’s; they are not words of Jesus. 

Ironically, we are told that only one of the two equally-bound parties (after an unscriptural divorce) is eligible to claim the remaining bond as that which enables (authorizes) them to “put away.”

Bro. Belknap has a hard time representing correctly his brethren.  Who among us has ever claimed that “the remaining bond” is that which “enables (authorizes)” one to put away?  The cause is the basis on which God permits the innocent spouse to repudiate a fornicating mate and to remarry.

Yes, we (Bro. Belknap and I) are told, and that by Jesus, that only one of the two equally bound spouses has a right to repudiate and remarry, and that one is the one innocent of fornication.

We are told that the act of divorcing one’s mate without scriptural cause forever precludes an individual from becoming an “innocent” party in a post-civil-divorce “putting away” – even when post-civil-divorce fornication is committed “against” them by their still-bound partner.

Come again?  What’s good for the bound goose is not good for the bound gander?  Oh yes - according to some brethren’s definition - one can only be an “innocent” mate in a post-civil divorce “putting away” for adultery when the first divorce was perpetrated against their will.  I suppose this all makes sense in a sort-of convoluted way, when you use the creative definitions provided by proponents of this doctrine.

Stay on track, my brother!  Jesus said that the one who puts away his mate without scriptural cause (fornication), and marries another, commits adultery, and that against his mate.  Jesus gives no right of remarriage to him, nor do I.  Does Bro. Belknap?  No, so he can forget about his sauce-, goose- and gander-talk.

Brethren, consider all of the complexities, arbitrary rules and stipulations of the mental divorce doctrine.  Contrast that with the simplicity and forthright language of the Lord’s teaching regarding divorce and remarriage.

If there are “complexities, arbitrary rules and stipulations of the mental divorce doctrine”, Bro. Belknap has concocted them, because I know of no one who advocates repudiation by mere thought process.  He is fighting a straw man.  He does it by changing scenarios, putting “civil procedure” (courthouse action) into Jesus’ mouth, and subtly wording his phrases to prejudice minds.

Then read II Corinthians 11:3 and make the application.  Cp. Jeremiah 23:16; Ezekiel 13:7 with II Peter 2:1-2.

I commend these scriptures to Bro. Belknap.  They are good ones, and I hope that he heeds them.

Gene Frost
712 Victoria Place
Louisville, Kentucky 40207
Telephone / FAX: (502) 895-7484

February 24, 2003

Mr. William Reeves
680 Winchester Road
Hopkinsville, KY 42240-5248

Dear brother Reeves:

A copy of your article in rebuttal to “An Examination of Mark 10:11-12,” by Jeff Belknap, has been forwarded to me via the internet. I note that you apparently take exception to a paragraph Belknap quoted from my book, “Mental Marriages and Mental Divorces.” You intersperse your comments after every sentence or two. Your tone is hostile.

Instead of stating wherein you think I have erred, and dealing with it honorably, as one would who sincerely seeks to lead a brother to a more perfect understanding; instead of using Scripture and reason, seasoned with love and respect, you comment with a quip or snide remark. You state, “Bro. Frost is in a poor position to call others hermeneutical gymnasts, and theorists.” And your proof?

1) In the first article of three, I stated what at the time was a “new theory.” This was written over twenty years, and relates to a doctrine first espoused even earlier than that. Those who presented it to me affirmed “mental marriages” and “mental divorces.” This was acceptable terminology, without prejudice. This is terminology they used. In response, I showed the reasoning behind their conclusions. I showed their effort to be not an exegesis of Biblical texts, but eisegesis, a confusing of terms, shifting terms, assigning reasons to why God says what He does, adding words to terms to redefine their true definition, having the same word mean one thing at one time and then something else at another, etc. I asked, “Why these mental gymnastics?” I answered the question, and showed why and exposed their agenda.

Apparently you disagree that the reasoning is “mental gymnastics,” in which case you must view it as sound and a presentation of truth. You are welcome to this reasoning and are free to defend it. However, it will take more than a quip or an aside question.

2) You object to my referring to those, who defend what they say are “mental marriages and mental divorces,” as “theorists.” “Is one a ‘theorist’ just because someone labels him such?” Of course not; but, again, it is not wrong to call one what he is, especially so when you prove it. “Bro. Gene: does repeatedly calling one a ‘theorist’ make him one, and prove his contention wrong?” Of course not. You have it backward: it is when you prove his contention wrong that you can call him a theorist … because that’s what he is! I referred to the “mental marriage” and “mental divorce” advocates as theorists because I find their doctrine to be theoretical or speculative, and not factual or Scripture. The reason for my conclusion I clearly set forth. Now, then, if you do not consider them theorists, you must accept them as true Biblical expositors, and that their conclusions are true. In which case, since no one yet has even attempted to defend the doctrine and refute my published objections, you may be just the man to try it.

3) You write as though I am replying to you. “I do not imply this.” I did not say you did. I don’t know what you believe; I have not read anything on this subject by you. “I do not say ‘not actually.’” Again, I haven’t said you do. I don’t know how you can take an article I published over twenty years ago and think that it is in reference to you today … unless you embrace the same concept and make the same arguments. But then you couldn’t say, “I do not imply … I do not say.”

4) You obviously have not done your homework to see in what context I wrote. I did not write the paragraph, to which you have responded, in the context of the present controversy in which you and Belknap are engaged. (You tell me if the context fits you; if so, then apply it.) You state: “Bro. Frost reiterates the quote from the commentary to which Bro. Rader referred, The Expositor’s Greek Testament.” “Two or more men, citing the same author, is not presenting two or more authors as proof.” You imply that Rader quotes a reference and that I reiterate it (repeat it) as additional proof. We wrote in different contexts and years apart.

Since you have tried to nullify my rebuttal of the “mental marriage/mental divorce” doctrine, I now call upon you to deal honestly, fairly, and scripturally in support of the doctrine. If you say you do not believe in “mental marriage” and “mental divorce,” the subject of my booklet which was quoted, then how can you condemn me, or make light of what I have written, when I oppose the concept? To take my articles out of context to reply would be dishonest. Either you accept “mental divorce” or you owe me an apology.

Without an apology, I expect you to note the argumentation of the “mental marriage / mental divorce” advocates, to whom I addressed my opposition, and present Scriptural support. I still deny the concept.

To avoid any “mental gymnastics” we experienced before, in presenting your case, please define your terms. I find in nearly every controversy of the marriage/divorce issue, there is equivocation, shifting of terms, substituting or redefining of terms, etc. You have used a term in reply to me that is unclear. You say, “he commits that adultery against his wife that he repudiated.” How do you define “repudiate” in the context of divorce? Does it mean the same thing as “divorce,” a synonym, or is it a means by which the divorce is obtained? If we are to engage the subject fairly, for the profit of all and not just to “score points,” we need to be clear and open in our presentations.

Do we proceed from here in controversy, or have you spoken (written) rashly?

                                    Gene Frost


Dear Gene:

Someone has sent you a copy of a rough-draft that I have been preparing, in rebuttal to Bro. Belknap’s article reviewing Mk. 10:11. I requested of those few to whom I sent it not to distribute it as yet. I have made revisions and corrections to the original draft. (I do not know just which “version” was made available to you). That someone did get out one of the versions into the public domain doesn’t particularly bother me (what one receives becomes his property to do with it as he judges best), but as it keeps circulating, more and more people are not likely to understand that it is but a rough draft undergoing some revisions.

I am disappointed that in your very first paragraph you state that in my rebuttal my tone is “hostile”. Surely a brother can differ with another brother without his rebuttal being depicted as hostile! Are you to be considered “hostile” because you attribute to me “a quip and snide remark”, and not “dealing with it honorably”? Frankly, I don’t consider that hostile on your part, nor on my part in rebutting Bro. Belknap’s review. We can all rise above petty feelings.

You say, “You write as though I am replying to you”. Here, Gene, I owe you an explanation, a clarification. I can see how you would so react. I was not clear in this, and will make the necessary correction. My intention, in publishing this review of Bro. Belknap’s review of Mk. 10:11 (when I have finally revised it), is purely to rebut his arguments that I consider false. Yes, I like to “intersperse (my) comments after every sentence or two” (anything unethical about that style? Is there a rule that says I must quote a whole page or two before making comment?), so as to hit points, that I judge worthy of my comment, as they appear, and not after a number of such points have been made. As a result, I made comments along, even on the quotes that Bro. Belknap made from you and others. But, I had no intention of doing anything except rebutting arguments that Bro. Belknap was making, even with his quotes.

You quote from what I wrote: “Bro. Frost reiterates the quote from the commentary…..authors as proof”. I am at fault here, in expressing the matter as I did. What I wanted to say (and I will certainly make the correction in my next revision) is “Bro. Belknap’s use of Bro. Frost’s quote is a reiteration of the reference already made in the quote that he gave from Bro. Rader’s writings. Bro. Belknap’s citing of two men’s references to the same author (Expositors Greek New Testament) is not presenting two authorities”.

Furthermore, Gene, I am deleting any reference that I make to you directly, in reference to quotes made by Bro. Belknap of your writings, because, although I don’t agree with some things quoted from your writings, I am solely rebutting Bro. Belknap’s review. For example, I say: “Bro. Gene: does repeatedly calling one a ‘theorist’ make him one, and proves his contention wrong?” I will delete any locution made directly to you, in my review of Bro. Belknap’s review. This is proper and right. (However, I do comment on the substance of some of the things quoted from you and others).

Gene, you ask me: “how can you condemn me, or make light of what I have written?” I have not done that, my brother, no more than you, in what you have written to me in your letter, have done so. Again, let’s rise above petty feelings. All brethren have their differences, and can discuss them, as you say, “seasoned with love and respect”, and that is a two-way street, I am sure you will agree.

Thanks for writing me and calling some matters to my attention that allow me the privilege of making some corrections and improvements to my review of Bro. Belknap’s article.

May this letter find you well and busy in the Kingdom that we love.

Your brother in the Lord, Bill Reeves
Bill H. Reeves

March 12, 2003

Dear Bill:

I awaited a reply from you last week, expecting you to respond with a signed letter as I had written you. I do not look in my email box daily, and in this case I did not find your reply until Saturday night. (No, it is not unethical to respond by email. In fact, I am responding in kind.) This explains my delay in responding.

You express disappointment that I viewed your rebuttal of a paragraph I had written years ago and recently quoted by Jeff Belknap as being hostile in tone. How else was I to characterize it? Think about it, Bill. You did not point out any error that I taught; you did not present Scriptures to show wherein I was mistaken; you did not seek to persuade me to a better understanding, as a friend would. You did take my identification of others out of context, and implied that I called them “theorists” and “hermeneutical gymnasts” simply because I labeled them as such. You asked, “Is one a ‘theorist’ just because someone labels him such?” “Just because” means the reason or cause is neither more than less than. So you condescendingly ask if I think others are theorists for no other reason than the fact I said so. This is hardly complimentary. You compound the insinuation by adding, “Bro. Gene, does repeatedly calling one a ‘theorist’ make him one, and prove his contention wrong?” This charges by implication that I not only think others are wrong because I label them such, but in so doing this should prove to others they are wrong. Else why the questions? You know that I believe no such thing … but then you were not seeking information, but implying that my characterization and argumentation against the “mental marriage/mental divorce” concept is baseless. Next you go beyond the subtlety of insinuation to a stated charge: “Bro. Frost is in poor position to call others hermeneutical gymnasts, and theorists.” Now my “position” is so bad or inferior that I really have no business referring to others as hermeneutical gymnasts and theorists! (Incidentally, does saying I have a “poor position” make it so? Again, I call upon you to prove your charge.) And now, Bill, you really can’t see why I viewed your rebuttal as hostile?

When I wrote my articles in opposition to the mental marriage/mental divorce concept—from which you refer to a single paragraph—I presented evidence for charging those who were promoting it of being hermeneutical gymnasts, engaging in mental gymnastics. For example, they taught that when Jesus said “married,” one time He meant actually married and another time, the same word in the same context, meant married, accommodatively speaking. One time “divorce” means actually and another, accommodatively. I would call this mental gymnastics; it certainly isn’t sound exegesis. Also, I showed where they equivocate on the word “right (or power)” to conclude that man cannot sever a marriage, that though accommodatively divorced the marriage is actually intact. What Jesus refers to as a divorce, they say “not really.” Then again, they reasoned that since marriage and divorce is what takes place between man and God, and is not related to social or legal sanction, the only actual marriage is that which is mental, and the only actual divorce is the mental divorce, that marriage and divorce as recognized by society are merely hollow terms. Yes, they played with words, adding terms and substituting terms in the same sentence, as their theory demanded, equivocating, etc. You should be able to understand my consternation when your “rebuttal” amounted to nothing more than a quip—“Bro. Gene, does repeatedly calling one a ‘theorist’ make him one, and prove his contention wrong?”— and a flippant charge—“Bro. Frost is in poor position to call others hermeneutical gymnasts, and theorists.”

Now since you refer to my “poor position” as a “rebuttal,” your effort “to contradict, refute, or oppose”,” you must accept the position that I opposed. I repeat: “If you say you do not believe in ‘mental marriage’ and ‘mental divorce’ … then how can you condemn me, or make light of what I have written when I oppose the concept? … Either you accept ‘mental divorce’ or you owe me an apology.” Especially now, since you say, “I don’t agree with some things quoted from your writings…”, we need to know exactly where you stand. You may have started out “solely rebutting Bro. Belknap’s review,” but you have gone beyond that, and your rebuttal of my writings has been publicly posted.

If your article was “purely to rebut his (Belknap’s) arguments,” or “solely rebutting” his review, why do you address me? In the six rebuttal sections pertaining to the quote by me, you refer to me by name five times, even addressing questions to me. Yet you contend that your effort was not anything more than rebutting Bro. Belknap?

I stated in my letter that you “intersperse your comments after every sentence or two,” and that “you comment with a quip or snide remark.” You now reply, “Yes, I like to “intersperse (my) comments every sentence or two,” and parenthetically ask, “anything unethical about that style?” Before commenting on the nature of your interspersed comments, let me address this matter of “style.”

There is nothing amiss by the style of injecting comments in the flow of one’s writing if it is not abused, and when done honorably there is an advantageous result. Let me explain. You know, as well as I, that the meaning of words draw from their use in contexts, as well as by definition. A danger, and a misuse, of interspersed comments is that a sentence isolated from it immediate context can easily be abused, and meanings attributed that would not be allowed in the context of discussion. That’s why when we write, we often use more than a simple sentence, which in the context of our minds, in our thinking, clearly makes the point. But standing alone it may not be so clear in the mind of others. In order to avoid misunderstanding, which can occur in the context of the reader’s thinking, we usually express additional clarifications in order to bring the reader’s thinking in harmony with our own. This is to insure that what we are trying to express is so understood by the reader. To take a sentence out of this context, and then use it in a context supplied by someone other than the author, say a reviewer, would be misleading. By isolating sentences from the immediate context of a paragraph, one may be tempted to put them in a context supplied by the reviewer, and thereby shift the issue from the main thrust of argumentation to some minor point.

For example, I wrote that the mental divorce theorists argue that Mark 10:11 has a second marriage resulting in adultery “against” the first mate, and they conclude: “It is implied that this indicates they are still married.” The argument flows, with comments on how the theorists react when a man enters a second marriage (he says, “not actually”), to the meaning of the expression, “adultery against her.” Here we showed that the expression in the original means “in reference to her,” from which some argue that it is to the prejudice of the first wife and others say it means with the second wife. (One has to look beyond the meaning of the expression itself, and determine the proper relationship grammatically.) The point made here is: if the mental theorist is to support his contention, it must refer to the first wife. And so the burden of proof is upon him, and it is not found in his assertion. (Even so, if it referred to the divorced mate, it would not prove the contention that they were still “married” after being “divorced.” Jesus said she was put away, divorced.) However, I did not finish the discussion of Mark 10:11 with this paragraph. I resume it later to show grammatically that the evidence points to the second wife. From your interspersed comment, without reading my full paragraph with it (which would defeat the purpose of the interspersed comment), one would not realize the context. The interspersed comments makes calling one a theorist the issue (the first comment). The second comment: you say that you do not imply what those I reviewed imply. The third comment: you make calling one a theorist the issue. The fourth comment is an assertion, not proof. The fifth comment: you have me “admitting” (as though I had denied it) that the expression, “adultery against,” can refer to the first wife, and in a given context it may, but I didn’t say that it does in Mark 10:11. There is a difference between can and does, and it is the theorist’s task to prove that it does. I simply showed what expositors understand a particular phrase means. The sixth comment: you have a woman being the wife of two men. Through the comment sections, the thrust of the paragraph completely eludes you and so conveyed to the reader. So instead of interspersing comments to help focus on the issue, you shift the issue to the one that you manufacture (“does calling one a theorist make him one, and proves his contention wrong?”).

But, as I said, interspersed comments can be beneficial. When one follows this style, he obligates himself to address every point. Had you used this style in your letter to me you would not have overlooked matters specifically addressed to you. I can’t help but wonder why you changed the style when writing to me. How do you determine when to use which style? Even though you didn’t intersperse your comments, and overlooked the issues I raised, I still would like to know what is my supposed “poor position.” I still would like to know if you agree with the mental marriage/mental divorce concept that I answered, or do you oppose it—and, if the latter, why did you rebut my opposition? I would like to know, as I asked, what you mean by “repudiate”; does it refer to the divorce itself (a synonym) or is it a means by which the divorce is effected?

Bill, I consider this issue too important to just brush off by saying that you meant to engage only Belknap. Whatever your intention, you addressed me and attempted a rebuttal of what I have written. I thought after I had showed you wherein you had acted rashly, and if you do not accept a mental marriage/mental divorce position, you would apologize. This is not just over “petty feelings,” but involves serious issues. I have dealt seriously with them and do not appreciate a cavalier response. I do not intend to quietly stand by while my efforts to uphold the truth of God against a false doctrine are undermined. The booklet of articles, which included the paragraph you reviewed, was published years ago and has enjoyed a good reception. It has not been refuted, nor has anyone attempted to do so. If the effort is made, it will have to be more than a review of a single paragraph and consist of more than assertions and implications.

Enough of dealing with peripheral matters. If you find my study of the marriage issue to be in error, then let’s get on with a Biblical study. Tell me exactly what you believe—I really do not know. This response to Belknap is the first I have seen from you. Nor am I up-to-date on the present-day discussions. My time has been consumed with other matters.

I assume that you are the Bill Reeves I have known through the years, who worked with Spanish-speaking churches. If so, I have always respected you and your work, and considered you to be a friend. That’s why your rebuttal, and the hostile tone it conveyed, came as a complete shock. I value our friendship, and pray that you will reassess your responses to what I have written. I value friendship and harmony with brethren, but I value truth even more.

Yours in the Lord,
Gene Frost


Dear Gene:

In your second letter to me you continue to bring up matters that have been corrected. I told you in my reply to your first letter that “I owe you an explanation, a clarification. I can see how you would so react. I was not clear in this, and will make the necessary correction”, and I have done that. I also said: “I am at fault here, in expressing the matter as I did,” and “I am deleting any reference that I make to you directly”. Nevertheless, in your second letter to me you again bring up the matter about what I said in my rough-draft rebuttal of Belknap’s article: “Bro. Gene, does repeatedly calling one a ‘theorist’ make him one, and prove his contention wrong?”, and yet the very next lines in my reply to your first letter say: “I will delete any locution made directly to you, in my rebuttal of Bro. Belknap’s review. This is proper and right,” and I have done that, just like I said I would. Didn’t you believe me, my brother?

Once I have finally revised my rough-draft of Bro. Belknap’s article, I’ll try to remember to send you a copy.

With the appreciation for you that I have always had.

Brotherly, Bill Reeves

March 25, 2003

Dear Bill:

Needless to say I am very disappointed with your brief response to my letter of March 12. You completely ignored all my concerns.

You first attempted to rebut what I have written, even accusing me of occupying “a poor position,” and stating disagreement with some things you do not specify. I have asked you to show wherein my position is “poor,” bad or inferior, and to specify the things I have taught that you reject. A friend would have responded, to show his friend wherein he erred and to help him understand the truth. A professed friendship and a friendship indeed are obviously two different things.

You have publicly, openly rebutted what I believe to be the truth as taught in God’s word. I have tried to be a friend, willing to examine the error you allege I teach, so that through a study of these points we could be united in a common faith. I would that you were as concerned.

Gene Frost

Although brother Reeves made the statement: “Bro. Rader agrees with Bro. Belknap on this point, but Bro. Rader does not draw lines of fellowship over the issue!”  I think it is important to acknowledge what brother Rader has unequivocally stated in his writings, to let brother Rader’s own words describe his view regarding MDR differences and fellowship.

In his article, “The Plain Truth About Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage,” brother Donnie Rader stated:

 “There is a trend towards softening the gospel message. As society and the religious world moves in a more liberal direction, we too are affected. In that effort to be more tolerant, some have made the gospel message more palatable by ‘smoothing it out in various ways” (emp. jhb).

Then, under the subtitle, “How Are Men Speaking Smooth Things About Divorce And Remarriage?,” he answers this question with the words:

 “Allowing some put away people to remarry. Some argue that the one who has been put away (for a cause other than fornication) can remarry if their former mate remarries first. Others argue that if one is put away by a mate who has committed fornication, he can remarryNeither of these are authorized by the Lord.  In contrast, Jesus said, ‘and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery’ (Mt. 19:9b; 5:32b; Luke 16:18)” (emp. jhb). [Reprint from Truth Magazine, XLII, No. 12 (June 18, 1998) posted at:

[ ]

Brother Reeves contends for BOTH of the positions that brother Rader clearly condemned as “unauthorized” and which result in “adultery.”  In addition, Donnie’s words manifest his belief that contending for this “right” (to remarry) in BOTH scenarios stated above can be characterized as “a trend towards softening the gospel message” by “speaking smooth things about divorce and remarriage.”  Cf. Isaiah 30:9-10; II Peter 2:1.

In addition, note what brother Rader also stated in his book, “Divorce & Remarriage – What Does the Text Say?,” chapter 8 (p. 74), Mental Divorce (May Some Put Away People Remarry?), section III. No Authority (p. 78):

 “The silence of the scriptures must be respected.  We must do all things by the authority of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17).  We must always act within the doctrine of Christ (2 Jno. 9).  To go onward and beyond what is authorized is to have not God.  God’s silence is not permission to act.  Jesus could not be a priest on earth for he was of the tribe of Judah ‘of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood’ (Heb. 7:14).  Thus, to do what is unauthorized is to sin.  That’s why it is wrong to have instrumental music in worship or put ice cream on the Lord’s table.

There is no passage that authorizes any put away person to remarry. That person cannot remarry for the same reason that we do not use instrumental music in worship: no authority!

Furthermore, for the mental divorce concept to work there has to be a second putting away.  Jack put Jill away for burning the bread. That is one putting away.  He then remarries, thus giving her the right to mentally put him away (the second putting away) and remarry.  The Bible is as silent about a second putting away as it is about the remarriage of a put away one” (emp. his).

Then, in the next section of this same chapter, Donnie also wrote under section IV. The “Put Away” One Forbidden To Remarry (p. 78):

 “Not only does the Bible not authorize any put away one to remarry, but it emphatically forbids it” (emp. jhb).

Not only does brother Reeves advocate what brother Rader declares is tantamount to instrumental music in worship” and putting “ice cream on the Lord’s table,” he is also promoting what Donnie acknowledged the Bible “emphatically forbids.”

Brethren, either Bill Reeves was terribly amiss in his statement regarding brother Rader or brother Rader has recently changed his teaching.  One cannot equate something with “adultery,” “instrumental music in worship” and “ice cream on the Lord’s table” and then claim it is a non-fellowship issue, unless he is willing to defend fellowship with those practices he has equated it to. 

Moreover, at the conclusion of his book, under the subtitle, “Divorce And Remarriage And Fellowship (pp. 145-149) brother Rader wrote:

“The attitude of many is that issues that surround divorce and remarriage are so difficult and since we all disagree we should let the matter alone and let each individual settle it for himself.  If so, shall we ignore those who live contrary to the teaching of Matt. 19:9? Shall we allow people to divorce and remarry and live in adultery and never say a word? Shall we let the preachers and teachers who encourage such relationships pass without notice?

When there are opposing views on divorce and remarriage, somebody is wrong! The question is: are the issues of divorce and remarriage of such significance to break fellowship? Let’s consider a few simple points.

            1. We are not to fellowship sin or those in sin (Eph. 5:11; 1 Cor. 5; 2 Cor. 6:14).

2. Fellowship must be with those who ‘walk in the light’ or abide in the ‘doctrine of Christ’ (1 Jno. 1:7, 2 Jno. 9).

Thus, we can’t fellowship (1) the adulterer (I Cor. 5).  Those who divorce and remarry contrary to the teaching of Christ cannot enter into or continue in the fellowship with God’s people.  Neither can we fellowship (2) one who teaches error. The church at Thyatira was rebuked for continuing to tolerate those whose teachings lead to fornication (Rev. 2:18-21). Those who disturb congregational peace by their teaching must be marked (Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3:10). Those whose teaching causes others to become adulterers and adulteresses cannot be fellowshipped anymore than the adulterer or adulteress themselves (cf. 2 Tim. 2:17-18). There are brethren who have publicly taught an erroneous position on divorce and remarriage that caused others to either enter into or continue in an adulterous marriage. They are not guiltless when this happens.  There is just as much harm done by those who teach privately and again disturb congregational peace or cause others to enter into or continue in adultery.  This often happens when a man goes to a place to hold a meeting (or sends e-mails to “undisclosed recipients,” jhb).  He may not say anything about his position in the pulpit, but as he goes from house to house eating and visiting with the brethren, they may ask him what he thinks about divorce and remarriage.  He then has an opportunity to teach his erroneous views.  Another factor to consider is that the doctrine may have very serious consequences (e.g. that the alien is not subject to the law of Christ).

We must point out that there is a difference between one who merely holds a different view and one who is teaching and advocating that view (publicly or privately).  I am not ready to mark every brother off the first time I detect that we are not in agreement on divorce and remarriage. There must be time to study the issue. Let us exhaust all efforts to study the issue before we draw lines of fellowship. However, it is a different story when he begins to teach his position.

Some have tried to parallel the divorce and remarriage issues to the covering issue, the war question and differences over the qualifications of elders. Even those who try to make these parallel don’t really believe they are.  If one had a daughter to change her mind and practice on the covering, it would not be near as disturbing as if she had entered into an unscriptural marriage.

More Arguments On The Mental Divorce Position

In lesson 8 we dealt with a number of arguments that are made to justify the mental divorce position. Here we answer several more.

1. ‘The word ‘and’ (Greek: kai) in Matt. 19:9 can be translated ‘or’ as it is in Matt. 7:10 and 2 Cor. 13:1.’

Earlier in chapter 8 we showed that ‘and’ does not mean ‘or’ in Matt. 19:9.  In Matt. 7:10 it is a combination of e and kai and not merely kai.  It is the Greek word e that is translated ‘or’.  Nestles interlinear translates ē as ‘or’ and kai as ‘also’ In 2 Cor. 13:1 it is used to connect numerals which is not be be equated with its use of connecting words and phrases as it is used in Matt. 19:9.  Again, Nestles text translates kai as ‘and’.  There is no translation, to my knowledge, that translates kai as ‘or’ in Matt. 19:9.

2. ‘Divorce’ means to repudiate or send away, thus it is a mental thing and not just a legal process.’

While ‘repudiate’ and ‘sending away’ may be a part of divorce, that is not all that it means. 1 Cor. 7:10-11 (which we have already shown to be discussing divorce, chapter 7) shows that divorce ends the marriage. The marriage that begins legally, must also end legally. Even the concept of ‘sending away’ involves more than something ‘mental’.  Divorce, like marriage, is something observable.

3. ‘The ‘whosoever’ (that has a right to remarry) of Matt. 19:9 is all inclusive with these exceptions: (1) The put away fornicator, (2) One who puts away for a cause other than fornication, (3) Those who play the waiting game. Thus, the woman who is put away unjustly by her husband who then remarries another is included.’

The ‘whosoever’ refers to the one who Puts away and not the put away one.  If we use the above reasoning, why not include the woman who is put away when her husband doesn’t remarry? The argument assumes that which must be proven.

4. ‘In Matt. 1:19 Joseph was going to put away Mary ‘privily’. Thus, the putting away would have to be mental.’

 ‘Privily’ does not suggest that it was without legal requirements. Under the regulations of Deut. 24 it was customary to specify a cause.  In this case it seems that Joseph was planning to put her away without specifying a cause, for he didn’t want to make her a public spectacle. This is the meaning of ‘privily’. Notice that he was ‘minded’ already, though he had not yet Put her away ‘privily’. Thus ‘privily’ involves more than a mental act.

5. ‘In Matt. 19:6, ‘let not man put asunder’ means man cannot (it is impossible) sever (really) a marriage unless fornication is involved. Thus, when a man puts away his wife for a cause other than fornication, the marriage has not really been severed until he remarries another. When he does that, the divorce is real and the put away wife can remarry.’

 ‘Let not’ does not mean ‘cannot’ Why would Jesus say ‘let not man put asunder’ if it is impossible to do that?  Verses 7-8 show that the issue was what was ‘lawful’ not what was possible.

6. ‘If a put away one cannot later mentally put away an adulterous mate, then God requires that one to be bound to an adulterous mate.’

Remember that the ‘bond’ is not only to your mate, but is also with God (Prov. 2:17; Mal. 2:14-ff; Rom. 7:2-3).  The adulterous one (that has been put away) is no longer your mate, even though you are bound by God’s law (cf. chapter 5). The text says that ‘whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery’ (Matt. 19:9). There is no Bible authority for the put away one to mentally put his/her mate away and marry another.

7. ‘The Bible says that there is one baptism, yet when one is baptized into the Baptist church (out of harmony with God’s law) that does not mean he can’t turn and be baptized in harmony with God’s law. Likewise, there is one divorce (scripturally). Yet, if one is divorced (unscripturally) that doesn’t mean he can’t turn around and divorce scripturally.’

The contention is comparing apples and oranges.  If this argument proves anything it would prove that the one who puts away his wife (unscripturally) would have a right to remarry if his put away wife remarried before he did. While many will accept that consequence, not all of the mental divorce advocates are ready to accept that.  Baptism and divorce are not parallel in all respects. If they were, we could argue that a scriptural divorce is allowed but not commanded. Thus, a scriptural baptism is allowed, but not commanded. Oops, that won’t work.

8. ‘Forbidding to marry is a doctrine of the devil (1 Tim. 4:1-ff).’

That contention could be used to prove that all have a right to remarry. That would allow the guilty party and the one put away where no fornication is involved and the one who puts away for a cause other than fornication to remarry. The fact is that there is not one of the advocates of this argument that doesn’t teach that there is someone who can’t remarry.

9. ‘We all agree that some ‘put away’ ones can remarry: (1) One whose mate dies (even though he is put away) is free to remarry. (2) One who is being reconciled. Now, Matt. 19:9 allows for these though it says nothing about them.  Likewise, it says nothing about mental divorce by one who has been put away by an adulterous mate, but it is allowed.’

This argument is based upon silence. It is assumed that something is allowed since nothing is said about it.  Matt. 19:9 nor any other passage allows for things about which it says nothing. Other passages (not Matt. 19:9) speak of death and reconciliation (Rom. 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7: 10-11).

10. ‘Every man should have his own wife (1 Cor. 7.2). That includes the one who has been put away.’

Should the guilty party have a right to remarry? Should the one put away, where no fornication or remarriage has taken place, have a right to remarry? This reasoning would prove that no one is forbidden to remarry. There would be no such thing as an adulterous marriage. Also, to have a right to one’s ‘own wife’ does not suggest a right to remarry another. This passage would prove that he only as a right to the first mate.

11. ‘If it is a ‘real' divorce, it means the party has a right to remarry.’

A ‘real’ divorce (as the mental divorce advocates would call it) does not grant a right for remarriage. The guilty party has been put away by a ‘real’ divorce. Can he remarry? A ‘real’ divorce did not grant such a right in 1 Cor. 7:10-11 or Matt. 19:9.

12. ‘It is the adultery that gives the right to remarry and not who does the putting away or who is put away.’

It is true that divorce does not grant the right to remarry.  Fornication must be the cause.  However, Matt. 19:9 does make a distinction in one who puts away and one who is put away.

13. ‘If a put away one cannot remarry, then a man could take off to Reno and get a quickie divorce and remarry before his first wife even knows he is gone. That would leave her in a position where she can't remarry.’

This is a play on emotions, which proves nothing about what the Bible says. This could be turned around. Suppose the man takes off to Reno, gets the quickie divorce, but never remarries.  Is his poor first wife to live celibate the rest of her life?

14. ‘Concerning the ‘put away’ one having a right to mentally put away his first mate and remarry: The civil divorce is not the real one. Divine law supercedes human law. Civil authority and law has not always been necessary for divorce or marriage. Thus, a lack of civil authority (for a put away one to divorce his mate) does not mean it cannot be done.’

This assumes that there is a difference in divorce that is ‘real’ (approved by God) and that which is ‘not real’ (unapproved by God). See chapter 5. The real question is not one of civil authority for the put away one to turn and put away his mate, but one of Biblical authority.”

Post Script:  Donnie Rader’s convictions (regarding the second putting away and fellowship with it) are more fully explained in his article entitled, “Until Death Do Us Part,” posted at:

Home | Search This Site

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