MENTAL DIVORCE? A REPLY
By Jim Deason
(With brother Halbrook’s personal comments)
Ron sent out this article (early Spring, 2001) with his own handwritten contradictory comments along with a package of other articles and personal comments that promote his “classic” mental divorce “application.”
Contrary to brother Ron’s above assertion that Matthew 19:9“also is explaining which divorces God will recognize! i.e. accept,” in brother Gene Frost’s Gospel Truths (November 2001) article entitled, “The Case For 'Mental Divorce,’” brother Frost wrote:
“The theorist builds his case through specious reasoning, relying heavily upon equivocation. Let’s follow his reasoning in Matthew 19.
Verse 6: ‘What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.’ The theorist comments that ‘man has no right to put asunder.’ All agree that man has no ‘right,’ meaning ‘Privilege to which one is entitled upon principals of morality, religion, law, or the like,’1 to ‘separate, divide, part’2 husband and wife. The theorist then shifts from the word ‘right’ to ‘power,’ which among definitions may be used to mean ‘right,’ with reference to law.3 The word ‘power’ also means ‘ability…capability of producing or undergoing and effect.’4 Shifting to this second definition he then contends that man cannot put asunder. Thus he leads one from an admitted conclusion through equivocation to a conclusion which is not true, but which one, unless he detected the fallacy of reasoning, would think he has already admitted as true. And this fallacious conclusion is the basis of his concept:
They cannot be put asunder. They cannot be severed no matter what they call it… We believe that what God hath joined together man should not, and really cannot, put asunder even though he tries….
Based upon the ‘cannot’ conclusion, arrived at by the fallacy of equivocation, the theorist builds his whole case. To strengthen his position he resorts to further equivocation. He so uses the word 'recognize.' Will God 'recognize' an unlawful divorce, meaning 'will God acknowledge with a show of approval an unlawful divorce?’ All respond, no. Shifting from this definition to 'avow knowledge of,’ he then concludes that God does not admit that the unlawful 'divorce’ is a divorce at all. Therefore the unlawful 'divorce’ is not divorce at all and ‘divorce’ is used only accommodatively! The theorist uses his equivocation to misrepresent the opposition. If one says that God recognizes (has knowledge of, views) a divorce as a putting away, even though He may not approve of it, the theorist will counter, 'Then you are saying that God approves, honors, accepts all divorces!’ And this is a false charge. But with those who do not detect his equivocation, the charge appears to be legitimate. Such subtlety is hardly honest, and exposes him as one who is set upon defending a prejudiced conclusion” (emp. his).
At the close of his article, brother Frost wrote: “The theorist argues from what he thinks is 'implied,' in defiance of what is said. The argument, as with the concept, is born of a desire to circumvent the Lord's teaching. It is the product of wishful thinking rather than sound exegesis” (emp. his).
When does God ever fail to “recognize” a divorce (lawful or not)? In Matthew 5:32a; 19:9a and Luke 16:18a, the Lord himself indicates his recognition (though not approval) of an unscriptural divorce, when He clearly called an unscriptural divorce “put away.” That is the action God recognizes as the action which makes an innocent person in the 2nd halves of those verses “put away” and unable to remarry another without becoming guilty of fornication themselves. Although Ron doesn’t acknowledge it, the REALITY of his scenario is: Marriage, Divorce, Fornication, Mental Divorce for fornication by the "innocent," then remarriage by the “innocent” put away person. Ron’s order is not the order of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.