By Windell Wiser

 (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.”

Brother Windell Wiser’s Article

(the East Albertville church of Christ bulletin, April 1990.)


When a divorce occurs only one person has a right to remarry, according to Christ.  This is the person who does the “putting away” for the “cause of fornication” (Mt. 19:9; 5:32).  The “put away person” does not have a right to remarry, according to Christ.  Jesus said: “Whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”  (Mt. 19:9).  In fact, every time Jesus said anything about anyone marrying the “put away person,” He said that person commits adultery.  (See Mt. 19:9; 5:32; Luke 16:18).  Not one time does Jesus permit the “put away person” to remarry!  Jesus only permits the one who does the “putting away” to remarry.  However, there can be only one reason for “putting away” and that is the “cause of fornication.”  FORNICATION MUST BE THE CAUSE OF “PUTTING AWAY” AND NOT THE RESULT OF THE “PUTTING AWAY.”  The person who puts away his companion without the cause of fornication “causes them to commit adultery” (Mt. 5:32).


Brother Ron Halbrook’s Comments

(all emphases his)

What does “put away” mean?  According to Mt. 5:32 “put away” means to “divorce.”  Some preachers try to define “put away” to mean simply “let go, send away, or dismiss” without taking any legal action to obtain a divorce.  This cannot be what Jesus means by “put away.”  If this is what Jesus means, then a person can simply send his wife back to her parents when she commits fornication and go marry another woman.  However, if he did this he would be guilty of bigamy.  He must take “legal action” and obtain a divorce for the cause of fornication before he can marry another.


This makes the whole thing hinge on the civil action – who gets to the court 1st, or who can afford the best (or most crooked) lawyer.

 Civil law will grant a divorce which God will not grant or accept. THEN civil law will refuse to recognize the divorce which God grants to a person.  You have man’s law OVER God’s!

Some argue that the “put away person” (i.e., the divorced person) can sit around and wait until their companion marries again, thus committing adultery, (Mt. 19:9), and then “mentally put them away for fornication” and then marry again without committing adultery.  Jesus never said anything about “mentally putting away” anyone.  In fact, the “put away person” (divorced person) will always be the “put away” or “divorced person.”  The “put away” can never be the one who does the “putting away” or the one who obtains the divorce.  There is no way you can “put a person away” as Jesus used the term without obtaining a “legal divorce.”




So not even a countersuit would satisfy this stipulation.

If your companion divorces you for some cause other than fornication and marries again, he (or she) commits adultery.  (Mt. 19:9).  He (or she) may marry again in two months or ten years later.  If he (or she) does, he (or she) will commit adultery.  (Mt. 19:9).  When this happens, there is no way you can “put your companion away,” divorce your companion, or take legal action to divorce them for fornication because the divorce has already occurred two months ago or ten years ago, as the case may be.  You may contest the divorce, plead with your companion not to divorce you, and do everything you can to stop it, but if your companion is granted a divorce you are a “put away person” and “whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”  (Mt. 19:9).  I know this is hard.  In fact, the disciples of Christ said:  “If the case of man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.”  (Mt. 19:10).  No matter how hard it is, the fact is that Jesus did NOT give permission for the “put away person” to remarry.  There are other hard situations.  Suppose your companion goes insane and it is necessary to commit them to an insane asylum. Can you argue that in a sense he (or she) is dead and therefore you have a Scriptural right to remarry?  Could you remarry without first obtaining a divorce?  Just because it is hard does not change the law of God.



No way to get legal papers only because civil law (sic) not recognize divine law!






No parallel!  Insanity ≠ death.  But divorce in civil court + fornication = socially acceptable ADULTERY!  It is still adultery against the innocent mate just as described in Mk 10:12.  According to this argument, if the fornicator can get his legal papers before fornicating, he can preclude the innocent mate from exercising the divine prerogative of putting away the guilty party & marrying another. By this argument, the innocent party would thus commit adultery!?!?

Contrary to brother Ron’s above assertion (that fornication committed after securing a legal divorce is still adultery against the innocent mate just as described in Mk 10:12,) note 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.  Nigel Turner suggests that the word epi which is translated ‘against’ has the meaning here of ‘with’ (The Bible Translator, Oct. 1956, pp. 151‑152).  Thus, when he remarries, he commits adultery with her (the second wife). (cf. Nestle's Text and The Expositor's Greek Testament, Vol. one, p. 409.)   I wonder if the woman of Mark 10:11 and the woman of Matt. 5:32b and 19:9b are not the same since the men of Mark 10:11 and Matt. 5:32a and 19:9a are.  If so, then the woman of Mark 10:11 cannot remarry. There is not a word in Mark 10:11 about remarriage on the part of a put away one. If we grant that ‘against her’ refers to the first wife, so what?  Neither this nor any other passage says one thing about her being able to remarry.”

[Additionally, The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament by Alfred Marshall (pg. 182) also translates Mark 10:11, with her” as pertaining to the subsequent spouse, jhb.]

In Reflections, by Robertson L. Whiteside (pg. 426) he 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.”

Jeff Belknap

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