Interesting Finds in the Truth Magazine Archives

 By David McKee

As many of you may know, brother Donnie Rader has undertaken the task of posting the articles from prior issues of Truth Magazine onto the Truth Magazine website (  The year, 1990, begins with a special edition on marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  Harry Osborne states that he was asked by Mike Willis to prepare the edition, which would contain twelve articles on the subject, followed by an article entitled, “A Closing Word” by brother Osborne.  In his closing word, brother Osborne states:

“I believe the truth has been taught and hope it will be carefully and prayerfully considered. My thanks go to each writer for his time and effort expended in this task.”

In that brother Osborne was given the responsibility for the edition, as well as what is found in his own closing comments, I would conclude that he agreed with all that was stated in each of the articles.  If he were to now state otherwise, then his beliefs or position must have changed from the time that Vol. 34 of Truth Magazine was published. See

It is to that end that I quote from another article in that special edition prepared by brother Osborne.  It is an article written by Elmer Moore, entitled, “Definition of Terms. When defining divorce, brother Moore writes:

A divorce takes place when this marriage covenant has been dissolved. In our present society a divorce occurs when a legal decree has been issued. This seems to accord with the Bible use of the term (Deut. 24:1). The word basically means to “to let loose from, let go free” (W.E. Vine, p. 331). Like the marriage covenant, this may be with or without God’s approval.

The words “put away” describe what takes place when a divorce occurs. The original for “put away” is “used of divorce, as to dismiss from the house” (J.H. Thayer, p. 66). The King James Version agrees with this.“But I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery” (Matt. 5:32). Jesus uses the terms put away and divorce interchangeably. In this passage, the one who is put away is the one who is divorced. In other words to put away means “to set free, let go” (W.E. Vine, p. 918).

Let me repeat and embolden several statements from brother Moore’s article:

“A divorce takes place when this marriage covenant has been dissolved. In our present society a divorce occurs when a legal decree has been issued.  Like the marriage covenant, this may be with or without God's approval.  In this passage, the one who is put away is the one who is divorced.”

Today, however, one would be more likely to hear brother Osborne making such statements as can be found in his article, Civil Divorce Procedure & Biblical Putting Away: Are They Synonymous? February 07, 2003, ( Consider the following statements by brother Osborne found in the above-mentioned article and how they now differ from brother Moore’s definition:

Why has this present controversy arisen? Simply stated, this issue has arisen because some brethren have added to the word of God by placing mandates on the innocent party for legal action that person must take - actions not mandated by Scripture. Those affirming this doctrine assume that the biblical term “put away” is synonymous with the civil procedure of divorce. They make that assumption because they cannot prove it from Scripture.


Thus, according to the Scripture, one may “put away” a spouse without being the party who takes the civil action in a divorce proceeding or receives the judge’s ruling.

Thus, those seeking to bind this human law find themselves at variance with the Scripture. Their theory would not allow the very thing Jesus allowed. If there was no other passage dealing with the matter, this would be enough to show that those binding such a doctrine are not speaking as the oracles of God (1 Pet. 4:11). Their vocabulary says that one must take the action of the civil divorce procedure in order to “put away” a spouse. Jesus did not say that. Therefore, their speech is not the same as His speech.


When we examine the use of apoluo in the entire New Testament, it is clear that the word does not imply a specified civil procedure, much less require such.


It is obvious by examining the use of the word apoluo that it does not convey the concepts some have equated with it. If the advocates of this doctrine claim the word in Matthew 19 and related texts requires a special meaning of commencing a specified civil procedure and receiving the legal judgment, let it be proved from the context. Otherwise, we must conclude that the word neither implies nor demands that which some claim it requires. If one wants to impose that judgment on himself as a matter of conscience, he may do so. If he binds it as a test of fellowship, he has bound human law not bound by God and he has added to God’s word.


The synonyms for the biblical term “put away” do not support the idea that it is the same as the civil procedure for divorce.


Instead, they (those who would oppose brother Osborne, dm) see the term “put away” and automatically assume it means “file the civil divorce action and receive the judge’s ruling.” It is like a Presbyterian seeing “baptism” and automatically assuming it means “sprinkling” even though the meaning of the word in the original language and its use in the context would preclude that erroneous assumption.

The definition given by brother Moore is in complete accord with what our Lord taught. Though Jesus did not specify procedure, we necessarily conclude that we are to apply His teaching to whatever the understood procedure is in our present-day culture. And, as brother Moore stated, and as brother Osborne then agreed, “In our present society a divorce occurs when a legal decree has been issued.” And, as brother Moore stated, this action my be, “with or without God’s approval.”

Brother Osborne now does away with the civil procedure so that those against whom the action has been taken may, under certain conditions, later put away that same mate and remarry. If he were to still agree with brother Moore’s definition, he could not make the arguments that he now makes.

If brother Osborne now finds many differing with him, it is because he is no longer teaching the truth that he once did (or at least gave the impression of in the special edition he put together). Truth did not change, Harry Osborne changed; Truth Magazine changed. Sadly, two others who wrote in that special edition, Bill Cavender and Ron Halbrook, now openly proclaim their belief that one who has been put away in a court of law (the procedure in our land) may later put away and remarry.

Brother Osborne did speak these words of truth in his article, A Closing Word, when he said:

No man, group of men, paper or school has the right to create a line of fellowship not drawn by the Scripture. Nor does any man, group of men, paper or school have the right to erase a line of fellowship which is drawn by the Scripture.

Scripture has drawn a clear line of fellowship at the sin of adultery. The reasoning today that grants one who has been put away the right to remarry attempts to erase that line and extend fellowship to those who teach it and practice it. Jesus stated, “Whoever marries her who is put away commits adultery” (Matt 19:9). Another statement made by our Lord that would be good for us all to keep before us is found in Matt 24:35, and states:

“Heaven and earth will pass away,
but My words will by no means pass away.”

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