By Jeff Belknap
have been many departures from the word of God regarding marriage, divorce and
remarriage, especially in recent years. I’m
thankful for the courage and hard work of many, in exposing these threats.
Yet there is an evolving digression which seems to be growing somewhat
unchallenged. Regrettably, this
concept has been espoused by some of our most influential and admired preaching
brethren, who travel far and wide.
contrast to the other departures on this topic, this error has not
been frequently proclaimed from various pulpits or magazines across the land,
but has rather been discussed in private settings, behind closed doors.
The major problem with this doctrine is that it appears to be gaining
some momentum and credibility among us.
the surface the idea “seems” reasonable (Proverbs
), however after further examination its flaws become evident (Proverbs
). The end result is adultery and will therefore condemn souls (Galatians 1:6-9;
this stance agrees with the “Biblical principle” of “one man for one
woman, for life, except for the cause of fornication,” it differs in
“application.” The contention
is that since God’s law supercedes man’s law, God does not “sanction” an
unscriptural divorce. Therefore,
when an unscripturally put away spouse has fervently protested the divorce, and
his/her ex-spouse remarries another (after the divorce), then the unscripturally
put away person actually becomes eligible to “put away” (by public
declaration) the spouse who had already put them away.
This act of publicly vocalizing a (mental) decision to put one’s
ex-spouse away for the cause of their fornication, is said to free them to
remarry. In this position, the
condition of a public declaration is yet another addition to the mental divorce
(which is, in itself, an addition to God’s word).
Errors in The Position
foremost problem with this theory is that no such scenario is ever even hinted
at in scripture. Therefore, we must
apply revealed Biblical teaching to
such a situation (Romans 3:4;
). Approval for remarriage of any
put away person to another is neither stated nor implied anywhere in scripture,
and is not of “the faith” (Jude 3).
words of Jesus will be the standard by which we are judged in the last day (John
); not the words or writings of some preachers of renown (I Corinthians 4:6).
To uncover the fallacy of this doctrine, we need to distinguish Biblical
terms (I Peter
) from man-made terminology, arbitrary rules and unauthorized conditions (II
and divorce are only man’s
part in joining or separating the physical
relationship. God’s part of binding
and loosing is not automatically intertwined with what man does. From
the teaching in Matthew 19:9, it is clear that God does His part in loosing a
person from the bond of His law only
when man has fully complied with His law
in the matter. Once an unauthorized
divorce is final, there are no revealed means that free a person to marry
mistaken position connects the marriage (the physical relationship) to the bond
(the spiritual obligation), by teaching that as long as one is bound (by God),
they are married. Likewise, they
contend that only
when a couple is loosed (by God), are they really
divorced. Therefore, a
distinction is made between marriages and divorces that are “real” (in the
eyes of God) and those which are “merely” civil (in the eyes of man). In unauthorized marriages and divorces, the terms are said to
be used only accommodatively.
it is true that God does not “sanction”
an unscriptural divorce, the presumption that it is not “real” is where
the problem lies. In I Corinthians
7:10-11, the unauthorized divorce resulted in each individual being
“unmarried.” Moreover, in verse
15, when a unscriptural divorce is carried out against the innocent party, we
learn that something
significant (in God’s eyes) has
transpired. The faithful
person, whose spouse “departs” unlawfully, is now given a divine reprieve
from his/her (physical) marital obligations. Why? The physical marriage has been
severed. However, no scripture is
found anywhere for remarriage to
another after an unscriptural divorce has taken place. In the same context, verse 39 plainly states that the woman is
bound by the law as long as her
original spouse lives. Moreover, in
Romans 7:2-3, the woman is said to be bound
by God’s law (spiritually obligated) to her first husband while unscripturally
married (physically) to
only way that the remarriage of an innocent put away person could possibly be
justified while the original mate lives, is to claim that the innocent put away
person is not
really put away at all. Regardless
of the reason for a divorce, when the civil requirements have been complied with
stated in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 that the only one who has a right to divorce and
remarry another, is one who has put away his mate for fornication (which, in
this country, involves civil law). Thus,
the Biblical order is: marriage, fornication, divorce (for that cause), and
remarriage. Yet, the position under
examination teaches: marriage, divorce, fornication, mental divorce (for that
cause) plus public declaration of the same, and remarriage.
Just as the order in Mark 16:16 is to be maintained, so is God’s order
regarding this subject. A perverted
gospel will not save (Galatians 1:6-9).
Luke 16:18: “Whosoever
putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever
marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
Here, when the unjustly put away person remarries even after the fornication of her previous spouse, she
becomes guilty of adultery nonetheless. Regardless
of who marries first, adultery is
still the result for both when they marry another.
There is simply not one shred of Bible authority for any put away person
to remarry another!
the law of Moses, a writing of divorcement was necessary (Deuteronomy 24:1-4;
Matthew 19:7). Joseph knew that
more would be required of him in order to put away his espoused wife (Mary) than
just being “minded” to do so (Matthew 1:19).
In America, even when a spouse pursues a divorce for fornication, a civil
procedure must be accomplished to constitute it’s validity (in God’s eyes,
and man’s). Nowhere in Scripture
was a simple decision within one’s mind, coupled with an announcement,
sufficient to produce a divorce!
Bible never speaks of “real” or “unreal” marriages or divorces.
If an unscriptural divorce is not a real
divorce in the eyes of God, then why did Jesus say, “What therefore God
hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6)?
The very fact that Jesus commands us not
to put asunder implies that we have the capacity to do so, even if it is
against His will.
One might as well argue that the fornication mentioned in Matthew
19:9 is not real, since it is also
without God’s sanction!
crux of the matter is this: If
an unscriptural divorce is really a waste of time and effort “in the eyes of
God” (God doesn’t approve of it as “real”), then logic dictates that it
wouldn’t make any difference which
party did the second “putting away” (for fornication).
The need for the unwilling put away spouse to fervently protest the
divorce is superfluous if this point is valid.
It would all boil down to whoever could hold out the longest (the waiting
game). Although advocates of this
position claim to oppose the waiting game, they apply purely man-made rules to
circumvent the conclusion that necessarily follows.
Say It’s Not Fair
recognize that children in abusive homes and wives with selfish and cruel
husbands are to be in submission, though treated unfairly (Ephesians 6:1; I
Peter 3:1-6). The plight of a person who must become a eunuch for the kingdom of
heaven’s sake is no different (Matthew 19:12). Yet God has no more “sanctioned” the mistreatment of the
child or wife than he has authorized an unscriptural divorce. Nevertheless, the dire consequences are often inescapable for
the innocent parties involved. God
has only promised that the tears we shed upon this earth will be wiped away in
we remain faithful to His word throughout our trials (Matthew 16:24-26).
we carefully study God’s law in Matthew 5:32, we find that the departing spouse (not
God) is the one who treats their mate unfairly, by causing them to commit
adultery upon remarriage (Matthew 18:7).
This remains true, regardless of whether the departing spouse commits
the divorce is final, or remains unmarried.
something is unfair in this world does not give men provision to reinterpret
scripture in order to balance the scales of justice in the eyes of men.
When one supposes to know the mind of God independent of what is plainly
taught in the scriptures, a red flag should be raised!
Again, the measure of judgment will be the words
of Christ (John 12:48), not what we perceive the “spirit” or the
“intent” of His will to be.
Of This Position
consequences of this position are colossal. It opens the door to at least one party of every unscriptural divorce
to remarry (since unscriptural divorces are not “real”).
Advocates of this belief would not agree with this conclusion, but
without their man-made conditions and qualifiers, this is what remains.
might emphasize that we agree on the Biblical principle, and that our
differences are just a matter of “application.” Unfortunately, for the most part, that’s where we differ
with brother Hailey as well! He
agrees with us in principle; it’s just his view of who
the law applies to that is
different! Nevertheless, the bottom
line of both errors are the same: justification and validation for individuals
to live in ADULTERY (I Corinthians 6:9-10; Colossians 3:5-7)!
Error’s cost? Souls are lost!
must do God’s bidding without fear or favor!
It’s my heart’s desire and prayer to God, that in all of our valiant
efforts to expose heresy, we will not let this specific cancer spread
note: Please consider the following additional study materials:
Divorce & Remarriage; What Does The Text Say?,
by Donnie Rader,
Is It Lawful?
A Comprehensive Study of Divorce
By Dennis G. Allan and Gary Fisher,
Mental Marriages and Mental Divorces (by Gene Frost).