PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By Marshall E. Patton
Feb. 1987 STS
RESOLVED: The Scriptures teach that the innocent person (free of fornication) who has been put away without God’s or his/her approval and against whom adultery has been committed may remarry.
For the sake of brevity, which the space allotted for this exchange demands, I will leave it to our editor to properly introduce and solicit the proper attitude toward this study.
I would like for our readers to know that Brother Phillips and I are personal friends of long standing; we each hold the other in high esteem and feel deep brotherly affection for one another. We engage in this debate for the sake of determining truth, exposing error, and ultimately the saving of souls. Neither of us questions the sincerity, integrity, or objectivity of the other.
Both Brother Phillips and I believe that there are some put away persons who may not remarry. I affirm that there is a certain put away person who may remarry and the proposition is worded so as to help identify this certain person. Brother Phillips believes that no put away person may remarry, hence, the issue between us.
Definition of Terms
As the affirmative, it falls my lot to define the terms in the proposition.
By “the Scriptures” I mean the sixty six books of the Bible. By “teach” I mean by direct statement, approved example, or necessary inference. By “the innocent person” I mean one free of fornication as stated in parenthesis in the proposition. By “put away’ I mean the breaking of the personal commitment made to one’s spouse when God joined them in marriage. I do believe that while not an essential part of either the marriage or the putting away, when and wherever civil authority prevails and civil action is required, one must be subject to “the powers that be” (Rom. 13:1). In such cases the civil action becomes a divinely authorized means to the end. By “without God’s approval” I mean without divine authorization. God approves only one putting away, namely, the put away fornicator (Matt. 5:32; 19:9). While God hates putting away (Mal. 2:16), in the interest of justice and for the protection of the innocent, He has authorized the putting away of the guilty party.
Since God approves the putting away of the guilty party, and since the putting away of the person in our proposition is “without God’s approval,” it follows that the guilty party is excluded from this proposition. Neither I nor Brother Phillips believe that the put away fornicator may marry another.
Also, by “without God’s approval” I mean a putting away that takes place by human authority and in violation of the law of God. A clearer distinction between these two putting aways will be made later in this article.
By “without…his/her approval” I mean without any desire, intent, or action on his/her part in relation to the putting away. If the put away person desired the divorce, had any intention of bringing it about, or indulged any action, orally or otherwise, that would mark him/her as a participant in the putting away, such a person is excluded from this proposition. I make no defense of such a person in remarriage. My reasons are based upon Matt. 5:32: “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”
This verse teaches that there is only one cause for putting away one’s spouse, namely, “fornication.” When a husband puts away his wife for some cause other than fornication, he does so without divine authority, violates the law of God, and causes her to commit adultery when she remarries. Any participant in the putting away, to any degree, shares in the guilt that follows.
Furthermore, this expression “without…his/her approval” excludes from this proposition those who would play “the waiting game.” By “the waiting game” I mean what is generally understood by that expression, namely, where husband and wife mutually agree to divorce with a view to waiting until the other commits fornication thinking that he/she is then free to remarry. The mutual agreement makes each an active participant in the putting away. Such action is without divine authority, is in violation of the law of God, and is the cause of the adultery that follows regardless of which one commits it. I want it clearly understood that such persons are excluded from the proposition which I affirm. I make no effort to justify such persons in remarriage.
The last statement in the proposition, “and against whom adultery has been committed may remarry” is, I think, self-explanatory. If Brother Phillips thinks further clarification is pertinent to this study, I shall be happy to honor his request.
“But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matt. 5:32).
Understanding this verse, what is in it and what is not in it, is essential to understanding the truth on the issue under study. This verse shows that there are two putting aways: 1) The putting away of the one guilty of fornication (authorized in the exception clause). This putting away may be done by divine authority and, hence, with God’s approval. 2) The putting away for some cause other than fornication. This putting away is done by human authority and, hence, without God’s approval.
Furthermore, this latter putting away is futile so far as breaking the bond formed by God when He joined them in marriage. That such action is vain (so far as breaking God’s bond is concerned) is evident from the fact that when the thus put away person marries again he/she commits adultery (v. 32b). There is another verse that makes this even more clear and conclusive: “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her” (Mk. 10:11). 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.”
All men need to learn that marriage approved of God involves a joining that takes place in heaven—not just on earth. Any loosening from this divine covenant must take place in heaven. Until this is done the heavenly bond continues intact, regardless of what is done on earth. Man may break his commitment in marriage, go back on his word, fail to honor the covenant he made, dismiss his wife, and in this sense put away his spouse, but all such action (save for the cause of fornication) is futile so far as having any effect on the heavenly bond is concerned. There the bond remains intact, untouched—uneffected!
Who Is In Matthew 5:32
It must also be observed that the husband in this verse who puts away his wife is innocent of fornication, otherwise an adulterer may put away his wife when she commits fornication against him. Surely, we are agreed that only the innocent may do that. The wife in this verse who has been put away (not the one in the exception clause) is innocent of fornication, otherwise the putting away could not be the cause of her becoming an adulteress—she would already be one. THEREFORE, Matt. 5:32b which says, “Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” CANNOT refer to just ANY divorced person, but rather only to “her” who was divorced when there was no fornication involved. One simply cannot get out of a verse more there is in it.
The put away “her” of verse 32b has for its antecedent the put away wife of 32a. This “her” was put away when no fornication was involved. In fact, there is no fornication in this picture—not until the “whosoever” comes into view. This means that the innocent put away person of our proposition who has fornication committed against her simply is not in verse 32b. To so apply the verse is to misapply God’s word. The following chart (No. 1) illustrates the truth of this verse:
The husband who puts away his wife when no fornication is involved causes her to commit adultery when she remarries. The put away wife who remarries when no fornication is involved commits adultery.
Therefore it follows that the b part of verse 32 cannot negate the divinely authorized putting away in the exception clause. Fornication is the cause of that putting away. Verse 32b relates only to one put away for some cause other than fornication. Verse 32b, therefore, cannot negate the divine prerogative in the exception clause, i.e., the right to put away one’s guilty mate—not even if the one who puts away has already been put away by human authority against his/her will. The divine prerogative still stands untouched and uneffected. The exception clause and verse 32b are unrelated! To say otherwise is to say that human authority takes precedence over divine authority.
It is this divinely authorized putting away that supports my proposition. This putting away is implied in my proposition and is necessary to the remarrying affirmed therein. Matt. 19:9 expands the exception clause to not only authorize the putting away of the guilty but also to authorize remarriage. When these two verses are considered together, we have full proof of the proposition affirmed.
It would be folly to say that the putting away action already taken by human authority negates this divine prerogative. Such would demand the following conclusions:
1. Human action by human authority and in violation of the law of God can negate that which is divinely authorized.
2. Human authority supersedes divine authority.
3. It would set aside Acts 5:29 which says “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
I say, respectfully, that I see no way to escape these conclusions unless one accepts the proposition affirmed in this debate.
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
Limited space precludes a careful analysis and study of this passage in this article. However, I promise such, along with other related verses, in my second affirmative. The following brief yet pertinent and vital points must suffice for this article.
Matt 19:9, like Matt. 5:32, shows that there are two putting aways—one is done by divine authority, and the other is done by human authority. Concerning the former, this verse teaches that Whosoever shall put away his wife for the cause of fornication and shall marry another commits no adultery. Notice the word “Whosoever.” This is an all inclusive term and includes everybody, unless an exception can be shown. We have already noted the following exceptions to the “Whosoever” in this verse when applied to the divinely authorized putting away:
1. The put away fornicator. He/she has already been put away by divine authority which putting away had effect in heaven. Furthermore, he/she is not innocent, which the “whosoever” in this instance demands.
2. The verse itself shows that the one who puts away for some cause other than fornication is excluded from the “whosoever” when applied to the divinely authorized putting away. All such commit adultery when they remarry.
3. We have also shown that those who play the “waiting game,” as defined in this article, are excluded. Such become an active participant in a putting away for some cause other than fornication. Again, adultery results when they remarry.
Now unless Brother Phillips can find another exception in the Scriptures—one that excludes the person of our proposition from the “Whosoever” when applied to the divinely authorized putting away, my proposition stands! I insist that the “Whosoever” in this verse in relation to the divinely authorized putting away includes the person in the proposition I have affirmed. If not, Why not? Brother Phillips is obligated to answer this question. If he finds a verse which he thinks excludes the person of our proposition from this “Whosoever,” then I shall show that such fails the objective or I will surrender the debate.
Let all remember that as the negative in this discussion, it is the responsibility of Brother Phillips to follow the affirmative material which I have submitted and negate it.
I am not pleading for sympathy, but for objectivity when I say, remember that while you will have an immediate reply to what I have written, you will have to wait one whole month before reading my reply to what Brother Phillips may write. I urge all to remain calm, to honestly and objectively study the material written, and to patiently wait until all evidence is in.
PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By H. E. Phillips
Feb. 1987 STS
Divorce and remarriage is a growing menace upon society, and particularly in the church. It is making havoc of many congregations where it has not been opposed from the pulpit and in classes. The problem has been compounded by infiltrating the eldership, deacons, teachers and preachers. Because of its influence upon the family and the church, I must oppose what I believe is error on the subject.
I do not believe a put away (divorced) person may remarry without sin. Brother Patton believes certain put away persons may remarry, thus this discussion.
Let me fully concur with Brother Patton in his introductory remarks of his first affirmative. I have expressed publicly and privately my personal affection and high esteem for Brother Patton. I regard him as a Christian and a gentlemen of the highest level. There is no doubt in my heart that he loves the Lord and his word.
I agree with Brother Patton’s statement of our difference and the point of issue between us on the divorced person who may or may not remarry.
Definition of Terms
I accept most of the definition of terms in the proposition. I have some question about the qualifying expression, “without God’s or his/her approval.” By the expression “without God’s approval” Brother Patton says he means without divine authority: a divorce for other than fornication. By “without…his/her approval” Brother Patton says he means, “without any desire, intent, or action on his/her part in relation to the putting away.” He uses this to mean that the put away person resisted the divorce, did not mutually agree to the divorce. Where is an exceptional clause that releases a put away person from the statements in Matthew 5:32, 19:9; Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18, and permits him/her to marry another?
He did not even prove this in his first affirmation. For even though it was without God’s approval, she was nevertheless PUT AWAY, and whosoever marries one who has been put away commits adultery, according to every passage that discusses the subject.
Under the heading, MATTHEW 5:32, He says there are TWO putting aways: 1) Putting away of the guilty party for fornication, and 2) Putting away for some cause other than fornication. The first is by divine authority, and the second is by human authority.
The Bible speaks about one who is put away “for fornication” and one who is put away with no fornication involved (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18). But actually, Brother Patton gives a THIRD putting away: one where both parties mutually agree to the divorce. There is no explanation from God as to what the circumstances were regarding those who are put away when there is no fornication involved. Brother Patton explains that there may be a putting away where both participants are in agreement with the putting away. He affirms that such a situation does not fit his proposition and he “makes no defense of such a person in remarriage.” But where does Brother Patton find such an explanation in God’s word?
The last statement in the proposition says, “…and against whom adultery has been committed may remarry.” This particular statement is so expressed as to try to use Mark 10:11 to justify Brother Patton’s second putting away. More about this later.
Brother Patton makes Matthew 5:32 vital to this issue. He points out that there are two putting aways found in the passage. One, for fornication, and one, not for fornication.
The second putting away involves Brother Patton’s person who has been put away against her will. The reason I know this is because the husband’s putting her away caused her, when she remarried as per Brother Patton’s chart, to commit adultery. If it had been the person who had been put away by Brother Patton’s “mutual agreement,” he would not have caused her to commit adultery, she would have been the cause of it herself. His explanation of this passage also shows that if the wife “cannot contain” and remarries BEFORE the husband marries, that both she and the “whosoever” who marries her commit adultery. Hence, even though Brother Patton denies the “waiting game,” it is clearly set forth here in his explanation of this passage. She cannot marry UNTIL he marries. She must wait until he commits adultery against her so that (according to his argument) she may THEN put him away and remarry. If this is not the “waiting game,” I do not know what it is.
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.
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).
There is not a single syllable uttered in Mark 10:11 about the put away person remarrying.
All fornication is “against” all those involved, whether married or not. Of course, the wife is sinned against, but so is the other woman. Fornication (adultery) is a sin AGAINST one’s own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). It likewise is a sin against the person with whom that one commits adultery. Mark 10:11 has two wives: the one who is bound in heaven by God, and the second wife to whom he has no right (Matthew 14:3, 4). His adultery is equally against both of them, because his body belongs exclusively to his first wife and he sins against her if he gives himself to another; and he sins against the second by committing adultery with her because he has no right to her body (1 Corinthians 7:2-4). “Against” has no particular significance to just one person in this context.
Brother Patton must produce proof that the “her” in Mark 10:11 refers only to the wife who was put away, and not to the woman also whom he marries after putting her away.
Who Is In Matthew 5:32
In his explanation of “Who Is In Matthew 5:32,” Brother Patton denies that the one put away for fornication is included in the “b” part of the passage. Brother Patton has already stated that there are TWO putting aways in 5:32a. Thus the one in the “b” part of the passage would have to include one of the “put away” ones in the “a” part. In addition, Brother Patton needs to consider that the Holy Spirit in the “b” part of the passage is emphasizing the one who is marrying the put away person, rather than the one who has been put away.
However, if we grant everything that Brother Patton says about Matthew 5:32, this really has nothing to do with the person of his proposition, for he has already admitted that the one who is put away ‘‘for fornication” cannot remarry. He is looking for a person who has been put away who CAN remarry. Up to this point in time, he has not found her.
Now Brother Patton rightly states that Matthew 5:32b does not negate the right of the exception clause of 5:32a. He says they are unrelated. Matthew 5:32b is not even talking about the one who does the putting away, which the exception clause sets forth. It is talking about the one who has been put away. What Brother Patton needs to find is where one who has been put away with no fornication involved and who has remarried without committing sin. This he has not done! He says, “When these two verses (Matthew 5:32 and 19:9) are considered together, we have full proof of the proposition affirmed.” Read both passages carefully and see if this is the case. Where in either of these passages is there a mention of anyone who has been put away remarrying without committing sin? It simply is not found. Yet that is the very thing Brother Patton is trying to prove.
He makes a big play about the fact that civil law cannot supersede God’s Law. I know of no one who thinks it can. If they do, they are wrong.
Look at 5:32b for a moment. Brother Patton said there were two putting aways: 1) the putting away for fornication, 2) the one for any cause other than fornication. Now the “whosoever” who comes along and marries either one is guilty of adultery. The first, because she is an adulteress and when he marries her he commits adultery. The second, because she still is bound by God to her husband and when the “whosoever” marries her he commits adultery. I see absolutely no freedom for either of them to marry by God’s approval. The verse says: “AND WHOEVER SHALL MARRY HER THAT IS DIVORCED COMMITTETH ADULTERY.” There are no exceptions in Matthew 5:32b.
Brother Patton says that there is no fornication in this picture—not until the “whosoever” comes into view. But that “whosoever” is a part of the picture. When he comes into view that is when the adultery begins, and that is exactly what the verse teaches, no more and no less. When that “whosoever” marries that put away one in Matthew 5:32b, he “committeth adultery.” Period!
Now Brother Patton links together Matthew 5:32b and Mark 10:11 for his conclusion that “Verse 32b, therefore, cannot negate the divine prerogative in the exceptional clause, i.e., the right to put away one’s guilty mate—not even if the one who puts away has already been put away by human authority against his/her will. The divine prerogative still stands untouched and uneffected.”
He concludes: “It is this divinely authorized putting away that supports my proposition…This putting away is implied in my proposition and is necessary to the remarrying affirmed therein.”
Now we know that Brother Patton believes in the “waiting game.” Deny it if he wishes, and he does, his proposition demands the “waiting” until the one who put her away remarries. There is no escape from this conclusion according to his arguments from Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11 and Matthew 19:9.
Patton’s Chart No. 1
The problem with Brother Patton’s Chart No. 1 on Matthew 5:32 is that no one is free to marry another because no adultery is involved, and he said unless one commits fornication, no one is free to marry again. His chart does not prove any one free to marry without sin, and that is what he is trying to prove. Where is the proof that a put away person may remarry? Divine authority says in every verse touching the subject, “Whosoever marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery.” With me that is final! That put away person in Matthew 5:32b commits adultery when she marries again. The Lord said so!
Two putting aways, one by divine authority and one by human authority. He argues that the “Whosoever” in this verse is all inclusive and includes everybody. He also noted the following exceptions to the “whosoever” when applied to the divinely authorized putting away:
1. The put away fornicator. He/she is not innocent.
2. The verse shows that the one put away for some other cause is excluded from the “whosoever.” These commit adultery when they remarry.
3. Those who play the waiting game cannot remarry without sin.
CONCLUSION: “Now, unless Brother Phillips can find another exception in the Scriptures one that excludes the person of our proposition from the “Whosoever” when applied to the divinely authorized putting away, my proposition stands! I insist that the “Whosoever” in this verse in relation to the divinely authorized putting away includes the person in the proposition I have affirmed. If not, Why not? Brother Phillips is obligated to answer this question.”
Brother Patton is so carried away with his “Whosoever” that he finds him/her everywhere. “Whosoever” refers to the person doing the putting away. If he puts away for the cause of fornication, he may remarry, otherwise, he sins if he marries again. The only other “Whosoever” is the one who marries the put away person. In every case that “whosoever” commits adultery when he marries the put away person. There is no exception!
Until Brother Patton finds a “Whosoever” who can marry again (except the “whosoever” who puts away his spouse for the CAUSE of fornication), he has not proved his proposition.
I, as Brother Patton, urge calm and honest, objective study of this material in the light of God’s eternal word. The discussion is not over until all the material is in.
PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By Marshall E. Patton
Mar. 1987 STS
PROPOSITION: The Scriptures teach that the innocent person (free of fornication) who has been put away without God’s or his/her approval and against whom adultery has been committed may remarry.
I appreciate the fine spirit in which Brother Phillips has made reply to my first affirmative. His first paragraph expresses my sentiments exactly, relative to this debate.
There are some things in his reply that demand attention on my part. After noticing these, I shall proceed with further affirmative material.
The Put Away “Her”
In spite of all the proof given in my first affirmative (including my chart) showing that Matt. 5:32b refers to a particular “her,” Brother Phillips repeatedly asserts (without proof) that it refers to ANY put away person. The put away “her” of v 32b has had no fornication committed against her. The woman of our proposition has. The two women are different and the situations are different! Why, then, persist in applying a portion of Scripture to a person who is not even in it in the first place?
Furthermore, it matters not where the emphasis is placed—on the put away one or on the person marrying the put away one—both commit adultery when no fornication is involved before the remarriage.
You ask, “Where is an exception clause that releases a put away person from the statements in Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11 and Luke 16:18, and permits him/her to marry another?” If you mean by “a put away person” one who was put away by human authority, in violation of the will of God, and, hence, without God’s approval (which is the one this debate is about), then the answer is in the exception clauses of Matt. 5:32 and 19:9. If not, Why not? Your only answer so far—and the only possible answer that can be given is that such is “a put away person” not specifically mentioned in the exception clauses. Certainly not! The “whosoever” is generic enough to include such as per my argument in my first affirmative. Such putting away is by HUMAN AUTHORITY and is FUTILE! Even you have admitted twice in your reply article that the bond in heaven remains unbroken. If action by human authority can set aside the divine prerogative in this instance, then you need to answer the question: How many more divine prerogatives can be set aside by human authority? I know you admitted that such was wrong in your first negative, but, Elwood, you need to show escape from this consequence. It follows necessarily from your position. Remember, the only reason, according to your position, that the innocent person against whom fornication has been committed cannot exercise the divine right that God gave (to put away and remarry) is because someone made a human law contrary to it and acted upon it, making the person of our proposition the victim of such action. Thus, human law supersedes divine law! You said I made a great play on this in my first article. If you mean, I placed great emphasis on it, indeed, I did. Furthermore, we are not through with it yet. I cannot accept a position that demands such a consequence.
Furthermore, your reply to my argument on the word “Whosoever” in relation to the exception clause in Matt. 5:32; 19:9 does not answer the argument. You distinguished between the “whosoever” in relation to the exception clause and the “whosoever” in the b part of these verses, but you did not exclude the person of our proposition from the former “whosoever.” It does not answer the argument to say that such is a put away person. Remember, this putting away is futile! According to your own admission, the bond in heaven remains. Therefore, it has no bearing on the divine prerogative. Otherwise, human law supersedes divine law!
A Third Putting Away
You accuse me of affirming a third putting away. No, just because there is “mutual agreement” to divorce does not alter the fact of putting away No. 2, namely, when no fornication is involved. Even you admit “There is no explanation from God as to what the circumstances were regarding those put away when there is no fornication involved.” Then why exclude the circumstance of “mutual agreement” and make it a third putting away?
Concerning the “mutual agreement” argument that excludes such from our proposition, you ask for an explanation in God’s word. I gave it in my first affirmative in the next sentence following the one you quoted, saying, “My reasons are based upon Matt. 5:32.” Then follows my explanation which you overlooked. Please read it again.
Under the heading “Matthew 5:32” in reply to my affirmation of two putting aways, you say, “The second putting away involves brother Patton’s person who has been put away against her will. The reason I know this is because the husband’s putting her away caused her, when she remarried as per brother Patton’s chart, to commit adultery.” No, Brother Phillips, “brother Patton’s person who has been put away against her will” and against whom adultery has been committed is not in my chart. The one in my chart and in Matt. 5:32b has had no fornication committed against her—the one in our proposition has. You also missed the point on what you call “brother Patton’s ‘mutual agreement.”’ Elwood, if they mutually agree to the putting away when no fornication is involved, BOTH share in the guilt of adultery that follows regardless of which one commits it.
The Waiting Game
Brother Phillips accuses me of endorsing the “waiting game” even though I denied it. I still deny it AS DEFINED in my definition of terms. I defined it according to its normal usage in relation to the subject of Divorce and Remarriage. Brother Phillips has brought up a situation altogether different. There are a number of situations, according to his use of the expression, that might be called the “waiting game.” Of course, the woman of my proposition must wait until fornication is committed against her before remarriage. So must every woman who is bound in heaven to a husband, including both my wife and Brother Phillips’ wife. However, none of these have in view remarriage. Neither does the person of my proposition. He/she is praying, hoping, and trying for reconciliation. Brother Phillips is obligated to deal with the one defined in our proposition.
Brother Phillips tries to tell our readers that my argument is based upon Mark 10:11. In so doing he puts words in my mouth which I never used and attributes an argument to me that I never made. I did not argue that the person of my proposition is in this verse; that “because she has had adultery committed against her” that she “may now put away her former husband and remarry.”
The only argument I made based upon Mark 10:11 was with a view to corroborating my argument based upon Matt. 5:32, namely, that the putting away therein (except for fornication) was futile! Since the marrying of another in Mark 10:11 was “against her,” i.e., the one put away, it shows that the bond in heaven is yet intact, untouched, and uneffected! This was my argument. Brother Phillips has admitted that the bond remains unbroken, so regardless of what this verse teaches from, the view point of grammar, we both agree on the point I made—the bond in heaven remains intact.
However, his lesson in grammar and his conclusion are in error. His rule of grammar is true, except when there is an obvious exception. In Mark 10:11 the obvious exception is found in the word “against” on which he bases his argument. Since the sin was adultery, there, is no way it could be against the second wife; it would be with her. Brother Phillips’s own words accommodate this point: “and he sins against the second by committing adultery WITH (Emp.—MEP) her.” Thus, according to Brother Phillips, while he sinned against the second wife, he committed adultery with her. Thus, the, adultery was with the second and against the first.
Who is in Matthew 5:32
Under this heading Brother Phillips continues to press me for “a person who has been put away who can remarry.” This overlooks my argument that the innocent put away person of our proposition who has had fornication committed against her is in the exception clauses of Matt. 5:32; 19:9 and has the divine right to put away the guilty spouse and marry another. Remember, to deny this divine right to such a person on the grounds of her being a put away person overlooks the fact that such putting away is futile and dethrones divine authority and enthrones human authority.
In the paragraph that begins with “Look at 5:32 for a moment,” Brother Phillips sets forth my position exactly, and I appreciate his admission: “she still is bound by God to her husband.” Notice, however, that in the verse quoted it is “her” that is divorced and not just any divorced person.
I am in full agreement with his next paragraph also. Notice again, however, that when he says, “When that ‘whosoever’ marries that put away one in Matt. 5:32b, he ‘committeth adultery.’ Period,” that our agreement involves “that put away one in Matt. 5:32b”—not any put away one.
Patton’s Chart No.1—Matthew 5:32
What Brother Phillips says about my chart is true—it proves that “no adultery is involved” and “no one is free to marry again.” What he says about what I was trying to prove by the chart is wrong! I was trying to prove that the person of our proposition is not in Matt. 5:32 because adultery is involved against her. I agree with his statement: “THAT (Emp.—MEP) put away person (not any put away person—MEP) in Matthew 5:32 commits adultery when she marries again. The Lord said so!” I say, amen!
I believe this covers everything in Brother Phillips’ reply that demands attention from me. If I have overlooked something, he may call my attention to it, and I will deal with it forthrightly.
Now, we must look at more affirmative material.
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
Like Matt. 5:32, understanding this verse, what is in it and what is not in it, is essential to understanding the truth on the issue under study. The issue in this study hinges on the meaning given to the conjunction “and” translated from the Greek work “kai.” The word itself admits of two possible meanings or views. Its meaning in any given instance must be determined in the light of its context and all else that is revealed. The two views are obvious from the definition of the Greek word “kai” which is translated “and.”
“It serves as a copulative i.e. to connect…single words or terms…clauses and sentences…whole narratives and expositions…It marks something added to what has already been said, OR (Emp.—MEP) that of which something already said holds good; accordingly it takes on the nature of an adverb, also,…likewise” (Henry Thayer, Greek English Lexicon, pp 315, 316).
We need to see these two views contrasted.
POSITION NUMBER ONE: If the “and” (Gr. “kai”) be understood according to part a of the definition, i.e., “It marks something added to what has already been said,” then it means that the events of the verse follow in sequence and the b part of verse 9 happens after the events of part a. This would make verse 9b apply to ANY put away wife or person—even if she be innocent and her husband has committed adultery against her. This represents the position Brother Phillips has affirmed throughout this discussion.
POSITION NUMBER TWO: This view affirms that the meaning of “and” (Gr. “kai”) is as defined in the b part of the definition, i.e., “as an adverb…likewise.” This makes the b part of verse 9 just like the situation in the a part of the verse. Hence it follows that since the husband in 9a who put away his wife and married another when no fornication was involved, before his remarriage, committed adultery, LIKEWISE the put away wife who marries when no fornication was involved, before her remarriage, commits adultery. This would make verse 9b apply not to ANY put away person, but only to “her” who was put away when no fornication was involved before her remarriage.
Look at the two positions contrasted in the following charts:
Chart No. 2 shows that ANY put away wife or husband who marries again—even when adultery has been committed against her/him commits adultery.
Chart No. 3 shows that the put away person who marries again when no fornication is involved before remarriage commits adultery. This eliminates from 9b the person of our proposition against whom adultery has been committed.
Which of the two positions is true? If position No. 1 is correct, then 1) It makes Jesus teach something different from the same statement in Matt. 5:32b—and that without evidence. 2) It subjugates divine law to human law and away goes the divine principle of Acts 5:29. If position No. 2 is correct, then 1) We have harmony between Matt. 5:32b and Matt. 19:9b. 2) We have harmony with all else and we eliminate all problems of No. 1. I affirm that the consequences of the two positions demand that we accept No. 2.
The rule of harmony would lead to the conclusion that Luke 16:18b teaches the same thing. Look at all three b parts of these verses: Matt. 5:32b, “and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” Matt. 19:9b, “and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” Lk. 16:18b, “and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”
I insist that the person of my proposition is not in the b part of these verses. To so apply them is to misapply. I insist that the person of my proposition is in the exceptional clauses of Matt. 5:32 and 19:9; that this person may exercise the divine right given by Christ to put away the guilty spouse and marry another regardless of what men on earth may do and all human law to the contrary.
PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By H. E. Phillips
Mar. 1987 STS
I appreciate the fine attitude brother Patton has shown in his second affirmative. I now wish to pay respects to his reply to mine and then to his second affirmative.
Patton’s Position Clarified
The first thing I think ought to be done is to try to clarify what I believe brother Patton is defending. If we cannot understand what he is defending, then we obviously cannot find a scriptural solution to it. If the following is not his position, he will correct me.
I understand brother Patton’s position to be as follows: Two people are married and bound by God. The husband decides to divorce the wife, with no fornication involved. The wife begs the husband not to get the divorce. Her pleading is to no avail, he gets the divorce anyway. At a later time (the length of time would have no bearing on the situation) the husband remarries, thereby committing adultery. After the adultery and/or remarriage, the wife may now (because the putting away was against her will and God’s will) put him away for fornication and remarry with the approval of God. This is the woman of his proposition.
Brother Patton and I agree on what Matthew 19:9a actually says. But we disagree on 19:9b because of his exceptional clause. “And whosoever shall marry her that is put away (except it was without her approval and if her husband commits adultery or remarries) commits adultery.”
By implication brother Patton has placed an exceptional clause in the passage that is not actually in it. The “her” in brother Patton’s proposition is not in this verse. Yet he makes this “her” who is put away against her will and whose husband has committed adultery or remarried an element that is necessary to prove his point. He admits that she cannot remarry before he commits adultery. I asked before, and I ask again, Where is the exceptional clause that releases a “put away woman” from the adultery of Matthew 5:32b, 19:9b; Luke 16:18b who has been put away when no fornication was involved, with or without her will?
The Put Away “Her”
Brother Patton has created another problem for himself. He has reduced the number of putting aways to ONE: the one for fornication, which is by divine authority. He says the other putting away is FUTILE! It is NOT really a putting away because it is by human authority.
I want to look very closely at Matthew 5:32b and see what is IN it and what is NOT IN it. “…and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” What is IN this clause? Two persons: “whosoever—anyone, everyone, and “her that is divorced”—anyone, everyone who is divorced. When they marry they commit adultery, and there is no exception. What is NOT IN this clause? No persons other than the “whosoever” and “her that is divorced.” There is no way you can get any thing else in Matthew 5:32b and deal justly with the passage.
Two women are not in the verse; only the wife of the “whosoever” who puts her away. This one woman may be in a dozen different situations, but so may the man who put her away. One may imagine that the wife is in a situation of not being guilty of adultery and draw wide conclusions. But two women are NOT IN Matthew 5:32a.
What Do the Scriptures Mean By Put Away?
Brother Patton defined “put away” in his first affirmative as: “By ‘put away’ I mean the breaking of the personal commitment made to one’s spouse when God joined them in marriage.” Later he said of Matthew 5:32, “This verse shows that there are two putting aways,” and he said of the second: “This putting away is done by human authority and, hence, without God’s approval.”
Brother Patton seems to think that the difference between putting away for fornication and for every other cause is resolved by saying that the latter “was put away by human authority.” The thing that seems to elude him is the fact that all marriages and all divorces may involve human authority. He is equating “marriage” with which man is involved with “bond” which only God can make.
Marriage consists of a covenant between a man and woman: an agreement, commitment, and a relationship to fulfill the duties and obligations enjoined upon both of them by their covenant to each other. It also has a divine element. When they vow and pledge themselves to each other for life, God joins this man and woman together with a yoke that can be broken only by God. Those whom God has joined together are “one flesh” (Matthew 19:5; Genesis 2:24). At death God releases that bond of marriage (Romans 7:2, 3; I Corinthians 7:39). If one of those joined by God commits fornication, the other may put that fornicator away, and God releases the innocent person from that yoke, to be married to another eligible person. The guilty fornicator is still bound to that yoke and may not remarry. All who are bound by that yoke, whether put away for fornication, or for any reason, may not remarry.
This commitment and joint responsibility may be forsaken. When the commitment is broken, the relationship is dissolved. This is defined in Matthew 5:31 as “Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement.” Further explanation of this is given in Deuteronomy 24:1, where Moses said that it meant “…then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.” One may break that mutual contract and covenant and expel the other from that relationship. When this happens the marriage is broken. Whoever initiates the termination of the marriage “puts away” the other. He/she dismisses the spouse from the relationship. Whether approved by God or by the one put away makes no difference, the marriage is terminated; it no longer exists! How can one talk about TERMINATING a relationship that has already been TERMINATED?
However, that yoke which God placed upon them is not released. Only God can do that, and He does it at death, and when the marriage is terminated for the cause of fornication; that is, when the putting away, the dismissing of the spouse, takes place because he/she committed fornication, not sometime after the marriage is terminated.
Brother Patton equates the putting away with God releasing the yoke, but a marriage can be terminated by divorce and the yoke by God still be binding.
It is possible for a man and woman to make a covenant with each other to live as man and wife, and not be joined by God. The Bible calls this relationship “marriage” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18). The Bible clearly teaches that one may be married and not “joined” by God, or he may be “joined” by God and not be married. Romans 7:2, 3 teaches that a woman may be married to one man and bound to another. She is called an adulteress when she does. I Corinthians 7:10, 11 teaches that a woman may be unmarried and still bound to her husband. If she is UNMARRIED, she is not married. A woman may be married to one man, but yoked to another (Matthew 14:3, 4).
The Waiting Game
Brother Patton says, “Brother Phillips accuses me of endorsing the ‘waiting game’ even though I denied it. I still deny it AS DEFINED in my definition of terms.”
Please read his definition of terms in his first affirmative. He said he made no defense of the one who desired the divorce in remarriage. “By ‘without…his/her approval’ I mean without any desire, intent, or action on his/her part in relation to the putting away…”
“Furthermore, this expression ‘without…his/her approval’ excludes from this proposition those who would play ‘the waiting game.”’ Read his definition of “the waiting game.” He said, “I want it clearly understood that such persons are excluded from the proposition which I affirm. I make no effort to justify such persons in remarriage.”
But after denying the waiting game, he says, “Of course, the woman of my proposition MUST WAIT UNTIL FORNICATION IS COMMITTED AGAINST HER BEFORE REMARRIAGE (emp. mine—HEP)…however, none of these have in view remarriage. Neither does the person of my proposition. He/she is praying, hoping, and trying for reconciliation.”
There is not a chance that brother Patton can escape the consequences of his position. He advocates “the waiting game” in the woman of his proposition, even with his definition of terms. He uses the phrase “without…his/her approval” to get to the “mutual agreement” and then rejects this as the person of his proposition. That is not what the scriptures teach by direct statement, approved example or necessary inference.
But how does one know if she resisted the putting away? Are we going to allow thousands of divorces and remarriages to rest upon the statement of the put away that he/she resisted and prayed for reconciliation?
Brother Patton says I put words in his mouth and attribute to him an argument he did not make. I ask him if he repudiates the words I put in his mouth, or does he believe what I said his position is?
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.
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.
The Meaning Of “And” (KAI)
I checked 35 translations in my library on Matthew 19:9 for a translation of kai by an English word other than “and.” In not one translation did the words “ALSO” or “LIKEWISE” appear either in the text or footnotes. That ought to tell us something about what the word kai meant to all the scholars who translated the Greek by the English “and.”
Brother Patton says that understanding Matthew 19:9, what is in it and what is not in it, is essential to understanding the truth on the issue under study. “The issue in this study HINGES (emp. mine-HEP) on the meaning given to the conjunction ‘and’ translated from the Greek work ‘kai.”’ He says the word admits of two possible views from Thayer’s definition, namely, as a copulative and as an adverb. He assigns to me the first meaning and he takes the second.
There is not one word in the “b” clauses of Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18 to show any area for any exceptions to the plain statement that “whosoever marrieth her that is put away committeth adultery.”
Brother Patton has failed to prove his proposition by the scriptures. He has only presented assertions, claims, unnecessary inferences, and misapplied scriptures to establish a position that cannot be proved by the word of God. Brother Patton’s whole proposition rests upon an imagined situation and not upon scripture.
PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By Marshall E. Patton
Apr. 1987 STS
PROPOSITION: The Scriptures teach that the innocent person (free of fornication) who has been put away without God’s or his/her approval and against whom adultery has been committed may remarry.
According to the arrangements of this debate, this article brings my part of this discussion to a close, except for a very brief rebuttal. According to the rules of honorable debate, Brother Phillips will not introduce any new material in his third negative.
In closing his last article (second negative) Brother Phillips levels some charges against me which I feel obligated to answer, not just in self defense, but also in the interest of truth and the exposition of error. I had rather he had left such judgment to the readers of this exchange. Furthermore, I had rather he had identified in particular that which would sustain his charges instead of making assertions. However, the fallacy of such charges are exposed in the brief review that follows.
In my first affirmative, I made an argument and gave proof that Matt. 5:32b cannot apply to ANY divorced person, but only to a particular “her.” My argument involved the innocence of the husband in this verse and the innocence of the put away wife in 32a which innocence proves that the put away “her” of 32b was one against whom no fornication had been committed. Therefore, to apply this part of the verse to anyone else is to misapply the word of God. I even illustrated this argument with a chart, the point of which Brother Phillips completely missed and misrepresented my intended use of it, as I pointed out in my last article.
Brother Phillips, in your reply to this verse, you never touched this argument. You exposed no error. You did not even deny the innocence affirmed. Yet in spite of this proof to the contrary, you continue to apply it to “anyone—everyone” and that without making any argument to prove it. I will let our readers answer the question, Who is really guilty of “assertions”?
In my second affirmative I made an argument and gave proof that Matt. 19:9b, like Matt. 5:32b, cannot apply to ANY put away person, but only to a particular “her.” My argument involved the meaning of the Greek “kai” translated “and” which is a copulative conjunction connecting the a and b part of this verse. I gave Thayer’s two possible meanings only one of which is possible in harmony with the context and all else revealed. The two possible meanings are: 1) Sequential, i.e., the b part follows in sequence—”in addition” or “after” the events of part a, and 2) Adverbial, i.e., “likewise,” which means the situations of a and b part are alike. In this instance both the husband and the put away wife marry when no fornication is involved before their remarriage. My argument proved that only meaning No. 2 is possible, and, therefore, cannot be applied to the person of my proposition. I also used charts to illustrate this.
Brother Phillips, How did you answer this? You said after checking 35 translations you found not one that translated “and” so that “also” or “likewise” appear either in the text or footnotes. Of course, not! Neither do they translate it “in addition” or “afterwards” which meaning is necessary to the position you hold. The issue is not how is “kai” translated, but what is it meaning? You replied, but did not answer the argument. You exposed no wrong in the argument. Yet, in spite of proof to the contrary, you continue to assert without proof that the b part of this verse applies to “anyone—everyone.” Again, I will let our readers answer the question, Who is really guilty of “assertions.”?
Since you question Thayer’s definition of “kai,” let me give a Bible example of its adverbial use meaning “likewise.” In Mark 10:11, 12 we read, “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her. AND (Emp.—MEP) if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” The word “And” which joins verses 11 and 12 is from the same Greek “kai” which joins a and b parts of Matt. 19:9. In this passage from Mark the obvious meaning is “likewise.” What is true of the husband is also true of the woman and we do not need a lexicon or any other authority to see it.
In my first affirmative I made an argument and gave proof that the “Whosoever” of the exception clause of Matt. 19:9 INCLUDES the person of my proposition. If there is any word that means “anyone—everyone,” here it is! The only persons EXCLUDED are those excepted by revealed truth. I pointed out three exceptions and pressed you to find one more—one that would EXCLUDE the person of my proposition. I pointed out that unless you could do this, my proposition stands! How did you reply? You said, “Until brother Patton finds a ‘Whosoever’ who can marry again (except the ‘Whosoever’ who puts away his spouse for the CAUSE of fornication), he has not proved his proposition.” Brother Phillips, I do not need to find another “Whosoever.” The one in the exception clause INCLUDES the person of my proposition. The innocent person of my proposition puts away his/her guilty spouse for the CAUSE of fornication. You fail to recognize the all-inclusive meaning of “Whosoever.” Until you show another exception—in addition to those I named—the person of my proposition in INCLUDED.
True, the “Whosoever” does not specify in particular one who was already put away by human authority and without God’s approval—so What? Neither does it specify in particular all the others which it includes and the situations peculiar to each. Think what a list such would make. The word “Whosoever” covers them all. Remember, it just does not meet the issue to say that such a person has already been put away. If so, then human action contrary to God’s will can take away a divine prerogative! This human authority supercedes the divine. Brother Phillips, you have not shown any escape from this consequence.
These arguments and proof given on my part are not “assertions, claims, unnecessary inferences.” They are not “misapplied scripture.” They are not an “imagined situation.” I believe our readers can see that I have made arguments and offered proof that continues to stand.
Brother Phillips begins his second negative trying to set before our readers my position. In so doing he fails to do so fully and accurately. He attributes to me the affirmation that “At a later time (the length of time would have no bearing on the situation) the husband remarries, thereby committing adultery.” He knows that I refused to sign a proposition which he submitted before the debate which affirmed that the adultery against the innocent person was committed “subsequent” to the putting away. The Lord did not specify any time frame in which this adultery must be committed against the innocent in order to remarriage. By what authority do we specify a time element? The innocent person might have had fornication committed against him/her before the guilty spouse put him/her away—WHILE he/she was praying, hoping, and trying for reconciliation. The fact that the guilty spouse beat the innocent person to the putting away does not take away the divine prerogative that previously prevailed. After all, the putting away by the guilty spouse was by human authority and without God’s approval. It was FUTILE so far as breaking the marriage bond in heaven is concerned. Even Brother Phillips has admitted this. Whether the fornication is committed before or after the putting away by human authority is immaterial—the divine prerogative remains for the person of my proposition.
Now, I have corrected him, let us see if I can clarify his position. If I fail, he will correct me.
A husband who has been scripturally married to his wife comes home one day with his secretary by his side and with whom he has committed fornication and announces to his wife that he is through with her; that he thereby puts her away, and that he is going to marry his secretary. Because he was the first to say, “I put you away,” his innocent wife is doomed thereafter to celibacy. Even if she, because of his fornication, rushes to the court and filed for divorce, it would be to no avail so far as her having a right to remarry is concerned. I understand that Brother Phillips believes that civil authority is beside the point so far as “putting away” is concerned. Furthermore, it would make no difference if fornication were committed after he SAID, “I put you away.” She became a put away person who can never remarry when he SAID, “I put you away.”
Our readers know that I take sharp issue with this position. On the matter of “putting away” my position is made clear in my definition of terms given at the beginning of the debate. Further, I believe that civil authority is ordained of God for the protection of the innocent (Rom. 13:1-4) and not to victimize the innocent as per Phillips position, if his putting away were followed by civil action. I know that the innocent must sometimes suffer because of the sins of the wicked, but there is enough of this at best. My point is, Why make the innocent suffer unnecessarily? I see this as a consequence of the position of Brother Phillips.
Brother Phillips misrepresents me when he says concerning Matt. 19:9b, “By implication brother Patton has placed an exception clause in the passage that is not actually in it. The “her” in brother Patton’s proposition is not in this verse (I say, amen!—MEP). Yet he makes this ‘her’ who is put away against her will and whose husband has committed adultery or remarried an element that is necessary to prove his point.” Brother Phillips, I have insisted throughout this debate that the person of my proposition is not in Matt. 19:9b. I have used argument after argument—even charts to this effect. I do not need an exception clause added to this part of the verse to sustain my proposition. We both should leave it AS IT IS! The “her” of 9b is one against whom no adultery has been committed. That is why I have opposed your applying this part of the verse to “anyone—everyone”—even to the person of my proposition. It is rather strange that you now admit that “The ‘her’ in brother Patton’s proposition is not in this verse.” What is even more strange is that before you complete your article, you turn right around and apply it and Matt. 5:32b, which says the same thing, to “anyone—everyone, including the person of my proposition. Now, just which time did you mean what you said?
Again, when Brother Phillips says concerning Matt. 5:32b that “No persons other than the “whosoever” and “her” that is divorced is in this passage, I agree with him. I wonder why he keeps applying it to ANOTHER person—even the one of my proposition, who, according to his own admission, is not in it!
Again, he misrepresents me when he says, “Brother Patton equates the putting away with God releasing the yoke.” My point from the beginning has been that when the person of my proposition was put away that such did not effect the yoke or marriage bond in heaven.
Brother Phillips wants to know Where is the exception clause that releases a put away woman from the adultery of Matt. 5:32b; 19:9b; Lk. 16:18b who was put away when no fornication was involved, with or without her will? I answer, There is none. However, if this woman was put away against her will and thereafter was praying, hoping, and trying for reconciliation until adultery was committed against her, she may then exercise the divine prerogative of Matt. 5:32a and 19:9a. These exception clauses release such a person from the adultery of the b part of these verses.
Brother Phillips’ arbitrary use of these terms confuses the issue and involves him in contradictions and inconsistencies. Let me show how this is so.
He acknowledges that marriage approved of God involves a personal commitment, “a covenant between a man and woman,” and also “a divine element”—a joining “with a yoke that can be broken only by God…”; that “at death God releases that bond of marriage (Romans 7:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 7:39).” Yet, he ignores and excludes this divine element in the matter of terminating the marriage, He teaches that the breaking of the personal commitment on the part of either the husband or wife totally dissolves the marriage. He says, “Where this happens the marriage is broken…Whether approved by God or by the one put away makes no differences, the marriage is terminated; it no longer exists!” While he recognizes the “yoke” and “bond” in heaven as continuing, it is no longer called by him a “marriage bond” which is exactly what he called it before the breaking of the personal commitment. Question, Brother Phillips: What kind of “bond” is it (the one in heaven) after the breaking of the personal commitment? If it is still a “marriage bond,” then the MARRIAGE remains intact, untouched, and uneffected in heaven. If it is no longer a “marriage bond,” then it has been broken by someone other than God, which contradicts your former statement. It has been touched, effected, broken, and changed into some other kind of bond—as yet we know not what kind to call it—and all of this because of human action by human authority on earth.
While this point in our discussion has come up too late for full discussion, especially in view of our limited space, I believe that much confusion can be cleared if we remember that the Bible speaks of marriage from different view-points—that of the world and that of heaven. While the Bible recognizes both and speaks accordingly, we must determine which by the context. The verses cited by Brother Phillips can be easily understood this way. For example, the “unmarried” woman who needs to be reconciled to her “husband” in 1 Cor. 7:11 is “unmarried” from the viewpoint of the world, but still married from the viewpoint of heaven— otherwise, we have an unmarried husband, which involves a contradiction of terms. Again, in Matt. 14:3, 4 Herodias was married to Herod from the viewpoint of the world, but was still the “wife” of Herod’s brother, Philip—hence, still married to Philip from the viewpoint of heaven, otherwise we have an unmarried wife, which involves another contradiction of terms.
I insist that human action by human authority can have no effect upon a marriage formed in heaven from God’s viewpoint! Therefore, the divine prerogative which God gives to the innocent person of my proposition stands—regardless of what is done on earth.
The Waiting Game
I answered Brother Phillips on the “waiting game” in my last article. One thing he has not done—One thing he cannot do—and that is pin on me the “waiting game AS DEFINED in my definition of terms. This is the one he is obligated to deal with, and so far he has left it untouched. Read my former reply.
My answer to Brother Phillips’ question as to whether I deny the argument attributed to me is, No. My point was that he ignored the argument I did make and tried to answer one I did not make.
Furthermore, he has missed my argument on this verse, and he has missed the point of the authorities as well—even the ones he quoted. I have known all along that the Greek “epi” can be and sometimes is translated “with.” If so, the reference is always to the second wife. If it be translated “against,” it of necessity refers to the first wife. The meaning of “adultery” demands this. Note the following: “The (Greek letters—MEP) 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 leading modern exegetes, the latter by Victor Ant., Euthy., Theophy., and, among moderns, Ewals and Bleek” (THE EXPOSITOR’S GREEK TESTAMENT, Vol. 1, p. 409).
Brother Phillips made his first argument using “against” and I replied accordingly. If he wants to use the word “with,” that is all right with me. The adultery would then be with the second wife, but by necessary implication it would be against the first.
May the Lord bless this debate to the establishment of truth, the exposition of error, the edification of souls, and above all to the glory of God.
PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By H. E. Phillips
Apr. 1987 STS
This is the closing article in this discussion, except for a brief rebuttal by each of us. I shall introduce no new material, but I will respond to the material already in evidence, including his third affirmative. It is not necessary that I take each statement or argument he made and examine it. Obviously, there are some things upon which we agree, some things that are repetitious, and to the rest I have already replied.
Brother Patton has formulated a doctrine which he has been trying to prove by the Scriptures, but he has failed through three efforts. He stated the issue between us in his first affirmative. He said: “I affirm that there is a certain put away person who may remarry and the proposition is worded so as to help identify this certain person. Brother Phillips believes that no put away person may remarry, hence, the issue between us.” The reader needs to keep in mind that this is the issue in this debate. He holds a position destined to be popular with the public because most divorced people are seeking a way to remarry with approval. They welcome any creed that will appear to give divine sanction to divorce and remarriage. I want no part in giving false hope for remarriage to those who have been divorced for any cause.
Brief Review Reviewed
Brother Patton reaffirms that Matthew 5:32b “cannot apply to ANY divorced person, but only to a particular ‘her.”’ He said in his first affirmative that there are TWO putting aways in this verse: one for fornication; (authorized in the exception clause), and one for some cause other than fornication. But brother Patton eliminates the putting away for other than fornication by his, process of argumentation, leaving only the putting away FOR FORNICATION. That is the only one he has left in Matthew 5:32. He says: “This putting away is done by human authority and, hence, without God’s approval.” “Furthermore, this latter putting away is futile so far as breaking the bond formed by God when He joined them in marriage.” (First Affirmative). That leaves in brother Patton’s position only ONE putting away in Matthew 5:32, the one for fornication. No other is really a putting away. Please read again what I said in my second negative on this point.
Matthew 5:32 says the “whosoever” husband puts away his wife, “saving for the cause of fornication…” Brother Patton argues that this “put away” wife is not guilty of fornication, neither the husband. He says this innocent put away wife must wait until the husband commits adultery or remarries, THEN she may “put away the husband and be free to remarry. Question: What more does the innocent wife DO in “putting away” the husband than what the husband DID when he ‘‘put away’’ the wife? That question is not answered by telling us what God DID. The Scriptures do not teach that God “puts away” anyone in marriage; the husband OR wife does that. God may or may not release one of them from that which He has “joined together.” If this innocent husband terminated the covenant and relationship of marriage, and that is all he can do, what MORE can the innocent wife do, “who has adultery committed against her,” subsequent to his putting away of the wife? There is nothing for her to put away. SHE can put away NOTHING because no marriage remains to terminate.
The issue is not resolved by saying that the first putting away was not really a “putting away.” Jesus said in every case that the husband “PUT AWAY his wife,” and the wife “PUT AWAY her husband” (Mark 10:11, 12). This putting away is for every cause, including fornication. The putting away of a put away person is impossible in view of the language of Jesus.
In this discussion, brother Patton has argued that the word “kai” in Matthew 19:9 has two meanings. He says Mr. Thayer says the first meaning is, “…It marks something added to what has already been said, OR (Emp.—MEP) that of which something already said holds good; accordingly it takes on the nature of an adverb…likewise” (Second Affirmative). This second definition is the way brother Patton wants to define “kai” in Matthew 19:9. But what is the difference between the construction of the sentences in Matthew 5:32 and in Matthew 19:9? The reason I ask is because he has argued in his affirmatives that the woman of Matthew 5:32b is the “wife” of Matthew 5:32 a. If he is correct, then Thayer’s first definition would have to be given to “kai.” Since the sentence construction is exactly the same in Matthew 19:9, what is there in the text or context of the sentences that would make Matthew 19:9 different from 5:32 except that it is necessary to brother Patton’s position?
Brother Patton accuses me of questioning Thayer’s definition of “kai.” No, I did not question his definition. I questioned brother Patton’s application of it. In his third affirmative brother Patton uses Mark 10:11-12 when the word “kai” is used according to the second definition that is given by Thayer. Why would this be true? It is because the context shows that Christ is discussing two different parties who are doing the same thing.
Brother Patton wants me to find one who is EXCLUDED from the “whosoever” of Matthew 5:32a and 19:9a besides the three he gave in his first affirmative. The fact of the matter is, his three “exclusions” boil down to only two: 1. The put away fornicator. 2. The person put away for every cause. I do not have to find one who is EXCLUDED from the “whosoever” in these passages; he has to prove that his person is INCLUDED. It is brother Patton’s position that is being examined. Let me identify the “whosoever” of these verses. The “whosoever” in part “a” of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 DID the putting away. This does not fit brother Patton’s proposition because he was not a put away person. The “whosoever” of the “b” part is the one who marries the put away person, and in every case, without exception, he commits adultery; that makes the put away woman commit adultery.
Brother Patton says if the “put away person” of his proposition can not “put away” the spouse who put him/her away after fornication is committed, “…then human action contrary to God’s will can take away a divine prerogative!” That is not so! I dealt with that in my second negative when discussing the meaning of putting away. The “divine prerogative” belongs ONLY to that person who puts away his/her spouse FOR THE CAUSE OF FORNICATION. To apply this to a person already expelled from the marriage covenant and relationship for a cause other than fornication, when the marriage has been terminated, certainly rests on human authority. Brother Patton is doing just that:! It is totally false to talk about terminating a covenant contract and relationship that has already been terminated. There is nothing to “put away” by the person who has been “put away.”
Brother Patton’s Emotional Appeal
I am amazed at brother Patton’s appeal to sympathy and emotion by an example which represents neither his nor my views on this subject. He presents a man who comes home with his secretary with whom he had committed fornication and tells his wife he is through with her and he thereby puts her away, and that he is going to marry his secretary. Because he was the first to say, “I put you away,” his innocent wife is doomed thereafter to celibacy. Brother Patton, you know full well that does not represent anything I believe and teach, and it certainly does not represent your position. The readers can read my negatives and I know I have never said or implied that “putting away” consisted only of SAYING: “I put you away.” Please do not misrepresent me in that regard anymore. Why use such a prejudiced illustration if not to misrepresent me?
But using brother Patton’s illustration with a slight change let us see what happens to the “innocent wife” who is “doomed thereafter to celibacy.” The husband comes home without his secretary and SAYS, “I put you away.” He never remarries or commits adultery. Can this poor innocent wife have any recourse? Can she ever remarry without sin? Now brother Patton, one proves as much as the other. The truth of the matter is, human situations never prove anything to be scriptural or unscriptural.
Brother Patton is mixed up about my statement on Matthew 5:32b. I said that “No persons other than the ‘whosoever’ and ‘her’ that is divorced is in this passage.” I did not apply it to ANOTHER person, the one in his proposition. I said his particular “her” is not in either Matthew 19:9 or 5:32. I did not misrepresent him.
I did not misrepresent him on his equating putting away with God releasing the yoke. This is a fact, and that is his problem in this discussion. God does not “put away’ anyone in marriage, man does that.
I asked brother Patton for an exception clause in Matthew 5:32b and 19:9b and he said, “There is none.” Then quit trying to find one. Where does the Bible teach that the put away woman without fornication must oppose the divorce? He affirms for her to be eligible to remarry, she must be praying, hoping, and trying for reconciliation until adultery was committed “against” her. Where does the New Testament teach this condition? Where is the passage? Is this not human authority? Of the “unmarried” woman in I Corinthians 7:11 he says she is such from the viewpoint “of the world, but still married from the viewpoint of heaven—otherwise, we have an unmarried husband, which involves a contradiction of terms.” But we have an “unmarried wife” in verses 10, 11. Is that a contradiction of terms? The fact of the matter is the marriage is broken if she leaves her husband. God’s yoke is still there, and that is the reason she has but one course if she does not remain unmarried,” be reconciled to her husband, the man with whom she once had a marriage commitment and relationship.
The Waiting Game
Brother Patton’s definition of the “waiting game” is more accommodative to his position than it is to the meaning of the words as they relate to this subject. Read his definition in his first affirmative. One must accept the consequences of his position. However he defines “the waiting game,” his position demands that the put away person of his proposition must wait until the he/she who did the putting away remarries or commits adultery. That is a key element in his/her being qualified for remarriage, according to brother Patton’s proposition. He can deny it all he wishes, but the fact remains his particular “her” MUST play “the waiting game before she can remarry, and he admitted that in his second affirmative.
Brother Patton claims I ignored his argument and answered one he did not make. I will leave the reader to make that judgment. Read again my first and second negatives, he is making an arbitrary application of “against” the first wife and “with” the second wife.
But if it be conceded that the correct use of Mark 10:11 be “against” the first wife, what does it prove with regard to his woman of Matthew 5:32 b? Remember, he said that no fornication is involved in this verse. 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?
There are only two persons in this “b” part of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9: the “whosoever” (any and every man) and “her that is divorced.” Every passage used in this debate that has the “b” part teaches the same thing, and there are NO exception clauses. The “whosoever” who marries the put away person commits adultery. That is it! The “whosoever” in these verses is any man. Without exception he/she commits adultery when marrying a divorced person. It is absolutely impossible for the one marrying the put away person to commit adultery without the put away person also committing adultery. That means the put away person who marries “whosoever” commits adultery with him/her without exception. Any view you take of the “b” part of Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18 leaves no area for the “whosoever” who marries the put away person, and the “her” who is put away, to be free from adultery. That means neither of them is free to remarry anyone.
This closes my third negative. I have tried to be honest with brother Patton and myself. I am grateful to brother Connie Adams for the opportunity to engage in this discussion in the pages of Searching The Scriptures, I am grateful to brother Patton for his efforts and willingness to engage in this discussion. We are dealing with serious matters which have to do with the human race, with the purity and success of the church and with our eternal destiny. I am indebted to some men whose valuable material I freely used in preparing for this discussion. Among these were J. T. Smith, Maurice Barnett, Gene Frost, Donnie Rader, Jay Bowman and several others.
I pray that this discussion will help many know and obey the truth of God’s word in the marriage relationship. I pray that God and his word will be glorified.
PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By Marshal E. Patton
Apr. 1987 STS
While Brother Phillips made reply to my first two affirmatives, in my judgment, he did not meet the arguments I made. I commend him for finally meeting some of my former arguments in his third negative, though such effort fails of its objective. I regret that he waited to do this until I have no opportunity to make fair and full reply—Impossible in this limited rebuttal.
I deny having formulated a doctrine, new or otherwise. I verily believe (except for cause of death) that only the innocent person who “puts away” his/her spouse for fornication may remarry! I oppose the efforts of some who would take away this DIVINE PREROGATIVE from such a one as is identified in my proposition.
If Brother Phillips will show wherein I misrepresented him in my illustration of his position, I will apologize. I am sorry he has impugned my motive. My illustration was based upon his own statements in his second negative on what terminates a marriage, e.g., “When the commitment is broken, the marriage is dissolved…Whoever initiates the termination of the marriage ‘puts away’ the other. He/she dismisses the spouse from the relationship”—Also, upon his opposition to the expression “put away by civil authority” in the proposition for debate (according to correspondence from Brother Adams prior to the debate saying that Phillips thought “civil authority” was “beside the point in a putting away). Based upon the above, I still see no inaccuracy in my illustration. Brother Phillips, I was VERY CAREFUL to show your error in your illustration. Please do as much for me. What MORE must be done besides giving the verbal dismissal? I accept the consequences of your second illustration. I acknowledged that the innocent often suffer at the hands of the guilty, but my point was, Why cause suffering unnecessarily, as per your position?
Your NEW ARGUMENT on “kai” and the “sentence construction” of Matt. 5:32 and 19:9 is in error. In the former there are no “likewise” situations—no remarriage in the a part, only in b, and that “after” the action in a. Matt. 19:9 is DIFFERENT. As you said about Mk. 10:11,12, you have “two different parties who are doing the same thing”—Both remarry when no fornication is involved, hence, “likewise” situations. For reasons already given “kai” must take the meaning of “likewise” in this instance.
O yes, there is something the innocent put away wife (person) of my proposition CAN put away! She can put away the one who yet remains her husband from God’s viewpoint. She CAN DO this by breaking HER personal commitment which heretofore has remained unbroken. When she DOES THIS, God breaks (releases) the marriage bond in heaven which heretofore remained intact. This is MORE than he, by human authority and in violation of God’s will, has done or can do.
It is my honest conviction that the position held by Brother Phillips and a few others has grown out of an effort to refute arguments in behalf of the put away fornicator remarrying. Until this issue became prominent, brethren in general held (most still do) the position I have affirmed. Brethren, in our efforts to oppose error let us not run past Jerusalem and knock ourselves out against the walls of Jericho. May God bless this study to His glory.
PATTON – PHILLIPS DEBATE
By H. E. Phillips
Apr. 1987 STS
Our agreement called for a one page rebuttal for each of us after the third negative. It is impossible to reply to an argument in that short space. Brother Patton’s rebuttal was a brief restatement of his arguments and my reply to them. I shall, therefore, make some brief observation in closing.
Brother Patton has not shown any scriptural evidence that a put away person may remarry under any circumstances. He has inferred it from his process of arguments and human situations, but that is not Bible proof.
He has not been able to escape “the waiting game” in order to get the person of his proposition remarried. He has vehemently denied it throughout the discussion, but he must accept that consequence or renounce his position.
He has not been able to prove that the “whosoever” of Matthew 5:32b, 19:9b and Luke 16:18b can marry the put away woman without committing adultery. That means the put away woman commits adultery when the “whosoever” marries her.
Brother Patton cannot find Bible proof for the conditions he claims for the innocent put away person who must be opposing the divorce, and must be praying, hoping, and trying for reconciliation until adultery is committed against her before she is eligible to remarry. This condition is of human authority and not divine.
In his rebuttal he appeals to the majority position as proof of right. He says my position is held by “a few others” but the majority of brethren hold the position which he affirms. What does that prove? I am not impressed by the number who hold a position. I am concerned with what the Bible teaches.
The total effort of brother Patton in his three affirmatives has been to strain out of the exception clause in Matthew 5:32a and 19:9a a person who HAS BEEN PUT AWAY for any cause other than fornication, and thrust him/her into the role of the one DOING THE PUTTING AWAY for the cause of fornication and be free to remarry without sin. He has misused these verses in his efforts. He has made two grievous errors in his affirmatives: First, to disregard the context of the verses he used and develop a position that supports an already growing problem of adulterous marriages in the church. Second, he is opening the gates to “acceptable” divorce for literally thousands who will carry his position a little further by his own reasoning, and the congregations of God’s people will be filled with second, third and even fourth marriages based upon his arguments. I must raise my voice against such a position. May God bless our efforts to a better understanding of His word.