The Cause Can Come After the Effect?

By Brian A. Yeager 

A new spin on an old doctrine has come about. The old “waiting game” or “mental divorce” doctrine is being respun and redefined by men such as Tim Haile. Tim, and others who are teaching these new twists on mental divorce, have redefined some terms, dressed up their arguments with a little Greek, and called their doctrine something different. However, it is still the same old “waiting game” doctrine on divorce and remarriage. Tim says:

“Some brethren are teaching that a man’s adultery is rendered totally irrelevant if it is committed after his departure from his wife or after he has taken some ungodly civil divorce action against her. Not so!”(

Can the Cause Come After the Effect?

According to Jesus Christ, Tim has some things flipped around. (Matthew 19:9) “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.” The only cause for a scriptural divorce is fornication. The innocent party then has a right to put away their fornicating mate. That is Jesus’ exception to the one man / one woman for life command (Matthew 19:5-6). Now the question; can a marriage be put asunder by man and yet still remain intact in God’s eyes so that there can be a second putting away? More clearly stated; does God recognize that a man and a woman have exited a marriage by breaking their vows through a civil divorce?

(I Corinthians 7:10-11) “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.” Notice that Paul here uses the word “unmarried”. If you have a shoelace that is now untied that means it is no longer in the state of being tied. The prefix “un” means that something is the opposite of another. If you are unmarried you are the opposite of married. That does not remove that they have no right to another mate. Paul pointed out that the rights they have are just to each other. Paul did not say remain unmarried, but still married in God’s sight, and just wait for one or the other to commit the act of fornication thus freeing the more celibate one to remarry. You just cannot end something that has already ended, for a second time.


This is a rather short article. However, the issue of the “waiting game” does not need a long answer. The cause of a scriptural divorce (fornication) cannot occur when there is no marriage to end for that cause. People are sinning when they end their marriage for reasons other than fornication (Malachi 2:16 and Mark 10:9), but that does not mean that God does not recognize an unscriptural divorce. This old “God does not see an unscriptural divorce” argument just does not hold water. God even sees unscriptural marriages. Notice: (Matthew 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 (CF. Romans 7:2-3).”

Brethren need to stop looking for loopholes to allow the put away to be able to remarry. Losing one’s soul for a marriage is not logical. Brethren need to begin preaching the need for married couples to remain married and when they come upon issues that threaten that marriage to work through them. The “I was innocent, put away for an unscriptural cause, but now can put away my spouse” idea is absurd. The cause of fornication allowing one to put away their mate cannot occur after the effect of divorce has already taken place. The cause at the time of departure stands as the cause of divorce. If they desire to remarry let them reconcile (I Corinthians 7:11).

Brian A. Yeager
126 First Street
Butler, PA 16001

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