They Are Teaching That There Can be a Second Divorce

By Brian A. Yeager


There is nothing new about the old “Mental Divorce / Waiting Game” position that has been taught for many years. The changes that we actually do see in this doctrine are just changes in the words those who teach that error use to espouse their false doctrine. False teachers often change terms and they even redefine terms to cloak their doctrines. Error has to appear as truth to be successful in causing souls to be lost. The Devil has been covering false doctrine since the beginning of the existence of man (Genesis 3:4-5).

Today, the Mental Divorce doctrine of old has been reintroduced with new terms. For example, when Tim Haile words a proposition to teach his doctrine he says the following: “The Scriptures teach that whenever fornication is committed, the faithful spouse may put away his fornicator-mate and marry another” (Smith - Haile Debate;  Tim’s doctrine concludes that the fornication can be committed after the divorce (evidence will be supplied to this charge throughout this article).  He simply words his statement in an attempt to cloud the minds of those to whom he is teaching his false doctrine. These word games must be exposed so that others are not tricked into the false doctrine that Tim Haile, Ron Halbrook, Weldon Warnock, Dudley Ross Spears, and a host of others are using to justify a SECOND PUTTING AWAY (

The Simple Truth on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage

“The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.  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” (Matthew 19:3-9). Jesus clearly stated that a man and a woman who join together in marriage are not to end their marriage. He gave one EXCEPTION (not a rule), and that is in the case when one mate commits fornication against the other.  In this case, the cause of fornication is the reason for the putting away. That is it. Simple! God does not want marriages ending (Malachi 2:16 and Romans 7:1-3).

Instead of many brethren accepting the simplicity of our Lord’s teaching they have sought to find loopholes in God’s law on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. In times past it was the error of Homer Hailey justifying unscriptural marriages by teaching that alien sinners are not bound by God’s marriage law. Many other false doctrines preceded Homer’s false doctrine and many more will follow. As of the last few years a rise in the old Mental divorce position has had many claiming that they believe just as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:32-33; 19:3-9, Mark 10:11-12, and Luke 16:18. They then say the innocent party has the right to put away the guilty party. This sounds good, but their meaning in that statement is false. Let us see how…

How Do They Change the Terms to Disguise Their Damnable Doctrine?

On December 5th, 2004 I asked Tim Haile the following in a written discussion we were having among several others on the internet: “if Dan divorces his wife Debbie (who fights to keep her marriage alive) for reasons other than fornication and Dan later has a sexual relationship followed by a marriage to another woman, can Debbie put him away for fornication and be free to remarry? If so, how is this a first putting away? Where is the Scripture for a post-divorce divorce?” On the 6th of December Tim Haile responded to my question by writing: “YES, faithful, innocent Debbie may put her fornicating BOUND husband away and marry another. By the words of your own question this was her first putting-away. Your position requires Debbie to remain bound to her fornicating husband for life. Jesus required no such thing.” My response was as follows:

“1. Notice the following illustration that you answered to help you see your erring conclusion (note the statements in parenthesis): “Dan divorces his wife Debbie (who fights to keep her marriage alive) for reasons other than fornication (THIS IS THE FIRST “PUTTING AWAY” – B.A.Y.) and Dan later has a sexual relationship followed by a marriage to another woman, can Debbie put him away for fornication and be free to remarry (THIS WOULD BE THE SECOND PUTTING AWAY IF TIM SAYS YES – B.A.Y.)?”

2. Tim answers the scenario by saying: “YES (emphasis B.A.Y.), faithful, innocent Debbie may put her fornicating BOUND husband away and marry another.”

Tim, this is you affirming a SECOND PUTTING AWAY. The illustration above proves such. Whether lawful or not there has already been a putting away before your doctrine would allow Debbie to put away her ex-husband (1+1=2). Tim, you say that I fabricate a position, but it is you my brother who is doing the dishonest work here. It is you who are redefining terms to make them say what you what them to say. For example you say: “A “second” putting-away would be another of the same kind, that is, an unlawful putting-away.” You have to be kidding here, right? One divorce and then divorce number two. That would be a first and a second. There is no such thing in the New Testament. There is no idea of an unlawful putting away followed by a lawful putting away. Where’s the Scripture for that Tim? Just think, you are arguing that the husband has a putting away card and the wife has a putting away card. One is lawful and the other is not. You hold onto your card until the other uses his or hers and then finds another person to shack up with. Instead of the “race to the courthouse” position you are declaring a “who can remain celibate the longest?” position. Some call that the “waiting game”. I know that you reject that as your position. However, that is where your logic naturally leads!

You said to me: “Your position requires Debbie to remain bound to her fornicating husband for life…” No, the Lord’s position says that, not mine (I Corinthians 7:10-11). Your answer to my request for Scripture is the following: “Like brother Belknap, you asked for Scripture for a post-divorce divorce. Well, Brian, where is the Scripture for a pre-divorce divorce?” This is funny. I believe that there can only be one putting away. If that putting away is for reasons other than fornication then both are to remain unmarried or reconciled (I Corinthians 7:10-11). Whatever occurs post that putting away does not authorize a subsequent putting away. As I have stated many times over, the marriage is over. The man and the woman are now UNMARRIED just as one who has never been married before, or a widow (I Corinthians 7:8; 10-11). The only difference is that they are not free to remarry as they are bound to one another (I Corinthians 7:39). Why are you trying to find a loophole here? Is there someone you know that you are trying to justify? Can’t you accept that there are some who “…be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake”?

Tim Haile responded on the 7th of December, 2004 by saying: “I now see why you continue to charge me with believing in a “second putting away.” You can’t see the difference between 2 puttings-away (one that is unlawful and a different one that is lawful) and a 2nd putting away. I can’t help you brother.”

The entire discussion can be read at:


The word of God does not teach the Second Putting Away doctrine. Tim Haile and all the others who hold the false doctrine of a Second Putting Away face a huge dilemma. That dilemma is that they cannot find one single scripture that comes close to justifying their false doctrine. We need not look for loopholes in God’s marriage law. We need to be teaching how marriages are lifelong commitments. How can we say we will commit our lives to the Lord whom we cannot see, if we cannot understand the commitment of marriage to mate we looked in the eye in vowed to spend a lifetime with?

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