Two False MDR “Applications” Combined
By Jeff Belknap
Recently, brother Mike Willis (principle editor of Truth Magazine) has been publicly advocating the divinely approved right for people to put away their mates for multiple causes other than fornication and remain unmarried.1 Moreover, other brethren have actually gone on record to defend this erroneous doctrine as an acceptable “application” under the proverbial umbrella of Romans 14.2 Furthermore, they have publicly accused those who oppose this illicit teaching of “binding” where God has not, and of disrupting unity in the body of Christ3. Cp. w. Proverbs 17:15; 28:4.
In addition to the digression above, there are other associates of Truth Magazine who are presently contending for the “right” of an “innocent” one who has been wrongfully put away to subsequently “put away” their separated mate for post-divorce fornication in order to remarry another.4
They claim that this is not “the waiting game” because the person who was wrongfully put away was “innocent” of breaking up the marriage and “innocent” of fornication.5 The brethren who defend the promoters of this error have similarly accused those who dissent of “binding where God has not bound” and of causing unnecessary division in the Lord’s church.6
However, if putting away for multiple causes (including running up bills that one does not intend to pay and unresolved hostilities)1 is divinely authorized as contended by brother Willis (and friends), then the necessary inference is that the one who puts away for these “approved” causes is “innocent” and cannot be blamed for any wrong-doing. Recently, a defender of brother Willis promoted the view that if one divorces their mate for a cause other than fornication, the mate who was put away may actually be the one who is to blame for the marriage’s sundering and the effects thereof.7
It cannot be said that the one who put away their mate for “authorized” reasons would be “guilty” of breaking up a marriage or not remaining “true to the marriage bond.” Nor can one claim that the first divorce caused the now “guilty,” (put away) party to commit fornication (per Matthew 5:32a), for we are told that it was only due to his/her own ungodly actions that God permitted the “innocent” mate to put him/her away!
Now, the purported basis for the post-divorce “putting away” doctrine by the “innocent” mate – and remarriage to another – is that the God-enjoined “bond” (Romans 7:2-3) is “still intact” after an unapproved divorce. Hence, when the wrongful divorcer marries another (thus committing fornication), this remaining “marriage bond” is said to make it possible for the “innocent” party who remained “true to the marriage bond” to employ a post-divorce “putting away,” after which, scriptural remarriage to another is possible.
But alas, if we combine these two supposedly approved “applications,” it would result in what even the chief promoters of these two doctrines have characterized as the “waiting game.”8 This is described as the situation in which a mate puts away for a cause other than adultery (i.e. “for the kingdom of heaven’s sake”) - and then, when their put-away mate has done the inevitable (Matthew 5:32; I Corinthians 7:2-5), they employ a post-divorce “putting away” for fornication.
Man-made (arbitrary) rules are all that stand in the way of combining these two supposedly approved “applications” (which all acknowledge as the waiting game) to form yet another “acceptable” “application” among brethren. Yet, the Word of the Lord still reads, “…What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6; cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11). And “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 19:9; cf. 5:32). Moreover, I Corinthians 5 clearly condemns whole churches for extending fellowship to adulterers (cf. I Corinthians 4:17). What a mess men can make when they depart from “the doctrine of Christ” (II John 9-11)!
The present promotion of multiple causes for divorce and post-divorce “putting away” as long as “the bond is still intact” is rapidly opening the flood gates for all manner of unlawful divorce and remarriage scenarios. When these “approved” divorces and the subsequent, inevitable adulterous remarriages are accepted among local churches, it will cause entire congregations to be lost to Satan’s devices (Ephesians 5:6, 11; II Timothy 3:13). This progressive, corruptive path is guaranteed to take us farther than we want to go, keep us longer than we want to stay and cost us more than we want to pay (Psalms 11:3).