WHO MAY SCRIPTURALLY MARRY AGAIN?
By Windell Wiser
(from the bulletin of the East Albertville church of Christ, April 1990. Used by permission of the author.)
When a divorce occurs only one person has a right to remarry, according to Christ. This is the person who does the putting away for the cause of fornication (Mt. 19:9; 5:32). The put away person does not have a right to remarry, according to Christ. Jesus said: Whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. (Mt. 19:9). In fact, every time Jesus said anything about anyone marrying the put away person, He said that person commits adultery. (See Mt. 19:9; 5:32; Luke 16:18). Not one time does Jesus permit the put away person to remarry! Jesus only permits the one who does the putting away to remarry. However, there can be only one reason for putting away and that is the cause of fornication. FORNICATION MUST BE THE CAUSE OF PUTTING AWAY AND NOT THE RESULT OF THE PUTTING AWAY. The person who puts away his companion without the cause of fornication causes them to commit adultery (Mt. 5:32).
What does put away mean? According to Mt. 5:32 put away means to divorce. Some preachers try to define put away to mean simply let go, send away, or dismiss without taking any legal action to obtain a divorce. This cannot be what Jesus means by put away. If this is what Jesus means, then a person can simply send his wife back to her parents when she commits fornication and go marry another woman. However, if he did this he would be guilty of bigamy. He must take legal action and obtain a divorce for the cause of fornication before he can marry another.
Some argue that the put away person (i.e., the divorced person) can sit around and wait until their companion marries again, thus committing adultery, (Mt. 19:9), and then mentally put them away for fornication and then marry again without committing adultery. Jesus never said anything about mentally putting away anyone. In fact, the put away person (divorced person) will always be the put away or divorced person. The put away can never be the one who does the putting away or the one who obtains the divorce. There is no way you can put a person away as Jesus used the term without obtaining a legal divorce.
If your companion divorces you for some cause other than fornication and marries again, he (or she) commits adultery. (Mt. 19:9). He (or she) may marry again in two months or ten years later. If he (or she) does, he (or she) will commit adultery. (Mt. 19:9). When this happens, there is no way you can put your companion away, divorce your companion, or take legal action to divorce them for fornication because the divorce has already occurred two months ago or ten years ago, as the case may be. You may contest the divorce, plead with your companion not to divorce you, and do everything you can to stop it, but if your companion is granted a divorce you are a put away person and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. (Mt. 19:9). I know this is hard. In fact, the disciples of Christ said: If the case of man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. (Mt. 19:10). No matter how hard it is, the fact is that Jesus did NOT give permission for the put away person to remarry. There are other hard situations. Suppose your companion goes insane and it is necessary to commit them to an insane asylum. Can you argue that in a sense he (or she) is dead and therefore you have a Scriptural right to remarry? Could you remarry without first obtaining a divorce? Just because it is hard does not change the law of God.