Another Look At
By Kevin Kay
If Jack and Jill are married and Jack divorces Jill for some reason other than fornication, and then sometime later Jack marries Jane, does that give Jill the scriptural right to biblically “put away” Jack for fornication and marry Jim? Many sincere brethren believe it does. Others, equally sincere, believe it does not. Since these conclusions are direct opposites, one of these conclusions has to be right and the other has to be wrong? But which is it? We can only answer that question by honestly going to the Scriptures. Isaiah said in the long ago: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20).
The primary reason that many believe that Jill would not have a scriptural right to “put away” Jack and then marry Jim in this scenario is because she had already been “put away” by Jack for some reason other than fornication, and Jesus says “whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Lk. 16:18). In fact, every passage in the NT that contemplates the remarriage of a “put away” person to someone else while the first mate is still living describes that relationship as adultery (Mt. 5:32b; 19:9b; Lk. 16:18b; Rom. 7:3a).
If It’s Not Right, It’s Not Real:
When this question was being discussed and debated among brethren about 15-20 years ago, the argument that was being made at that time to defend Jill’s right to remarry was that Jill was not really a “put-away-person.” It was argued that an unscriptural civil divorce had absolutely no meaning or significance in the eyes of God. In other words, it did not constitute a “putting away.” Thus, if Jill was not really “put away,” then what Jesus said about the remarriage of a “put away person” would not apply to her. Therefore, if Jack committed fornication, Jill would then have the right to biblically put Jack away and remarry someone else. That was the fundamental argument.
Of course the validity of that argument hinged on whether or not Jill was actually “put away” when Jack divorced her unscripturally. If she was not, then the conclusion that I have just described logically follows. However, if she was, then this whole argument crumbles. This was the “bone of contention” between brethren who accepted this argument and those who did not.
I argued then (See “The Rights Of An Innocent Put-Away Person,” Is It Lawful: A Comprehensive Study Of Divorce, 1989, pp. 329ff), and I continue to argue today that this argument is based on a fundamental presupposition that is fatally flawed. That presupposition is that if the marriage or divorce is not right, it’s not real; if it’s not approved, it’s not actual; if it’s not permissible, it’s not possible.
That presupposition just cannot be correct, because there is simply too much evidence in the NT that a divorce that is not right is still a real divorce in the eyes of God. Paul said: “10Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7:10-11). Since Paul commands wives not to depart from their husbands, he contemplates an action that is not right, but it is an action that is nonetheless real, since he instructs them to “remain unmarried” if they do depart. The lexicographers tell us that the word “depart” [chorizo] means “divorce” in this context (Arndt & Gingrich, p. 890; Thayer, p. 674), and Paul’s instruction to “remain unmarried” should confirm this to every unprejudiced mind. So this one passage is enough to show that the fundamental presupposition behind this argument cannot possibly be correct.
Furthermore, when Jesus said “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mt. 19:6), that necessarily implies that man has the ability to separate what God has joined together, even though he does not have the authority to do so. Why would Jesus have said that man should not put asunder what God has joined together if he could not do it in the first place? The very fact that Jesus commands us not to do this implies that we have the power but not the permission to do it. In fact, all of the “let not” passages in the NT imply this (cf. Mt. 6:3; Lk. 21:21; Jn. 14:1, 27; Rom. 6:12; 14:3, 16; Eph. 4:26; 1 Tim. 5:16; Jas. 1:7; Mt. 19:6; Mk. 10:9).
The Bible speaks of marriage and divorce as being either right or wrong, approved or unapproved, lawful or unlawful, permissible or prohibited; but it never speaks of marriage and divorce as being either real or unreal, actual or apparent, “in the eyes of God” or “in the eyes of man.” A marriage is a marriage is a marriage is a marriage! It may be right or wrong, but it is still a marriage. And the same thing is true of divorce. Something may be wrong and yet still be recognized, by both God and man, as real.
The Bond Still Exists:
More recently, a different argument is being made to defend Jill’s right to remarry in the scenario described above. It is acknowledged that if Jack unscripturally divorces Jill, she is really “put away,” but it is being argued that as long as the bond of marriage exists (Rom. 7:2-3; Mk. 10:11), the innocent party always has the right to “put away” (i.e. repudiate) the guilty fornicating mate. Well, what about that? Is this what the Bible really teaches?
As we analyze this argument, the first thing that needs to be recognized by all is that this argument is an inference. There is not a single, solitary passage in all the Bible that explicitly states that as long as the bond of marriage exists, the innocent party always has the right to “put away” (i.e. repudiate) the guilty fornicating mate. Now the fact that this argument is an inference does not, in and of itself, mean that it is weak or invalid. It does mean, however, that if this argument is valid, it is valid because it is definitely implied in a passage or a combination of passages (properly harmonized with one another), not because it is anywhere explicitly stated in Scripture.
Now, there can be no doubt that the Bible teaches us by implication. Jesus taught by implication to reassure John the Baptist that He was the Messiah (Mt. 11:3-5), to teach the Sadducees about the resurrection of the dead (Mt. 22:31-33; Lk. 20:37-40), to teach the Pharisees about the humanity and deity of the Messiah (Mt. 22:41-46), and to teach the Pharisees about divorce (Mt. 19:3-6). Since this article is dealing with the general subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, please let me elaborate on that last example, since it demonstrates that Jesus inferred a conclusion about marriage and divorce from the implications of two OT texts. When the Pharisees asked Jesus “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” (Mt. 19:3), Jesus responded by saying: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ [Gen. 1:27] and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ [Gen. 2:24]?” (Mt. 19:4-5). From those two OT passages, Jesus then inferred a conclusion: “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mt. 19:6).
So the Bible clearly teaches by implication. It even teaches on the subject of marriage and divorce by implication. This necessarily means that whatever God has definitely implied on any subject, including the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, we must necessarily infer (cf. Mt. 15:10-11, 15-18; 16:5-12), and whatever God has definitely implied, we can necessarily infer (cf. Eph. 3:3-6). But we must never forget that it is certainly possible for men to infer things that the Scriptures do not imply (cf. Jn. 21:20-23). This is a very real danger that we must make every effort to avoid as students of God’s word. Please let me offer three examples to illustrate my point.
There is no passage in all the Bible that explicitly teaches that there is only one person in the Godhead. However, Oneness Pentecostals read the passages that talk about one God (cf. Dt. 6:4; Isa. 44:6; 1 Cor. 8:4; Jas. 2:19; et al.), and they infer that there is only one person in the Godhead. To do that, however, they must ignore or explain away all of the passages that clearly and explicitly indicate that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three, distinct, divine, persons. (Since it is my purpose to illustrate that it is possible to infer what the Bible does not imply, and it is not my purpose to discuss the nature of the Godhead, I will assume that my readers are familiar with this evidence and move on) My point is that Oneness Pentecostals infer that which is not implied in the Scriptures. Theirs is certainly a possible inference (they’ve made it), but it is not even a 42nd cousin to a necessary inference, and in light of all that the Bible says about the nature of the Godhead, it is not even a reasonable inference. In fact, their conclusion is so unreasonable, it must be rejected as false by those who will accept all that the Bible teaches about the nature of God.
There is no passage in all the Bible that explicitly mentions infant baptism. However, Paedobaptists read about the household baptisms in the NT (cf. Acts 10:44-48; 16:15, 31-34; 18:8; 1 Cor. 1:16), and they infer infant baptism; but they infer that which is not implied in the Scriptures. They make unwarranted assumptions about the households that were baptized [e.g. all of the households were made up of married people; these married people had children (cf. Acts 10:7); at least some of these children were infants; these infants were present (cf. Acts 16:14); these infants needed baptism (cf. Mt. 18:3; 19:14); when the household was baptized, that automatically included every member of the household (cf. 1 Sam. 1:21-22)]. They also ignore the fact that infants cannot do what these baptized households did [e.g. the household of Cornelius feared God (Acts 10:2), heard the word (Acts 10:44; 11:13-14), received the word (Acts 11:1), spoke in tongues (Acts 10:44-46), received the command to be baptized (Acts 10:48); the household of Lydia heard the word (Acts 16:14) and they were encouraged by Paul and Silas (Acts 16:40); the household of Crispus believed on the Lord (Acts 18:8); the household of the Philippian jailer heard the word of the Lord (Acts 18:32), believed the word (Acts 18:31, 34) and rejoiced (Acts 18:34); and the household of Stephanas ministered unto the saints (1 Cor. 1:16; 16:15-16)]. Again, theirs is certainly a possible inference (they’ve made it), but it is not even a 42nd cousin to a necessary inference, and in light of all that the Bible says about the households that were baptized, it is not even a reasonable inference. In fact, their conclusion is so unreasonable, it must be rejected as false by those who will accept all that the Bible teaches about baptism.
There is no passage that explicitly teaches the doctrine of “once saved always saved.” However, Calvinists read the passages that talk about the security of the believer (cf. Jn. 5:24; 6:37; 10:27-29; et al.), and they infer the impossibility of apostasy; but they infer that which is not implied in the Scriptures. They ignore or explain away the abundant evidence that it really is possible for a believer to become an unbeliever (Heb. 3:12) and it is possible for a true Christian to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4) and lose his salvation (Heb. 2:1-4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; et al.). In light of all that the Bible teaches on this subject, the Calvinists’ conclusion about eternal security must be rejected as false by those who will accept all that the Bible teaches on the subject.
Now I’ve gone to great lengths to illustrate with these three examples that it is possible for people to infer that which the Scriptures do not imply, because I believe with all my heart that many sincere brethren are doing precisely that when it comes to the scenario described above. Please let me explain.
There is no passage in all the Bible that explicitly teaches that as long as the bond of marriage exists, the innocent party always has the right to “put away” (i.e. repudiate) the guilty fornicating mate. However, those who argue for what has been accomodatively called “mental divorce,” or more precisely described as a “post-civil-divorce-biblical-putting away,” read passages that talk about the continued existence of the “marriage bond” after a civil divorce (Rom. 7:2-4; Mk. 10:11), and they infer that the innocent party always has the right to “put away” (i.e. repudiate) a guilty fornicating mate. To do that, however, they must ignore or explain away the clear and explicit teaching of Jesus that “whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Lk. 16:18b; cf. Mt. 5:32b; 19:9b; Rom. 7:3a). They are guilty of the same kind of fallacious reasoning as the Oneness Pentecostals, the Paedobaptists, and the Calvinists, because they ignore other pertinent information on the subject. Thus, they infer what the Scriptures do not imply.
If an innocent party can actually be “put away” for some reason other than fornication (and PCDBPA advocates are now admitting this possibility), one cannot logically argue that an innocent party always has the right to “put away” (i.e. repudiate) a guilty fornicating mate and marry another, because that ignores the fact that Jesus says “whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Lk. 16:18). Now then, in the Jack & Jill scenario, did Jack “put away” or divorce Jill? If he did, according to this passage, both he and Jill commit adultery when they remarry anyone else. It is just that simple!
But we are told that this simple explanation ignores the fact that the “marriage bond” is still intact. Well, what about that? In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes: “2For the woman who has a husband is bound by the law to her husband as long as he lives. But if the husband dies, she is released from the law of her husband. 3So then if, while her husband lives, she marries another man, she will be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from that law, so that she is no adulteress, though she has married another man” (Rom. 7:2-3).
Is this the passage that gives Jill (either explicitly or implicitly) the right to “put away” Jack after he has divorced her and married Jane? Applying Paul’s teaching in this passage to the Jack & Jill scenario described at the beginning of this article should not be difficult if we merely make a side-by-side comparison between this Scripture and the scenario.
Actually, we need to modify Paul’s language slightly to make it perfectly parallel with the scenario described above, since in Paul’s example the protagonist is the wife, and in the Jack & Jill scenario, the protagonist is the husband. (I will underline the words that I have modified) When we modify the language (but not the meaning) to fit the Jack & Jill scenario, it looks like this.
Now then, let me simplify this even more. “Jack is bound by the law to Jill as long as Jill lives. But if Jill dies, Jack is released from the law of Jill. So then if, while Jill lives, Jack marries Jane, Jack will be called an adulterer; but if Jill dies, Jack is free from that law, so that Jack is no adulterer, though Jack has married Jane.”
What does this passage teach us about the Jack & Jill scenario described above? First, it teaches that Jack is bound by the law to Jill. This is not a literal or physical binding but rather a spiritual and legal binding. The law under consideration here is not the Mosaic law of the Jews or the civil law of the Gentiles, because both of these laws allowed remarriage to someone else during the lifetime of one’s first mate (cf. Dt. 24:1-4). This law is God’s law on marriage established in the very beginning that says: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). Second, it teaches that Jack is bound by the law to Jill as long as Jill lives. Paul does not say that Jack is bound to Jill for as long as they continue to love each other, or for as long as there are no irreconcilable differences, or for as long as they remain married to each other, but for as long as she lives. If there are any exceptions to this, we will have to learn about them from some other passage, because this passage mentions no exceptions. Third, it teaches that if Jack marries Jane while Jill is still alive, he will be called an adulterer. He will be called an adulterer, not because he is still really married to Jill, but because he is still “bound by the law” to Jill and he marries Jane. This clearly demonstrates that it is possible for someone to be “bound by the law” to one person and “married” to another. Thus, the “bond” is one thing and “marriage” is something else. The “bond” refers to the legal responsibility that God imposes upon those who marry with His approval. “Marriage” is the human relationship that exists between a husband and his wife. Fourth, it teaches that if Jill dies, Jack is no adulterer, although he has married Jane. (For a more detailed analysis of this passage, see “Marriage” Is Not “Binding”, Is It Lawful: A Comprehensive Study Of Divorce, 1989, pp. 163ff)
But what does this passage say about Jill and her rights after Jack has married Jane? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!! It tells us that Jack is an adulterer. It tells us that Jack is still bound by law to Jill, but it doesn’t say anything about Jill. Is Jill still bound by law to Jack? The passage doesn’t say. Does Jill now have the right to “put away” Jack for fornication? The passage doesn’t say. The passage doesn’t say anything about Jill and her rights. So there is no explicit statement in Rom. 7:2-3 that gives Jill the right to “put away” Jack for fornication, following his marriage to Jane. In fact, there is no explicit statement in Rom. 7:2-3 giving anyone the right to “put away” anybody for any reason at any time! If that right exists, it will have to be found in some other passage; it’s not in this one.
Well, is there a definite implication in Rom. 7:2-3 that gives Jill the right to “put away” Jack for fornication, following his marriage to Jane? How can there be when this passage says absolutely nothing about Jill and her rights, and it says absolutely nothing about anyone having the right to “put away” anybody for any reason at any time? There’s got to be information before there can be an implication, and there’s got to be a definite implication before there can be a necessary inference. There is no information about Jill and her rights in Rom. 7:2-3, much less an implication.
If Jill has the right to “put away” Jack after he has married Jane, that right will have to be found in some other passage. It’s not in Rom. 7:2-3.
Well, what about Mt. 5:32? Applying Jesus’ teaching in this passage to the Jack & Jill scenario should not be difficult if we merely make a side-by-side comparison between this Scripture and the scenario.
Does this passage (either explicitly or implicitly) give anyone the right to “put away” anybody for any reason at any time? If Jill has the right to “put away” Jack after he has married Jane, that right will have to be found in some other passage. It’s not in Mt. 5:32.
What about Lk. 16:18? Once again applying Jesus’ teaching in this passage to the Jack & Jill scenario should not be difficult if we merely make a side-by-side comparison between this Scripture and the scenario.
Does this passage (either explicitly or implicitly) give anyone the right to “put away” anybody for any reason at any time? If Jill has the right to “put away” Jack after he has married Jane, that right will have to be found in some other passage. It’s not in Lk. 16:18.
What about Mk. 10:11-12? If we assume, for the sake of argument, that when Jesus said: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her,” He was referring to the first wife, not the second, is this the passage that will help Jill? Let’s compare this Scripture with the scenario and see.
Does this passage (either explicitly or implicitly) give anyone the right to “put away” anybody for any reason at any time? The first part of the verse tells us that if Jack divorces Jill and marries Jane he commits adultery against Jill, but that’s all it tells us; it certainly doesn’t tell us that Jill can “put away” Jack because of what he has done. The last part of the verse certainly doesn’t help Jill, because it tells us that if Jill divorces Jack and marries Jim, she commits adultery. If Jill has the right to “put away” Jack after he has married Jane, that right will have to be found in some other passage. It’s not in Mk. 10:11-12.
What about Mt. 19:9? Is this the passage that will help Jill? Let’s compare this Scripture with the scenario and see.
Does this passage (either explicitly or implicitly) give anyone the right to “put away” anybody for any reason at any time? Yes, it most certainly does!!! It gives one person the right to “put away” his mate for one reason. That one person is the one who divorces his mate (not the one who is divorced). That one reason is fornication (not any other reason). In the Jack & Jill scenario, is Jill that person? No, Jack is the one person who divorced his mate (not Jill), and he divorced her for some reason other than fornication. Therefore, according to Jesus, both Jack and Jill will commit adultery if they remarry anyone else.
Unfortunately, too many people read Mt. 19:9 as if it said: “If fornication has occurred, the innocent party may remarry, following a divorce, without committing adultery”; but that’s not what it says. It says: “…whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” It contemplates an “innocent mate” putting away a “guilty mate,” because that mate has committed fornication.
The PCDBPA advocates need another exception clause in Mt. 19:9 for their doctrine to be correct. Jesus should have said: “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery unless her first husband has already married another.” But of course, Jesus didn’t say anything like that. I wish He had, but He didn’t.
Friends, if Jill has the right to “put away” Jack after he has married Jane, that right will have to be found in some other passage. It’s not in Mt. 19:9. But “there’s the rub.” There are no other passages!!!
No Sequence In Matthew 19:9:
Some are now telling us that there is no sequence in Mt. 19:9, but there has to be a sequence in the passage.
There is a sequence if the exception clause is not applied. How can you have a mate to “put away” unless there is a marriage? How can you “marry another,” unless there has been a divorce? How can you “commit adultery,” unless you marry another? Here’s the sequence in the passage: (1) Marriage; (2) Divorce; (3) Remarriage; (4) Adultery.
There is a sequence if the exception clause is applied. How can you have a mate to “put away” unless there is a marriage? How can you “put away” your mate for fornication unless your mate has already committed fornication? How can you “marry another,” unless there has been a divorce? Here’s the sequence in the passage: (1) Marriage; (2) Fornication; (3) Divorce; (4) Remarriage.
The only reason that some have trouble seeing a sequence in Mt. 19:9 is because the sequence that is obviously there does not harmonize with their inference that the innocent party always has the right to “put away” (i.e. repudiate) the guilty fornicating mate.
Those who are defending a “post-civil-divorce-biblical putting-away” do so on the basis of an inference, but to draw this inference, they must ignore or explain away the clear and explicit statements of Jesus that “whoever marries her who is divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Lk. 16:18). And that puts the proverbial “cart before the horse.” The explicit statements of scripture must take precedence over any inferences that we might draw, and our inferences must harmonize with all of the explicit statements of scripture. My beloved brethren, you are inferring what the Bible does not imply, and it is my hope and prayer that this study will help you see that.
 “Suppose a woman innocent of any wrong doing is divorced by her ruthless husband. We know that God does not recognize such a divorce. Even though a ‘civil divorce’ has been obtained it is unscriptural and does not dissolve the marriage in God’s sight. Then suppose that the husband marries another, and thus commits adultery (Matt. 19:9). What action may be taken by the innocent wife?...Jesus in Matthew 19:9 gives every married person the right to put away their adulterous mate. When an innocent woman is divorced, this divorce is, in the sight of God ‘no divorce.’ He does not recognize it! The innocent woman is still married in God’s sight and the husband who ‘divorced’ her is still married to her in God’s sight. Their marriage has not been dissolved and as far as God is concerned she is not ‘put away’ (apoluo). When her husband remarried he committed adultery. I contend that the innocent may then ‘put away’ her husband. Reason? That is exactly what Christ said she could do!” (Emphasis added, Ken Cheatham, “Barnett-Cheatham Discussion on Divorce and Remarriage,” The Gospel Anchor, V (June 1979), 301).
“As far as God is concerned one is ‘not divorced’ except it be for fornication.” (Emphasis added, Ken Cheatham, Ibid., 299)
“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.” (Emphasis added, Marshall Patton, “Patton--Phillips Debate,” Searching The Scriptures, March 1987, Vol. 28 pp. 342-343)
“And so, in conclusion from this, we learn that an unscriptural divorce releases neither party from marriage. When you have an unscriptural divorce, as men count it, it’s not so with God. That bond is still in tact. And that little piece of paper is nothing in the sight of God. Just as well use it as Kleenex and blow your nose and drop it in the toilet. It doesn’t mean a thing to God. God’s law rules over the laws of men.” (Emphasis added, Ron Halbrook, MDR sermon preached in Wilkesville, OH, June 14, 1990)
Note: I have been accused of misinterpreting the argument made by Bro. Ken Cheatham in the quotation cited above (See Dudley Ross Spears, “A Response: The Rights of a Put Away Person,” August 1, 2003, Bible Banner Homepage [www.biblebanner.com/]). In response to Bro. Spears accusation, please let me borrow the words of the apostle Paul to say “My defense to those who examine me is this:” (1 Cor. 9:3). First, as I’m sure Bro. Spears would wholeheartedly agree, let me remind everyone that an accusation is not a conviction. The scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus of all sorts of things (cf. Mk. 2:7; 3:22; Jn. 8:48; 10:20), but no one was able to convict Him of sin (Jn. 8:46). Thus, it would be unfair for anyone to automatically assume that I have in fact misinterpreted anyone simply because I have been accused of such a “dastardly deed.” Second, let me remind everyone that beliefs and/or arguments often change over time. Please note that the quotations that I cite in this article to substantiate the “If It’s Not Right, It’s Not Real” argument were published several years ago (e.g. 1979, 1987, 1990), and that my article “The Rights Of An Innocent Put Away Person,” which Bro. Spears reviews, was originally published in the book Is It Lawful: A Comprehensive Study of Divorce in 1989. Bro. Spears asks: “Who holds to Kevin's fantasy of real and unreal divorces?” Well, it may very well be that no one holds to that “fantasy” today, but that certainly does not prove that such has not been the case in the past. Third, Bro. Cheatham’s quotation (and others that I cite in this article) speak for themselves. Please re-read those quotations and pay particular attention to those portions that I have highlighted in bold type. Now, let me ask you, when men say things like that, is it reasonable for anyone to conclude that they meant anything other than “If it’s not right, it’s not real”? Bro. Spears wants to know what “real” means. The American Heritage Dictionary says it means “1. Being or occurring in fact or actuality; having verifiable existence…. 2. True and actual; not illusory or fictitious…. 3. Genuine and authentic; not artificial or spurious…. 4. Philosophy. Existing actually and objectively….” That’s what I mean by “real.” Now then, when Bro. Cheatham tells us that following an unscriptural civil divorce [THAT MEANS IT’S NOT RIGHT], a couple are “still married” and the innocent woman “is not put away” [THAT MEANS IT’S NOT REAL], why would anyone accuse me of misinterpreting him? Fourth, Bro. Spears in essence accuses me of putting words in Bro. Cheatham’s mouth, but may I say as kindly and yet as candidly as I know how. “Bro. Spears, Thou art the man!” Bro. Spears tells us that “nothing was said about the reality or actuality of the divorce. Rather, the [Cheatham] quote affirms that a sinful divorce is not recognized or approved by God and has no effect on the marriage bond.” But Bro. Cheatham did not say anything about the “marriage bond,” and he did not say that God does not “approve” of an unscriptural divorce. He said God does not “recognize” it. While those words might be roughly synonymous in certain contexts, they do not basically mean the same thing. The American Heritage Dictionary gives three definitions for the word “approve”: “1. To regard favorably; commend by word or action; consider right or good. 2. To confirm or consent to officially; to sanction; ratify. 3. Obsolete. To prove or demonstrate.” It gives eight different definitions for the word “recognize”: “1. To know or be aware that something perceived has been perceived before…. 2. To know or identify from past experience or knowledge…. 3. To perceive or acknowledge the validity or reality of…. 4. To acknowledge as a speaker. 5. To acknowledge or accept the national status of as a new government. 6. To acknowledge, approve of, or appreciate…. 7. To admit the acquaintance of, as by salutation. 8. Law. To enter into a recognizance.” [Note: The pertinent definitions of both words are highlighted in bold type] When Bro. Cheatham said that God does not “recognize” an unscriptural divorce, what did he mean? Please read the quotation again. Isn’t it obvious from the context that when Bro. Cheatham used the word “recognize” he was using definition #3, not definition #6? Well, I have presented my defense, and I will leave it to my readers to render a judgment.
 “The only reason why this remarriage can be regarded as adulterous is that the first marriage is still in God’s sight regarded as inviolate. Illegitimate divorce does not dissolve the marriage bond and consequently the fact of such divorce does not relieve the parties concerned from any of the obligations incident to marriage. They are still in reality bound to one another in the bonds of matrimony and a marital relation or any exercise of the privileges and rights of the marital relation with any other is adultery’ (Murray, 25). God, not a civil court or the couple involved, has the final say about marriage and divorce. A marriage is not over until He says it’s over….” (Emphasis added, Kenneth Chumbley, The Gospel Of Matthew, 105)
“The passage [Mt. 19:9] explains which divorces and remarriages God will accept as valid under the terms of his law and which He will not accept. If a person sinfully and wrongfully rejects or puts away his mate, his action is a farce so far as changing the obligations he has to that mate under God's law. In terms of God's law, the man is still bound to his mate so long as he lives. If he has unlawful sexual relations with another (whether before or after he wrongfully puts away his true mate), his true mate has scriptural grounds to reject or put him away. …if he commits adultery (before or after his action in the courts of man), there is something else to be said by divine law…” (Emphasis added, Ron Halbrook, “Notes and Thoughts For Further Study,” 1986)
“Next, a man may have enough regard for social convention that he will not go to bed with the ‘cute little thing’ he wants rather than his wife; therefore, he may divorce his wife, then marry the ‘cute little thing,’ thus going to the bed of adultery. Once again, the original marriage bond stays intact under divine law until he commits adultery against his wife; his legal steps do not dissolve the bond put in place when God joined them together (Matt. 19:9). Since his true wife remains faithful to the marriage bond, she & she alone has the right to repudiate the marriage under divine law. She may scripturally do so even when she is not able to do so legally because of legal steps taken by the treacherous husband.” (Emphasis added, Ron Halbrook, E-mail Letter, Feb. 1998)
 See Maurice Barnett, “Mark 10:11-12,” and “Mark 10:11-12 Revisited” in Gospel Truths or at www.mentaldivorce.com for detailed argumentation that the phrase “against her” refers to the second wife, not the first