Bible Matters Exchange Between Tim Haile and Jeff Belknap

On 7-10-02 brother Tim Haile posted an article from his website entitled: Some Brethren Are Turning Matthew 19:9 On Its Head.

In this article, brother Haile made the following slanderous statement:

This new position on divorce allows a fornicator to remarry as long as his spouse is also sexually immoral!  In other words, some are taking a position on Matthew 19:9, that in cases of double infidelity; the fornicator who wins the civil divorce actually has the God-given right to remarry!...In their zeal to defend their new divorce position that emphasizes procedure over purpose; method over motive, brethren like Jeff Belknap (and four other brethren are named; jhb), have formulated a doctrine that allows fornicators to remarry, while denying that right to the innocent! Their doctrine directly contradicts our Lord's teaching” (emp. his).

The very next morning (7-11-02) following brother Haile’s post, brother David Riggs (moderator of Bible Matters) sent out a letter to all the list members, which included the following statement:

“Tim Haile said in his recent post to Bible Matters: ‘In their zeal to defend their new divorce position that emphasizes procedure over purpose; method over motive, brethren like Jeff Belknap, Fred Seavers, David McKee, Terence Sheridan, and Pat Donahue have formulated a doctrine that allows fornicators to remarry, while denying that right to the innocent!’


Thus, as moderator of Bible Matters, in accord with the rules, for the next ten days, day by day, I am allowing any of those mentioned by Tim Haile to respond to his comments, and day by day, he will be allowed to respond to their comments.”


Thus, the exchange started.  The next day (7-12-02), I posted the following to Bible Matters:

----- Original Message -----

From: J Belknap
Bible Matters
Friday, July 12, 2002 9:32 AM
Reply To Brother Haile Part 1

Dear brethren, Jeff Belknap wishing everyone a good day.

In regards to brother Tim Haile’s article (posted to Bible Matters yesterday), I sure would like to see the documentation which proves that I have:

“formulated a doctrine that allows fornicators to remarry.”

Contrariwise, even Tim himself acknowledged and stated in his lesson on “Biblical ‘Putting Away’” [Clarkesville, TN (2-12-02)] that I do not believe in such:

“I’m going to have to qualify this:  I got interested in ah, probing certain aspects of this particular question on procedure versus ah, cause.  And so I sent a letter out to several brethren asking them questions about how much do you emphasize the procedure over the cause.  The method over the motive.  And I got a response from one fellow, Jeff Belknap wrote back and he said that, no now, in case of – my question was – in cases where both people are guilty of fornication, both the husband and the wife commit fornication.  I said, do you believe that in cases like that, that the one who wins the civil divorcement would have a right to remarry?  Belknap said 'no,' and he said 'I think brother McKee would agree with me.’  ‘No,’ the, ‘neither one would have the right to remarry.’  And I said, ‘good, that’s exactly what I believe.  Neither one would have the right to remarry.’”

Brother Haile offers no quotes to prove that I have changed my teaching or beliefs on this matter since he revealed my response to his question in the lesson above.  Hence, I have proven with brother Haile's own words that such an accusation is slanderous. 

Brother Haile derisively names several men for their belief that it is possible for an innocent person to be really (unlawfully) put away (and without hope of future lawful remarriage)when someone who is guilty of fornication puts them away through ungodly civil courts.  But among Tim's list of those who turn Matthew 19:9 upside-down with their condemnation of post-civil-divorce putting away, he conspicuously leaves out a man whom brother Haile states is still his good friend.  Please note brother Gene Frost's teaching about a man who unlawfully puts away his wife, even when he has fornicated BEFORE the divorce.  The quote is taken from brother Frost’s series, Mental Marriages & Divorce (posted 6-6-01 on Gospel Anchor), “Marriage Divorce and Remarriage and The Innocent.”         

            “I have been asked to address the situation in which an unlawful mate (guilty of fornication) files for divorce from his wife. Specifically what are her options?” 

            “Note that God's stated rule (or principle, or procedure, to use synonyms) is: No one has the right to remarry following divorce, except the one who puts away a mate guilty of fornication and for this cause. All who marry one who is put away commit adultery.”

            “What is [sic] are the options of one who is innocent at the time when her mate, guilty of fornication, files for divorce?  First, if a mate is guilty of fornication and files for divorce, the innocent mate has the choice to either put the guilty mate away, under the same petition for divorce, or be one who is put away with the attendant consequence.”

            “To establish their reason for divorce, neither can look beyond the time when the court grants the divorce....The one who respects God's marriage law (Genesis 2:24) will establish the fact of his/her cause. Prior to the divorce, he will establish the cause. Prior to the divorce, he/she will make the cause a matter of record. Just as one could inquire as to when and where two were married, the marriage being validated as a matter of record, even so he could determine when, where, and why a divorced was obtained.”

            “...when we begin to question what constitutes fairness, and assume thereby that, since God is fair, He will do even as we conclude is appropriate, we subtly, and perhaps unwittingly, leave the area of authority and enter the realm of emotion. And when emotion dictates what God's will is instead of revelation, we are in trouble.”

            “Does 'God mean' for every innocent person unjustly put away to have a right to remarry? Whereas there may be some very persuasive emotional arguments made, we need to content ourselves what God says. I have always understood God to say what He means. So, what does He say about the women put away, obviously unjustly put away? Here it is:  ‘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).” 

Will Tim paint brother Frost with the same brush as those others who teach the same?  Or is he exempt from the same derision because he is a friend?

Moreover, it is a diversion from the real issue. 

I wrote and posted the following article to my website ( ) a few months ago, but have revised it today, to answer brother Haile.  It goes to the heart of our disagreement, and it has nothing to do with procedure

In it, you will find a request for scriptural proof of the foundational presupposition underlying these brethren’s erroneous doctrine - the assumption that if one is put away unscripturally, he is not really put away.  To this day, that request remains unanswered with a book, chapter and verse (I Pet. 4:11).

It’s Not About Apoluo and Procedure

(Revised 7-11-02)

By Jeff Belknap

Recently, brethren have made a big to-do about how the Greek word “apoluo” (which is translated “put away”/“divorce”) does not necessarily involve civil procedure.  I’m not saying that it is unimportant to study the biblical meaning of such words, for it is important.  However, when the meaning of a word (that was clearly understood in the past and which was consistent with its usage in other biblical texts) is later questioned in order to justify a teaching that renders Jesus’ words of none effect, I take exception.

In the context of an unscriptural putting away against an innocent mate (one whom no fault is recorded against in Mt. 5:32; 19:9 and Lk. 16:18), Jesus said “and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”  Obviously, from these texts, we can clearly see that there is some point at which an innocent person in such a case becomes what Jesus called “put away” unscripturally.  There is some point at which an innocent victim’s potential for lawful marriage is prohibited by the law of the Lord (Mt. 5:32; 19:9 and Lk. 16:18).  

Since different divorce procedures are in question at this time, how can we know which is the one that actually accomplishes the task of making the innocent one a “put away” person - and therefore ineligible to remarry without fornication? (Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Lk. 16:18; cf. II Cor. 11:3). 

Well, we could use some brethren’s definition of “apoluo” which may not (or may) include a civil procedure.  (They contend that when “apoluo” is translated as “divorce” or “put away,” it does not necessarily involve a civil procedure.)  If this definition is used consistently, then the innocent wife was (what Jesus described as) “put away” at the point when her mate informed her of his intentions and left the house.  Notice how brother Tim Haile says we can “divorce:”

 “Having defined my terms, if I decide today to break my marriage with my wife, I have the power to do so, and so does she.  I could accomplish such by simply leaving her and never coming back, or I could divorce her through legal channels…” (emp. jhb) Tim Haile, [“Putting Away The Myths About “Putting Away’” (Posted on Bible Banner 3-15-‘02)] 

Or, we could stick with the more generous definition that brethren have understood for years, as being the point at which finalization of a divorce makes an innocent one “put away” (as Jesus described them).  At least, this previously well-understood definition of civil divorce allows more time for an innocent person to take the necessary action to put away a fornicating spouse, if such a condition exists prior to the divorce.  [Tim also allows for a post-civil-divorce putting away when fornication is committed AFTER the civil divorce (documentation provided on my website under “Revealing Quotes”.)]  The finalization of a civil divorce is simply the last act in the process of repudiation (“putting out of the house,” etc.), which confirms that a divorce has taken place.  At this point, there is nothing more that one can do to “put away,” for the act has been ratified. 

Brethren contending for the definition of “apoluo” that does not involve civil authorities accuse brethren who understand it as involving civil law of binding a procedure where none is specified.  They do so in defense of their teaching which allows some people who are civilly put away to employ another procedure which is said to later “put away” their spouse for the cause of fornication.  

However, if their disagreement is really only over procedure (as they imply), then they would agree that the innocent spouse was put away – not at the time of civil divorce, but before it - since all those who have been civilly put away were first repudiated.   

After brother Tim Haile’s “Biblical ‘Putting Away’” lesson at Clarkesville, TN (2-12-02), during the question / answer session he stated: 

“However, when I go that courthouse, what is done there is in addition to apoluo.  Does everybody see that?  What I do at the courthouse is beside, in addition to, and other than what I do in satisfying the requirements of the word apoluo.  That’s my position on that” (emp. jhb).

Think about that, brethren.  If Tim (and others) are right (about civil law not being the determinant in divorce against an innocent party, but that a repudiation is the act which ratifies a divorce), it wouldn’t even matter if a mate had not “filed” for -much less finalized - the divorce before they left their spouse.  Consistent application of their reasoning about procedure would dictate that if a man simply told his wife “I divorce you” and walked out the door, his wife would be put away and thus devoid of any hope to scripturally put him away - even if he told her that he was having an affair on his way out.  

These brethren’s own argument (that simple repudiation can really achieve a “putting away”) becomes a two-edged sword which would (at the very moment of the ungodly spouse’s departure) actually preclude the innocent from putting away – even in a case where scriptural cause was present!   

However, since it is obvious that the aim of their contention is to promote greater, not lesser rights for the innocent put away party, we can safely conclude that the procedure is not their real issue of contention.  

The genuine issue of controversy stems from the unwillingness of some brethren to accept the fact that an innocent person can be what Jesus called “put away” (and thus, necessarily subject to His pronouncement that any remarriage to another after becoming such, would result in adultery).  This is where the teaching of some brothers (such as Harry Osborne and Tim Haile) intersects with the teaching of brother Ron Halbrook. 

The underlying basis for their doctrine results from their belief that in some cases, a person cannot be what Jesus called “apoluo” (put away) and is therefore not amenable to Jesus’ declaration in Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b and Luke 16:18b.  (This fact is also confirmed by these brothers’ objection to labeling their doctrine as advocating a “second putting away,” even when it clearly advocates a post-civil-divorce-putting-away.) 

In Tim’s lesson at Clarkesville, TN (2-12-02), he contended: 

Every time you see the word ‘apoluo’ used in the New Testament, somebody, one party had the power or right to loose or to act for or against, or sometimes on behalf of another partyEvery time!  Better get all that Terry, ‘cause brother Belknap might not be happy.  In each case, one party had the power or right to act for or against the other party.  Friends, it’s that way every timeYou won’t find an exception to it” (emp. jhb).

Such a trumped-up contention is instantly and decisively disproved by simply reading Jesus’ teaching in Luke 16:18.  In this text, adultery is not a factor until after the divorcement.  This means that the action in the first half of the verse was indisputably accomplished with NOright to loose or to act for or against, or sometimes on behalf of another party,” even though we clearly “see the word ‘apoluo’” used to describe that action in this context.  The resulting state of “apoluo” in the last half of that verse is solely based on the un-“right”ful (wrongful) apoluo action of the man in the first half of the verse. 

As we can see, whether or not one has the right to put away or not has no bearing on the resultant state of the one being put away.  Whether the putting away (“apoluo”) is done with or without divine authority, the result is that the other spouse becomes put away (“apoluo”).  And for the one who is put away, that consequential state (“apoluo”) is the sole criterion upon which their inability to remarry lawfully is based.  Tim (and his associates) can deny this truth from Jesus’ very own lips all they want, but God's word stands.

Scripture only indicates that the presence of fornication (before the fact of divorcement) is a mitigating factor to the one who puts away [“apoluo”(s)].  The presence (or absence) of fornication is of no consequence to the one who was put away (“apoluo”).  The only parts of Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18 that are applicable to one who has become “apoluo” (through the “apoluo” action of their spouse) are the last halves of those verses which state:  “…whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery,” “…whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery,” and “…whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” 

Through brothers Haile, Osborne, and Halbrook’s denial that such a person has really been put away, they can conveniently exempt her from the prohibitions placed upon the put away, and slip her into the first halves of these verses, where, given the right future circumstances, she can do what the Lord said the put away cannot do without committing adultery.

However, again, such is beside the point.  In brother Haile’s - and others’ - attempt to divert the issue, these brethren repeatedly claim that the burden of proof is upon those of us who say that in this country, civil law is what finalizes a divorce.  No brethren, they are the ones who have the burden of proofFirst they must establish their presupposition that - in some circumstances - when a mate perpetrates the act that Jesus called “put away,” (“apoluo,” Mt. 5:32a; 19:9a; Lk. 16:18a), the one they perpetrated it against is not what Jesus then called “put away” (“apoluo,” Mt. 5:32b; 19:9b; Lk. 16:18b).

Only when they have first borne that burden of proof does a discussion about what that procedure is, become relevant.

Reply To Tim Haile Part 2 (Bible Matters, 7-12-02)

Dear brethren, Jeff Belknap wishing everyone a good day.

This is one of two articles recently posted on my Mental Divorce website at:



Mt. 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.”

Mt. 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.”

Lk. 16:18, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”



The following is a modification of a portion of Tim's article, with my own words in red:

Notice carefully that all I did to the verse was what some brethren affirm is right to do.  I simply substituted the word innocent put away person for the word “whoever.”  This substitution of terms quickly reveals the folly and fallacy of my opponents’ position.  A quick glance at the verse containing the substitution of words makes it very obvious that Jesus never intended for us to read “innocent put away person into the verse at that place.  Man’s substitution has Jesus allowing the very thing that He was condemning! This new position on divorce allows a put away person to put away as long as his spouse becomes sexually immoral!  In other words, some are taking a position on Matthew 19:9, that in cases of post-civil-divorce putting away; the put away person actually has the God-given right to remarry! Whether brethren understand the consequences of their argument or not, the fact remains: it is still the consequence of their position! They have turned Matthew 19:9 on its head! They have Jesus granting remarriage rights to put away people, while denying that they are really put away!  It is unbelievable that any among God’s people would, for one minute, entertain such a notion.  However, it is being done, and some of these brethren are touting themselves as the champions of truth against an insignificant number of what they consider “digressive” opponents.

In their zeal to defend their new divorce position that emphasizes purpose over reality; motive over method, brethren like Tim Haile, Harry Osborne, Ron Halbrook, et al, have formulated a doctrine that allows put away people to later put away and remarry, while denying civil laws and the fact that they are really put away! Their doctrine directly contradicts our Lord’s teaching. It is my hope and prayer that truth-loving brethren will seriously consider the consequences of this new heresy and rise up as one man against it.

Proverbs 26:27,  “…and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.”

Tim posted this rejoinder to my response above, on 7-13-02:

----- Original Message -----

From: Tim Haile
Bible Matters
Saturday, July 13, 2002 6:42 PM
Response to Belknap 

A Response to brother Belknap's Reply

By Tim Haile

In his response to my article, "Turning Matthew 19:9 Upside Down," Jeff Belknap made the claim that I had contradicted myself. Had Jeff read carefully he would see that I am not the one who is inconsistent. Jeff has contradicted himself. In my article, I do not charge Jeff with accepting the logical consequence of his position. I only pointed out what that consequence was! Jeff can be inconsistent if he chooses to be. In my Clarksville speech, as Jeff observed, I acknowledged that Jeff does not go as far as others have gone with their position. He claims not to allow marital rights to fornicators who win the civil contest against a fellow unfaithful mate. In my recent article, I merely pointed out that if he will honestly evaluate his own arguments, Jeff will see that he is forced to that position. There is a difference in pointing out the consequences of one's position and charging him with actually taking that position. In fact, Jeff appeared to have recognized that distinction early in his response. He said, "I sure would like to see the documentation which proves that I have ‘formulated a doctrine that allows fornicators to remarry." With this request Jeff reveals his understanding that I was pointing to the consequence of his position. I was not charging him with accepting that consequence. Of course, Jeff quickly forgot what he had said and turned right around and charged me with slander. Either Jeff Belknap needs to read more carefully, or he needs to learn the rules of honest discussion. As for me, I recognize the difference between pointing out the consequences of one’s position and charging him with the position.

For the record, not even the slightest attempt was made by Jeff to answer my argument regarding Matthew 19:9. I will assume, therefore, that Jeff has no answer to the argument. He knows full well that if he doesn’t use Matthew 5:32, 19:9, Luke 16:18, or Mark 10:11-12 to support his theory that God grants fornicators putting away rights against the innocent party, then he has no passage at all. Rather than cite a passage and make a reasoned effort to respond to my argument, Jeff did what he usually does and shifted the issue to Gene Frost. I fail to see how quoting other men, helps him to answer Bible arguments. It appears to me that Jeff and I have completely different views of religious authority. In the realm of those things that pertain to God (Rom. 15:17), "I dare not speak" anything but the "oracles of God" (1 Pet. 4:11). I use the Bible. Jeff places much emphasis on human writings, traditions, customs, procedures and his own personal opinions. Sadly, I am fearful that his approach to authority will continue to present a problem that will prevent us from being able to engage in productive discourse, but we shall see.

So, Jeff faces a huge problem. If he doesn't rely upon Matthew 5:32a, Matthew 19:9a, or Luke 16:18 for his authority for fornicators to nullify the marital rights of their innocent mates by putting them away, then what other passage will he use to prove his argument! However, if he does rely upon Matthew 5:32a, Matthew 19:9a, or Luke 16:18, he is forced to the position that in cases of double infidelity, the fornicator who wins the civil case is free to remarry! He may tell us that he doesn’t believe this, and he may get mad at those of us who draw attention to this consequence, but it is the logical end of his position.

Jeff Belknap tried to adapt my article to make it his own. I was flattered that he felt comfortable using my words and thoughts to articulate his view, but trying to mix Jeff's illogical conclusions with my sentence and paragraph structures is like trying to mix oil with water. It won't work. Jeff attempted to represent my position by substituting "the innocent put away person" for the "whoever" of Matthew 19:9a. In my article I substituted the fornicator for the "whoever," because this is what Jeff’s position must do in order to create his scenario of an innocent party losing marital rights as a result of being civilly divorced by his fornicating mate. However, Jeff’s substitution will only work if he first redefines "putting away" as what happens in human courts. In fact, Jeff had to make three substitutions in his attempt to answer me. First, he had to arbitrarily define "putting away" as modern civil divorce procedure, thus substituting court procedure for biblical putting away. Then he substituted the "put away" woman for the "putting away" man. Jeff is very scrupulous when it comes to enforcing details of his own views, but he is very inattentive when it comes to the details of God’s holy book. In the Lord’s scenario in Matthew 19:9, you cannot substitute the "put away woman" for the "whoever," for Jesus spoke of a "man" putting away his "wife." Jeff’s position gets worse every time he sits down at his computer. He now has a "put away" woman putting away another woman! This proves that he has left the natural flow of the passage and is accommodating it to fit his preconceived notions. Jeff's new divorce position has God joining two women in a marriage bond! Perhaps Jeff should leave the substituting to me. He doesn't do too well at it! Finally, Jeff substituted the spouse of an innocent mate for the spouse of a fornicating mate. Jeff has to make three substitutions in order to make it appear that he has answered me. These 3 substitutions are necessary in order for Jeff to falsely represent me of allowing two putting aways. Of course, I flatly deny that fornicators have putting away rights against their innocent mates. This is the real issue between us. Jeff Belknap and his allies have no reluctance to bind a view on the rest of us on the basis of the silence of the scriptures. I absolutely refuse to grant fornicators powers that God never gave them!

Jeff Belknap repeatedly makes two basic mistakes:

1). He equates civil courthouse action with biblical putting away. They are not the same thing, and no Bible passage can be produced proving they are.

2). He refuses to acknowledge the difference between divorce scenarios involving fornication and those that don't. The "whoever" of Matthew 19:9a is not the woman of Matthew 19:9b. The woman without the right of remarriage in the divorce passages is not the innocent spouse of a guilty fornicator: she is either the guilty spouse of an innocent mate (exception activated), or she is the innocent spouse of an innocent mate (no exception).

The remarriages that are prohibited by Matthew 5:32, 19:9, Mark 10:11-12, and Luke 16:18 are not prohibited on the basis of some particular procedure being used by fornicators against their innocent mates: They are prohibited on the basis of the absence of any putting away cause. When Jeff Belknap and others argue on the basis of Luke 16:18 that "no civilly divorced" person can remarry, they oversimplify the Lord’s words to the point of error. In Luke 16:18 Jesus was not discussing fornicators’ actions against their innocent mates. He was discussing divorces without the cause of fornication! Jeff Belknap puts fornicators in the verse when there were none! Luke 16:18 does not involve fornication. In the absence of fornication, NO ONE MAY RIGHTLY REMARRY! Yes, it is true that "whoever marries her that is put away commits adultery," buy why? Because no fornication had been committed! Belknap and those of his persuasion make a simple, but sinful mistake. They ignore what Jesus said, fabricate what they need to, and bind on others what God did not bind. They need to quit this and start speaking where the Bible speaks.

Tim Haile

Tim Haile
7693 Russellville Rd
Bowling Green, KY 42101
{270} 842-5354

My response to Tim and the list, posted 7-22-02:

----- Original Message -----

From: J Belknap
Bible Matters
Monday, July 22, 2002 8:54 PM
Rejoinder To Tim Haile's Reply of July 13 2002

Dear brethren,

Jeff Belknap here with a rejoinder to Tim Haile’s reply of 7/13/02.

My response to Tim Haile’s reply will not respond to every false charge, misrepresentation and diversion individually.  There is not enough time to devote to such an endeavor, if I am to abide by the 10 day timeframe that brother Riggs graciously allotted.  [I would have responded sooner had I been capable of receiving list mail while on my trip, but such was not possible while I was out of state and I just returned Saturday evening.]

First of all, brother Haile makes the charge that I rely on human writings to answer Bible arguments.  Such a charge is patently false, as my writings are filled with scripture, and even the human writing that I include in my own writings appeal to scripture for the teaching in them.

For those who have read my own writings, it is clear that the reason I include quotes from brother Gene Frost is to disprove brother Haile’s (and some other brethren’s) false claim that in this controversy, I am the one teaching something “new.”  Brother Frost’s writings on this issue have been widely respected for many years by sound brethren for their scriptural accuracy.  My purpose in quoting brother Frost was evident in my question that followed his quote.  I asked, “Will Tim paint brother Frost with the same brush as those others who teach the same?  Or is he exempt from the same derision because he is a friend?”

No, it is brother Haile and his associates that have no “old” human writings to refer to, to show that their doctrine has been supported by scripture and/or accepted by sound brethren.  [When this fallacious doctrine was previously advocated in Searching the Scriptures (in the mid 1980’s), it was promptly silenced.] 

In brother Haile’s initial post, I did not realize that he was looking for an answer to his argument (that my position supposedly allows the divorcing fornicator to put away his fornicating spouse and “scripturally remarry another”).  I was responding to his erroneous implication that I would actually approve of something that I had specifically denied to him earlier.  I had considered an answer to his argument self-evident and unnecessary.  However, I will detail the reason why brother Haile’s purported “logical end” of my “position” is not logical at all

Although Jesus used the word “whosever” in clause A and “whoso” in clause B of Matthew 19:9, there are some other conditions and circumstances (all clearly specified and outlined elsewhere in scripture) which qualify those words.  We must harmonize scripture with scripture. 

When Jesus was tempted of the devil, the evil one quoted Psalm 91:11-12 in Matthew 4:6.  Though Satan quoted the verse accurately, he tried to pigeon hole Christ into disobedience to God’s will by the misapplication of those verses.  Jesus showed the fallacy of the devil’s erroneous application by harmonizing Psalm 91:11-12 with Deuteronomy 6:16 (cp. w. Psa. 119:160a, NASV; NKJV).

Another illustration is found in Luke 6:30.  Jesus commanded in His sermon, “Give to EVERY MAN that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.” Is this to be understood across the board?  Though the scripture says we should “give to every man, that asketh…,” such a command cannot include those who refuse to work and those who seek assistance in their dissemination of false doctrine, for such would contradict the truths taught in II Thess. 3:10 and II Jn. 9-11. 

[If the Lord is willing, I will post numerous helpful charts regarding a Biblical figure of speech called “synecdoche.”  In such instances where synecdoche is used in the Bible, universal language does not always denote ALL particulars (when other verses would contradict).]

Now, regarding divorce and remarriage:

“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 19:9 

First, although the word “whoso” is found in clause B of the above, we know that I Corinthians 7:11 allows an unlawfully divorced couple to reconcile and remarry (one another).  Thus, we can be certain that the “whoso” referred to in Matthew 19:9 does not include the estranged (bound) partner.  Additionally, Romans 7:2-3 specifies that future remarriage after an estranged (bound) partner dies is lawful.  Such verses specifically qualify God’s teaching about divorce and remarriage in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. 

Similarly, we must conclude that in clause A of above, the “whosoever” cannot be all-encompassing.  As Tim knows and has previously acknowledged, I vehemently DENY that Jesus was including the possibility of a guilty fornicator to lawfully put away a fornicator and then lawfully remarry.  To contend that such a “consequence” is necessary to the argument against post-civil-divorce putting away manifests a deficit in Biblical knowledge (especially in someone who is a professed preacher of the gospel).

In no uncertain terms, the scriptures condemn the principle of “the pot calling the kettle black.”  In the parable of the unmerciful servant (Mt. 18:23-34), the Lord was outraged at the hypocrisy and wickedness of the man who sought “justice” when he was “guilty” of the same thing. 

In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus prohibited ALL hypocritical judgment! “JUDGE NOT, THAT YE BE NOT JUDGED. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?...Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”  (The unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 had his hypocrisy “measured” back to him, just as this scripture teaches.)

In Jn. 8, a woman who had been caught “in the very act” (v. 4) of adultery was brought to Jesus.  However, Jesus knew that adultery takes two (and the woman’s partner was conspicuously absent).  Those who brought her to Jesus wanted to stone her according to “the law” (v. 5; cf. Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22), but Jesus stated, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (v. 7).  It was apparent that these men were guilty of hypocritical judgment, for if their desire was really to carry out the law against adulterers, they would have brought two to stone, not just one (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). 

In Rom. 2:22-23 Paul wrote: “Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? 23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God?

Obviously, if all that is considered are the words in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, a fornicating spouse who puts away a fornicating mate may meet the technical scriptural putting away requirements in those verses, but his own guilt for the same sin would make his action in divorcing her hypocritical and thus, unscriptural (according to the truth taught in Mt. 7; Mt. 18; Jn. 8; Rom. 2; et al.).  Such a hypocritically sinful divorce action lacks God’s approval (as proven in the passages above), and therefore, remarriage to another could not be employed without further compounding the first sin of unapproved divorce. 

Now, let’s compare the above scriptural and proven exceptions to the “whosoever” rule with brother Haile’s teaching.  From his writing, it is apparent that he believes there is NO PROCEDURE OF ANY KIND that is capable of truly putting away one who “remains true to the ‘marriage bond.’”

According to brother Haile’s position, the person who is put away in Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18 who remains “true to the ‘marriage bond’” is not really put away, and thus, is not necessarily amenable to Lord’s statement that “whoever marries her who is put away commits adultery.”  Never mind that there is no scripture (anywhere) that supports such an exception for the put away.  As I stated above, there are exceptions to universal language in the Bible, but only when such qualifications are plainly revealed in scripture.

I have produced scriptural proof to show why a fornicator who puts away and remarries another is not included in the “whosoever” of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. 

Contrariwise, I have seen NO scriptural proof to support brother Haile’s underlying contention that the one who “remains true to the ‘marriage bond’” cannot be put away BY ANY PROCEDURE.  Will he produce it?  Let’s make a mental note here and now, to check his future writings for scriptural proof of his exception to the biblical rule that “whoso marrieth her that is divorced doth commit adultery.”   

In my last reply to him, I proved the fallacy and untruthfulness of his following attempt to support such an erroneous premise:

 “Every time you see the word ‘apoluo’ used in the New Testament, somebody, one party had the power or right to loose or to act for or against, or sometimes on behalf of another partyEvery time!” (emp. jhb).  [Tim Haile, Clarkesville, TN (2-12-02)] 

Such a ridiculously bold statement is effortlessly disproved by simply reading Luke 16:18a, which uses the word “apoluo” to describe a divorce that was undeniably perpetrated without the scriptural “right” to do so.  That same word (“apoluo”) is used to describe the state of the one who was “put away,” along with the charge that one who marries her commits adultery.

Lk. 16:18, “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.”






Puts Away His Wife

And Marries Another
Commits Adultery




Marries Her
That is Put Away
Commits Adultery

The above illustration proves that when one enacts an unlawful divorce, the result is that the person he “puts away,” “is put away.”  As we can see, whether or not one has the right to put away or not has no bearing on the resultant state of the one being put away. 

Whether the putting away (“apoluo”) is done with or without divine authority, the result is that the other spouse becomes put away (“apoluo”).  And for the one who is put away, that consequential state (“apoluo”) is the sole criterion upon which their inability to lawfully remarry is based.

Since the only right of remarriage to another is specifically given to the one who puts away – for the cause of fornication, it is an invasion of the silence of scripture to apply this right to the person who is put away.

Now that I have responded to Tim’s request, I hope that he will answer my request for scriptural proof of his position that it is not possible for a person who “remains true to the ‘marriage bond’” to be “put away” BY ANY PROCEDURE.

Because he believes that there is no way for one who “remains true to the ‘marriage bond’” to be really put away, discussion about civil procedure is not even germane to our disagreement.  [Even if I agreed with him that the APOLUO procedure involved no more than a repudiation, (as he affirms), we would still disagree - for he contends that even this definition of the word does not put away the unwilling, innocent spouse either.]  

If brother Haile cannot (or will not even try to) prove (with scripture) that it is impossible for a person who “remains true to the ‘marriage bond’” to really be put away, then it is apparent that the whole foundation upon which his post-civil-divorce putting away doctrine is built, is nothing but sand

However, if he believes he can prove such a contention with scripture, I’d be glad to see it and respond.  That is where the focus of our discussion needs to be, if we are to have a productive exchange.

From the very top of my web site (which Tim denigrates), its aim is clearly to examine the doctrine of Ron Halbrook, which allows a post civil divorce putting away when fornication is not committed until after a civil divorce.  Brothers Haile and Osborne have consistently sought to steer the discussion away from brother Halbrook’s “application” – to a situation in which fornication is committed prior to the civil divorce.  There is no way they can convince me that I am in error when they won’t even discuss the concerns that my website addresses.

Let’s have an honest effort to discuss the real issue so we can get somewhere.  I have answered brother Haile’s diversionary discussions.  Let’s see whether they will actually answer some of my genuine concerns, or whether they will continue with diversionary tactics, while avoiding the real subject matter.

“…But I really don’t want to get into any questions, in fact I won’t answer any questions today, about fornication committed after the break up.  I just won’t do that.” Tim Haile [Question/Answer Session (2-12-02) after his lesson on “Biblical ‘Putting Away’” during the All Day Bible Study; The Warfield Blvd. church of Christ, Clarksville, Tennessee].

(Brother Haile continues to avoid the real issue, and has not responded.)

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