God’s Law To
By Jeff Belknap
It never ceases to amaze me how far men will go to “prove” a fallacious position. Hence, explanation of the obvious has become necessary. It is just plain common sense that once a marriage has been sundered (separated), it cannot be sundered a second time (unless there has been a preceding reconciliation)! But alas, there are those who are telling us that a separated marriage can be sundered a second time by the put away “innocent party” when the perpetrator of the unlawful divorce commits post-divorce fornication.
However, God has revealed His law for both those who put away (necessarily implying the existence of a marriage to sunder) and for those who are put away (i.e. the “unmarried,” necessarily implying marital nonexistence). Again, I marvel at those who are unable (or unwilling) to ascertain the difference between the two.
Although the Lord’s exception did authorize a sundering in Matthew 19:9a, it is indisputably a sundering of the marriage, not the bond! Nowhere does the Bible teach that man has the ability to “put away” the bond, but it does teach that a person has the ability to put away their marriage partner! When a putting away takes place (sundering the physical relationship), God either looses the bond or He does not, depending upon the reason for the putting away.
In I Corinthians 7:10-11, Paul makes known unto us the Master’s commands, both “unto the married” and to the “unmarried.” The apostle says, “And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart (chorizo) from her husband: But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife” (emp. jhb). The RULE: “Let not the wife depart from her husband,” and “let not the husband put away his wife” is equivalent to the Lord’s stated decree in Matthew 19:6 and Mark 10:9. One is not to break up his/her marriage, nor to marry another after an unlawful divorce!
When the Pharisees came tempting Jesus, and asked their first divorce question, “Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?” (Matthew 19:3), it was clearly understood that this inquiry pertained to the context of those who were married (not those who were “unmarried”)!
Moreover, the regulation that Jesus commanded went back to the beginning (Matthew 19:4-5) and He stated: “Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (emp. jhb, Matthew 19:6). The charge against putting away was solely referring to the physical marriage - NOT the spiritual BOND. This is proven by the fact that if the lawful cause were present (the only condition upon which God will terminate the bond), then Jesus would not have forbidden its sundering!
There were no post-unlawful-divorce “putting away” imaginings back in the beginning. In the tenth chapter of Mark’s gospel account, we read Matthew 19’s parallel passage. In Mark 10:6-9 Jesus said, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (emp. jhb). Notice that God’s decree regarding the sundering of the “one flesh” physical relationship, makes no “application” to those who have become “twain” again (two separate individuals). In Matthew 19:6 (cf. Mark 10:9), the Lord’s COMMAND not to separate is obviously directed “UNto the married” and NOT to the “UNMARRIED” (cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11)!
As we continue our reading in Matthew 19, when the Pharisees asked their second question in verse 7, Jesus repeated His LAW along with an exception to that rule. “They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?”
Again, Jesus went back to the beginning (Matthew 19:8) to reveal God’s law, and included the one exception to that rule in verse 9a (cf. Matthew 5:32a). In Matthew 19:9a He said: “…Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery…”. Please note that the exception clause was introduced within the same timeframe (context) as the prohibition of divorce. God’s emphasis was on the unlawfulness of divorcement (again necessarily implying the existence of a current marriage) - except when employed for the cause of fornication.
When Jesus precluded the sundering of marriage (and gave the exception clause, Matthew 19:6, 9a), it was and is understood that He was addressing those who were lawfully MARRIED! Note also the chart below:
Three times Jesus revealed the unequivocal statement of fact in the “B” part of the verses above and stated, “whoso marrieth her which IS put away doth commit adultery” (emp. jhb). Yet, those who deny the Lord (II Peter 2:1; cf. Titus 1:16) are telling us the very opposite, if and when the one who perpetrated the unlawful divorce remarries another (or commits some other form of fornication) first.
Question: Are not those (put away) “innocent” persons who are being told they may remarry another (while their bound spouse lives) in reality put away people? If they are indeed put away people, the Master prohibited them from remarriage to another by calling it ADULTERY (cf. Romans 7:3)! In fact, whenever a marital sundering has taken place (whether lawfully or not), Jesus made it clear in the gospels that any remarriage to another by put away people constitutes adultery. The only revealed options for those unlawfully divorced are 1) “remain unmarried,” or 2) “be reconciled” (I Corinthians 7:11).
Be not deceived, regardless of what occurs after the fact of divorcement, Jesus affirmed on three different occasions, in no uncertain terms (without exception): “whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (emp. jhb). How could the Lord have made it any plainer?
When we “rightly divide the word of truth,” we learn that God has a law for those who put away (Matthew 19:9a) and a law for those who are put away (Matthew 19:9b). Unfortunately, those who advocate “the second putting away” doctrine enlarge the application of the law to those who put away and diminish the application of His law to those who are put away!
The promoters of this misapplication do not “speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11) and “call Bible things by Bible names” (i.e. the one who “putteth away” and the one who “is put away”). Ever careful to avoid any reference to those who are “put away,” they use subtle substitutes (“the innocent” and “the guilty”) to denote the involved parties. These substitutions deemphasize the element of a “timeframe,” which is necessarily inferred through biblical reference to the one who “putteth away” (Matthew 19:9a) and the one who “is put away” (Matthew 19:9b).
Unfortunately, in spite of what Jesus clearly said, we have some well known brethren today telling us that the exception clause in Matthew 19:9a can be employed by the put away (UNmarried) person of Matthew 19:9b so that they may remarry another while their bound spouse lives. My dear brethren, how can a put away person “put away;” “put asunder;” “separate;” “divorce;” “depart from;” and / or “leave” the physical relationship, when there is no physical relationship left to sunder?
Moreover, where did Jesus contradict His own words regarding the eligibility of those who are put away (unmarried) to remarry another while their bound spouse lives? Where does the Bible teach these contradictory concepts? Where is the book, chapter and verse, a “thus saith the Lord,” or the means of establishing the authority for such?
Except for fornication, God’s rule precludes putting away one’s mate! One’s mate is not the bond! There is no scripture which teaches that man puts away the bond for fornication. If Jesus actually taught that one could repudiate the bond (as opposed to the marriage or spouse), there would be NO controversy! However, this is obviously not the case. Note the following:
Now, considering that God clearly teaches it is the spouse who is put away and not the bond; how can someone put away a spouse when that spouse has already departed (i.e. sundered the marriage)?
We are being told that this entire second “putting away” doctrine is all revealed to us in Matthew 19:9a! Nevertheless, we cannot overemphasize the fact that Matthew 19:9a is speaking unto the married (not to the UNmarried)! Moreover, the scriptures never authorize a subsequent “putting away” anywhere! One thing is for sure, the advocates of this convoluted surmising are long on assertions, but SHORT on proof (cf. I Thessalonians 5:21)!
Notice that the “A” parts of Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18; (unto the married) do not apply to the “B” parts of those verses (unto the uNmarried, i.e. divorced). To teach that the exception clause in the “A” parts of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 apply to the “B” parts of those verses is unsound exegesis! Not only can we ascertain this error by a simple reading of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9, but various authorities are cited below to substantiate the self evident. What authorities can “the second putting away” advocates quote and corroborate for their contention?
Please notice the writings of a few men who also deny the present day presumption that is being pressed among some of our influential brethren today. In chapter 4 of brother Donnie Rader’s book, “Divorce & Remarriage – What Does the Text Say?” (p. 31), Matthew 19:9 (Part 2), under section I. The Exception Phrase (pp. 31-33), Donnie wrote the following:
“The exception phrase cannot grammatically modify both the first and last parts of Matt. 19:9. As it modifies the first clause it is an adverbial phrase (qualifying ‘shall put away’). Yet, if it modified the second clause it would be an adjectival phrase (qualifying ‘is put away’). This cannot be done grammatically! I wrote to Bruce M. Metzger asking him, ‘Does the exception clause (‘except it be for fornication’) modify the phrase ‘and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery’?’ His answer was ‘no, it qualifies the preceding clause.’
The following quotes, compiled by Gene Frost, are from teachers and professors of English and Greek who say that this phrase cannot modify both clauses.
‘In Matt. 19:9 the original Greek text translated ‘except for fornication’ modifies the ‘putting away’ on the part of the man and does not modify the person who is put away. And the present tense form of the Greek form moichatai = commits adultery means ‘continuous action at any time,’ i.e. as long as the condition of second marriage continues to exist adultery continues to exist.’
‘In my opinion, the phrase, ‘except it be for fornication,’ applies to the first clause but not to the last.’
Dr. Harry Sturz
‘The modifying clause (except it be for fornication) applies only to the first person mentioned, in the first half of the sentence. It does not apply, grammatically or syntactically, to the person (‘whoso marrieth her who is put away’) in the second half of the sentence.’
Donald A. Drury, M.A.
There is no evidence from the English, Greek, this text or any other that demands that this exception modify the last clause.”
Brother J. T. Smith affirmed the very same thoughts expressed by brother Rader, in his article, Divorce And Remarriage, Gospel Anchor, Vol. IV, March 1978.
Moreover, please consider the following source as well:
“Roy Laniar, SR. wrote regarding ‘except it be for fornication’ as follows: ‘Except for fornication’ is an adverbial clause, since it modifies the predicate of the sentence. Since it is not repeated in the last half of the sentence, I think no one can prove that it is implied as a modifier of any word in that last clause. But suppose we admit, for sake of argument, that it should be repeated in the last half of the sentence in 5: 32 and 19: 9. What word in the last clause would the compound phrase modify? It cannot very well modify the word ‘marries,’ which is the verb and the predicate of the clause, since that would make fornication a reason for another marriage. And we have already shown that is not a very good reason for another marriage. It cannot very well modify ‘a dismissed woman’ of the last clause. Although this word (apolelumenen, translated a dismissed woman) is a participle, it is used here as a substantive (noun) and is the object of the verb ‘marries.’ If the compound phrase, ‘apart from a matter of fornication,’ modifies this substantive it becomes an adjectival modifier instead of adverbial. Since it is used but once in the sentence it seems that it cannot be taken as both adverbial and adjectival.....’ (Marriage, Divorce, Remarriage, pg. 43, 44).” See: http://www.bibletruths.net/Archives/BTAR260.htm
Brethren, we must choose who and what we are going to believe (cp. Mark. 1:15 w. II Thessalonians 2:10-12). Regarding some who are put away, esteemed brethren have contended that Jesus authorized “the innocent” to “put away” the guilty without a timeframe (i.e. even if “the innocent” has already been put away before “the guilty” becomes guilty of adultery). Nevertheless, Jesus Himself said that “he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” I’ll place my confidence in the words of the good Shepherd (John 10:4-5; 14:6). How about you?