The following is an excerpt from an editorial written by brother J. T. Smith in TORCH, Volume XXII October 1987, Number 10.
Is A Second “Putting Away” Possible?
“…It seems to me that in order to answer the first question it is necessary to review some things that have been stated in earlier lessons.
Definition of “Put Away”
According to Joseph Henry Thayer in his Greek-English Lexicon, the words “put away” are from the Greek word apoluo and mean, “to dismiss from the house, to repudiate” (Thayer, page 66). W. E. Vine in his Dictionary of New Testament Words (Volume 3, pages 235, 236) defines apoluo as, “to put asunder, to send away, Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9.” Sometimes people confuse the “putting away” with the writing of divorcement. Even though both are involved in that which Jesus was discussing, the word “divorce” is a technical term implying the right, according to civil law, to remarry. A writing of divorcement was, in the Old Testament, given to the party being “put away” when she was dismissed from the house. “(1) Legal dissolution of the marriage; (2) Complete separation” (Webster’s New World Dictionary, page 181).
Remember, a marriage consists of a covenant between a man and woman; an agreement, a commitment to fulfill the duties and obligations enjoined upon them by their covenant to each other. Consequently, having taken the above mentioned “vows” and having obeyed civil law, they are joined (bound - yoked) by God having formed a relationship that is to last as long as they both shall live.
What Is Meant By “Put Away”?
A “putting away” means that the above commitment and joint responsibility are forsaken by one or both parties. When the commitment is broken, the relationship is dissolved, the marriage is TERMINATED. Unless it is terminated for fornication (thus with God's approval) even though the commitment is broken, the relationship dissolved, and the marriage terminated, they are still joined (bound -yoked) by God. Let’s list the elements of a “putting away.”
1. The commitment is broken.
2. The relationship is dissolved.
3. The marriage is terminated.
Now in light of these elements, let’s just ask the question, as many brethren do, “If the one doing the ‘putting away’ remarries, thus committing adultery, why can’t the ‘poor innocent one’ who is left (against whose will all of that has been done) then ‘put away’ the adulterous mate for fornication?” Let’s be careful now in answering this question. Before we attempt to answer it, let me ask another question. Of the above elements included in “putting away” a person, which of the elements may the “innocent one” who is left, actively engage in? In other words, what is there left to “put away.”
“Oh,” but someone says, “I am not going to permit anyone to ‘tie God’s hands’ so that He can’t assist a person who is innocent of all wrongdoing.” Now brethren, that sounds good, and noble and filled with empathy. And actually that is all it is - a statement from a heart that is filled with sympathy for the innocent person. However, I am sorry to say there is not an ounce of Scripture to back it up. I certainly feel sorry for the innocent person who is “put away.” But I also feel sorry for the following person.
If the above situation will work, why won’t this one? An ungodly husband goes out and robs a bank and kills a guard. It is against God’s will, his wife’s will, his children’s will, and society. He is caught and receives 30 years in the state penitentiary. The wife can’t remarry with God’s approval so that she might have a husband and the children a father to provide for them. “But,” someone says, “that's not right. I am not going to permit anyone to ‘tie God’s hands’ so He can’t assist a person who is innocent of all wrongdoing.” Brethren, it won’t work. It is all a matter of human reasoning because we sympathize with the innocent party. But it won’t work – scripturally…..”
J. T. Smith in TORCH, Volume XXII October 1987, Number 10