LETTER WRITTEN TO RON
(Personal and Non-essential Matter
Dated Early 2000
you can see, a copy of this is being sent to _____ and _____ with whom both
of us have talked independently some about this subject.
do not want to misrepresent anyone, even unintentionally, on any position they
might take. _____ believes I have misrepresented you on this subject.
He wrote, "Please do not tell people that Ron believes in "mental
divorce" when he plainly does not. If you have told others this,
please make it right with those you have influenced. That is only
right." I will be more than happy to do so, IF I have misrepresented
you. However, very little that I read in those fowarded articles
(admittedly I could have missed something) addresses the issues that I had in
Let me ask
about a specific situation:
Alice divorces Bill because she doesn't love him anymore (no
fornication with either party before the divorce). Bill didn't want the
divorce, he tried to talk Alice out of the divorce, and HE never reputiated the
marriage, but SHE did. Sometime later Alice finds another man and commits
fornication. Bill learns of it. He then repudiates the marriage
(mentally divorces Alice). QUESTION: Does he then have a right to remarry?
the interest of brotherly love and a clearer understanding of one another
RESPONSE FROM RON HALBROOK
(Personal References and Non-essential
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 07:22:18 -0500
First, I want to make very clear that
I do not believe it is possible to put away a mate and
then wait for that person to fall into adultery, and then to claim a second
merely mental divorce on the ground of fornication, followed by the right to
marry a new mate. I will forward my article, "Divorce &
Remarriage: No Waiting Game."
Second, I want to make very clear
that I do not believe it is possible to just think, "I am married,"
or, "I am divorced," and to thus mentally marry or mentally divorce.
My understanding is that a person who
is faithful to the marriage vow and bond when sinfully abandoned and divorced is
not involved in a "waiting game." The faithful mate has no
control over nor responsibility for the sinful conduct of the unfaithful mate
(whereas in Matt. 5:32 Jesus clearly assigns responsibility for adultery to the
man who divorced his mate without cause, as well as to the divorcee and her new
mate who go to the bed of adultery). Rather than waiting and hoping for a
mate to commit adultery, the faithful mate works and waits for the unfaithful
mate to repent and to be reconciled.
If a person
in this situation were to approach me, I would review the principles laid out in
Matt. 5:32 & 19:9. Then, I would make them aware that brethren
sometimes differ on how to apply the principle to such a case. I would
provide material for study of both sides of the matter. I would then leave
the final determination of the matter between the person and God.
It is my understanding that marriage
and divorce include personal and public declarations. Both marriage and
divorce should be dealt with in a way which is open and aboveboard.
When two people prepare to marry, there are personal and public declarations
made in order to avoid any appearance of sinful intentions or actions. If
a divorce occurs in a case where one mate is determined to be faithful to the
marriage vows and bond, that faithful mate should be open and aboveboard about
his or her determination to act in keeping with the bond created by God.
It ought to be communicated to the unfaithful mate, to brethren, to family
members, and to all who may have an interest in the matter. When the
unfaithful mate goes further into sin by committing adultery, the faithful mate
should not hesitate to declare the sin just what it is, and to repudiate this
violation of the marriage vow and bond. The fact
that sinful, corrupt, ungodly courts will not allow the faithful mate to take
legal action does not prevent him or her from making every personal and public
which is possible.
question arises as to whether that person may marry a new mate. The
New Testament is not a book of case law, i.e., it does not list and categorize
all the various situations which might arise. It certainly makes no direct
reference to the question at hand. It is incumbent on us to refer to the
principle revealed, to assess how the situation relates to the principle, and
then to make a determination or application. Faithful brethren recognize
in common the principle revealed in Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Mk. 10:11-12; & Lk.
16:18: one man for one woman for life, with only one exception (when fornication
occurs, the innocent party may put away the guilty party, and marry a new mate).
False teachers attack, deny, and seek to destroy that very principle.
Faithful brethren who embrace and defend the principle sometimes struggle to
apply it to some situations which are not so clear cut as others, and we
sometimes differ in our conclusions. This latter point is true of virtually everything the Bible
teaches. In fact, I cannot think of an exception, can you?
I believe we can distinguish the
attacks of false teachers which destroy a Bible principle from the earnest
efforts of faithful brethren to apply a principle which we all embrace and
defend. I have addressed this difference in a 2 part article, "Are We
Doomed to Divide Over Every Difference on Divorce?" Part 1 deals with
the attacks of false teachers which destroy a Bible principle and result in
inevitable division. Part 2 deals with the efforts of brethren to apply a
principle which we all embrace and defend. (This material is being
forwarded to you.) You have asked a question
which falls into the realm of brethren earnestly seeking to apply a principle
which all embrace and defend. In trying to assess the situation and apply
the principle, you would conclude an innocent mate
should not marry a new mate by appealing to the same principle and passages I
would use to conclude the decision should be left between that innocent mate and
Again, thank you for your message and for your patience in awaiting my reply.
I am going to close shop and warm the bed a few minutes since it is well past
If you are ever in the Louisville
area, please look us up. I would be glad to become better acquainted with
you. I pray that God may bless your every endeavor in the proclamation and
defense of the gospel.
In Christian love,