(Mt. 5:32 , 19:9 & Lk. 16:18

By Jeff Belknap 

The first halves of these verses:

“but I say unto you, that every one that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress:”

“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery:”

“Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery:”

What we learn from the first halves of these verses:

  1.  “Putteth away” is an act perpetrated by man against his spouse, whether done without scriptural cause, or with scriptural cause (“for the cause of fornication”).

  2. When man puts away his wife unscripturally (for a cause other than fornication), he is the cause of her becoming an adulteress.

  3. When man puts away his wife unscripturally (for a cause other than fornication), he becomes guilty of adultery when he remarries.     

  4. When a man puts away his wife scripturally (for the cause of fornication), he does not make her an adulteress, and he does not himself, become an adulterer upon remarriage to another.

Second halves of these parallel verses:

 “and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery.”

 “and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery.”

 “and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband committeth adultery.”

 What we learn from the second halves of these verses:

  1.  The one whom the “putting away” was perpetrated against (in the first halves of these verses) now becomes the one described as “put away” in the latter halves of these verses.

  2.  The one marrying a woman who has been put away from her husband (by her husband) commits adultery.

  3. When a woman has been put away, she commits adultery upon remarriage to another.

Some claim that the best definition of the term translated “put away” (apoluo), is “repudiate,” and that the word does not necessarily imply a civil procedure.  Even if that is the case, the same Greek word is used for the one who puts away unscripturally (in the first half of these verses), as is used where one is put away (in the second half of these verses).  Hence, if the word “repudiate” is really what Jesus meant by “put away,” then the woman (Unwilling Innocent Put-away Person) is still repudiated (put away), and hence has no right to subsequently repudiate the husband who already repudiated her, nor to remarry another.  Whatever procedure an innocent party would enact to “scripturally” repudiate or put away their spouse after a civil divorce, is a procedure that had already been enacted against the innocent party by the ungodly spouse, even prior to the finalization of civil procedure.  Hence, whatever one claims to be the true procedural meaning of “divorce” or “put away” is irrelevant to the argumentation. 

On the other hand, some of these same brethren claim that it is possible for there to be an unscriptural (civil) divorce that God recognizes, in the case of marriage partners in mutual agreement to be divorced from one another, without scriptural cause.  This reasoning is contradictory to their assertion that if a one-sided divorce is not scriptural, then it’s not real, because God doesn’t accept or approve of that.  Well, neither does he approve of the unscriptural divorce of two mutually consenting partners, but that, they say, becomes a real (although unscriptural) divorce upon completion of the civil procedure.  This is highly confusing and makes distinctions that scripture does not support.

The Bible says that, without scriptural grounds, the man really does what the Bible calls "put away."  Obviously, it is because this act of man is done contrary to scripture, that he bears partial guilt in his ex-wife’s subsequent adultery (Mt. 5:32).  This point proves, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that what the Bible is referring to by the words, “put away,” only refers to man’s part in the dissolution of a marriage (whether scriptural or not).  It cannot have any reference to God’s part in man’s union (the spiritual bond), for God says that man can perpetrate this act (of “putting away”) in violation of His will (Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Lk. 16:18). Nevertheless, this ungodly act of man is still what Holy Scripture calls "put away!" Now, if the man put the woman away, what is the woman in the 2nd half of the verse? Obviously, she is what scripture calls "put away," though the man in the 1st half of the verse made her this way, without scriptural authority. No, she is not unbound (just as it is clear that the man who unscripturally put her away is not unbound, though he did “put away” his wife). It makes no sense to concede that the Bible teaches a man may unscripturally do to his wife what the Bible calls “put away,” but then turn around and argue that the wife who he “put away” in this scenario is not really “put away.”  If he can really do what the Bible calls “put away” to his innocent wife (in defiance of God’s will), then an innocent wife can really be “put away.”  Jesus said “and he that marrieth one that is put away from a husband committeth adultery.”  Therefore, the one who the Bible says is "put away" has never been given a divine right to remarry another while her husband lives.  The Bible offers no exception to this rule! 

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