REPLY TO BROTHERS HAILE AND OSBORNE
By Jeff Belknap
Unfortunately, since I have begun writing articles to expose the present version of the “mental divorce” digression being disseminated by various well-known brethren, attempts to divert attention from the real issue have been numerous. However, if the Lord wills, I will continue to get the facts out, including evidence, regardless of personal attacks (Mt. 5:10-12; II Tim. 3:12; I Pet. 4:4). I trust that discerning men and women will seek out proof for claims made about others, instead of believing and passing on information that is supported by neither source nor evidence. I am confident that those who are more interested in the facts and the issue at hand will not be turned aside from where the matter of concern lies.
Without malicious intent, this article is written for the benefit of brethren who still possess open minds, to facilitate their discernment between good and evil (Heb. 5:14). It will point out the attempts of some brethren to vilify those who oppose their teaching, and divert attention from the issue, rather than examine what has been written. I am addressing two rejoinders (to my recent article, God-Given Rights Nullified by Man’s Wrongs, published at www.mentaldivorce.com) that brother Tim Haile posted to Gospel Anchor on 7-11-01, both of which contain noticeably similar arguments and charges. Regrettably, both articles ignore a primary focus of the article to which they responded, by confusing matters of required obedience to God and cases of divine liberties (things that, while authorized, are not scripturally required).
Quotes from brother Tim Haile’s article:
Response to Jeff Belknap’s article, “God-Given ‘Rights’ Nullified by Man’s Wrongs”
Tim wrote: “I found it interesting, howbeit hypocritical, that throughout his article, Jeff repeatedly grants civil governments the right to freely nullify God given liberties, while adamantly denying men and women access to them.”
Where is the quote indicating that I am the one who “grants” that “right” to civil government? Contrariwise, I wrote that God granted civil authorities the right to rule over us. I then reminded readers of God’s teaching in I Peter 2:13-21, where we are commanded to subject ourselves to those who have the rule over us, even when they mistreat us and deny us our liberties. I also qualified those points by specifying the only revealed exception to that command—in a case where obedience to man’s law would result in violation of divine law (Acts 5:29). Does brother Haile know of any other scripturally authorized exceptions? Does he agree with the previously mentioned verses? If so, how does he harmonize his teaching with them?
Tim wrote: “Given brother Belknap’s position about the force of human legislative authority, I sure am happy he was not the one to find Moses floating in that basket.”
“Had Jeff Belknap lived in the days of Jesus and Herod, would he have considered it his "civil" duty to tell Herod where Jesus had fled?”
“Had brother Belknap been there, would he have informed the Jewish assassins of Paul’s whereabouts?”
I don’t see the similarity between the undeniable sin of aiding and abetting murder (I Tim. 5:22b) and simply recognizing the authorities’ ability to defraud us of a liberty (optional matter). Tim’s above comments twist the focus of my article, which was submission to civil authorities to the point of revocation of divine liberties. His connection to Pharoah, Herod and Jewish assassins implies that I would advocate obedience to civil authorities, even to the point of sin. It is imperative that we distinguish between precepts and liberties if we are to properly serve God (II Tim. 2:15). Otherwise perversion of the gospel is inevitable (Gal. 1:6-9; II Pet. 3:16).
Tim wrote: “Jeff needs to read his Bible. "Forbidding marriage" is a devil’s doctrine (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Brother Belknap’s position has God requiring Christians to "obey" demonic rules and submit to their prohibitions. His position is more than just unscriptural, it is unworkable and utterly blasphemous. It strips us of our God-given rights and binds us to the arbitrary precepts of uninspired men.”
“Forbidding to marry” is the same indictment that has been used against sound men, for decades. What does pointing out what the will of God teaches about adulterous marriages have to do with “forbidding marriage” and “demonic rules?” Were John the baptizer, Jesus Christ, and the apostles guilty of “forbidding marriage” and requiring “demonic rules” when they taught against adulterous marriages (cp. w. Mk. 6:18; Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3; et al)?
Compare my article with the following. After quoting Matthew 19:9 brother Frost writes, “Nothing is said about this woman being complicit in the divorce, or protesting it, or otherwise … whatever the reason or whatever her reaction, once put away she cannot remarry without committing adultery. To nullify or amend what God says in order to find some justification for the woman unjustly put away, one must (1) say that the Lord’s rule does not apply in this case, or (2) he must redefine the terms, which some equivocally do. In either case, one nullifies the plain, simple language, which without an agenda is easily understood. Any rule (or principle) that men formulate that contradicts the Lord’s stated will (or rule, or principle) is false. This is precisely what the Jews did. From commands or precepts clearly stated, they extrapolated conclusions and formulated rules, which were handed down for generations. These traditions became tantamount to revelation to them. Yet before they were done, their explanations as to what God meant actually contradicted what God said. (Mark 7:9)” (emp. jhb). Gene Frost, “Marriage Divorce and Remarriage and The Innocent” (posted 6-6-01) Gospel Anchor
Since brother Frost has also taught that the civil government may facilitate an ungodly spouse, will brother Tim also charge this brother with “forbidding marriage” and “demonic rules”? (Jas. 2:1, 9). Within his article, brother Frost also contends that the subsequent remarriage of the “innocent” unwilling victim would be adulterous. Does this also make him guilty of advocating a devil’s doctrine? I would not wish such twisted scrutiny upon brother Frost or anyone else, but I am simply pointing out an inconsistency.
Furthermore, please note what brother Donnie Rader wrote in his book Divorce & Remarriage: What does The Text Say?, Lesson 8 Mental Divorce (May Some Put Away People Remarry?), pg. 8: “According to the position under review the put away one now puts away his mate. That is two putting aways. Jesus didn't know anything about a second putting away. If a man puts away his innocent wife and then remarries, what more can she do in ‘putting him away’ that he has not already done? If he has already terminated the marriage and the covenant what more can she do? She can't put him away if they are no longer married.” In addition, on page 78 of the same chapter, brother Rader wrote, “Not only does the Bible not authorize any put away one to remarry, but it emphatically forbids it” (emp. jhb).
For such a position, will brother Tim also demonize brother Rader and contend that, “His position is more than just unscriptural, it is unworkable and utterly blasphemous. It strips us of our God-given rights and binds us to the arbitrary precepts of uninspired men”? If not, why not?
Tim wrote: “Jeff Belknap’s position on the role of civil government would never have landed him in the lion’s den; but if [sic] had, would God have delivered him?”
Did Daniel become disobedient to the king in order to simply preserve a God-given “liberty” (or freedom)? Or was his disobedience to the king based on a law that prohibited him from Worshipping the Almighty (Psa. 5:7), which was a sin? Again, the inability to ascertain between precepts and liberties is what seems to be causing the problem (II Tim. 2:15; Heb. 5:14).
Daniel 6:5 states, “Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.” (Notice that the text specifies the LAW of his God, not his “God-given liberty.”)
Quotes from Harry
In Harry’s article, does his subtitle, “Jeff Belknap and His Binding Machine” focus on the issue?
Or is his assertion an unbrotherly and prejudicial, personal reference?
Harry wrote: “Just how far is brother Belknap going to take us in his new binding machine?”
What is the profit in “debate” when one side avoids the issue to engage in repetitive derogatory remarks? In fact, it is Harry (and Tim) who have begun to advocate something “new” in the last few months (i.e. a public rebirth of the mental divorce doctrine). How does my teaching on these points (which they examine) differ from what has previously been written and taught by brothers such as Gene Frost and Donnie Rader (et al)?
I can cite long-standing sources (some of which are listed at my conclusion) that are in agreement with what I am teaching. This point is made, not in an effort to appeal to human writings for validation or “authority” (for scripture is our only authority), but simply to prove that what I am teaching is not “new.” However, I know of no existing “sound” resources to which brothers Harry and Tim can point, which would articulate their views on this subject. Moreover, a few months ago (4-16-01), in an e-mail letter I sent to Harry, I wrote, “I’ll be glad to review and familiarize myself with the concepts you state that ‘many sound brethren have held.’ Please refer me to the materials that show the use of the terms that you find inoffensive, which reveal your position correctly and I will study them.” Though he responded to my letter, he never responded to that request. Dear brethren, who is really advocating something “new?”
Harry wrote: “That brings us to the consideration of an interesting dilemma which may shed new light on Judas as a submissive and obedient, albeit enterprising, servant of the civil government out of the mold brother Belknap suggests.”
“According to this doctrine, Judas was not guilty of betrayal, but was the most noble of the disciples in submitting to the unjust command of government for the capture of Jesus. The folly of such a position is self-evident. No wonder our brother stays as far away from debate as possible. When one states positions that he cannot defend, he would do well to avoid open examination.”
Again, it is hard to fathom that brother Osborne does not recognize the difference between our responsibility to obey authorities in matters where God has granted us liberty (optional matters), and our responsibility to resist such authorities where obedience to civil law requires disobedience to God’s law. Once more, what would be the profit in “debate,” when one side avoids the issue to engage in repetitive, untruthful, and prejudicial, personal attacks? This reference to Judas is similar to the references brother Haile makes, to assisting the murders of Moses, Jesus and the attempted murder of apostle Paul. For brothers Harry and Tim to equate accessory to murder with recognizing the civil authorities’ power to deny a person’s divine liberties clearly illustrates the weakness of their argumentation, scripturally speaking.
Harry wrote: “If a government does the "forbidding to marry," does God require Christians to submit to the doctrine of demons? Those who would bind such a doctrine are condemned in clear and forceful terms. If brother Belknap seeks to be the apologist urging submission to the devil's doctrine, he treads a path which we dare not follow! May God's people understand the ungodly destination of that road and not begin the journey.”
Please refer to my comments which address brother Tim’s similar allegation. Does brother Osborne charge brother Gene Frost and Donnie Rader with the same indictment (Jas. 2:1, 9)? If not, I would be interested in learning what he believes the differences are between their position on this point and mine.
Harry wrote: “The Jewish law did not recognize the possibility of a woman divorcing her husband for any cause. The law of Deuteronomy 24 is silent regarding a woman writing a bill of divorcement for a man. Under the rabbinical traditions which governed the first-century Jewish culture in such matters, only a man could sign a bill of divorce, thus validating it. Several provisions of the Mishnah demonstrate that only men could issue a bill of divorcement. For instance, Gittin 3:1 says, "No bill of divorce is valid that is not written expressly for the woman." (If it had to be written for the woman, it had to be by the man.)” (emp. his)
Harry implies that a Jewish woman could not triumph in the civil divorce of her husband in the first century. However, he adds the parenthetical statement, “If it had to be written for the woman, it had to be by the man” (emp. his). But the point is, it was still “for the woman!” That was their procedure “for the woman!” This idea is explained in detail at my website: www.mentaldivorce.com (“Divorces by Jewish Women in the First Century”).
Harry has continued to equate the civil divorce with the civil document, as if they are one and the same. To further illustrate this observation, I quote from Harry’s sermon, “What is Biblical Putting Away?” (Lakeland, FL, 5-29-01):
“…He went out there on Monday, filed for divorce, and in Nevada you have a three day waiting period, you can mail the procedure to the spouse” (emp. jhb).
However, the document is only a requisite part of obtaining a divorce—verification and record of the civil authorities’ declaration that a divorce has taken place. This is similar to a diploma. The document is not the graduation or degree. It is simply a record confirming that one has graduated. Please compare the definition of “procedure” with “document.”
Harry wrote: “However, Jesus affirmed that a woman could "put away" a man even though no civil action by the woman was permitted by the law governing Judea at the time (Mk. 10:12)….If she "put away" the man in this case, it would have to be by a procedure other than that of Jewish law. Despite repeated appeals to this teaching by Christ, brother Belknap and his associates at the bindery have remain strangely silent. Jesus did not know about our brother's new doctrine of the precedence of civil law over God's law in regulating liberties.”
First of all, how are disparaging references to my “associates at the bindery” beneficial to clarify and define our differences (I Cor. 14:40)? The above-mentioned document on my website quotes five different sources which tell us that Jewish women could (and did) divorce their husbands in the first century. Below are two shortened quotes, with sources:
“Evidence that women brought petitions for divorce in the first century is found in the Mishnah and in a recently discovered divorce document…” (emp. jhb). http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Brewer/Academic/Introd.htm Chapter 5: Rabbinic Teaching: Increasing ground on divorce (Under – “Divorces by women”).
“The fourth scenario (referring to Mk 10:12 jhb) is said by most commentators to represent a non-Jewish context which Mark was addressing, because Jewish women were not able to divorce their husbands. However, as seen in the previous chapter, it was perfectly proper for a woman to bring a divorce case to a Jewish court, and there are indications that this was practiced in the first century...” (emp. jhb) http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Brewer/Academic/Introd.htm Chapter 6: Jesus Teaching: Divorce on Biblical grounds only (Under -- "Answering the question").
You will even find that, in some cases, the courts ordered the husbands to take care of the document. After the law of Moses was superceded (Jn. 1:17), Jewish women were authorized to exercise the civil practices of their society (Deut. 24 was obsolete, as far as God was concerned, Heb. 8:13). The above documentation clearly shows that, in the first century, a Jewish woman could indeed divorce her husband. Yet, brother Osborne makes proof-text points from the source, while failing to add pertinent additional information which clarifies the gist of the author’s writing.
[Using similar misrepresentations, both Harry and Tim ask of me ludicrous questions, which imply that I would actually advocate involvement in murder, in obedience to civil authority. It is obvious from the following quote (and others in my same article), that I would not condone becoming an accessory to murder, or any violation of God’s commands. In the article to which they respond, I made the following point: “To claim the scriptural right to disregard God’s law that requires us to be subject to the authorities He ordained, one must first show that by the act of respecting that civil law, they would be in violation of God’s law. No such claim can be made in regards to the revocation of liberties, which we are commanded to forgo, on occasion, for the sake of Christ” (I Pet. 2:13-20 - cp. w. Rom. 15:1-2; I Cor. 8:8-9, 13; 10:28-29, 32-33). Thus, the entire premise upon which Tim and Harry examine my article, is fatally flawed.]
To publish as matters of fact, incomplete research, misrepresented resources and emotional arguments instead of scripture (Col. 3:17), while calling such the “teaching by Christ,” will not help authorize a baseless position. Moreover, where did I teach a “new doctrine of the precedence of civil law over God’s?” An honest review of my article finds that what I teach is regard for civil authority as a matter of obedience to God’s law (cf. Rom. 13:2).
As I previously mentioned, Harry (and Tim, et al) are the ones who seek to advocate what is new—a revamped and revisited mental divorce doctrine—a doctrine which is opposed not only to Biblical teaching (Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Lk. 16:18), but also to established writings from other brethren.
After several secular examples regarding the time of “lawful slavery,” “Nazi Germany,” “Communist” regimes, etc., Harry says people were at times “forbidden to marry.” Therefore he tells us, “If they had a right to marry as the Bible affirms, that marriage could not be dependent on the procedure dictated by civil government because the government would forbid any such procedure. Which will our brother choose? To date, he has avoided honorable debate in which he would have to answer such questions. Will he continue this path?”
Again, Harry asserts things that the Bible does not “affirm” and builds his case on secular history, without the force of scripture. However, neither history nor present circumstances can modify the Lord’s teaching (Mt. 5:32; 19:9; Lk. 16:18). According to scripture, authority is derived from the gospel, not past or present situational ethics (cp. w. I Tim. 6:3-5; II Tim. 2:23-25). We are taught “not to think beyond” (NKJV) or “exceed” (NASV) “what is written” (I Cor. 4:6; II Cor. 10:5). Faith comes by hearing “the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). We are to speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it does not speak (I Pet. 4:11). That is a scriptural “answer” to “such questions.”
Now, will brother Osborne answer my questions? In the article Harry is responding to, I doctrinally dealt with at least nine areas where brother Tim is in error, regarding his article which I responded to. Where did I misuse any of those verses? Notice the topics/subtitles of my article: 1.) Specified Exceptions vs. Unspecified Assumptions. 2.) “Liberty” vs. Lawlessness. 3.) “Rights” vs. Righteousness. 4.) Marriage vs. Bond. 5.) Obedience to God Through Regard for Civil Authorities. 6.) Unspecified Procedure vs. Anarchy. 7.) Divorces vs. “Real” Divorces. 8.) Scriptural Order vs. Disorder. 9.) Limited Exception Clause vs. Unlimited Exception Clause. He does not address these points, or the scriptures used to prove them.
While I have chosen not to engage in oral debate, no one can honestly claim that I have avoided this issue. I have chosen to deal with this concern in writing. Furthermore, for brother Osborne to repeatedly focus his writing on the messenger rather than his message is not honorable and has no part in an “honorable debate.”
Written exchanges as opposed to verbal communication, can be easily recalled for reference, investigation, and evidence, if necessary. Another advantage to written exchanges is that they have the potential for more exposure than oral debates. I have no problem with “honorable debate” or discussion, but personal attacks and false implications are ungodly and counterproductive to an examination of truth. I am not trained or skilled in oral debate, but even if I were, I would hesitate to involve myself in a debate with a brother who has exhibited the attitude displayed in Harry’s writings. Nevertheless, I informed Harry that if he was truly interested in debating the issue (as opposed to me), I know of some men who would be willing to “debate” him. To this offer, he has yet to respond (as was already explained in Response to ‘Do All Applications Equal Doctrine?’ posted 5-25-01 on Gospel Anchor).
Harry wrote: “In the past week, a list of approved preachers has been circulated by some. Upon what basis are these men approved? Because they share brother Belknap's conviction that one must bind civil law regarding divorce as being synonymous with biblical putting away or sundering of a marriage. If one disagrees on that one question, he is ready to draw lines of fellowship. People are being urged not to have dissenting brethren for meetings, hear them when they come to the area, or even sit down to discuss the issue with open Bibles. I have made such an offer to brother Belknap and he has refused it. Brethren, are you ready to cease communication and study and commence to divide over this issue? Are you ready to consistently apply the doctrine of nullifying God-given rights by human edict? Are you ready for the next step into further extremes defending this doctrine?” (emp. his).
Within this entire quote, the truth is so *obfuscated that it is difficult to know where to begin. The beginning sentence states, “In the past week, a list of approved preachers has been circulated by some.” First of all, let me affirm that to my knowledge no such “list of approved preachers” who share my convictions on this topic was created, nor ever existed!
There were three other men who wrote me at the time Harry’s article was posted, and inquired about this so-called list (two of these brethren are close associates of Tim and Harry, and one wrote me to report that he had received the report from one of the other two). When I told the two men that I knew nothing of such a list and asked for proof, they both wrote me back and revealed that there was none. However, at least one of the two has apologized to me for the false accusation, after his further investigation revealed that the charge was unfounded. See my website (“Rumors, False Accusations and Whisperings”) for more information.
So, as you can see, there was indeed a “list” circulating that I was accused of involvement with, but it certainly was not being circulated as a “list of approved preachers” by anyone that has been supporting my efforts in this doctrinal dilemma. Neither of these brethren (including the one who apologized) were willing to reveal the source of their “information” so that I could question my accusers. Who are these nameless brothers who have “circulated” what amounts to slander and gossip? I challenge Harry to reveal at least one!
This *red herring that brother Osborne has produced has nothing to do with truth, nor the issue of controversy, but only serves to excite one’s emotions and prejudice the reader. This is the type of behavior that “turns people off” of debates and gives brethren a “bad name.” I pray that those who have advanced this false report will repent! Brother James P. Needham wrote in a Gospel Truths article entitled “The Fellowship Issue # 2” (6-‘01; pg. 18), “Some have been known to spread rumors, gossip and falsehoods that travel around the world before truth can get its boots on.” Such is certainly the case here.
Additionally, in light of brother Osborne’s style of review and apparent disinterest in debating anyone other than me, his claim of interest in brotherly “communication and study” appears hollow (Mt. 7:20; I Jn. 3:18).
Furthermore, brother Harry writes: “People are being urged not to have dissenting brethren for meetings, hear them when they come to the area, or even sit down to discuss the issue with open Bibles. I have made such an offer to brother Belknap and he has refused it.”
Where is the proof for the accusation of what brethren are supposedly being “urged not to” do (II Tim. 3:1, 3)? And what does it have to do with examining the issue at hand? Such attacks are unprofitable to the goal of separating Biblical truth from error. At the time of this writing, I have never talked to brother Osborne on the phone nor in person. Yet, we have exchanged several e-mail letters since I have begun to publicly write on this topic. Not once has Harry made an “offer” for he and I to “sit down to discuss the issue with open Bibles.” If he thinks he has, let him show the proof of his offer—in its entire context! I have copies of all of his correspondence with me and cannot find such an offer anywhere. While he has suggested that we get together, it was definitely not to “sit down and discuss the issue with open Bibles!”
To further illustrate the emotionally charged *ad hominem tactics which brother Osborne has used, consider the following quote snippets from Harry’s sermon, “What is Biblical Putting Away?” (Lakeland, FL., 5-29-01): “I particularly know of a case of this happening in Houston.” He went on to say that a “Man went away to Las Vegas. His wife thought he was leaving on a Monday to go on a business trip to New York; he actually went to Las Vegas…He went out there on Monday, filed for divorce, and in Nevada you have a three day waiting period, you can mail the procedure to the spouse.” Harry then reported that the man divorced his wife in three days without her knowledge! [A transcript of the entire lesson is available upon request, via e-mail: JeffBelknap@Charter.net. You can also view his contextually complete quote by going to my web page (www.mentaldivorce.com) and clicking: “The Nevada Strawman.”]
Because of copyrights, I am unable to quote from the Nevada Divorce Source website (which reveals the NV “legal process”), however, at http://www.divorcesource.com/NV/info/legalprocess.shtml, you will find that to divorce in Nevada, one must first be a resident of that state for six weeks before they even become eligible to file for divorce. Moreover, the spouse must be notified of the divorce before it can proceed. If unable to find the spouse to notify them, the filing spouse must show proof that he or she has made a reasonable effort to find and notify his or her spouse, then a summons is published in the newspaper. Even if the spouse (who was filed against) is agreeable to the divorce, it takes a minimum of one to one and one half months to complete the process (after six weeks residency). If the spouse contests the divorce, it can take up to a year.
Unfortunately, brother Tim also misrepresented the Nevada divorce laws as well. He wrote: “…if you don't like the divorce laws of your state, all you have to do is go somewhere else! Reciprocity laws mean there is no uniform procedure for obtaining a divorce. This is exactly why so many divorces are obtained in Las Vegas. Their liberal divorce laws, coupled with state reciprocity laws, have traditionally led many people to the state of Nevada when they want a quick and easy divorce. These divorces are granted by the state of Nevada to people who reside in other states. These divorces will be granted regardless of the reason, regardless of whether or not the divorced party has any knowledge of the divorce, and regardless of whether or not the divorced person consents to the divorce. This fact demonstrates to what extent human laws contradict divine laws on the subject of marriage and divorce.” (Tim Haile, “When Human Laws Collide With Divine Laws,” May 2001 issue, Gospel Anchor.)
Such *ad hominem, *red herring, and *obfuscation tactics only reinforce my belief that for me to engage in an “honorable debate” with either of these men would not be possible, nor would such be profitable in terms of defining and debating the issue itself, which they will not adhere to. It is only in written form that such false claims and charges can be examined and exposed. In the case of brother Osborne’s claim of the Jewish women’s inability to divorce, or the references of brothers Haile and Osborne to the law and cases in Nevada, such claims could not have been investigated and proven untrue within the timeframe allotted for oral debate. In such circumstances, to “play by the rules” when an opponent does not, puts one at a distinct disadvantage. Instead, I will continue to investigate claims and charges, study God’s word, and write of my findings, giving proof (whether book, chapter, and verse, or quote from involved sources) to confirm what I write. Where I have not specified sources or quotes of charges or claims, they are available upon request. If such cannot be verified, I will publicly apologize.
Some tactics to look out for, regarding this controversy (and others):
“Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason…Usage Note: As the principal meaning of the preposition ad suggests, the homo of ad hominem was originally the person to whom an argument was addressed, not its subject. The phrase denoted an argument designed to appeal to the listener's emotions rather than to reason...Ad hominem attacks on one's opponent are a tried-and-true strategy for people who have a case that is weak…” (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“[L., to the man.] A phrase applied to an appeal or argument addressed to the principles, interests, or passions of a man.” (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.)
second definition: “Something that draws attention away from the central issue.”
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand: “A great effort was made... to obscure or obfuscate the truth” (Robert Conquest). To render indistinct or dim; darken: The fog obfuscated the shore.” (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“to darken; to obscure; to becloud; hence, to confuse; to bewilder.” (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.)
Special note: Please consider the following additional study materials:
Divorce & Remarriage; What Does The Text Say?, by Donnie Rader,
Chapter 8 Mental Divorce (May Some Put Away People Remarry);
Also consider pages 145-149 in the APPENDIX
Is It Lawful? A Comprehensive Study of Divorce By Dennis G. Allan and Gary Fisher,
Chapter 13 What Constitutes Divorce? (by Bob Waldron);
Chapter 38 Can You Put Away the Put-Away? (by Gary Fisher);
Chapter 39 The rights of an Innocent Put-Away Person (by Kevin S. Kay).
Mental Marriages and Mental Divorces (by Gene Frost).