by Tim Haile
September 11, 2003
One is labeled a "mental-divorcer" by certain ones, if he rejects the concept that biblical putting-away is synonymous with civil divorce procedure, and if he teaches that an innocent person may scripturally reject (put away) a fornicator-mate, even in cases where the fornicator had already rejected him. I have been called a mental-divorcer many times, usually behind my back.
For those few who have questioned me about this directly, I have explained that based upon the common dictionary meaning of the words "mental" and "divorce," I do not believe in "mental-divorce." The word "mental" has reference to a mere thought process. The word apoluo (put-away) is a verb of action. Some time ago I started asking these questioners what they meant by "mental divorce?" No one has yet been willing to tell me what it is. However, they have assured me that others did tell it of me. And this makes it so? For the record, when you hear it whispered that, "Tim Haile is a mental-divorcer," you will be speaking the truth when you correct this as a misrepresentation of what I believe and teach.
Of course, this misrepresentation will still occur among those who are either uninformed or dishonest. Those who are simply uninformed, yet honest, can be corrected. Those who are dishonest will repeat the lie, hoping that they will be heard by their much speaking. All liars will be cast into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8).
In a recent correspondence with Pat Donahue, Pat explained to me why he and others, for whom he speaks, refer to me as a "mental-divorcer." He wrote:
"When we use the term 'mental divorcers,' we do not ONLY mean 'brethren who believe divorce is NOTHING MORE than a mere thought process.' (my all caps emphasis)
"What we also mean is brethren who teach 'that biblical (scriptural, ptd) putting-away can be done by the innocent party, even in cases where he was already unlawfully 'divorced' by his godless mate' as you teach below. We understand that you say that a man in such a situation may have to do more that just think about repudiating his former (now fornicating) spouse, but you do not think who gets the legal divorce matters (in a society where it does matter). Do you understand? We are not trying to prejudice anyone with the phrase, we are just trying to keep from having to repeat a long scenario anytime we want to refer to the issue. So we use a short catch phrase that most everybody (who is up on the issue) understands."
Brother Donahue explained what he and others mean by the term "mental-divorce." Notice that Pat nowhere defined the term; he just spoke of what he and others "mean" by its use.
I am reminded of one of the five questions asked Joel Gwin by brother Reeves. Prior to the debate, both disputants mutually agreed to answer five questions that each would send to the other. Brother Reeves' #3 question was as follows:
"When you use the phrase, 'mental divorce,' as in the advertisement that you prepared for the public, do you mean a mere thought process, or some overt action taking place?"
Gwin's answer was:
"When I use the phrase 'mental divorce' I do so only as a means of identifying the position that various brethren have espoused, such as Weldon Warnock in this quote…"
Brother Reeves asked for the meaning (definition) of the phrase and Joel Gwin replied that he uses the phrase as a means (that is, method or manner). He evaded the question and refused to define the phrase that is so prejudicial.
Brother Donahue knows that he cannot give readers a standard definition of the term, for then it would not describe his opponents' view, and he would have no prejudicial catch phrase to use against us. Pat denied that he and others were "trying" to prejudice anyone with the phrase. His disclaimer speaks volumes. Regardless of what Pat and others are not "trying" to do, the fact remains that this is a prejudicial phrase. It does indeed prejudice minds against the truth. False labeling is a common tactic of error. During the institutional controversy some were called "orphan-haters." Calling others "orphan-haters" did not answer biblical arguments against unscriptural uses of the Lord's money, but it was successful in prejudicing minds against the truth. Calling one a "mental-divorcer" does not answer biblical arguments for the unconditional right of an innocent person to put away his mate for fornication and marry another (Matt. 19:9a), but it does prejudice minds against this truth.
Brother Donahue defends his use of the phrase "mental-divorce" on the basis that it serves as a "short catch phrase" that everyone understands to represent his opponents' view. Pat and his companions hold the view that allows the unlawful actions of a godless mate to nullify the God-given right for an innocent person to put away his fornicator-mate and marry another. Suppose I were to do as Pat, and adopt a "short catch phrase" that I thought best described Pat's view. Now remember, using Pat's logic, there is no need for me to concern myself with actual facts and word definitions! I don't have to define the phrase. As noted above, Pat Donahue didn't, and neither did Joel Gwin! May I follow their lead? Surely no one will become upset with me for doing what Pat and Joel have done!
Furthermore, (following their lead), I need not concern myself with whether or not my opponents like or accept the phrase! I can adopt a phrase based merely upon its being "short" and "catchy." This is the basis upon which Pat, Joel and their companions defend their labeling of others and me as "mental-divorcers." What if I used Pat Donahue's own criteria and decided on a "short and catchy" label that I think best fits him and his companions. What if I had the opinion that brother Donahue and his companions have stubbornly resisted the Truth on this issue? What if their stubbornness reminded me of a donkey? What if I decided to label them as the "Donkey Club?" Would they object? Would they be offended? Would they see it as prejudicial? Would they see my label as a misrepresentation? If yes, then they understand how I feel when they slander me with their "mental-divorce" label!
I remind you that according to Pat Donahue and those included in his "we," that we are not required to define the labels we apply to our opponents. We must look only for a phrase that is "short and catchy." We simply pick a phrase and assign what we mean by it. It does not matter that it is misrepresenting, prejudicial, and insulting.
Please note: I will not lower myself to their level. It is sinful to misrepresent and insult an opponent in controversy. This does nothing but create prejudice. Prejudice is a mighty poor substitute for sincere Bible study. In fact, prejudice is one of the strongest weapons in the devil's arsenal.
Others and myself are defending what we firmly believe to be the Truth on the subject of the categorical right of an innocent person to do what Jesus said he can do. Let our opponents meet us on the honorable ground of controversy. Let them answer our arguments. Let them cease their lies and misrepresentations.