"Put-Away" Versus "Putting-Away"
by Tim Haile
August 18, 2003
Have you ever noticed that some brethren do a great amount of talking and writing about the "status" of the "put-away" woman, but they never say a thing about the status of the "putting-away" man! They are quick to argue that the "put-away" woman in Bible divorce scenarios has no right to marry another, but they are absolutely silent about the marital rights of the one doing the putting away. Perhaps someone needs to construct a website exclusively devoted to discussing the "status" of the putting-away party! Article after article could be posted explaining that one is prohibited remarriage on the mere basis of him being the "putting-away" person! None exist of which I am aware.
Let us take a few minutes to consider whether the Bible makes a distinction between the "status" of a "putting-away" party and a "put-away" party. Some brethren have very erroneously made here a difference without a distinction!
Matthew 5:32 teaches that one is guilty of causing his wife to commit adultery (by her marrying another) if he puts her away for any cause except fornication. She commits adultery in remarriage because her husband had not committed fornication against her (Matt. 19:9a).
Matthew 19:9 teaches that one commits adultery when he puts away his wife for every cause but fornication, and marries another. Jesus further explained that the put-away woman also commits adultery by marrying another. According to the actual scenario discussed in this passage, both the one doing the putting away, and the one put away, commit adultery upon remarriage. This is true because neither one had the scriptural cause of fornication allowing him to put away his mate and marry another (Matt. 19:9a).
Mark 10:11 teaches that a man commits adultery by putting away his wife and marrying another. This is true because he put his wife away not for the cause of fornication (Matt. 19:9a).
Luke 16:18 teaches that a man commits adultery by putting away his wife and marrying another. It furthermore teaches that the put-away woman commits adultery if she marries another. Neither one had the right to marry another because neither one had the scriptural cause of fornication allowing him to put away his mate and marry another (Matt. 19:9a).
Now, let us do the math. In three of these passages (Matt. 19:9; Mk. 10:11; Lk. 16:18), the one doing the putting away was prohibited from marrying another. Why? Because the cause of fornication was not in evidence. And in three of these passages (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Lk. 16:18), the one who was put away was prohibited from marrying another. Why? Because the cause of fornication was not in evidence.
So, what is the difference between a "put-away" person and a "putting-away" person in marriages not involving fornication? There is no difference. In such scenarios, neither one may remarry with God's approval. The putting-away person is prohibited remarriage on the same basis as the put-away person! This being obviously true, why is it that some brethren perpetually harp on the "status" of the "put-away" person, but say precious little about the "status" of the "putting-away" person? Does this seem inconsistent to you? It should.
We must free our minds from the prejudice that has been attached to the alleged "put-away status." One actually aligns himself with 1st century Pharisees when he allows divorce procedure to triumph over divorce cause. Jesus' divorce teaching is not for the purpose of empowering godless and treacherous men to nullify the repudiation rights of their innocent wives. It is just the opposite! His teaching, in Matthew 19:9a, empowers the innocent, against whom fornication has been committed.
None of the above passages teach the concept of a race-to-repudiation. Matthew 19:9a teaches the right of an innocent person to put away a fornicator-mate for the cause of his fornication and marry another. It is not a matter of who first rejects whom: It is a matter of who has the right to reject!