(Editor’s note: What follows in this article is a written debate between Max Burgin, a preacher in Australia and Donnie V. Rader a faithful gospel preacher. This debate was published in the Guardian of Truth Magazine in April of 1997. Brother Burgin is a proponent of error on the MDR issue. According to brother Burgin’s false doctrine, if a man puts away his wife for burning the biscuits, having bad hair or bad breath (a cause other than fornication), she is not free to marry again. But, if a man puts away his wife for committing fornication, she is free to marry again! Thus, Burgin’s doctrine puts a premium on the sin of fornication.
In my humble judgment, brother Donnie V. Rader soundly and scripturally refutes brother Burgin’s false doctrine. But, I ask that you not take my word for this; please read this written debate and see for yourself! Thank you! –tgmc)
Burgin - Rader Debate
Proposition: “The Scriptures Teach That a Person Put Away For Fornication Has a God-given Right to Marry”
I am very pleased to defend the truth on the issue of divorce and remarriage, in the face of opposition which is equal to any other in the two thousand year history of Christianity. The matter we are to discuss is of grave importance, and it affects many people, both inside and outside the body of Christ, so it is necessary that we come to grips with the issue.
As I begin, let me deal with the proposition. Firstly, let me point out that I did not write this proposition, it was presented to me, by the Guardian of Truth, and I accepted it, because it says exactly what I believe and teach. “The Scriptures teach. . .”, that is — they are not silent and I will point out exactly what they say. That should end all debate on the matter. We are not left with-out the necessary information to make a decision. We are not at liberty to express our own opinions, or to accept what is popular. A few years ago I saw a bumper sticker which said, “God said it, I believe it, that settles it.” For several days I thought it was great, until I finally recognized what is wrong with it. It has me as the final court of appeal. The matter is not decided unless I believe it. It ought to read — God said it, and that settles it, whether or not I believe it! We do not have to like a thing for it to be true. For example, do you like Hell for all forms of disobedience to God? Do you accept it as being true? Only if “The Scriptures teach it,” “God said it,” and “that settles it.” He speaks no other way. All else is only empty talk and sophistry, that establishes absolutely nothing. “... that a person put away for fornication ...,” there can be no doubt who is being talked about, not a person who is put away “except for fornication” (any other cause), but a person who is put away “because” of fornication. I hope you will keep in mind this is a totally different person. And it makes no difference if he is innocent or guilty. That must be decided before the divorce for it to be valid, or scriptural (Matt.19:9). It is too late to decide after the divorce. “... has a God-given right to marry.” God established marriage and any right to enter it is therefore “God-given,” and the only condition he placed on it is that one be single. It is the exact same right that any other person has who is single. One does not need to be free of sin to have the right to marry, but one must be free of marriage. God’s law for sin is different from his law for marriage.
Here I ask a very fundamental question. Is “a person put away for fornication,” “free of marriage” or “single”? That is what the issue is all about. If the answer is “yes,” the matter is settled. If “no,” who is he married to? Why is the divorce not valid? I will be interested to see what brother Rader has to say. He does not have a case whichever way he answers.
Brother Rader has the responsibility to deny that proposition. As such he will be denying what “the Scriptures teach,” as will be very plain. I would not want to be in that position.
Observe that the issue is decided solely on whether or not the divorce is valid, not upon who is guilty and who is innocent, that must be settled before the divorce, and as a result of a divorce “because” of adultery, both parties are as single as they ever were. They are not bound to any-body, or any thing, in spite of what many teach. It is not relevant after the divorce. Please keep that in mind.
Next, it is necessary for you to comment on the following syllogisms:
Major premise: Every unmarried person has the right to marry (Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 7:2, 27-28).
Minor premise: Every person divorced because of adultery is unmarried (Matt. 19:9).
Conclusion: Therefore every person divorced because of adultery may marry.
Among the other things that I believe is that marriage is to be permanent, but that God has placed it subject to the continued purity of those entering it. Also that God will not accept adultery in any circumstances whatsoever.
Major premise: One can divorce and remarry only if his partner has committed fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9).
Minor premise: The guilty party does not have a partner who has committed fornication.
Conclusion: Therefore the guilty party cannot remarry.
Major premise: All Australians are human beings. Minor premise: Donnie Rader is not an Australian. Conclusion: Therefore Donnie Rader is not a human being.
Number 2 is a false syllogism, but unless one knows why, he is likely to accept it since both the premises are true. But the conclusion does not follow. I have drawn up number 3 to show what is wrong with number 2. Both the premises are true, but the conclusion is false. Why? One of the rules for syllogisms that is broken here, is that it mixes both positive and negative statements, so it is not possible to reach a valid conclusion. For this syllogism to be valid, all the statements must be either positive or negative. Another rule that is broken, is that the principal (or subject) of the minor premise is not included in the principal of the major premise. So the conclusion is false. The exact same things are wrong with number 2. But number 2 has more than that wrong with it — it has a double subject. Which one is being talked about? While it is a true statement, all must therefore be concluded in a syllogism. Number 2 is worse than number 3, it has more things wrong with it. Why does one accept what it teaches, when he would reject a lesser error? If one accepts number 2, he must accept number 3. Does the third syllogism prove you are not a human being? Why do you not accept number 1? You can not show anything wrong with it, either scripturally or that it breaks any rule of logic, yet you will not accept it. Why? You don’t agree with me, but you can’t say why! You are not asked to like it, or to defend the sin involved, but you are expected to accept what “The Scriptures teach” — what they plainly and simply say. Do the Scriptures plainly and simply say that “a person put away for fornication” is “loosed from a wife” and may marry again without “sin”? What have I asked in that question that is not said in Scripture? And that is exactly what the issue is all about.
A few years ago in a debate my opponent said of number 2, “I accept it as a true syllogism.” That was a stupid thing to say. Quite apart from accepting all its mistakes, he just established that he was not a human being, for in accepting number 2 he had to accept number 3. What will you say? He said further that he rejected number 3 (it had his name in it) because, “It has two negatives in it, so it is not possible to reach a valid conclusion.” The exact thing can be said of number 2. It doesn’t matter what you do with number 3, I will do the identical thing with number 2. So it is not possible to accept one, and reject another, with identical faults. Why do you accept what it teaches? Maybe you want to rectify its mistakes and still retain the emotional language. Maybe it should read as follows:
Major premise: A person may not divorce and remarry except his partner has committed fornication (Matt. 5:32; 19:9).
Minor premise: The guilty party does not have a partner who has committed fornication,
Conclusion: Therefore the guilty party cannot divorce and remarry.
Will you now accept it? Does it still teach what you believe? I don’t want to force anything on you that you are not willing to embrace. All I did was rectify its mistakes, I was careful not to change anything that was said. This might come as surprise to you, but I readily accept it too, since it suddenly is what “The Scriptures teach” and “that settles it.” However I hasten to point out, that a totally different person is now referred to than any in the proposition. Please remember that. The reason that “the guilty party” cannot remarry, is not because he is guilty. The fact that he is guilty has nothing whatever to do with the matter. That is now a separate issue altogether. The reason “the guilty party” can’t remarry is because he “cannot divorce,” he is still a married man! That is very simple and easy to be understood. Do “the Scriptures teach” it, and has “God said it”? Do you believe it? Do you accept “that settles it”? If the answer is “Yes,” “Yes,” “Yes,” you have no case.
What do you want to change about number 1 before you will accept it? Please feel free to change it if it does not teach the truth, but if it is right, it must be accepted. It is right already in everything it says, and it will stand any test. Before you can reject it you must establish that it is wrong, otherwise it will stand, and must be accepted. And it deals exactly with the proposition. I am sure you recognize that it is necessary to keep the right person in mind as we consider this issue. Someone once said, “If what you are doing is really worthwhile, you will be able to build out of the very bricks that opposition throws.” The beauty of this is seen in the fact that it came from the opposition.
Another “brick,” in its confusion was publicly endorsed by the Guardian of Truth in the “Halbrook-Freeman Debate” a few years ago when Halbrook said, : “‘Except’ is equal to ‘if and only if’ provided we add the word “not” to give it the proper “force,” (the proposition, “one is put away for fornication”) therefore, he does “not” commit adultery. But I would add that in a further marriage he had “not sinned.” What error are you called upon to accept? To place the word “not” anywhere else, is to contradict the Lord and to change what he said and to leave it out would not be an accurate quote. I have fully accepted it. I have kept it. I have inserted it in the only place where it does not contradict or change anything the Lord said. The beauty of this is the fact that it came from the opposition yet it says exactly what I teach. But brother Rader is in trouble whatever he does with it. Where exactly do you intend to insert it? Think about it! It is obvious that in your position, you are doomed by leaving it in — or doomed by taking it out! I would not want to be in that situation. You cannot have it both ways, which is it to be? Is the Lord right or are you right? It is very plain that you need to change your position, to be consistent with what “The Scriptures teach.” The issue is very simple — every person divorced “because” of adultery is single, and therefore may many, and every person divorced “except for adultery” is still married, in heaven’s sight, and therefore may not remarry. It is a different matter altogether whether or not they are right with God. “The Scriptures teach” it, therefore “God said it,” does that settle it? Or are you the final court of appeal because you don’t like it? I could not have said it better, or clearer, myself — if I tried! And it states my position! Its beauty is the fact it came from the opposition! He completely destroyed himself, but what will you say?
If we accept 1 Corinthians 7 we learn from verse 2 that “every” person may marry. Is this true only of those who are not in sin? And from verses 27-28 that if one is “loosed from” a spouse he does “not sin” if he marries again. Here is Scripture that says exactly what I teach, so I have stood by the proposition. So a person must either accept your position or what “The Scriptures teach,” since it is not possible to accept both. But one can accept what I teach and all Scripture, for what I teach is what “The Scriptures teach.” Is a man who is divorced because of adultery “loosed from a wife”? Does he sin or commit adultery if he marries again? Can one be “loosed from” what he was never “bound to”? This you must deny while you are faithful to your position. If you accept the proposition, please quote Scripture for your answer.
Please also give an answer to each of the following questions. To show they are not trick questions, but have to do with what you teach, I have answered them all. But what will you say?
Following a scriptural divorce are both parties single? Yes (Matt.19:9).
May a person, guilty of any sin, who is single get mar-tied? Yes (Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 7:2). Observe that this pas-sage necessarily includes any who were divorced for adultery, and notice 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
Is a person, who is divorced because of adultery, single? Yes (Matt.19:9).
How can single people commit adultery when they many? They can’t. Adultery, by definition, requires that there be a marriage.
What single person is forbidden, in Scripture, the right to many? None, if he is rightly single.
Can a person, who is guilty of adultery, remain married and not be celibate? Yes. He does not have to be divorced, even if he does not repent.
Why is celibacy only bound on some who are guilty of adultery? Because you are a respecter of persons and feel good about it. The Scriptures nowhere teach this. In fact, forbidding to marry is said to be the mark of a false religion. The matter can be easily cleared up, if you will only cite the Scripture.
What is the punishment for the sin of adultery? Hell. Will any who is guilty escape it? No. Not even if it is kept secret. It will be metered out by the One who knows all things.
If celibacy is not imposed as punishment, why is it imposed? So that one can comply with a doctrine of men. It is supposed to keep the guilty one, straight. It is “vain” and will achieve nothing It is not taught in “the doctrine of Christ” and, therefore, it “hath not God.”
These questions are raised by your position and need to be answered. It is not possible for you to even frame a question that I can’t answer, or that will cause any difficulty. What will you ask? Yet I have asked many questions that you cannot answer, and will lead to great harm. If you answer them either way, you have no case! What are you going to do? Indeed you do not have the truth! To some of these questions if you answer “no,” you will be wrong, and in violation of Scripture. If you answer “yes,” you will be right, for you will have Scripture, and there will be no case for what you believe. My position answers them all, and any other, while at the same time being compatible with all Scripture, while you cannot answer them all and still hold your position. It therefore is not the truth, and you can’t cite any passage that my position violates. I am not caught in any contradiction, while you have no case whatsoever. Which one is the truth?
A person does not need to be forgiven for being scripturally divorced. Adultery is the sin, not the divorce. The divorce is sanctioned by God for all people, both Christians and non-Christians. Please remember that. And one does not need to be divorced. I can cite a passage that speaks of those “forbidding to marry” and it does not speak very kindly of those who teach it. Why do you forbid marriage?
The issue is summed up in one question. If a woman who is divorced because of adultery remarries, does she sin? If so, identify the sin (what are you going to call it?). Give the passage. Please remember to keep the right woman in mind.
There is much more that could be said on the issue. However, I need to stay with the proposition and more space is not necessary to prove such a simple issue. If you have the truth, neither the proposition nor anything I’ve said will cause you any trouble. On the other hand, if my position is the truth, it has no answer, and you will not be able to prove it wrong. Which is it to be? The whole issue will rest on whether or not you quote Scripture to support what you believe.
I have stayed with the proposition and dealt with it and kept the matter very simple, so that no one will have any difficulty following what I’ve said. I see no need in making a simple matter more complex. I have every right to expect the same in reply.
You must deny the very thing you will finally accept, for you will by judged by Scripture. It is not possible to deny what the Scriptures teach, without denying the Scriptures themselves. But then it will be too late. I would rather accept them now when they can still do some good.
The proposition is very clear, direct to the point, and is supported by what “The Scriptures teach” in everything it says, while there is no such thing as a passage of Scripture that teaches what you believe. How on earth are you going to deny it without reverting to “empty talk or sophistry”?
You have much to answer for, and I look forward to your denial. I, and the readers, shall be looking for the answers. The pressure is on.
Donnie V. Rader
“The Scriptures Teach That a Person Put Away For Fornication Has a God-given Right to Marry”
I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the issue of divorce and remarriage with Max Burgin. I do not personally know brother Burgin, hence I have no reason to have any ill will or animosity toward him. I will treat him with respect and kindness in this discussion.
The proposition reads, “The Scriptures teach that a person put away for fornication has a God-given right to remarry.” Brother Burgin says that this proposition “says exactly what I believe and teach.” Thus, his position is that one who has been put away for fornication (the guilty party) can scripturally remarry.
The Issue Between Us
The issue is not: (1) Is the put away fornicator scripturally divorced? We both believe that he is. (2) Is the put away fornicator no longer married (single)? We both believe that he is single. (3) Must one be forgiven of sin in order to marry? We both agree that whether or not the put away fornicator is forgiven has nothing to do with his right to remarry. Since these are not areas of disagreement, brother Burgin has and will waste time and space to argue about them.
The issue is: Does the Bible teach that one who has been put away for fornication can remarry?
What Does Matthew 19:9 Say?
While there are other passages that deal with divorce and remarriage (Mau. 5:32; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Rom. 7:2-3; and 1 Cor. 7) this text well summarizes the Lord’s teaching on the subject. The text reads:
“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
Jesus distinguishes between one who puts away his mate and one who is put away by his mate. Read the text carefully. Part A of the text (“And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery”) deals with the one who puts away his mate. Part B of the text (“and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery”) deals with the one who is put away. If I want to know whether one who puts away his mate has a right to remarry, I will learn about that from part A of Matthew 19:9. If I want to know whether one who is put away has a right to remarry, I will learn that from part B of Matthew 19:9.
In part A of our text we learn that (1) one who puts his mate away for fornication and remarries another does not commit adultery. We also learn from that same clause that (2) one who puts away his mate for some cause other than fornication and remarries commits adultery. Part A of Matthew 19:9 does not tell us anything about the person of our proposition.
In part B of Matthew 19:9 we learn that one who is put away commits adultery when he remarries. There is no exception phrase in this clause. Thus, the one who is put away includes the one put away for fornication and one put away for some cause other than fornication. The per-son of our proposition (one put away for fornication) is in part B of Matthew 19:9. The person in Matthew 19:9b cannot remarry. When he does, he commits adultery.
The Marriage And The Bond
Romans 7:2-3 clearly teaches a distinction in the marriage and the bond. The text says, “For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” This distinction is obvious from the fact that the woman in this text is bound to her first husband, though she is married to another man. Thus, it is possible to be bound to one and married to another. If the bond and the marriage are the same, one would be bound to the one to whom he is married.
Marriage is a relationship entered into by agreement and ratified by compliance with civil law. The bond is a covenant with God that joins one to his mate (cf. Matt. 19:6; Mal. 2:14; Rom. 7:2; 1 Cor. 7:39).
Brother Burgin confuses the marriage and the bond. His position demands that he make the marriage and the bond one and the same. According to his position, when one is no longer married, he is no longer bound. He spent a lot of space talking about whether the “put away fornicator” is single. His argument is that if he is not married (single), he is not bound (free to remarry).
Burgin’s position also assumes that if a divorce is not scriptural, it is not a real divorce. But if it is a divorce for fornication, the divorce is real. If a marriage is scriptural, it is a real marriage. However, if one enters into an unscriptural marriage, it is not a real marriage. Here is how this works: If Jack puts Jill away for some trivial cause, they are not really divorced. They are still “married” (in the eyes of God) according to Burgin. Thus, neither has the right to marry again. They are not “single.” But, if Jack put Jill away for fornication, they are really divorced. They are both single. Thus, both have a right to remarry. But, brother Burgin is confusing the marriage and the bond. For one to still be bound (so he is not free to marry) harmonizes with Romans 7:2-3. But, Burgin has to have him still “married” if he is not free to marry another.
Marriage that is scriptural (approved of God) is called a marriage (Heb. 13:4; Matt. 19:9;1 Cor. 7:9, 28). If a marriage is unscriptural (God does not approve), it is still a marriage. The woman in Romans 7 was “married” to another man and still called an adulteress. Herod “had married” Herodias, though it was not “lawful” (Mark 6:17-18). Even in Matthew 19:9 (part A) Jesus used the term “put away” and “marry another” to describe both scriptural and unscriptural marriages.
Burgin’s First Affirmative
Brother Burgin’s first affirmative, though lengthy, made only four arguments and then asked some questions.
1. The single can remarry. Burgin’s first argument is that the put away fornicator can remarry since he is “single.” This confuses the marriage and the bond as we have noted above. Not all those who are single have the right to remarry (cf. Rom. 7:2-3). The divorce of 1 Corinthians 7:10 leaves one “unmarried” (1 Cor. 7:11). However, this one was to “remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband.” My point is not that this is the one put away for fornication. My point is that this divorced one was single, yet could not marry another. Thus, Burgin’s argument does not stand.
2. Syllogisms. Brother Burgin gives three syllogisms. The first he claims is valid and proves his point. The second he attributes to me. The third he gives to show the absurdity of the second.
In the first syllogism, the major premise is faulty. He says, “Every unmarried person has the right to marry (Gen. 2:18; 1 Cor. 7:2, 27-28).” “We have just noticed that not all single people can remarry (see The single can remarry above). Does brother Burgin think that the woman mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:11 (who is “unmarried”) has a right to marry again? He again confuses the marriage and the bond. Since his major premise is unfounded, his conclusion is unfounded as well.
Concerning the second syllogism Burgin said, “A few years ago, in a debate my opponent said of number 2, ‘I accept it as a true syllogism.’” I notice, brother Burgin, that you didn’t cite any reference where I said that. That could be because I didn’t say it. I have never given that syllogism before. Though I have written on this subject, I have never had an oral or written debate, until now, on the subject. Brother Burgin, our readers will expect you to cite some proof that I have made that argument.
The third syllogism is supposed to show the absurdity of the second. He indicates that I have commented on this before (I suppose in the debate he thinks I had). Remember, I haven’t made the argument presented in syllogism number 2.
Burgin then adds the word “divorce” to syllogism number 2 and says he accepts it. He concludes, “Therefore the guilty party cannot divorce and remarry.” He comments, “The reason ‘the guilty party’ cannot remarry is because he ‘cannot divorce.’ He is still a married man!” Our brother again is confusing the marriage and the bond. He says, “The beauty of this (referring to this syllogism that he added “divorce” to — DVR) is seen in the fact that it came from the opposition.” Tell us where I used anything like that syllogism, brother Burgin! You cite no references and give no proof.
3. Adding the word “not” to the text. Burgin refers to a point Ron Halbrook made in the Holbrook-Freeman Debate (Published by Guardian of Truth). Ron’s point was that the word “except” in the phrase “except it be for fornication” has the meaning of “if and only if.” Ron pointed out that John 3:5 said that “except one is born of the water and spirit he cannot enter the kingdom.” You see the word “except” working with the “not”? “Now then, if you are born of the water and of the spirit, the ‘not’ goes away ... and you enter the kingdom” (p. 84). Thus, Matthew 19:9 must be understood to say that one who puts his mate away and marries another commits adultery. When the exception phrase is added, the word “not” is understood. Thus, one who put his mate away for fornication and remarries does not commit adultery. That was the point Ron made in the debate.
Brother Burgin didn’t do any better understanding Ron Halbrook than he did our Lord. He misapplied Ron’s point. Burgin applied it to the one put away for fornication saying that this one does “not” commit adultery and does “not” commit sin.
Our brother has added the word “not” to part B of Matthew 19:9. The point we made above is that the word “not” is implied by the exception phrase. Whether the word “not” is implied or added to part A of Matthew 19:9 doesn’t help with Burgin’s proposition. Part A deals with one who puts away his mate. But, brother Burgin must add and has added it to the text. Part B of Matthew 19:9 is the part speaking of one who is put away. I remind you, brother Burgin, there is no exception phrase in part B of Matthew 19:9. You, my friend, have added to the word of God (Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:18-19).
4. 1 Corinthians 7:2, 27-28. Burgin argues from 1 Corinthians 7:2 that “‘every’ person may marry.” Really, brother Burgin? What about one who puts his mate away for some cause other than fornication? You don’t think he can marry do you? Is he a part of “every person”? What about one who has been put away for some cause other than fornication? If he means every person who is “single” (meaning scripturally divorced), he again is confusing the marriage and the bond.
Our friend says that vv. 27-28 support his proposition. He says, “. . . if one is ‘loosed from’ a spouse he does ‘not sin’ if he marries again.” Again, our brother makes the assumption that the put away fornicator is “loosed” from the bond of marriage. His argument assumes the very point to be proven. He confuses the marriage and the bond. He assumes that the bond is removed because this is a scriptural (“real”) divorce. Matthew 19:9 shows that the one who puts away his mate for fornication is “loosed” because he can remarry. There is nothing in Matthew 19:9 or any other text that shows the one put away for fornication can remarry. Thus, he is still bound.
But, back to 1 Corinthians 7:27-28. In the first part of v. 27 when Paul says, “seek not to be loosed,” he means “‘Do not be seeking release’ (lusin) from the marriage bond ...” (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, IV:132). But when he says, “Art thou loosed from a wife? Seek not a wife,” (the part Burgin is arguing from) the word “loosed” is from a different word. “Bachelors as well as widowers are included in lelusai....” (A.T. Robertson, Ibid., 132). Thus, in the first part of v. 27, “loosed” refers to divorce, whereas in the second part “loosed” refers not to divorce, but to one who has never married or his mate is dead.
Questions Burgin Asked Me
1. Following a scriptural divorce are both parties single? Yes.
2. May a person, guilty of any sin, and who is single get married? Not all single people can marry (Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:11).
3. Is a person, who is divorced because of adultery, single? Yes.
4. How can single people commit adultery when they marry? Burgin said, “Adultery, by definition, requires that there be a marriage.” In Matthew 19:9 Jesus used the word “adultery” in the very way that Burgin thinks it cannot be used. The one who “puts away” (divorces) his wife (thus not married anymore) and marries another commits adultery! Walter Bauer says that the word “adultery” is used, “2. Of a man, who marries a divorced woman Mt. 5:326; 19:9 v. 1. or who marries again after divorcing his wife 19:9...” (A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament And Other Early Christian Literature 526). A close look at Romans 7:2-3 shows that the reason a re-marriage is adultery is because one is still bound to a pervious mate.
5. What single person is forbidden, in Scripture, the right to marry? One who puts his mate away for some cause other than fornication (Matt. 19:9). One who is put away (Matt. 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b).
6. Can a person who is guilty of adultery remain married and not be celibate? Yes (I am assuming that he is talking about remaining married to the first mate). If he is talking about continuing with the second mate (in an adulterous marriage), the answer is no.
7. Why is celibacy only bound on some who are guilty of adultery? Celibacy is bound upon all who do not have a right to remarry.
8. What is the punishment for sin of adultery? Hell (Rev. 21:8).
9. If celibacy is not imposed as punishment, why is it imposed? Any who does not have a right to remarry can only be reconciled or remain unmarried (1 Cor. 7:11).
Questions For Max Burgin
1. Is there a difference in the marriage and the bond?
2. If God had intended that the guilty party could not remarry and the innocent party could, how could God have worded Matthew 19:9 to so teach?
3. Does Matthew 19:9b include one who is put away for fornication?
4. In Matthew 19:9 when Jesus used the expressions “put away,” “marries another,” and “is put away,” was he referring to scriptural or unscriptural divorce and remarriage?
5. Is there any such thing as an “unscriptural divorce” or an “unscriptural marriage”?
You can give Scripture that says a person divorced “except for adultery, may not remarry.” You can’t give Scripture that says a person divorced because of adultery, can’t. That is what you are obligated to give Scripture for.
You listed several things “The issue is not,” this is exactly what it is all about! You are completely undone by agreeing they are single, yet out of the other side of your mouth, you say they are still bound! You failed to say to what, or to whom. If it is a law, state it. If it is a person, say whom. Why can’t a person who is single get married? You have invented a distinction, it has no substance! If one party is not bound, what binds the other party?
Answer the question “The issue is.” You state “Matthew 19:9 does not tell us anything about the person of our proposition.” You say “the person of Matthew19:9b cannot marry. When he does, he commits adultery.” A classic case of not having the right person in mind, I have already pointed to the need to keep the right people in mind. You spent considerable time in Romans 7 making a distinction between marriage and the bond. After a scriptural divorce the man lives, but not as her husband. This passage is not relevant. You state, “If the bond and marriage are the same, one would be bound to the one to whom he is married.” Exactly! How could one “be reconciled to her husband” if she did not have one? You misused the passage!
I did not say you used these syllogisms, but asked you to comment on them. I have not added to the word of God; you have by making a distinction where none exists!
In answer to my question, “What single person is for-bidden, in Scripture, the right to marry?”, you said “One who puts away his mate for some cause other than fornication (Matt.19:9). One who is put away (Matt. 5:32; 19:9; Luke 16:18b).” This is wrong — it ignores the reason Jesus gave, the divorce is not valid or recognized by heaven. My question stands, and is what the issue is all about.
Your job is to deny the proposition, and give Scripture for what you believe. Instead you have talked about other matters. If you persist in talking about other matters, I urge you to accept the proposition I sent, viz. “The Scriptures teach that a person divorced, because of his adultery, must remain unmarried.”
Matthew19:9 was not written as part A and part B, but Jesus was speaking about the divorce, and he deals with the same people throughout. It was not necessary to mention the exception again.
To say that 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 refers to people never married is ridiculous. One cannot be “loosed from” what he was never “bound to.” One can only be “loosed from a wife” by death or scriptural divorce.
Now to answer your questions
1. Is there a difference in the marriage and the bond? No. You can’t have one without the other. You did nothing to establish any difference.
2. If God intended that the guilty party could not marry and the innocent party could, how could God have worded Matthew 19:9 to so teach? That is what you teach, the problem remains yours! The passage is clear and simple.
3. Does Matthew 19:9b include one who is put away for fornication? No, He is not talking about them, but about those who commit adultery, they are therefore married and the divorce is not valid.
4. In Matthew 19:9 when Jesus used the expression “put away,” “marries another,” and “is put away,” was he referring to scriptural or unscriptural divorce and remarriage? Unscriptural. He was talking about those “put away for any cause.”
5. Is there such a thing as an “unscriptural divorce” or an “unscriptural marriage”? Yes, in every case where it does not comply with Scripture. But the marriage of people who are single, is not one of them! And you agree they are single, if divorced because of adultery.
I shall be very interested in what you have to say. Be sure to keep the right people in mind.
Donnie V. Rader
Brother Burgin’s job in the affirmative is to give proof of his proposition. He made no real argument in his second affirmative.
Our brother said, “You can’t give Scripture that says a person divorced because of adultery, can’t (remarry DVR).” I remind our readers that I cited Matthew 19:9 showing that part A of that text deals with one who puts away his mate, while part B deals with one who is put away. Matthew 19:9a teaches that one who puts away his mate for fornication can remarry. Matthew 19:9b teaches that one who is put away (no exception given — thus including all who are put away) commits adultery when he remarries.
He said that I stated, “Matthew 19:9 does not tell us anything about the person of our proposition.” I did not say that. Brother Burgin is quite careless in quoting me. What I said was, “Part A of Matthew 19:9 does not tell us any-thing about the person of our proposition” (First Negative, parag. 8). That doesn’t mean that part B of Matthew 19:9 doesn’t deal with one who is put away for fornication. I have shown that it does.
Our brother said, “Matthew 19:9 is not written as part A and part B.” No one has said that Jesus labeled it as “Part A” and “Part B.” However, as I showed in the first negative, there are two independent clauses. The first deals with the one who puts away his mate. The second clause (I simply call “part B” for clarity) deals with one who is put away.
Brother Burgin says of Matthew 19:9, “. . . He deals with the same people throughout. It was not necessary to mention the exception again.” He is implying (though he hasn’t developed his argument) that the exception phrase (“except it be for fornication”) is to be understood in part B of Matthew 19:9. Thus, part B of the text would read, “and whoso marrieth her which is put away, except it be for fornication, doth commit adultery.” The exception phrase in our text cannot grammatically modify both the first and last parts of Matthew 19:9. It is used as an “adverbial” phrase in Part A (qualifying “shall put away”). If it modifies the second clause, it would be a “adjectival” phrase (qualifying “is put away”). It doesn’t fit textually or grammatically.
Marriage and the Bond
In reference to the marriage and the bond, brother Burgin asks to what or to whom is one bound. Romans 7:2 says a woman is bound “by the law to her husband.” It is God’s law that binds her. She is bound to her first husband.
In answer to my first question, he said that the marriage and the bond were the same. Yet, the woman in Romans 7:2-3 was bound to her first husband though she had married another.
Burgin asks, “If one party is not bound, what binds the other party?” God’s law (Rom. 7:2; Matt. 19:9). God has loosed the one who puts his mate away for fornication (Matt. 19:9a). God has not loosed the one who is put away (Matt. 19:9b). Thus, he is still bound.
I had said, “If the bond and the marriage are the same, one would be bound to the one to whom he is married.” Burgin replied, “Exactly.” Let’s see how that would work. Since Herod had “married” Herodias (Mark 6:17), Burgin must think he was bound to her. Surely not, brother Burgin! He asked, “How could one ‘be reconciled to her husband’ if she did not have one?” The point of 1 Corinthians 7:11 is that she is to be reconciled to the one to whom she is bound. “Husband” is here translated from aner which is the word for man. She is to be reconciled to the man to whom she is bound.
In his second article Burgin said, “I did not say you used these syllogisms, but asked you to comment on them.” I remind you that you said, “A few years ago in a debate my opponent said of number 2, ‘I accept it as a true syllogism.’” I am your opponent. You said that I said, “I accept it as a true syllogism” in a debate a few years ago. I asked you, brother Burgin, to cite the proof of your statement. You didn’t do it! Again, you are careless in quoting me. I didn’t say that in a debate. In fact, I didn’t have a debate on this subject a few years ago.
1 Corinthians 7:27-28
Concerning the use of the word “loosed” in 1 Corinthians 7:27-28, please consider again my quotes from A.T. Robertson. He said the word “loosed” in “Are you loosed from a wife?” means, “Bachelors as well as widowers are included in lelusai....” (A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 132). The word doesn’t mean that he had been bound, but that he is not bound (cf. Thayer, 384).
In answer to my question about the terms “put away,” “marries another,” and “is put away” referring to scriptural or unscriptural divorce and remarriage, brother Burgin said they referred to “unscriptural.” According to your view, how could one “put away” or be “put away” if it is unscriptural? Remember, if it is not for fornication, you claim they are still married. And don't forget that from those same terms in Matthew 19:9a we learn about a man who puts away his wife for fornication and a man who puts away his wife for some other cause. Are both of those unscriptural?
I asked him if there was any such thing as an “unscriptural marriage” and an “unscriptural divorce.” He said, “Yes.” How could that be? According to you, if it is an unscriptural divorce (for a cause other than fornication), it is not a real divorce. You say they are still married. If it is an unscriptural marriage, you don’t think they are really married. Surely, not. For if they were, they would be bound according to you. Remember, you think marriage and the bond are one and the same.
Brother Burgin, please make some solid arguments in your last affirmative.
You are confused! You have the wrong people in mind! Romans 7:2-3 does not deal with a woman who had married again, she was “bound” to her husband. After a scriptural divorce, if one party is “loosed” there is nothing to “bind” the other. You can’t have half a marriage, where only one party is bound. Certainly the people are in the passage Matthew 19:9, but not in the proposition, we learn of them in the exception. Are they single? You agree, for once you have stayed with the point! Simple once you see it, isn’t it?! The issue is, do they commit adultery if they marry again? If so, against whom and how? Answer the question that you said “The issue is.” Be sure to stay with the point and keep the right people in mind. You can’t! You said what the issue is, you framed the question, can you answer it? You have them bound and single at the same time. What a ridiculous position! If one is single, he is not bound. If one is bound, he is not single. It is not possible to be part of both! That is the whole point. You say my major premise “is faulty.” How? What does it say that is wrong? You were not “my opponent in debate a few years ago.” Use a little common sense!
I was asked, by the Guardian Of Truth, to debate what I teach and they drew up the proposition. I have fully honored my part, in spite of the fact that at first, I did not understand what was required.
You have given no Scripture to deny the proposition, therefore you have no case whatsoever and are a false teacher. You have not even given one passage that teaches a “guilty sinner,” who is single, can’t get married. Of course you can’t, there is none! But that is what the issue is all about. It’s just that simple! That is what you teach and that is what you must prove. Be very sum to stay with the point. Is marriage only for Christians? Must one be right with God to have the right to marry? That, in effect, is what you teach! I have given Scripture to support everything that I have said and the proposition. As a result, I claim to be a guardian of truth and there is no answer. I therefore claim to have the truth.
I said, “There is no such thing as Scripture that says what you teach.” You did not reply to that charge. I assume you agree! That is what the issue is all about!
Does a man who is divorced, because of adultery, have “his own wife”? Does it make any difference if he is “guilty” or “innocent”? Is he included in “every man”? Is he “loosed from a wife” and has “not sinned” if he marries again? Of course the scriptural answers are — No! No! Yes! Yes! Since you agree he is single, you must agree with all this. There is no Scripture that teaches what you believe, you therefore have conceded the debate. It is clear “The Scriptures teach” exactly what the proposition says. I rest the case.
It has been a pleasure to defend the truth.
Donnie V. Rader
The proposition that brother Burgin agreed to defend says, “The Scriptures teach that a person put away for fornication has a God given right to remarry.” Thus, his position is that one who has been put away for fornication (the guilty party) can scripturally remarry.
I pointed out from the first negative that the issue is not: (1) Is the put away fornicator scripturally divorced? We both believe that he is. (2) Is the put away fornicator no longer married (single)? We both believe that he is single. (3) Must one be forgiven of sin in order to many? We both agree that whether the put away fornicator is forgiven or not has nothing to do with his right to remarry. Since these are not areas of disagreement, brother Burgin has wasted time and space to argue about them. The issue is: Does the Bible teach that one who has been put away for fornication can remarry?
Things With Which Burgin Did Not Deal
1. The exception phrase doesn’t fit into the second clause. Brother Burgin argued that the exception phrase applied to the second clause in Matthew 19:9. I pointed out that it does not fit textually or grammatically and gave evidence. He didn’t say a word about it.
2. If the marriage and the bond are the same, what about Herod? Burgin has contended that the marriage and the bond are the same. Thus, if one is married, he is bound. So, I asked him about Herod and Herodias (Mark 6:17). The text says he “married” her. Were they bound? Brother Burgin didn’t say a word about that either.
3. “Loosed” (1 Cor. 7:27-28) doesn’t mean he had been bound, but that he is not bound. In response to brother Burgin, I pointed out that the word “loosed” did not mean the person had been bound. It simply says he is not bound. I cited A.T. Robertson and Thayer as evidence. What did brother Burgin say about that?
Burgin’s Third Affirmative
1. The woman in Romans 7:2-3. Burgin said, “Romans 7:2-3 does not deal with a woman who had married again, she was ‘bound’ to her husband.” Yes, verse 2 says she is bound to her first husband. But, verse 3 says, “So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress” (emphasis mine, DVR). And he says I’m the one confused.
2. One party bound? He said, “You can’t have a half marriage, where only one party is bound.” No one has argued for a “half marriage.” I’ve simply shown the distinction in the marriage and the bond. The woman in Romans 7:2-3 was bound to one, though married to another. In that Matthew 19:9a teaches that one who puts away his mate for fornication can remarry, while Matthew 19:9b teaches that one who is put away cannot, we conclude that one party is free to remarry and the other is not. Thus, one is bound and the other is not. That’s confusing to one who thinks the marriage and the bond are the same.
3. His syllogism. He asked why I said (in 1st negative) his major premise was “faulty.” I explained that in detail in my first negative (paragraph # 18).
4. Right with God to marry? Burgin asked, “Must one be right with God to have the right to many?” No. That’s not the question. I have not argued that. Whether his life is right with God or not, the one who puts away his mate for fornication has the right to remarry (Matt. 19:9). Whether his life is right with God or not, the one who is put away cannot remarry (Matt. 19:9).
Guardian of Truth XLI: 7 p. 18-27, April 3, 1997