Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 2, 1964
NUMBER 34, PAGE 8-9,11b-13

On Marriage, Divorce And Remarriage

Gene Frost

Years ago I learned that error prefers brief encounters with truth. In brief and limited studies error can hide behind sophistry, equivocation, and misrepresentation with some effectiveness, but as a discussion progresses these things lose effectiveness and error eventually stands naked and exposed. For this reason, convinced that brother Moyer is propagating a theory of a most grievous nature, I asked him to continue this discussion following the Guardian series with a number of articles of mutual agreement and of length to be published in one binding. I had hoped that by continually exposing his evasions and misrepresentations, that he would be compelled to deal with the argumentation and come to recognize his error. If not, then it would be most evident to the reader. With the truth I have no fear of such a study. But brother Moyer refuses. Even so, I would that another who accepts his theory would attempt it with Lloyd's permission for the whole to be published together. I know that such a book would serve truth well. (After an exchange in bulletins this is the arrangement that brother Luther Dabney and I made, the result being, I believe, an interesting and profitable study in the Dabney-Frost Debate on the subject: "Must adulterers separate before being baptized?")

The fact that I fear that brother Moyer's name will pass unto future generations in infamy Lloyd thinks indicates a bad attitude that I have toward him. No, rather it indicates my attitude toward his doctrine. And if I did not think it ungodly I would not have opposed it. I thought that I had made it plain that in abhorring the doctrine I loved him who is deceived by it. And since the theory seems destined to bear his name, I appeal to him to turn from it. I still do.

And though I am sorry that Lloyd continues to attempt a defense of his theory — I would that he would give it up, write no more in its behalf — but as he does then I would have it thoroughly refuted to his satisfaction that he might be turned from it. If this desire is a "debater's trick," and he seems to know a lot about such things, I knew it not. If I know my heart, it is not victory over Lloyd Moyer that I desire, but a victory of truth over error and the well-being of Lloyd in the process. This I have tried to keep clear from the beginning, to let it be understood that personalities are not involved, at least on my part. I have respect and love for brother Moyer, and for this reason felt that I was one who could profitably study with him without extraneous matters becoming involved. In this I am frankly disappointed in him, but love him nevertheless and pray for him to see the error of his position.

In this summation I hope to trace the study to the present, calling attention to evasions, misrepresentations, quibbles, etc., as they appear in his defense of his new theory. (I say "new" not in the sense that every facet originated with him, but as he is the author of the concept, in that he has systematized and championed it.) I will not concern myself with answering personal reflections as "Does Brother Frost have the idea that he speaks 'ex-cathedra'," "I will not play God....I shall leave that role to Brother Frost," etc. These expressions have no place in honorable discussion, and serve only to show the frustration of the one who employs them.

The Theory

Brother Lloyd Moyer's theory is designed to sanction all marriages, whether entered in respect of God's will or in contempt thereof and involving adulterous connection. Brother Moyer sets forth three elements as constituting a marriage: (1) "mutual agreement of a man and woman to live together as husband and wife," (2) complying with "the demands of the civil authorities," and (3) "cohabitation." Only the three are listed and of them he says, "Where these elements exist, God recognizes a marriage." When man makes void the elements with one mate, he is free to establish them with a second. And he may continue to contract, void, contract, void, and contract marriage ad infinitum, and we are informed that each and every marriage God recognizes and sanctions! Where an element is nullified by sin God does not approve of the sin but He does approve of the result!

Take, for example, a man who "becomes 'one flesh' with any person other than the one to whom he is married": the marriage "has ceased to be that which God ordained," we are told. Two elements "have been destroyed"; the person is only one-third married. Before the man and his wife may enjoy the marriage relationship they must "restore to the marriage the two elements which have been destroyed." Otherwise, we are told that they see, they are no longer fully married — just one-third married! If the persons please, either one of them (or both) may establish these two elements with another party; hence he is one-third married to the first and two-thirds married to the second party! (And Lloyd talks about half-marriages!!) When the third element of the first marriage is broken, the marriage ceases. "NO MARRIAGE EXISTS." Then as established with the second party, he is altogether married and God sanctions such a union!

The concept becomes amusing (except for the seriousness of the situation) when we make various applications. Try it. Write on three strips of paper: (1) agreement, (2) civil law, and (3) cohabitation. Then on blocks representing persons begin with one married (all three elements present):

Chart Goes Here

Now, remove (3) cohabitation and (1) agreement, and place them with the second party. Now you are one-third married to the first party and two-thirds married to the second! Or, make (1) agreement with the second party (a promise to marry when divorce is obtained), and (3) cohabit with the third person.

Now we have three persons one-third married each! From the beginning again, move (1) agreement and (2) civil law to the second party, but (3) cohabitation to the third. Here we have the second party two-third married, the third party one-third married, and the first party not married at all! In fact, no one is really joined to anyone!

Chart Goes Here

Any number of combinations may be worked. But the interesting thing is, whenever all three elements are established with one person this is a marriage sanctioned of God. You may have any number of marriages and may shift all three elements to each in turn, and whereas God will not approve of the fornication involved in the shift, He will approve of the result, each and every one! This is the theory!

It is readily seen that more is involved than just the case of a "guilty party" in the situation of Matthew 19:9. It is much broader. Advocates of this theory are attempting to minimize the theory and to limit the discussion to the specific case of the "guilty" of Matthew 19:9. In so doing sympathy is enlisted for the one who may be put away because of an impetuous moment of weakness, so judgment will be made by emotion rather than truth and reason. (It reminds us of how the institutional advocates shifted the institutional drive from colleges to "orphan homes," knowing that when the emotional bait was swallowed then every institution could step in for its share of the church's treasury.) We are willing to discuss, and have, the specific case, but let us not ignore the whole picture. Remember that Moyer's theory does not only justify the guilty where divorce is for the cause of fornication, but also every marriage involving divorce without the cause! A look at the whole assists one in recognizing the fallacy of the specific.

God's Law Obviously excluded from the elements of Moyer's theory is the divine element. On this we have written at length, but Lloyd has failed to give it any notice other than to say that I mean by it what he means by "God recognizes" a marriage. And this is not so. Lloyd's so-called "divine element" is simply an acceptance of the status quo. The "divine" with him is subject to the human. The truth of the matter is, what takes place in God's mind is not changed by what takes place in the flesh! I ask the reader to read again my second "Answer to Moyer's Reply," the first three sections, constituting nearly one half of the article. How Lloyd overlooked this is surprising. Why he did not attempt to refute this argument I leave to the reader.

In marriage two persons are joined for life. (1 Cor. 7:39) One is free to marry again only when loosed by reason of death (Rom. 7:2) or by reason of fornication of an unfaithful mate. (Matt. 19:9) If civil authorities respected God's law, where would Moyer's theory be? If the right to divorce and remarry was granted only to those whose mates are unfaithful, Lloyd would have no theory! As legislators have written laws to make easy the obtaining of divorces, even so Lloyd has conceived a theory whereby man's legislation will work with God.... but it doesn't. If civil legislation harmonized with the divine, as expressed in Matt. 19:9, there would be no need for Moyer's theory. Brethren, get it: we ought to respect God's will whether civil authorities do or not! God's law is not subject to human legislation! Yet Lloyd has God's recognition — the "divine element," he says — of a marriage subject to human legislation! This is another point which Lloyd overlooked or evaded.

Matthew 19:9

In the opening paragraph of our "review" we showed that the theory is "Obviously Fallacious," charging two contradictions of the divine word in two sections under this subtitle.


In Matthew 19:9 Jesus said that not only does the man who puts away his wife (without cause of fornication) and marries another commit adultery, but also "he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery." This is impossible according to Moyer's theory. According to brother Moyer when the man (2) divorced (without Scriptural cause) according to civil law, and (1) agreed to marry another, then when (3) they cohabited all three elements were destroyed with the first and no marriage existed. How then could the one who married the ex-wife commit adultery? He could not according to Moyer's theory....but Jesus he would! Contrast —

Moyer's Theory

"Since the first marriage has ceased to exist, how is it possible to adulterate that which does not exist?" "NO another, committeth adultery: MARRIAGE EXISTS." "They could not adulterate that which had ceased to exist. Subsequent sexual intercourse would not be adultery."

The Truth

"Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry AND whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery." (Matt. 19:9)

Moyer's theory denies the Lord's statement. We called attention to this in both the "review" and the "answer" to his reply, but Lloyd closes his part of the study without attempting reply.

We next showed that the tense of the verb "committeth adultery" in Matt. 19:9 contradicted his theory. We showed from the beginning of our exchange that the tense is present, which in the Greek language indicates action in progress or state of persistence. Moyer's theory assumes that only one act of adultery can be committed and that by it an unlawful and sinful relationship becomes pure and acceptable to God! To forestall any quibble we acknowledged that there is an aoristic use of the present but that it would not apply here. In the "Answer to Moyer's Reply" we showed why. Either the tense is the pure present or an aoristic use — let Lloyd tell us which and not quibble, His theory demands an aorist tense (actually even the aoristic use of the present won't help him even if it could be so applied).

Present Tense

"Committeth adultery (moichatai) is third person singular, present indicative of moichaomai — page 272, Harper's Analytical Lexicon. This "signifies action in progress, or state in persistence" — page 182, A Manual Grammar of the Greek N. T., Dana and Mantey.

This emphasizes a present continuous state of being, a living in adultery (as Col. 3:5-7)

Aoristic Present

The present stem "sets forth an event as now occurring." The action occurring "is coincident in time with the act of speaking" page 9, Moods and Tenses of N. T. Greek, Burton.

If applied to Matt. 19:9, then one who in the future divorced and remarried (without cause) would he committing adultery when Jesus spoke..

Or Aorist Tense. "To Denote Action Simply As Occurring, Without Reference To Its Progress" — Page 193 Manual Grammar, Dana And Mantey.

Let Lloyd tell us what the tense is here. The exceptional use is untenable. The form is not the aorist. Therefore, the verb is purely present. And this contradicts Moyer's theory.

Did Lloyd answer the argument? No, he continues to quibble and plainly misrepresents (this in stating that I failed to note an exceptional use of the present stem.) Lloyd, make a choice: tell us what the tense is! To state that there may be a choice doesn't answer. To acknowledge the truth he knows is disastrous to his theory, but to affirm the aoristic use will be either an impossible case or a denial of Greek forms. Either way, he is in trouble and knows he quibbles! (The longer the discussion proceeds, the more embarrassing this will become to him, and the more the reader can perceive his error. This is why Lloyd wants to summarize, to keep it brief.)

In his quibble, Lloyd refers to 1 Cor. 8:1 and Matt. 16:18, oikodomeo, translated "edify" and "build." He says: "This is exactly what the Baptists do with 'oikodomeo'." But the tense in Matt. 16:18 is future whereas in 1 Cor. 8:1 it is present. I have never heard of, and I doubt if Lloyd or anyone else ever heard of, a Baptist arguing that the tense in both places means the same thing. Baptists teach error but there is no need to misrepresent them to refute their system. Lloyd must be desperate for a quibble to resort to this. (The pressure of continued discussion is having its effect.) The Baptists do not make exactly the same argument on tense that I made, and if they did they would be in error because the tenses are not exact.

Lloyd evidently sees the point because on 1 John 3:9 he admits that the present tense signifies "continued action." How do you know, Lloyd? Either the same tense in Matt. 19:9 signifies the same, or he must affirm the alternative set forth above. He is in a dilemma and refuses to affirm anything.... he resorts to shallow quibbling and misrepresentation. Lloyd had much rather have presented the truth rather than a quibble, but he couldn't because the truth destroys his theory!


Another observation we have made on Matt. 19:9 concerns the cause for the divorce. Jesus taught that a divorce may be obtained only for "fornication." (The Pharisees had asked, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause?") Yet Moyer's theory recognizes a divorce for any cause, and that such a divorce destroys a marriage as well as does the Scriptural cause. Lloyd's theory wrests the language of Matthew 19.

1 Corinthians 7:10, 11 In 1 Corinthians 7:10 Paul said for a person, if he departs, to remain unmarried or be reconciled. Moyer's theory does not agree. For a person to live celibate he says, "is to demand something that the Lord does NOT demand." He comments, "There are some who 'cannot contain' (control or govern their passions): Pauls says 'let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn'." He teaches that it is God's law and God's will that the separated person be married, in accomplishing this necessitating the act of adultery. In reply he complains that I lifted a statement from context and misrepresented him. I did not; the theory is so ungodly that there is no need to misrepresent to show its ungodliness. I will quote for the reader the context, deleting only the personal references to his antagonist. The discussion quoted is on tape and is available to those who would like to hear it.

"Here is the innocent, pure woman, that has never done anything wrong, but she is put away by her husband. The Bible teaches that he causes her to commit adultery if she marries.... commit adultery. It doesn't say 'if she marries.' It says he causes her to commit adultery. And the man that marries her. So that shows that Jesus taught that under normal circumstances that they would marry. Why? It is God's law and is God's will that they do that very thing. Turn with me now to 1 Cor., the 7th chapter. ***Verse 2: 'Nevertheless to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and every woman her own husband.' Now do you believe that or do you not? 'Well, that just, of course, means that every man that hasn't been married before,' according to but it doesn't say it. A woman or man that's been married before can burn with passion just as well as the man or woman that has been married, or hasn't been married. And the Bible says in verse 9: 'But if they cannot contain, let them marry, for it is better to marry than to burn.' God's law is, and Jesus recognizes it, that people would marry. And therefore, this pure, harmless, innocent woman, that had been put away by her husband without the cause of fornication, when she marries another man she commits adultery. Why? Because she is still the other man's wife. The only thing that will break that marriage vow, friends, as long as they both live is the act of cohabitation." (Discussion, 1-20-63)

The reader can readily see the Lloyd does teach that it is God's will and God's law that a person divorced without Scriptural cause should marry again, knowing that in doing so she would commit adultery. Why brother Moyer is attempting to soften and minimize the theory now, the reader can conclude.

Romans 7:2-3

Another passage that refutes Moyer's theory is Rom. 7:2-3, where Paul shows that a woman may destroy (1) the agreement, (2) the legal bond, and (3) the physical relationship, and establish them in a second marriage, yet in doing so she acts the adulteress. She is still bound to her husband and is not loosed by the second marriage. We asked brother Moyer, how could the woman Paul describes act the adulteress after her marriage to the second man? This argument Lloyd has ignored. In fact, he has failed to honestly deal with the arguments we have presented throughout. Instead he resorts to equivocation, ridicule, and misrepresentation.

In an effort to offset Rom. 7:2-3 he presents a new commentary, alleging that God is teaching that we were released by divorce instead of death as Paul states. (He has Paul presenting a parallel that doesn't parallel.) We presented a number of indictments against this exegesis, which we ask the reader to review. His effort at reply is a quibble and a flagrant example of equivocation and misrepresentation.

He quibbled as to the matter of divorce: "If God did as brother Frost says, that is — divorced Israel when He sent them away into captivity, then God was a divorcee from that time on. Israel, then and there, ceased to be God's wife. Talk about a 'new theory'!" What Lloyd refers to is the statement: "when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had her put away and given her a bill of divorcement...." Apparently Lloyd did not notice the quotations marks. This is a quote from Jer. 3:8. This is what God says — not what "brother Frost says." And there is no "if" about it. Any ridicule as to a "new theory," etc., is against the Bible and not Gene Frost. This just serves to illustrate Lloyd's error. Of course, he errs in his conclusions by stretching figurative language as we pointed out.

We asked Lloyd concerning this new exegesis, "Lloyd, where did you read that 'God said he would "put away" Israel' as 'his wife' by the death of Christ' as the bill of divorcement?" Did he tell us? No, he assumes it, just as with every other essential point of his concept! This point did not give birth to his theory, but rather the theory is the father of the new exegesis.

Moyer's Theory

"But God finally had to 'put away' Israel and He did it by the death of Christ on the cross." "He divorced his wife." " was done that they (the guilty party) might be married to another." (Emphasis, LM)

The Truth

"but if her husband be dead, she is free from the so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another...." (Rom. 7:3-4)

Moyer's theory has Israel freed by divorce whereas Paul has them freed from the law by death. This is the difference between truth and error.

Ezekiel 16:38 One of the most flagrant examples of equivocation and misrepresentation that has been mine to witness is that perpetrated by brother Moyer with reference to Ezek. 16:38. He argued in his second "reply" that fornication breaks wedlock. He makes the act of adultery result in a breaking of the marriage bond. As "proof" he refers to Ezek. 16:38: "And I will judge thee as women that break wedlock...." "Break wedlock" is just another way of saying "commit adultery," and is not what adultery does. It may be translated, "And I have judged thee — judgments of adulteresses . . " "Break wedlock" is "adultery," and not the result or consequence or adultery.

Brother Moyer pretends that I meant "the act of adultery does break wedlock." This is a misrepresentation — I did not say it, Gesenius did not say it, and God does not say it! I challenge brother Moyer to produce the passage that says or teaches that the act of adultery breaks wedlock, i.e. dissolves a marriage. Ezek. 16:28 does not say it. It simply states that God will judge women that commit adultery. It does not say that "the act of adultery does break wedlock," as Lloyd says.

By taking this phrase "break wedlock" which simply is another way of saying "commit adultery" (see Jer. 3:8, 19:23; Ezek. 23:37, etc, where the original, naaph, is used), he defines it to mean "dissolves a marriage." Naaph nowhere means what Lloyd defines it. Yet he uses this equivocation throughout his summation: and there is not a word of truth in it. Marriage is not dissolved by an act of adultery. If so, where a person does not know of the guilt of his mate, he lives in sin by cohabiting with one to whom he is no longer married! (We mentioned this before, but Lloyd makes no reply.) Unfaithfulness gives the innocent the right to divorce — it does not automatically dissolve the marriage or "break wedlock" as Lloyd defines it!


In our "reply" we also showed that Lloyd's theory puts a premium on ignorance. Whereas the theory works for both alien and Christian, it works only where there is ignorance of the law. We so charged; Lloyd does not deny it.

Notice again, Lloyd recognizes that God has a law which he says is excused by ignorance. If it is set aside to allow divorce without the cause (Matt. 19;9), then the law must be that God intends for the unlawfully divorced to remain unmarried. (1 Cor. 7:11) Lloyd, what is this "law" that God sets aside when men are ignorant of it?


From the beginning much attention has been called to the question of "fellowship." Without warrant, simply because we oppose Moyer's theory we are accused of being "bent on making this matter a test of fellowship." This makes me suspicious. Why should there be a question or fellowship if we all are determined to come to an understanding of the truth? Let us first discuss the question thoroughly, debate it openly and in every section. The truth is in the Bible, and I deny the suggestion that marriage is a subject that God has been so unclear on that we can never know really what His will is and agree. This present commotion over fellowship suggests that someone is not willing to study it and wants to know, "are you going to give us free access?"

Those with the truth have not created the present situation; but I do know where those sanctioning adulterous marriages have infiltrated churches secretly, ousted the opposition ("kicked out" elders, and "fired" preachers), and have divided churches. This sort of heresy I will not fellowship — the marriage theorists have withdrawn it in such cases — , and if the Moyer theory creates a "party" I will oppose it. The Bible so directs me. But let us pray and work to the end that such a question will not be practical for we will all be "one." (John 17:20-21, 1 Cor. 1:10, Eph. 4:1-3)


Letters, as I requested, from those who have agreed with Lloyd and with me expressing desire to have this exchange published in a separate binding indicates that this is desirable and will promote a wider circulation. (How this is a "show of hands," I do not know.) I hope that such may be accomplished, to encourage serious study of this problem.

In closing, I express my appreciation to brother Yater Tant, editor of the Gospel Guardian, for asking me to answer Moyer's tract and articles. I pray that good may result from the effort.

— 1900 Jenny Lind Ave., Fort Smith, Ark.