Maxey - Broking Discussion
A Critical Review and Defense of
Down, But Not Out

Thursday, October 26, 2000

A Response to Broking's
Views On The Teaching Of Jesus
In Matthew 19:9
By Al Maxey

It is good to see Darrell back with the discussion again after his lengthy absence. Lord willing, perhaps we can pick up the pace a bit here and bring this discussion to an honorable and timely conclusion. Certainly our readers deserve no less.

Darrell wrote, "It may be that Al would like to plan to meet with me in a public discussion of these matters? We could plan specific dates, find a central location, and get through the pertinent matters of the doctrine of demons Maxey teaches." As Darrell predicted in his post, "please do not hold your breath." I have no interest whatsoever of continuing any interaction with this man after the conclusion of our discussion. Besides, it has taken a Herculean effort on my part just to keep these discussions going, not to mention it took me months to even get him to agree to try and substantiate his public accusations against me. If we can stay the course, and stay ON course, I think these current public discussions should suffice to demonstrate Darrell's accusations are groundless. I have no desire to open myself up to further vilification and harsh characterizations. This current published record will speak for itself, and those who are willing and able will easily perceive which of us promotes biblical Truth, and which of us better exemplifies the spirit of Christ.

Darrell wrote, "Is Al Maxey a false teacher on the subject of marriage, divorce, and remarriage? The Bible answers in the affirmative." I would have to disagree with this statement. The BIBLE affirms no such thing. Darrell's perceptions and interpretations of biblical texts lead HIM to affirm the falseness of my views. I believe I have adequately demonstrated in my well-researched and documented book that the Bible affirms the doctrine presented therein to be in accord with Truth. It is not in accord with Darrell's position on the matter, but I believe it IS in accord with God's. Further, I don't believe Darrell has even come close to exposing Down, But Not Out as being in opposition to Bible Truth. All he has affirmed is that it is opposed to his own understandings and interpretations. Differing with Darrell is not the same as differing with God.

My critic wrote, "Jesus also affirms that those who die in adultery are doomed to a devil's hell. Al Maxey denies this absolute truth from God's word." Really?! Perhaps Darrell will provide us all with the quote from my book where I state this "fact." And, to use his words, "please do not hold your breath." I have never said such a thing, and do not believe such a thing. Those who are adulterers, and who die in that condition without having sought repentance, will indeed be lost. I do not deny this at all.

Indeed, Darrell spent a considerable amount of time in his latest post arguing passionately for positions with which I am in full agreement. All of which leaves me wondering if he has actually read my book. If he has, he hasn't done so very carefully. For example, Darrell writes paragraph after paragraph pleading for the reader to understand that "Whosoever" is applicable to more than just a handful of our Lord's personal disciples. My opponent could have saved himself the effort because I am in full agreement with him on this. Nowhere in my book do I declare otherwise! Let me state again, for the record, that what the Bible teaches (and what Jesus and Paul teach specifically) with regard to MDR is for ALL people. EVERYONE! This position is taken all through my book. Darrell's impassioned and lengthy plea in his post is a case of "preaching to the choir." Once again, Darrell seems to have lost sight of the stated purpose of this discussion: to point out those areas of my book which he feels constitute "false doctrine," and then to demonstrate and validate his assertions with sound exegesis. It is THIS I cannot seem to get Darrell to accomplish. Instead, he keeps spouting his own personal views, and then declaring any opposing view "FALSE." Differing with Darrell hardly makes one a "false teacher."

After a careful examination of Darrell's most recent post, the reader will clearly detect that there are indeed several areas of significant difference between his interpretations and mine. These, I believe, need to be addressed. I will try to do so under headings placed in caps and bold type for ease of reference. The major areas demanding further attention are:

  1. Matthew 19:6b

  2. The "Exception Clause"

  3. The Present Indicative in Matthew 19:9

  4. Definition of "Fornication"

  5. Definition of "Adultery"

  6. Prohibitions Concerning Remarriage

#1 --- MATTHEW 19:6b

Darrell wrote, "The prohibitive force of Jesus' teaching is clear: 'What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder' (Mark 10:9; Matt. 19:6; I Cor. 7:11). Remember, Jesus had been asked about the practice of 'putting away.' The Lord's answer is clear. Jesus says, 'what God joined together, let not man sever.' God knits two together in authorized marriage. This double-harness of marriage is joined or fastened by God, the supreme one. Man, an inferior being to God, is not to sever or unfasten that harness. The joining of the Lord is for life (I Cor. 7:32). Jesus said do not do it! Do not sever that joining of God!"

Once again, I do not disagree with anything Darrell has stated here (although I think he probably meant vs. 39 in that last reference above). In my book I declare exactly the same thing. Where some have erred in their interpretation of this passage, however, is in the thinking that Jesus is here declaring something impossible rather than improper. Our Lord did NOT say, "What therefore God has joined together, man CANNOT separate." Instead, He condemned and sought to correct what they actually WERE DOING --- severing the bonds of matrimony! Some have stated (and I don't know if Darrell takes this view or not) that this passage teaches the absolute impossibility of a husband and wife ever being released from their bond of marriage through divorce. In other words, God does not recognize ANY divorce, since the two are actually bound for life. Therefore, in light of this thinking, ANY subsequent marriage is not really a legitimate "marriage" but a "continuing in adultery" by virtue of the fact that the first union is not recognized by God as actually terminated.

Notice a section from Chapter Six of my book in which I deal with this passage:

Yes, when asked about the practice of "putting away" (which had reached epidemic proportions during His time), Jesus said, "STOP!" He held up for their view the IDEAL of God which had remained unchanged since the very beginning: One man for one woman for life!! Anything less was a failure to achieve God's goal for these covenant unions. Jesus didn't mince words with these people. What they were doing was wrong, and He told them so.

However, Jesus was a realist. He knew that people were indeed severing these sacred unions, and they were doing so for the most frivolous of reasons. He didn't deny the reality of what was occurring. Instead, He demanded that it STOP! He didn't say, "The joke's on you guys! You're not really divorced, because God doesn't recognize such; and your new marriages aren't really marriages, because God doesn't recognize such. You're all living in adultery if you are remarried." Jesus could have said that (if such were actually true), but He didn't. He simply acknowledged that covenants were being broken and new covenants were being made; and He declared such covenant breaking and relationship hopping a violation of God's IDEAL, and He told them it was time to STOP and return to God's original design for marriage.


Darrell wrote: "Christ the Lord gave mankind one and only one exception to the rule of one man for one woman for life. That exception is listed in Matthew 19:9. No other New Testament passage provides an exception in addition to that of Matthew 19:9." He also wrote: "If one divorces his spouse for any reason except the one reason authorized by God, God will not grant that person the right to marry again. Jesus gave men one, and only one, God authorized reason for divorce which carries the right of remarriage." Darrell adds: "If there are other reasons for divorce which carry the right of remarriage, then Jesus lied to the Pharisees and to his disciples."

Darrell believes that the statement by Jesus in Matt. 5:32 and 19:9 constitutes some kind of divinely proffered "exception clause" to God's IDEAL (the "exception to the rule," if you will). In other words, the IDEAL of God is "one man for one woman for life" EXCEPT in the case of "fornication," at which point that IDEAL can be "acceptably" set aside. If fornication occurs then there is some kind of "authorized" or "approved" exception to the rule. Yes, I believe that a spouse who is the victim of marital unfaithfulness DOES have legal recourse. But, is this what Jesus was seeking to convey when He said "except for fornication"? Was this some legal provision of law -- the "one just cause," or was there something deeper in view here?! Something far more spiritually significant?

It is interesting to note that the phrase "exception clause" (as well as the concept) is of human origin. Nowhere in Scripture is this statement by Jesus in the Matthew account so characterized. Also, as Darrell points out, you will not find this so-called "exception clause" anywhere else in the Bible. It appears only in Matthew's account, and is excluded in the parallel accounts of Mark and Luke, and is never even hinted at in the writings of Paul.

As one might imagine, there have been numerous theories proposed down through the centuries as to the meaning of this brief clause in Matthew's account. It has been the cause of much debate among scholars. Let me ask a question here: Is it just possible our Lord was not granting an "acceptable exception" to God's IDEAL at all?!!

It is likely, in my view, that this notion that Jesus was admitting to a single "just cause" for failing to achieve God's IDEAL (i.e.: trying to select some palatable "middle course" between the Hillel & Shammai schools of thought) may well be a false premise, and that numerous false doctrines have been constructed upon it. Indeed, I believe this to be the case.

Notice the following excerpt from Chapter Six of my book:

As one can perceive in my above comments (from my book), I would probably be considered even more "conservative" that Darrell on this matter. I don't believe Jesus has allowed ANY "exceptions" to the IDEAL of God for marriage. ANY failed covenant is a "missing of the mark." Simply put, the so-called "exception clause" is NOT an exception to the IDEAL at all. It is merely part of our Lord's declaration as to who must bear responsibility for the breakdown of the covenant of marriage. It is a declaration of culpability.

Let me give you the following case history from Chapter Six of my book, and the subsequent comment from the text. This will help illustrate this principle:

It should be abundantly clear to most that this clause in no way constitutes an "exception to the rule" or an "acceptable reason" for divorce. Jesus is merely speaking to the matter of culpability. The position of Jesus is that marriage is for LIFE, and ANY challenge should be met and conquered. However, when covenants are broken, then SOMEONE is to blame; SOMEONE must bear the guilt. In this passage Jesus gives us insight into who is to blame. If the husband casts off his wife in favor of another woman, then HE is the covenant breaker ... it is HE who is guilty of adultery. If the husband secures a certificate of divorce against his wife because she was committing fornication, then SHE was the covenant breaker ... it is SHE who is guilty of adultery. Even though HE was the one who divorced HER, yet SHE is the "guilty party." THIS is the significance of the so-called "exception clause." It is NOT permission to set aside the IDEAL for "one reason, and one reason only;" rather it is a declaration of guilt, and an assigning of guilt, for the failure to achieve the IDEAL.

Interesting, is it not, that when the Truth of this passage is finally perceived, that it is Darrell's view which can be characterized as the more "liberal," whereas mine is the more "conservative."


Darrell wrote: "Jesus Christ says that one who puts away a spouse for any reason other than fornication and marries another, keeps on committing adultery." Notice what Darrell said here: "KEEPS ON COMMITTING adultery." This is what my critic would refer to as "living in sin" or "living in adultery" --- two phrases which Jesus NEVER used, not even once!!! Both phrases were coined by MEN, and cannot be found anywhere in the Bible with reference to a second union. Darrell goes on to say, "...the state of adultery is entered, when he who divorces for any reason save fornication, shall marry another. The state of adultery is a continual state..." He further writes that the phrase "commits adultery" -- "translates a verb in the present tense, the force of which is continual action. It means, 'keeps on committing adultery.'"

Darrell's understanding of the Greek Present Indicative in Matthew 19:9 is horribly confused and flawed. Indeed, this is just another example of how theologically dangerous it is to possess only scant knowledge of NT Greek. Quite some time back I posed Darrell's premise to a host of Greek scholars on a Biblical Greek discussion list (hosted by a prominent university). The response to my query was immediate and overwhelming. "No, it cannot be sustained from the present tense. The confusion is a common one, especially in older grammars," stated one professor (which is representative of the others). Another scholar wrote, "Actually I think most of the traditionalists have pretty much backed off of the 'continuing action' argument. The whole scholarship world is against them on it. But, you may still encounter it on occasion by those less knowledgeable in Greek." Yet another writes, "When all is said, one cannot be intellectually honest and say that the present tense use of the verb proves the notion of 'continuing adultery.' Based on the rules of Greek grammar it just cannot be proven."

Darrell's contention is that the Present Tense should be interpreted as signifying "continual action," and therefore the verb employed suggests that the meaning is "keeps on committing adultery." What Darrell seems to be unaware of, however, is the significance of the Present Tense when used in the Indicative Mood. Dr. Carroll D. Osburn (formerly of Harding Graduate School of Religion), in the publication Restoration Quarterly (Volume 24, Number 4, 1981), wrote an extremely scholarly article entitled The Present Indicative in Matthew 19:9.

Let me share some of the points Dr. Osburn makes in that article. He begins by stating, "In recent discussion of the interpretation of Matthew 19:9, it has been ventured by some that Moichatai must mean 'continues to commit adultery' because the present indicative necessitates continuous action." This is exactly Darrell's contention. But, is Darrell correct about this? Dr. Osburn notes that such a theory is false, "based as it is upon imprecise understanding of Greek mood distinctions." Dr. A.T. Robertson observes, "It is not wise therefore to define the present indicative as denoting 'action in progress' like the imperfect" (A Grammar of the Greek NT). Dana & Mantey say, "It is a mistake to suppose that the durative meaning monopolizes the present stem." Dr. H.W. Smyth, in his Greek Grammar (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), notes that the "present stem denotes the simple action of the verb in present time without regard to its continuance."

If one examines carefully the indicative mood, one will find it "is normally employed in all Indo-European languages to denote a simple statement of fact, but it has a wide variety of uses, such as the present of customary action, present of general truth, cognitive present, futuristic present, oracular present, historical present, annalistic present, present for perfect, and past and present combined" (Dr. Osburn). Dr. Robertson notes "that the most frequent use of the present indicative is the 'descriptive present,' the simple statement of a fact with no specific reference to continuity." He goes on to point out: "Of the more than 700 instances of the present indicative in Matthew's Gospel, the vast majority of occurrences are 'descriptive' with no continuity under consideration."

Most feel that of the various forms of the present tense which may be employed (and there are many), that it is most likely the Gnomic Present which is in operation in Matthew 19:9. Dr. Osburn writes, "The use of the present indicative in discussing a general truth is called the 'gnomic present'" (see: Dr. Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb). He goes on: "This idiomatic use of the present tense to denote a general truth is as old as Aeschylus and Plato. It is this 'gnomic present' which occurs in Moichatai in Matthew 19:9 when Jesus provides the general truth that 'whoever divorces his wife except for unchastity and marries another commits adultery.' In such a 'gnomic present,' or 'present of general truth' (see: Dr. Smyth, pp. 42f) continuity is NOT under consideration."

Dr. Osburn concludes (after much scholarly, in-depth, validating analysis), "Thus, it cannot be said that the present indicative in Matthew 19:9, or any other Greek text, 'cannot mean other than continuous action,' for any such argument blatantly disregards the several idiomatic uses of the present indicative in which continuity is not explicit. ..... In Jesus' statement of that truth Moichatai must be taken as a 'gnomic present' in which continuity is NOT under consideration."

Perhaps Dr. Osburn, recognized across the world for his scholarship in NT Greek, had those like Darrell in mind when he wrote: "Since many a preacher and debater has allowed his syntax to run away with him, it is the vital but unenviable duty of the Greek scholar to remind the preacher and debater to keep his feet on the ground. Especially is this true when men ill equipped in Greek language and literature would use the Greek text to prove theological manipulation.... As Alexander Pope put it well over two hundred years ago: 'A little learning is a dangerous thing!'"

Darrell, who by his own admission is NOT a Greek scholar (or even "the son of one"), has based his MDR theories and suppositions largely upon a misguided interpretation of the force and focus of the Present Indicative in Greek literature (both sacred and secular). His flawed theology visibly reflects his lack of understanding of the intricacies of Greek. The use of the Gnomic Present (and indeed the simple and common use of the Present Indicative itself) suggests the phrase "commits adultery" does NOT denote continual action. Rather, it is a simple declaration of Truth. For example, I can use the same "gnomic present" in the phrase: "Whosoever takes a gun and shoots a man in the head, commits murder." Does the phrase "commits murder" (being a Present Indicative) indicate continuous action? Of course not. It is rather a declaration of historic truth, even though it appears as a present indicative. A man who casts his wife off in favor of a union with another woman (or for any other reason) is guilty of committing adultery. This is a simple statement of fact, as with the man who "commits" murder. Continuance of the action is not even remotely in view here. Jesus is NOT condemning the second union per se, He is rather condemning the action of casting off a woman, breaking covenant with her, so as to pursue a selfish goal (in the case specified: to embrace another woman). It is this sinful casting off that is the adulterous action. EXCEPT (here's the force of the so-called "exception clause") in a case where the man casts off the woman because it was SHE who broke covenant with the husband by her destructive behavior. In such a case culpability lies at HER door, not at HIS.

Can Darrell seek out and produce a list of "scholars" who will agree with him that the Present Indicative denotes continuous action? Of course he can (and he probably will), but these scholars are very much in the minority among their peers. He can also probably produce scholars (perhaps some of the same ones) who will insist that "baptism" can acceptably be practiced by sprinkling or pouring, rather than immersion. The bulk of reputable Greek scholarship, however, clearly sides with the view I have presented, and it denounces the view embraced by Darrell. After much research, I side with the majority position of Greek scholarship and completely reject Darrell's view that the Present Indicative of Matthew 19:9 denotes "continuous action." It simply does not!


Darrell wrote: "Fornication refers to any act of illicit sexual contact (see John 8:4), including homosexuality and bestiality." I would agree with this statement. But, I must hasten to point out that his definition doesn't go nearly far enough in presenting the true significance of this word as it relates to the biblical text. The Greek word in question is Porneia, and it is variously translated in the many versions available to us in English. Again, notice the following excerpt from Chapter Six of my book:

Thus, I believe it is vital that we not LIMIT the definition of Porneia to only one of its many possible biblical significations and applications. There are many things which may serve to terminate a covenant of marriage between a man and woman .... SEX is but one.


Darrell wrote: "Sadly, Maxey's doctrine .... encourages adulterers to keep on living in sin!" This, of course, is a ridiculous assertion. First of all, the phrase "living in sin" (or "living in adultery") never once fell from the lips of our Lord (one will not find it even one time used with reference to a second union in the pages of the Bible). Darrell may call some remarriages "living in sin," but JESUS never did!! Not even once!!! Long before this discussion ever began I challenged Darrell to provide me with even ONE passage from the Bible in which a second marriage was called "living in sin" or "living in adultery." I'm still waiting!!! And no, I'm not holding my breath!! Those words are NEVER used in Scripture with reference to a remarriage. NEVER!!!

I agree wholeheartedly that those who engage in adultery, and refuse to repent of it, will face eternal destruction. Thus, I will neither proclaim nor promote ANY teaching which encourages acts of adultery. Darrell's problem is that he believes the term "adultery" to apply to the second marriage of those "unauthorized" to remarry (he wrote: "...the state of adultery is entered, when he who divorces for any reason save fornication, SHALL MARRY ANOTHER. The state of adultery is a continual state..."), and thus such a second union constitutes a CONTINUAL sin. This, once again, is based on a lack of understanding of the nature of the Present Indicative in Greek, as has already been displayed. Such is NOT what is being taught in this passage, to which the bulk of Greek scholarship will readily attest. Darrell views "adultery" as some continual "state" of sin engaged in by those in "unauthorized" remarriages. It is interesting to note that the phrase "state of adultery" is also peculiar to Darrell. Perhaps he could show us where that phrase is employed in the Scriptures with reference to a remarriage. Again, let's not hold our breath!!

Darrell states: "It has been said that the divorce, or the breaking of the marriage covenant itself, is adultery. Jesus never attempted to convey that message." First, I appreciate that Darrell characterizes marriage as a "covenant." Some do not. However, Malachi 2:14 clearly states, "...the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your WIFE BY COVENANT."

Can the breaking of this covenant of marriage be characterized as "adultery," or is that word inappropriate in this context? Perhaps we need to do some research into the meaning of this word. I noticed Darrell said nothing in his post about the meaning of this particular Greek word. Thus, it behooves us to do so at this juncture. Please notice the following lengthy, but extremely vital, analysis of this term in Chapter Six of my book:

(***NOTE --- Let me just interrupt and add here that I believe one of Darrell's major problems with his interpretation is that he has totally failed to perceive the significance of the Passive Voice as it is used in these critical passages pertaining to MDR. This has led him down a false theological trail, as it has others who are not well-schooled in Greek. These verb forms are not dealt with in this current post, but they most definitely WILL BE in future posts when Darrell touches upon these critical areas, as he undoubted will. I think the readers will find this upcoming aspect of our discussion MOST enlightening!!!)

Some suggest that "adultery" is committed with the remarriage. Thus, in this view, "adultery" is not the breakdown of the previous marriage, but rather the REmarriage. This would have Jesus, therefore, NOT condemning the divorce so much as He condemns the remarriage. There are numerous problems associated with this, and I spend a great deal of time and space in my book addressing the flaws in reasoning in that interpretation. The failure to properly perceive the significance of the Passive Voice, for example, is a major factor in this false teaching. This fact will become abundantly clear when Darrell attempts to exegete these particular phrases!!! But more about this in future posts. The important thing to stress here is that it is not the remarriage which is characterized as "adultery," but rather the destruction of the covenant of marriage. Again, that will become abundantly clear from the Greek text itself when Darrell ventures into those waters!


Darrell speaks of those "....remarrying, without having the authority given by Jesus." He goes on to declare: "If they desire to be forgiven of their adultery, they must repent of their unauthorized marriage." Again, we see here that Darrell in some way equates "adultery" with the remarriage. I don't believe such a position can be sustained by sound exegesis of the Greek text. Indeed, to be "forgiven of their adultery," Darrell would have the remarried couple commit adultery once again!!!!! He would have them break covenant as an act of repentance for breaking covenant!! That is insanity. This theology actually places Darrell in the unenviable position of ENCOURAGING couples to commit adultery. Darrell states that he believes MY theology "encourages adulterers to keep on living in sin!" Well, I believe HIS theology encourages married couples to commit adultery all over again!! He writes, "That is, THEY MUST DIVORCE according to the laws of the land and stop engaging in the unauthorized act." He considers the remarriage to be the "unauthorized act" which can only be repented of by DIVORCE!! In my view, such teaching is not only FALSE, it is an abomination in that it not only encourages additional adultery, but destroys families in the process!!

Darrell wrote: "If one divorces his spouse for any reason except the one reason authorized by God, God will not grant that person the right to marry again. Jesus gave men one, and only one, God authorized reason for divorce which carries the right of remarriage. Jesus said except it be for fornication. One may not divorce his spouse for any other reason than fornication and marry another spouse." So sayeth Darrell Broking! However, one will be hard-pressed to find GOD or JESUS ever stating such. Darrell is putting words in their mouth! They have never declared such prohibitions! Such are deduced and assumed by Darrell, and these assumptions are inherently flawed because he has totally failed to perceive the exact meaning of our Lord's statements.

I refer you to my final statement in Chapter Six of my book:

In conclusion to this post, let me quote something Darrell said that I agree with: "Friends, after reading Al's book let me encourage you to read God's book. You will find that our Lord was very specific on this subject." AMEN, Darrell. In fact, AS you read my book, please do so with your Bibles open before you. What I have presented in my work is taken directly from the Word of God. Darrell continually refers to "Al Maxey's doctrine." I personally have no doctrine!!! That which I teach comes directly from my God and His Word. It is HIS doctrine!! My book is merely a signpost pointing the way to HIS teaching, not MINE. Darrell stated, "You can read what Al wrote for yourselves." That's right, you can! And then you can go and check it out at the SOURCE --- God's Holy Word!!! I, like Darrell, encourage you to do so.

Home Index