Adultery: No “Cause” for “Controversy?”
A Review of Harry Osborne’s Sermon
“Fight of Faith or Needless Controversy?”
Paden City, West Virginia (4-10-03)

To read the entire transcript Click Here. 

By Jeff Belknap 

Recently, I received two audio cassettes from a Gospel Meeting sermon that brother Harry Osborne preached in Paden City, West Virginia almost two months ago, entitled “Fight of Faith or Needless Controversy?,” in which I was named and quoted (along with brother Don Martin and an unnamed brother) 

Addressing the Current Controversy, or Throwing Out Red Herrings? 

Throughout this lesson, brother Osborne speaks of what he describes as the current controversy.  However, the controversy he names (the procedure of putting away vs. the cause, as applied to the one who is divorced by an already fornicating mate during the marriage) is not the scenario which prompted the controversy that was brought to the public forefront at the time I began my website just over two years ago. 

Out of a lesson which filled 23 transcribed pages, Harry did not even begin to touch the issue of controversy until page 16. Even then, he diverted the issue instead of clarifying the basis of our controversy, as is characteristic of all his previous teaching on the topic.  It is true that from page 16 to the end of the transcript, our brother discussed his idea of the issue’s placement, such as matters “where the details are not specified in the gospel of Christ,” “Jesus did not specify procedure,” “you must initiate it,” etc. 

Unfortunately, Harry spent a considerable amount of time dealing with non-issues that only stir up the emotions and prejudice the hearers. Notice a sample in the following quotes below, and ask yourself, just who are these spokespersons, who have tried to bind these ideas in the past two years of controversy?: 

“Then there’s another one comes along and says, ‘no not only do you need to initiate it, you need to take it, it need to be on the divorce paper, but you need to put fornication there on the divorce papers because that civil action is putting away.  And if it’s to be done for the cause of fornication, then that has to be on the divorce papers’” (emp. jhb).


“I would love to see them in an argument with somebody who says it has to be that fornication is on the papers and find them arguing from God’s word and see what they’re going to turn to” (emp. jhb).


Some will say the one who initiates and secures the civil action, that’s the only one who can remarry.’  Yeah?  You show me where that’s so.  Does your Bible say anywhere in it, ‘the one who files the divorce?’  Does that wording appear?  Does the word court appear?  Does the word judge appear?  Does the idea of civil divorce appear?” (emp. jhb).


The innocent party needing to initiate that civil action is not found in the word of God” (emp. jhb).


“When one says that civil law supercedes…” (emp. jhb). 

Nevertheless, who in this present controversy is arguing for these and other such like things? Certainly not myself, nor brother Martin, whom Harry quotes.  Although such things may have been argued at one time or another by some brethren, they certainly are not a relevant factor in this present controversy.  If there is a case in which such ideas were publicly advanced in the last two years, I have not seen nor heard it. 

The present controversy is, in reality, over the presupposition that there is authority for a person who has been put away to employ a subsequent “putting away” and remarriage for post-divorce fornication.  Brother Harry’s addressing of the controversy began after I wrote an article that addressed brother Ron Halbrook’s post-divorce “putting away” for the post-divorce fornication scenario (Mental Divorce, Revamped and Revisited, October, 2000, Gospel Truths Magazine, and a second article that addressed fellowship with it as an alternate “application,” “Differences in Application”, March, 2001; Gospel Truths Magazine).  Prior to the publishing of Harry’s rejoinder to those articles, he wrote email letters to me (including cc’s to other brethren) indicating his “understanding” that the two articles were “related” to one another and stating, “Your articles in Gospel Truths have stood without rebuttal for months.” 

Yet, the two articles that Harry esteemed as worthy of rebuttal were prefaced upon my examination of the following scenario, which was clearly stated at the very beginning of my first article: 

“The Position

Although this stance agrees with the ‘Biblical principle’ of ‘one man for one woman, for life, except for the cause of fornication,’ it differs in ‘application.’  The contention is that since God’s law supercedes man’s law, God does not ‘sanction’ an unscriptural divorce.  Therefore, when an unscripturally put away spouse has fervently protested the divorce, and his/her ex-spouse remarries another (after the divorce), then the unscripturally put away person actually becomes eligible to ‘put away’ (by public declaration) the spouse who had already put them away.  This act of publicly vocalizing a (mental) decision to put one’s ex-spouse away for the cause of their fornication, is said to free them to remarry.  In this position, the condition of a public declaration is yet another addition to the mental divorce (which is, in itself, an addition to God’s word).” 

After these articles which only address post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication (and fellowship with it), Harry’s immediate rejoinder (similar to the sermon he preached in Paden City), dealt with various side issues and post-divorce “putting away” for pre-divorce fornication, and he has repeated this diversion for over two years now.  Even the very title to his rejoinder, “Do All Applications Equal Doctrine?” was a distortion, as I never claimed that ALL applications equaled doctrine, just those that end in sin (i.e. adultery).  This is clearly pointed out in my second article with the following quote: 

“In addition, when a man’s ‘application’ of scripture ultimately validates an adulterous marriage, how can we say it is acceptable to disagree?  When an erroneous application of truth endorses a sinful act, it has disastrous consequences for the souls of the sinners involved, as well as those who fellowship them (Eph. 5:11).” 

Although the scenario to which Harry diverts the issue stands or falls together with the scenario that I have focused on, he refuses to address anything but this less extreme, more emotional “application” of mental divorce, while he pretends to actually address my writing.  However, not only has Harry written several articles that denounce my teaching against post-divorce “putting away” and remarriage for post (not pre)-divorce fornication, Harry has himself admitted his acceptance of Ron’s more extreme application (see An excerpt from Ron Halbrook’s rebuttal to Bob Owen), and has been defending fellowship with Ron and his “applications” during the entire two years of controversy over this issue. 

Why does Harry continue to so misrepresent and distort the real issue of concern?  Such repeated diversions manifest brother Osborne’s understanding that it involves less personal risk to tackle a straw man than one of substance! 

Identifying Factors of Error 

Although Harry addresses the context of brother Martin’s quote (which dealt with post-divorce putting away for pre-divorce fornication), Harry himself reveals that Don had only addressed that particular scenario two days prior to Harry’s sermon, and only in response to a very specific question that was posed to him.  Obviously, unless Harry was talking about a controversy that began only two days prior, the scenario that Don addressed was not the one behind what Harry portrays as the current controversy.  

Moreover, my own quote (included later in this review) which brother Osborne used in his Paden City lesson, came from an article in which I dealt with post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication, yet Harry clearly inserted it in the context of fornication which occurs before the unapproved divorce takes place. Unfortunately, that was using my quote out of context.  (If you doubt this, please refer to the article from which Harry quoted: God Given Rights Nullified By Man’s Wrongs.) 

Brethren, I have a whole website full of articles that I wrote – available at the simple click of a mouse – and this one-sentence, out-of-context quote is the best he could come up with to show my supposed error?  Again, Harry’s avoidance of discussing the genuine scenario that prompted my writing, coupled with his having taken my quote out of context tells more about the baseless nature of his own position than the one he opposes, when you also consider the following quote from his Paden City lesson: 

Truth is never afraid to stand there and have a discussion of truth, to have an open Bible and to study those issues.  Truth is always ready to do that.  Error is not.  Error is going to be something that tries to work behind the back, it’s going to be something that tries to label through unnecessary means, it’s going to be something that takes quotations out of context, attributes things to people that are not so.  That’s what error does(emp jhb).   

The ironic thing is, I have shown quotes to prove that Harry fits his own description of one who promotes error.  I have provided documentation that proves he has taken “quotations out of context. 

Further Deceptions Stand Uncorrected 

Additionally, in an e-mail letter sent on September 6, 2001 to myself (as well as six other brethren), Harry stated, “Brother Phillips and I were united doctrinally on this issue.”  Yet, all who are familiar with the Patton – Phillips debate know that brother Phillips denounced the very doctrine that Harry defends and called the results of its application, “adultery.” 

The debate proposition which Brother Phillips DENIED was the following: 

RESOLVED: The Scriptures teach that the innocent person (free of fornication) who has been put away with­out God’s or his/her approval and against whom adultery has been committed may remarry.  See 

Moreover, in the past, I have confirmed that a supposed true-life example which Harry portrayed as an absolute fact (to prove his emotional case about how unjust civil divorce law is) was a fabrication. I showed that, according to documented law, it is absolutely untrue that a person could have been put away in Nevada in three days - without their knowledge (see The Nevada Straw Man) and yet brother Osborne has never retracted or apologized for his misrepresentation. 

The Controversy is Not Over “Cause” for Divorce, But Over Divorce’s “Effect” 

This controversy did not come about as a result of brethren’s failure to consider the question which the Lord’s teaching was based upon, in Matthew 19:3 (“Is it lawful to put away for any cause?”), as Harry claims.  Yes, that question was asked – and answered in the first half of Matthew 19:9.  If Jesus had stopped his teaching regarding Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage right then and there, the Pharisees’ question had been answered.  Nevertheless, Jesus included the remaining portion of the verse, “And he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery,” which is not an answer to the question that the Pharisees’ asked. 

Do you think that someone who desires the right to put away (do “violence” to, cf. Malachi 2:14-16) a wife “for any cause” would be concerned about that party’s remarriage-ability rights?  It is obvious that those Jews were only concerned about their own rights to put away.  Never once, did they ask “the question” of how such a putting away would affect the one whom they would put away.  However, Jesus added the unsolicited teaching regarding the one who is put away in such a circumstance because it was truth (God’s Law), and because it was relevant to the salvation of souls.  (We all know what the unfortunate and eternal fate of adulterers will be, and that those who maintain fellowship with them will share in the same, I Corinthians 5:9, 11-13). 

In the secular world, we all understand the premise of cause and effect.  When someone does something, it causes something else. When someone puts away (cause), their spouse becomes put away (effect).  Additionally, when someone unlawfully puts away their mate, their action “causes” their mate to commit adultery upon remarriage to another (Matthew 5:32; cf. Romans 7:3). 

Hence, it is clear that the second clause of the verse (which deals with the effect) is not related to the “cause” for putting away, for the putting away has already been effected.  If you doubt this, simply go to Luke 16:18, which makes no mention of any lawful “cause,” but nevertheless states the same truth about the fate of those who are put away

Civil Law is Irrelevant to the Controversy 

Again, Harry distorts the argument, then argues against the distortion, when he brings up the civil authorities. Harry was able to derail my focus with this diversion for a while (approximately two years ago), but the fact is that it is not even germane to this discussion. Why?  Because, regardless of the procedure, Jesus acknowledged that people were capable of unlawfully putting away their bound mates.  Note: Harry Osborne and Apoluo 

Here is brother Osborne’s Paden City quote, in which he refers to what I stated: 

“Here’s another one.  Brother Jeff Belknap said ‘God’s will is for us to obey the higher powers, even though they may nullify our God-given liberties.’  Now the idea is, here’s some innocent party out here and this innocent party is forbidden from taking the civil action because that guilty already has.  Now this civil law has defined who the party is that put away, ‘cause that’s to be seen as the civil action, you see, and so now here’s this admittedly innocent individual, this one who the other one has committed fornication, and that’s the cause for this divorce, that’s the cause for the putting away, that’s the cause for the sundering, but this innocent can’t marry.  Why?  Because civil law defined it that way, it nullified God’s law” (emp. jhb). 

First of all, as I have shown before, “the idea” (scenario) that Harry describes regarding my quote, is not the one I conveyed in my article.  Secondly, notice Harry’s contention that I assert it is civil law that defines who the put away party is. I know of none who have taught such, and if Harry knew of anyone who actually did, it is certain he would have supplied that quote, as well. 

However, I do recognize Jesus’ own teaching in Matthew 19:6, that it is possible for man to actually “put asunder” a mate for a cause other than fornication (cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11).  I also recognize that when man does so (“shall put away”, Matthew 5:32a; 19:9a, Luke 16:18a), the one whom he takes the action against, is the one whom Jesus says “is put away,” and is precluded from lawful remarriage to another (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b, Luke 16:18b). 

If it were not for the God-ordained civil authorities who slow man’s divorce process down, wives could be put away immediately and without just cause. Their ungodly husbands could make them put away people by simply putting them out of the house, as was done before the law of Moses required a bill of divorcement

Regardless of the various agencies or socially-recognized means one uses to accomplish divorce, Jesus taught that it is “man” who is responsible for - and capable of - unlawfully putting “asunder.”  I know of nobody who teaches otherwise. 

[Brethren’s attempt to blame the unlawful divorce on civil law – and thus, deny its validity – reminds me of the efforts of some liberal politicians to outlaw guns for causing the death of innocent people. Those who understand reality know that it is the person pulling the trigger who is responsible for killing another (not the gun).] 

The Source of Our Disagreement 

Our disagreement stems from the fact that God’s Law precludes those who are already put away from lawful remarriage to another, while Harry’s teaching allows it (in some cases).  In the one and only divorce which scripture refers to (whether lawful or not), the one who is put away is not the one whom Jesus gave the exception clause to. 

Harry’s exclusive reference to the two divorce partners as “the innocent” and “the guilty” (instead of the one who puts away and the one who is put away,” as Jesus described them), blatantly disregards an important point of what Jesus taught on the subject of Divorce and Remarriage.  In the last halves of Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18, Jesus’ preclusion of remarriage to another was simply to “put away people” (unqualified), not exclusively to put away fornicators. 

The Pharisees asked about the cause for the action of PUTTING AWAY.  When a person puts his spouse away (whether lawfully or not), there is a subject of that putting away: the one whom the Lord called “put away.”  The only thing that Jesus said about such a person - whether put away for fornication or for another cause is, “and he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” 

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus simply gives the one who puts away an exception to the general rule. All bound people involved in a divorce are prohibited from lawful remarriage to another while their bound spouse lives (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; cf. Mark 10:11; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:1-3; I Corinthians 7:10-11), except for those who Put Away for fornication.  Never does scripture command, give approved apostolic example, necessarily infer, or a state a fact that authorizes a subsequent “putting away” after an unapproved putting away, nor authorizes the “put away” to remarry another (save after the death of their bound mate, Romans 7:2-3). The exception in the first clause (a) of Matthew 19:9 does not apply to the second half of the verse (b), and the exception given to the one who puts away is not relevant to the one who is put away.  See Who Does the Exception Clause Apply To? 

Failure to Address the Lord’s Teaching Regarding Those Who Are “Put Away” 

On page 16, Harry professes to bring the general subject matter of “Fight of Faith vs. Needless Controversy” to the topic of the current controversy with the following statements: 

I want to notice with you the same thing on an issue that has been of much discussion among the people of God…But I want us to think about this matter with regard to divorce and remarriage, and see where this issue fits.” 

Nevertheless, when Harry finally got around to dealing with the issue, the closest that he ever came to commenting on the Lord’s decree regarding the put away are the following statements: 

“No, it’s not right to sunder, to put away, to go separate ways, to be living separately for any other reason than the cause of fornication.  That’s it.  If you do, you’re committing adultery, and if she goes out there in that kind of relationship, she’s committing adultery(emp. jhb).


He’s saying if there is a state in which there is sundered what God joined together for any other reason than fornication having caused that, nobody has the right to remarry (emp. jhb).


“If that happened for any other reason than fornication or adultery took place back there, and now, we’re severing from one another for that cause, nobody has the right to remarry (emp. jhb). 

Is it not strange, that in a lesson designed to address this “needless controversy” among us, brother Osborne fails to discuss the very portion of scripture which the controversy revolves around: “and he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery” (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b)?  Though it is apparent (noting brother Osborne’s 23 pages of transcript) that he has no problem with elaboration, he never once explains or comments on Jesus’ doctrine applied to the “put away.”  He does comment on the unlawfulness of remarriage for a guilty party (which Jesus did not specify), but he fails to comment on the very one that Jesus actually named – the “put away.” 

Is Controversy “Needless” When One’s Teaching is Contrary to Christ? 

If the “application” of allowing a put away person to remarry another, (after a subsequent “putting away” for post-divorce fornication) involves adultery (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b), then it is not an acceptable “application” that can be fellowshipped.  However, Harry will not even attempt to show how he arrives at his conclusion that some people who have been put away (qualified) are exempt from God’s decree regarding those who are put away (unqualified). 

Surely, Jesus knew that the bond remained after an unapproved divorce. Yet, He precluded those whom He simply described as “put away” (in approved and unapproved sunderings) from remarriage to another while their bound spouse lived (cf. Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:10-11, 15, 39). [In marriage, two become one. In divorce, one becomes two (they have been “put asunder” – Matthew 19:6).]  Regarding a subsequent “putting away,” the Lord “spake nothing” (cf. Acts 15:24; Heb. 1:5; 7:12-14). 

However, the Lord’s statement of fact regarding the unfortunate circumstance of the put away person is unequivocally clear: “and he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”  Dear reader, I cannot think of one passage of scripture that is any easier to understand in all of God’s word, can you?  Jesus makes no exceptions for the put away (as opposed to the one putting away) in any of the passages in which He addresses them.  The only exceptions to that rule are divinely specified in Romans 7:2-3, and I Corinthians 7:10-11, which are remarriage to another after the death of a bound partner, and remarriage to one’s own bound spouse.  That’s notabout it;” that “IS IT!” 

So, for Harry to come along and say in essence, “in some (unrevealed) cases, God’s law about the put away person is not so,” he has a mighty big burden of proof to overcome!  How can he expect me (or anyone else) to just go along with his (and his associates’) “application,” when they will not even try to address God’s law regarding those who are put away (as opposed to God’s law for those who put away)? 

What About the Put Away? 

One thing is for sure, when discussing a divorce (sundering) that involves two people, one cannot honestly claim to be “open to study” if he repeatedly avoids discussion of what the Lord taught about half of the involved parties (those who are put away). 

If Harry believes that those faithful mates who are put away in unapproved divorces are not truly “put away” (as he asserted in his “Nevada Strawman” quote, linked above) then he needs to cite a Biblical statement of fact, approved example, command, or necessary inference to verify it.  If he believes that those who are put away in unapproved divorces are indeed put away, he first needs to prove that the exception Jesus gave to those who put away in Matthew 19:9a, also applies to some who are put away. He then needs to establish exactly which put away people it does apply to and which it doesn’t, since Jesus clearly said that those who marry a put away person (unqualified) commit adultery

Although I have been asking for this kind of verification for over two years now, Harry has yet to provide divine documentation. Until he is willing and able to back up his foundational belief about those who are put away with reasoning that is in harmony with scripture, all discussion about how “needless” this “controversy” is, is putting the cart before the horse.  Before we are authorized to discontinue a fight of faith (Jude 3-4), we must first be “fully persuaded” that the issue at hand involves a practice that is inherently “clean” and “pure,” in and of itself (Romans 14). Nobody on either side of this controversy believes adultery belongs in that category!    

No Timeframe Involved in “Putting Away”? 

Furthermore, what brother Harry boldly advocated in his sermon is cause for great concern.  Four times, Harry denied that there is a timeframe for putting away (offering no proof for this conclusion). Note the following: 

“Folks, for the life of me, how in the world can someone calling himself a gospel preacher say that, in answer to what the word of God says very clearly in Matthew 19 that we just looked at.  For the life of me, I can’t see that.  What I do see, is that somebody’s looking at Matthew 19:9 in the word of God, and somebody is looking at the timeframe, the actions that are out here by civil law.  Since when did God give over to civil law the right to declare who’s to take what action, how it’s to be seen, what the timeframe is, where it’s to be taken, who’s to rule upon it, how it’s to be ruled upon, how the filing is to take place, when it is, who’s to do it?  We don’t find any of that in the word of God.”


“What’s the only way we can look at it scripturally?  God’s word talks about cause.  That’s where we focus, and we leave it there.  When one builds a timeframe and says when that judges brings the gavel down, that’s when everything is judged by, and you’ve got to act before that process finishes (by that judge gaveling it), where is that in the word…”


“The idea of the timing, that all of it ends at the gavel of the judge, where’s that found in the word of God?  It’s not there, folks.  It’s something that simply is not found, it’s an addition.”


“Folks, there are people out there who start to disturb the people of God by making additions and causing this idea, you’ve got to initiate, you’ve got to take this civil action, you’ve got to take that civil action, you’ve got to do it before a judge bangs his gavel, or whatever it might be that’s added to the word of God.” 

In essence, what Harry is saying is that the right for “an innocent” person to put away for fornication and remarry another is supreme; that it cannot be limited even by the Lord’s own decree that the “put away” commit adultery when they remarry another. 

The problem with the second “putting away” (mental divorce) theory is that it emphasizes one aspect of God’s will (the right to put away for fornication) to the exclusion of another (the subsequent, divinely-imposed consequences for those who are put away).  According to the teaching of God in Matthew 19, there is a definite time at which one becomes put away and is precluded from remarrying another while their bound spouse lives. 

What is a Doctrine “According to Godliness?” 

Within brother Osborne’s sermon, he asserts that “an innocent” (put away) person has the “right of remarriage,” and then concludes that this “right” is “according to godliness.”  Unfortunately, both points in this circular reasoning are portrayed as reinforcements of his unsupported claims, yet he pretends that each unsubstantiated assertion proves the other.  In spite of his claims, my Bible still says that God authorizes only the one who puts away for fornication the freedom to remarry, and that the one who marries a divorced person commits adultery, how about yours? 

In Matthew 5:31-32, Jesus contrasted His law (which is “according to ‘godliness’”- II Peter 1:3) with the law of Moses, using the words, “but I say unto you.”  In Matthew 19, the Lord also contrasted His law (and that which was “from the beginning”) with the Mosaic law regarding divorce (which permitted putting away for causes short of fornication - and which had also allowed remarriage for those who were put away). 

In Deuteronomy 24:1-2, Moses commanded a bill of divorcement to be given by those individuals who put away, for the benefit of those who were being put away.  Because of man’s hardness of heart (Matthew 19:8) and the “violence” (cf. Mal. 2:14-16) of this putting away, Moses’ law made provision for the remarriage of one who was put away. 

However, since Christ’s law supercedes that of Moses, the provision for remarriage of put away people has also passed away. The only provisions (in the one and only doctrine according to GODLINESS) for remarriage of the put away today, are revealed in Romans 7:3 and I Corinthians 7:11. 

Brother Harry’s unrevealed provisions for the put away are not found in the law of Christ, therefore they are according to death and ungodliness (Romans 1:18, 6:23; I Timothy 6:3-5)! 

Desperate Accusations 

Moreover, the accusation that Harry made about brother Don Martin’s quote will raise hair on the back of many sound brethren’s necks, who have taught the same thing for many years.  Harry stated: 

“When we come along and we forbid marriage to an innocent in a case where marriage is sundered for the cause of fornication, we’re speaking against Jesus. In Biblical terms, that’s blasphemy, that’s speaking against the will of God, that’s fables, it’s that which stands in contrast to God’s law, that’s lies, it is not the truth.  And brethren, that’s serious and we need to be wary of it” (emp. jhb). 

This is no less than an indictment against the Lord himself, who taught, “and he who marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”  (Note: Harry refuses to accept this teaching as “it is written.” He accepts it only with his own implied exception added to it, which excludes “an innocent” put away person who was divorced against both his/her will and God’s.)  The Lord never made any such exception for the put away!  Unfortunately, brother Osborne fails to realize that he is the one who is adding to the word of God, not those who oppose the post-unlawful-divorce “putting away” theory. 

Additionally, Harry’s above statement is a condemnation of highly esteemed brethren such as H. E. Phillips, J. T. Smith, Gene Frost, Maurice Barnett, Carroll Sutton, Connie Adams, Donnie Rader and many others who have vigorously upheld Jesus’ teaching regarding the put away, while denouncing the doctrine that authorizes remarriage for those whom Jesus, Himself precluded from it. 

After reading brother Martin’s quote (which affirmed that no put away person is authorized to “put away” and remarry another), Harry also stated: 

“Folks, for the life of me, how in the world can someone calling himself a gospel preacher say that, in answer to what the word of God says very clearly in Matthew 19 that we just looked at” (emp. jhb).    

In reference to Harry’s preceding quote, once you acknowledge that even an unlawful divorce sunders the marriage (as Jesus unequivocally taught in Matthew 19:6, 9; cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11), then what is done is done.  Nowhere does scripture indicate that further sundering, nor subsequent remarriage to another (while one’s bound mate lives), is possible.  Therefore, such teaching is of man, and not of God.   We must respect the silence of the scriptures. 

The Progressive and Corruptive Nature of Error 

Two decades ago, public attempts to gain acceptance for this doctrine of post-divorce “putting away” were soundly refuted and denounced in forceful terms by those men who were considered faithful. However, now that the doctrine has been circulated in more private settings for the last several years and has gained increased acceptance among some brethren, those who hold to it are not content to simply try and gain acceptance of it anymore. 

Now, those who dare to refute it are accused of “human binding,” “blasphemy,” “speaking against the will of God,” “lies,” etc.  This is a perfect illustration of Harry’s observation of error’s effect – a progressive and corruptive nature, indeed

This very phenomenon is exposed in the following quote, from an article recently posted by brother James Shewmaker (but written 32 years ago) to Bible Matters

“Many times false teachers try to convince everyone that their ideas are merely matters of opinion. Then, after asserting that it is only a matter of opinion, they will insist that those who do not believe it is just opinion go along with their ideas. Such action is sin.” (emp. jhb). 

Throughout the course of church history, doctrines of men have begun with a simple plea for tolerance of a new idea, and ended with an outright demand for full acceptance of the teaching and practice of it. If such acceptance is not received, those who dare oppose it are accused of all manner of evil (cf. I Peter 4:4) and considered as “antis” or heretics who teach the “doctrines of devils.”  As the old television commercial stated, we’ve “come a long way, baby.”

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Last Updated:  Thursday, January 26, 2006 12:41 PM