This is only one of several e-mail letters which were sent out by Ron which reveal his “application.”

Highlighted in blue are words I believe are significant (jhb)!

From: Ron Halbrook,
To: Ron Halbrook, RonHalbrook
Date: 2/8/1998 12:49 AM

RE: Agree on MDR Principles, Still Study Some Applications

The following e-mails reflect discussions with friends about fine-tuning some points of application, but we agree on the basic principles of MDR. I do not attempt to get into all these points in preaching. If someone asks a question about such a point, I generally explain both views and encourage them to weigh them in their own conscience.

This basic process is necessary on every Bible subject.

Best wishes, Ron

Good to hear from you. Even though some abuse the statement, "I'm still studying an issue," it is a valid statement for all of us at times. We encourage all sincere people to have the attitude that we are willing to study any question or issue with an open mind & an open Bible. I believe both of us share that attitude, in spite of some who may misuse that plea as a cop-out when actually they are not willing to study.

If I follow you correctly, I agree on points 1-2 (i.e., that Jesus gave divine law on MDR rather than addressing legal systems & technicalities, and that fornication is the only ground for divorce & remarriage). Point 3 is too broad as a blanket statement (i.e., that we should tell all innnocent mates put away for causes other than fornication not to remarry under any circumstances). For instance, the person who did the unscriptural putting away may die, and this would release the innocent party from the obligations of the marrige bond. So, the first point to be clarified is that we are discussing people who have living mates.

Furthermore, a person may be in an unscriptural marriage which ends in divorce; in that case, an "innocent" party may be a put-away person who has the right to remarry. So, another point to be clarified is that we are discussing people previously in scriptural marriages.

Next, a man may be committing adultery against his wife, & may file for divorce; she may or may not countersue, but in any case, she may be viewed as the put-away person in the legal system. In fact, she is the only one who has grounds to put away the man, & she may scripturally do so even when she is not able to do so legally because of legal steps taken by the fornicator. The marriage bond remains in place until the innocent party repudiates it under divine law.

Next, a man may have enough regard for social convention that he will not go to bed with the "cute little thing" he wants rather than his wife; therefore, he may divorce his wife, then marry the "cute little thing," thus going to the bed of adultery. Once again, the original marriage bond stays intact under divine law until he commits adultery against his wife; his legal steps do not dissolve the bond put in place when God joined them together (Matt. 19:9). Since his true wife remains faithful to the marriage bond, she & she alone has the right to repudiate the marriage under divine law. She may scripturally do so even when she is not able to do so legally because of legal steps taken by the treacherous husband.

Some object that this makes her guilty of a "waiting game" in violation of Matt. 5:32. To the contrary, she is not guilty of any such sin but is maintaining fidelity to the marriage bond put in place by God!  If she were to divorce her husband w/o cause, & wait for him to find & marry a "cute little thing," so that she could then claim to be an "innocent" party with grounds for remarriage, THEN she would be guilty of the waiting game. Jesus indeed precludes the waiting game in Matt. 5:32, but it seems to me that some brethren have missed the point of what the waiting game really means.

But, some object that Jesus does not detail a case like the one we are considering, therefore this innocent party has no grounds to remarry. The fact is that Jesus does not attempt to list, catalogue, & analyze all the situations which may occur, along with all the legal complications which may arise in different cultures & legal systems. The Bible would be set of encyclopedias if he had done so! He gave the principles of divine law, which we must then apply to situations & cases as they arise. Sound brethren are agreed on what the principles are, but we at times wrestle with how the principles apply to certain cases.  Matt. 19:9(b) does not make a blanket statement covering all people who may have been put away in some sense. It deals directly with two principles which we must apply to various cases. (a) If a man puts away his wife where no fornication has occurred on the part of either mate, and if she then marries another man, whoever marries her goes to the bed of adultery with her. [Note: This does not give her original mate grounds to marry a new mate because he is pronounced guilty of causing her sin in 5:32 .] (b) If a man puts away his wife for fornication, and if she then marries another man, whoever marries her goes to the bed of adultery with her.

What, then, about a man who dances a jig in the legal system, or otherwise tells his wife he is getting rid of her so that he can get another mate, and what effect does this have on the woman's right to marry another mate? Matt. 19:9 does not address all the maneuvers people might use, but here is the PRINCIPLE in the passage which applies to her: Since she is faithful to her marriage bond, she is the only one in a position to assert the scriptural ground to put him away "for fornication" & to marry another. HERE IS A KEY POINT OFTEN OVERLOOKED: The farce acted out by the man with or w/o legal sanction does not impinge upon her fidelity to the marriage bond or her God-given rights under the original terms of that bond. If she is faithful to the terms of the marriage bond & if he violates them, a thousand statements by him repudiating his marriage & a thousand legal documents sanctioning him do not cancel her fidelity or her rights under the true terms of the marriage bond.

If someone says, "But since Jesus did not specify & detail all the steps that occurred in her case, I would have doubt in my conscience," I would answer that Jesus did not specify & detail all the steps that occur in many other cases &, therefore, we must look for the principles which apply. Meanwhile, it is not necessary for such a person to remarry & I would never encourage them to do something about which he or she is doubtful.

In conclusion, it seems to me your point 3 is too broad. Like yourself, I am open to further study on these matters. May God bless you in all your labors.

In Christian love, Ron Halbrook 

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