Weldon E. Warnock, Week After Week

By Jeff Belknap

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article entitled “Brother Warnock’s 19 Year Progression of Error”. Within that article, brother Weldon advocated the same doctrine that he had asserted 19 years ago, regarding the alleged authority for “innocent” put away persons to employ a post-divorce “putting away” for their obligated partners’ post-divorce fornication, and to remarry another.

After discussing various scenarios in his January 25th (2004) radio lesson, he expressed disagreement with the Lord’s decree regarding the put away in Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b and Luke 16:18b:

“Or he doesn’t want to be married anymore, he’s not guilty of adultery, but he’s got his eye on somebody else. And – and this short while after the divorce takes place, now here she is an innocent, faithful wife, he marries somebody else, or he commits adultery, he does the putting away. She can’t remarry because she’s the put away!” Weldon E. Warnock, [1-25-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!

Additionally, several times in recent months within this weekly broadcast, brother Weldon has reiterated the presupposition that an “unmarried” (I Corinthians 7:10-11), “put away” person (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b) can subsequentlyput away” the one who has alreadydeparted” (I Corinthians 7:10-11). This hypothesis asserts that one can “put sunder” (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9) a one-flesh “marriage” relationship that has already been SEPARATED, if the estranged spouse of an “innocent” (put away) mate commits post-divorce fornication!

What is worse is that for three weeks, in each of his weekly radio broadcasts (Click here: Audio Clips), he has preached  this same error, which brothers Connie W. Adams and Jim Deason publicly condemned 19 years ago in Searching the Scriptures. See: The Warnock-Deason Exchange

In Weldon’s February 1st (2004) radio program, he expressed his doctrine as follows:

“But here’s the innocent party, wants to salvage the marriage, doesn’t want a divorce and she is put away or he is put away, then she or he becomes the innocent party, as the spouse commits adultery. Now that’s what the Bible teaches and that’s my convictions, and that’s what I’ve preached through the years.

And ah, you know, three - three kinds of people, classes of people can marry: Those who’ve never been married, one whose spouse has died, and one whose spouse commits fornication, the innocent party may put away, repudiate the guilty one and remarry.” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-1-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.]

Notice that when the adultery is committed after the divorce, he contends that the “innocent party” can “put away.” He then says, “that’s what the Bible teaches.” However, where does the Bible teach this?! For three years, those who have been promoting this idea have been telling us that this is “what the Bible teaches” but to this day, no one has articulated the book, chapter and verse which authorizes a put away (“unmarried”) person to employ a post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication! See: Those Who May Marry & Those Who May Not

These brethren sometimes assert that the authorization is found in Matthew 5:32a and 19:9a. However it has been well established that the authorization to put away (or sunder the marriage, in Matthew 5:32a and 19:9a) for fornication was given specifically to THE MARRIED, not to those who were divorced (or put away and “unmarried” cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11)! (See: God’s Law To The Married vs. The Unmarried). We know this, because in Matthew 19, Christ’s condemnation of divorce (and the exception to that condemnation) was placed within the context of man’s sundering of a lawful, one flesh relationship (vs. 5-6).

Additionally, the context of Christ’s divorce teaching in Matthew 5:32a begins in the verse which precedes it. In verse 31, Jesus equates the act of “shall put away” with fulfillment of the divorce procedure which was recognized at that time (i.e. “writing of divorcement”). Thus the exception clause of verse 32 was given in the context of those who were still married, not already divorced.

Moreover, in Matthew 5:32a, Jesus taught that when one unlawfully sunders their marriage, they cause the put away to commit adultery. The reason why unapproved divorcement (i.e. the wrongful break-up of the marriage) “causeth” the put away to sin is because it defrauds a partner of their physical due (I Corinthians 7:2-5; cf. Matthew 18:7). See: The Seven Sins of an Unscriptural Divorce Obviously, if “whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery,” then putting away must entail the physical separation of an intact marriage.

Consequently, neither Matthew 5:32a or 19:9a can be cited to prove the ability of a put away person – no matter how “innocent,” to employ a post-divorce “putting away.” It’s not in the text, the context, nor is such authority found anywhere within the entire sacred text (cf. I Corinthians 4:6; Galatians 1:8-9; II John 9).

In Weldon’s February 8th (2004) radio program, he articulated his position as follows:

“This brother (Jeff Belknap, jhb) is saying that if a faithful, um, innocent party is divorced by a fornicating husband, or he divorces his faithful spouse, or faithful wife, and then he commits fornication, marries somebody, that she can never remarry.”

“So let’s come on, let’s get with it, let’s see, ah let’s see if we put our, as the old saying goes, money where our mouth is and get down to the nitty gritty, Ah - neighbor. And see what the Bible teaches, and I’m ready to do it, I believe strongly what I preach, and have preached it all my life, that the innocent party – I don’t care what the circumstances are – the innocent, faithful party, who’s been put away by a fornicating husband or a, or a mate commits fornication, that God gives the innocent party the right to remarry.” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock, [2-8-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.]

Nevertheless, after an unscriptural divorce, the only revealed possibilities for both those who put away and those who are put away are:

  1. Adultery (Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18).

  2. Remaining Unmarried / Celibate (Matthew 19:12; I Corinthians 7:11).

  3. Reconciliation (I Corinthians 7:11).

  4. Remarriage After the Death of One’s Bound Partner (Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:39).

During Weldon’s weekly broadcasts, he has also misrepresented the remarriage rights of the Jewish women of the first century, as well as those of Muslim women today. He alleged “that the Jewish women of the first century couldn’t remarry because they couldn’t put away their husbands. And that’s true in the Middle East today, among the Muslims.” Weldon E. Warnock, [1-25-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.]

It is true that the Mosaic law only spoke of a man giving a writing of divorcement (Deuteronomy 24:1) to his wife. However, this would not have prevented an “innocent” Jewish wife from remarrying another after her husband’s fornication. First of all, her husband would have been put to death for his sin of fornication under that same law (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22). Hence, according to the law of Christ, she would be free, as a widow, to marry another (Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:39).

On the other hand, the gospel reveals that the first century Pharisees (the strictest sect of the Jews), had deviated from the decrees of the law in the days of Christ on earth (Matthew 5:20; 15:7-9; 23:1-39; Romans 10:1-3). Not only did they add to it, they “omitted” even “the weightier matters of the law”! When speaking to His Jewish disciples, Jesus not only addressed the possibility of men putting away their wives (for various causes), but also the possibility of wives putting away their husbands (Mark 10:11-12; cf. I Corinthians 7:10-11).

A number of sources document the first century Jewish women’s ability to put away. Please refer to the article, Divorces By Jewish Women In The First Century, for an explanation and documentation of brother Warnock’s inaccuracy. Moreover, for abundant proof that Muslim women can do the same today (contrary to brother Warnock’s declaration), see: Divorce Rights of Muslim Women in the Middle East.

Within brother Weldon’s February 8th (2004) radio program, he also expressed his desire to “debate” me. Weldon stated:

“Now, wouldn’t it be nice, ladies and gentlemen, if we could get some of these boys today, these brethren today, to debate this, on this putting away? 

And there’s a brother, a preacher in Southern West Virginia, who’s on the computer challenging a brother like Ron Halbrook for debate. Yeah, he’s been brazen. I want, I want a debate, and chided him ‘cause, brother Ron because he won’t debate. Well, Ron decided that’s not the – the best, ha, ha, as far, as far as he’s concerned, but I tell you what, I’ll do it.” (emp. jhb). Play Clip! 

Then Weldon went on in this lesson to specify his particular requests and said:

“But I want to do it orally, and I want to do it publicly and I want to do it with the brother who’s causing dissention in the body of Christ…And we could have a public discussion in Southern West Virginia.” Weldon E. Warnock, [1-8-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.]

Since brother Ron “decided” that it was not “best” to accept the debate invitation that I offered him, brother Weldon has graciously offered to take Ron’s place. Consequently, I will offer brother Warnock the same invitation that I extended to brother Ron Halbrook (Written Debate Invitation For Ron Halbrook).

I made the offer to debate Ron in writing, which I think “is best.” (If brother Halbrook is justified to decline debate altogether because he decided that’s not the best, as far as he’s concerned then certainly, it cannot be wrong for me to insist on the same conditions that I originally offered brother Halbrook, if I am to debate another.)

I believe that a written debate is the best as far as (I’m) concerned, and it has the advantage of much wider distribution than an oral debate. Brother Warnock expressed interest in “getting to the bottom of this, and see what the truth is.” Since I am in agreement, and this issue is a universal concern “in the body of Christ,” brethren everywhere should have access to the debate, not just those who live in or near Beckley, WV. I am willing for brother Weldon to determine the word count in our written exchange, if he so desires.

Since it has been proven that Weldon has misrepresented 1) what the issue is, 2) when this issue actually originated, and 3) what his opposition believes and teaches (See: Brother Warnock’s 19 Year Progression of Error), I think the better part of wisdom calls for a forum where every word may be established (II Corinthians 13:1).

Also, please note the following quote from brother Warnock’s 2-8-04 broadcast:

“You know, we have those who sit behind the computer, an – and they’ll type out brazen things, but when they’re challenged, ah, they, they just back off. Mmm, they’re just as quiet as a church mouse, to use the old saying. Oh no, I don’t want to have that, don’t want to have a public discussion.”

First of all, brother Warnock claims that I sit behind the computer and type “brazen things,” yet back off when I am challenged. Nevertheless, in the same lesson, he acknowledged my public offer to debate Ron Halbrook. These “facts” do not add up. Yes, I have “backed off” from some invitations for me to affirm propositions that I do not believe. No thank you, I don’t think accepting challenges like that is “best.”

Additionally, there seems to be an inconsistency here, between how Weldon views my refusal to debate some brethren’s (skewed) propositions, and brother Halbrook’s refusal to debate me (as well as several other brethren who have also offered to debate him). In contrast to my “brazen” computer typing, I’m supposedly just as quiet as a church mouse when challenged. Yet, it is well-documented that brother Halbrook has gone near and far teaching his post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication, and when he refuses to debate or even discuss the issue he has promoted, it is portrayed as a decision he made because “that’s not the – the best, ha, ha, as far, as far as he’s concerned.” Note Proverbs 24:23, “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.”

On brother Weldon’s February 15th (2004) radio program, he again brought up “a preacher in Southern West Virginia” and mentioned his desire to debate me. If Weldon is really interested in getting “down to the nitty gritty” (as he stated on his February 8th broadcast) to “see what the Bible teaches” on this question, we can just simply change the name on the debate invitation from Ron Halbrook to Weldon E. Warnock and I will sign it. What say ye?

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