DEBATE INVITATION FOR
Since the topic of disagreement (regarding post-divorce “putting away” and remarriage to another) began, the six men listed above have been very vocal in promoting their false doctrine which leads to adultery.
Let the record reflect that I am offering the following propositions (which are harmonious with the focus of my website, as well as with the numerous documented examples of their error) for debate (oral or written) in various journals or at a location central to both participants:
The scriptures teach that after a person is put away against their will and not for fornication, they may later “put away” for post-divorce fornication, and remarry another while their original spouse lives.
The scriptures teach that after a person is put away against their will, without prior fornication on the part of either party, he/she must remain celibate as long as his/her original spouse lives or be reconciled, regardless of post-divorce fornication.
“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.” Ron Halbrook, (E-mail “discussion with friends about fine-tuning some points of application,” February, 1998)
“According to this argument, if the fornicator can get his legal papers before fornicating, he can preclude the innocent mate from exercising the divine prerogative of putting away the guilty party & marrying another. By this argument, the innocent party would thus commit adultery!?!?” Ron Halbrook [Added commentary to an article by Windell Wiser (sent out by Ron in early Spring, 2001)]
Compare with the following:
“And so, in conclusion from this, we learn that an unscriptural divorce releases neither party from marriage. When you have an unscriptural divorce, as men count it, it’s not so with God. That bond is still in tact. And that little piece of paper is nothing in the sight of God. Just as well use it as Kleenex and blow your nose and drop it in the toilet. It doesn’t mean a thing to God. God’s law rules over the laws of men. And furthermore scriptural divorce, even when there’s a scriptural divorce, and that would be…” Ron Halbrook (MDR sermon preached in Wilkesville, OH, 6-14-90) See: It Is Nothing
Weldon E. Warnock:
“But someone asks: ‘What about a woman who is put away (divorced) by a man simply because the man no longer wanted to be married? Fornication is not involved and the woman repeatedly tried to prevent the divorce, but to no avail. After a couple of years the man marries another woman. Is the ‘put way’ woman then free to marry?’ She certainly is, if she puts away her husband for fornication. She would have to do this before God in purpose of heart since the divorce has already taken place, legally speaking. She could not go through the process of having a legal document charging her husband with ‘adultery,’ but God would know…” Weldon E. Warnock, (Searching the Scriptures, November issue, 1985)
On Beckley’s local radio station, brother Warnock broadcasted that a preacher in Beckley, WV who he calls “J.B.,” teaches that which is “indefensible.” Moreover, he stated that my teaching is “twisted,” “ludicrous,” “radical,” “extreme,” “invalid,” “sophistry,” “fallacy,” “nonsense,” and “one of the most irrational, absurd positions that’s come along in a long time.” See AUDIO CLIPS (and scroll down).
“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.” Weldon E. Warnock, [2-8-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!
Weldon has also stated:
“Or if he puts her away and then goes and marries somebody else, he’s guilty of fornication. I’m talking about an innocent person, now. I’m not talking about two who decide they don’t want to live together anymore, get a divorce and one waits on the other to commit fornication in order then to remarry. I’m talking about an innocent person who’s been put away by a man or a woman, who’s been put away, and then later, goes out and remarries, may have his eye on (laughs) somebody when the divorce takes place, the innocent party may remarry on the basis fornication.” Weldon E. Warnock, [4-4-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!
“I would affirm that the post-divorce fornication (like in this case of this soldier who went to Vietnam and he was gone twelve or thirteen months, and he came back and his wife had divorced him and was married to somebody else), I maintain that this man had a right to remarry based on fornication.” Weldon E. Warnock, [5-2-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!
“And then he’s got the post-divorce fornication, and I’m willing to debate what I believe, ladies and gentlemen. I believe that you can go to Matthew 19:9 as an innocent, faithful spouse, and put away your fornicating spouse regardless if it’s before the civil divorce or after the civil divorce, and remarry, and be acceptable in the sight of God ‘cause Jesus said you could.” Weldon E. Warnock, [7-25-04 Radio program (WJLS 99.5 FM, Beckley WV) sponsored by the Beech Creek church of Christ, Meador, WV.] Play Clip!
“I cannot find in my Bible where Jesus or the apostle bound the length of time an innocent person has to wait after a divorce for fornication before he/she can remarry, no more than how long a person has to wait to remarry after the death of a spouse. I am not willing to make tests of fellowship in such matters.” Bill Cavender [A Response to Brother David Watts Jr.; Bible Banner (11-14-04)]
“But, and IF, a husband or wife, in separation and departure one from the other, whatever the reason or excuse he/she conceives to justify their separation, no matter how much distance is between them, no matter how much time expires in their separation, IF adultery does take place, then the exception clause of Matt. 19:9 applies. Paul said Jesus commanded them to remain unmarried and to be reconciled (I Cor. 7:10). But one spouse will not obey Jesus, will not be reconciled, lives apart from his/her spouse, and goes and commits adultery. The other party remains faithful to the vows of marriage and desires reconciliation. The codicil of Matt. 19:9, which Jesus gave, then has application.” Bill Cavender [A Response to Brother David Watts Jr.; Bible Banner (11-14-04)]
When I (jhb) began to expose this error several years ago (Mental Divorce, Revamped and Revisited, Oct, 2000 and “Differences in Application”, March, 2001; Gospel Truths Magazine), brother Harry Osborne subsequently wrote an email letter to me dated April 12, 2001 (including a cc to brother J.T. Smith) stating:
“Regarding whether you have had one article or two on this issue, my understanding is that the two are related and that there may be other articles coming from you along the same line of thought.”
And from another letter (including cc’s to J.T. Smith and Tim Haile) on May 18, 2001, Harry stated:
“Your articles in Gospel Truths have stood without rebuttal for months.”
Observe Harry’s dissent with both of my articles! The fact that he opposed both of my original articles speaks volumes. This is because both articles refuted the supposed right to a post-divorce “putting away” and remarriage to another, when the fornication was not committed until AFTER the unapproved divorce! Neither of my articles mentioned or even alluded to the situation/scenario in which an already fornicating mate initiates a divorce against his innocent mate.
Notice the aim of my first article:
“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…Yet, the position under examination teaches: marriage, divorce, fornication, mental divorce (for that cause) plus public declaration of the same, and remarriage (emp. mine, jhb).” (Mental Divorce, Revamped and Revisited, Gospel Truths; Oct, 2000).
Then in the second article, I wrote:
“Regrettably, another ‘good’ reason to tolerate disagreement in doctrinal areas has emerged among us — differences in application. Ironically, this idea is also being advanced to justify association with false teaching that leads to adultery (detailed in a previous article, “Mental Divorce, Revamped and Revisited;” Gospel Truths, March 2000, pg. 18).”
The day after I received the April (2001) issue of Gospel Truths (in which my second article appeared), I received a copy of an e-mail letter sent out by Ron to brother Harry Osborne (and others) which stated:
“[J. T. said Jeff has me in mind in this article. It appeared in the March GOSPEL TRUTHS with J T.’s editorial. My thought is this: If Jeff cannot see the vast distinction between doctrinal differences and differences in some point of application (emp. jhb), he will end up thinking virtually every difference is doctrinal regarding funerals & and weddings in the building, the Sunday P.M. Lord's Supper, the covering, etc., etc. Ron]”
Note also what Ron stated about Harry’s convictions in the Burnet meeting:
“Brother Pickup made me aware a couple of years ago that it is being widely reported that Mike Willis and I differ in doctrine on this. As I left home to come, I sent my manuscript to two people for proofreading purposes by computer. After their proofreading it, not only they helped get the corrections done, but also I received this statement from MIKE WILLIS: ‘This is to affirm that I have read brother Halbrook’s material. I agreed with him that our differences on how to treat one whose mate is guilty of FORNICATION FOLLOWING A DIVORCE which he tried to avoid is a difference of judgment in the realm of application of the one law of divorce and remarriage and not the teaching of another law.’ HARRY OSBORNE made in essence the same statement. Those are the two who proofread it for me” (emp. jhb). Ron Halbrook [Towards A Better Understanding (False Teachers, Ron Halbrook’s Rebuttal to Bob Owen (pgs. 34-35)].
“If the ungodly spouse puts asunder the marriage relationship, is there another physical marriage relationship that the innocent mate can put asunder? No. Is there anything else that can be done by the innocent mate? Yes, the innocent mate, upon the occurrence of fornication by the ungodly spouse, can certainly do something. He can exercise his God-given right to repudiate the fornicator by renouncing his vows made to him. Upon this action, God looses the innocent one from his vows made to the guilty spouse, thus giving the innocent one permission to remarry without committing adultery.” Bill Reeves [Nothing Left To Put Asunder Nothing Left To Do; Bible Banner (2-8-04)]
“Each spouse realized only one divorce apiece! One did not have divine authority for his, the other did! Big difference, Jeff!” Bill Reeves [A Review of Jeff Belknap’s Article: ‘Those Who May Marry & Those Who May Not; Bible Banner (1-24-04)]
“Brother Harper believes that if the innocent spouse is unlawfully divorced by his godless, covenant-breaking mate, the innocent spouse has no right to put that godless mate away for his subsequent fornication. Brother Harper believes that the godless mate’s fornication is rendered irrelevant as a result of it being committed after he had already departed from his innocent spouse.” Tim Haile [Response to Steven Harper’s: “Answering an Impossible Hypothesis;” Bible Banner; Also sent out to “Undisclosed-Recipients” (2-29-04)]
“Some leave their mates with no intention of pursuing another sexual relationship, but end up doing so anyway. Jesus did not condition the innocent person’s putting-away right upon how much time passes between the godless mate’s departure, and his committing fornication. Those who bind some arbitrary time frame for the putting-away are the ones guilty of ‘adding to God’s law.’” Tim Haile [Putting-Away: What or Whom? (Bible Banner; Also posted on Bible Matters 10-9-03)]
By Ron Halbrook
“Be willing to hear both sides of the issues involved and be wary of excuses offered for closing the door to open discussion. ‘Try,’ test, or examine the teachers in this controversy – no matter who they are – and do it by comparing what they say with Scripture (I Jn. 4:1, 6). Do not be timid about approaching the men involved to ask for the Bible basis of their conduct and teaching. Pay close attention to whether they actually give you Bible passages or whether they merely talk around the subject. Notice whether they seem tense, resentful, and angry when you question them, or whether they seem to truly welcome and appreciate your questions. Those who stand on the truth find that it gives them a confidence which creates calmness and patience in discussing the questions of honest people. Those who cannot give Scripture for their position suffer from arrogance, impatience, and frustration which create bitter resentment against those who dare to question them. Something is wrong if the man you question does not seem glad for the opportunity to fulfill I Peter 3:15 (‘be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you’).”