A Clarifying Exchange
The following is an e-mail exchange between an unnamed brother and me, which helped him to understand the true source of controversy regarding this issue. It also reveals brother Harry Osborne’s continued attempts to divert the issue.
The entire reason I began my website is to expose and examine the RON HALBROOK “application” of post-civil-divorce “putting away” for post-civil-divorce fornication (which brother Osborne, himself, says he disagrees with). However, both brothers Osborne and Halbrook refuse to publicly discuss this issue.
Please consider my original articles in Gospel Truths Mental Divorce Revamped and Revisited (Oct. 2000) and Differences in Application (Mar. 2001). These show that my original focus was aimed solely at Ron’s “application,” in which “procedure” is not even an issue. Also, my invitation to debate brother Halbrook manifests the same focus:
Since my reply below helped to clarify the issue for this brother, I share the exchange in hopes that it will do the same for others. - Jeff Belknap
----- Original Message -----
Hello bro. Jeff:
I received this post from bro. Harry Osborne as you can see the time and date.
My reasoning for forwarding this to you is not to cause further strife between you and Ron or Harry; but I just wanted to be open and fair since I don’t know any of you; except Ron Halbrook.
I’ve read you many emails and your web page updates for quite some time now. I must tell you that I am really confused with what you have to say about “mental” divorce and your constant attacks upon bro. Ron.
I thought I knew what the Holy Scriptures say about Matthew 19 until I started reading your articles; now I’m very confused. I don’t mean that to be ugly to you, I’m just telling you the truth.
There is one thing for sure! Either you are wrong or bro. Harry is wrong; you both can’t be right. How can you well educated men in the gospel of our Lord read the same scripture and come to these different conclusions?
Well, I’ve said enough to get in trouble for a long time. I just wanted to hear what you have to say about the attachment. If you have time and want to pursue it, please try one more time to explain to me what is it that bro. Halbrook preaches about divorce that has so enraged you?
Thanks and may God bless us all with wisdom in understanding of His Word.
----- Original Message -----
I have written an article stating my view fully and showing the reasons from Scripture. I have attached that article as a file. There is no doubt that I differ with Jeff Belknap as may be seen in our brief exchange in Gospel Truths. I have asked Jeff to debate the real issues, but he has declined. After documenting several cases where Jeff misrepresented me and seeing that he will not correct such, I no longer receive his material -- it is blocked from my provider by my request. Jeff tries to make biblical putting away be defined by the civil procedure for divorce. That view is not correct as is shown in the attached file. Matthew 19 shows that the only case where one may lawfully enter a second marriage while the first spouse still lives is when an innocent party puts away a spouse for the cause of fornication. While Jesus bound the CAUSE of fornication, He did not bind the procedure for putting away. Jeff Belknap has tried to make human law regarding the procedure of divorce as the equivalent of biblical putting away. That is the point wherein we differ.
Brotherly, Harry O.
----- Original Message -----
Dear brother _________ (and Cc brethren)
I appreciate your sincere desire to understand what is taking place regarding the current issue of controversy.
I am not enraged at brother Halbrook, as you suggest. To the contrary, brother ________, my efforts were first aimed at encouraging Ron to denounce his doctrine (which allows some people who are put away to remarry another, in direct contrast with what Jesus said in Mt. 5:32b; 19:9b; and Lk. 16:18b).
What brother Ron is saying - and has taught many people in semi-private settings for years, is this:
“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, Feb. 8, 1998 letter - see on website)
“But if he has already been granted a divorce by the courts of man, the laws of man make no provision for her to act. So far as the courts of man are concerned, legal issues such as property rights have already been settled and there is nothing else to be said in the realm of human law. But if he commits adultery (before or after his action in the courts of man), there is something else to be said by divine law-by the moral and spiritual law of the court of God. She now may put away, reject, or divorce him as a moral and spiritual act.” (Ron Halbrook, Notes for further study, 1986 - see on website)
What I am saying is this:
Ron himself acknowledges in the first quote (above) that the man divorces his wife before committing fornication. If he puts her away, then she IS put away and cannot remarry without committing adultery.
Jesus said “...whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” (Mt. 5:32b), and “...whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” (Mt. 19:9), and “...whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery.” (Lk. 16:18).
Ron’s teaching and Jesus’ teaching are as different as night and day.
I have no ill will for Ron personally; however, I do believe that the doctrine he teaches (as expressed by the above quotes) will cause many to be emboldened to enter into marriages that are adulterous, when they are, in fact, “put away” people.
I am sure you would not disagree that we cannot have fellowship with adulterers, nor those who encourage adultery. This issue involves the eternal destiny of brethren’s souls! Therefore, while my persistence in exposing this issue may seem to some to be enragement against those who promote the doctrine, it is actually concern for the souls of brethren far and wide that keeps me going. Was Ron “enraged” with Homer Hailey? I never believed such of Ron, even though he was very persistent in exposing brother Hailey’s doctrine. Have I written anything that has been unkind or shown ill-will towards those who I differed with?
Contrary to what brother Harry has said, the real issue has nothing to do with the “procedure” for putting away. Please, read the article at the link below, which clearly answers Harry’s charge that our differences are really over procedure.
Brother ________, Harry has thrown out many accusations against me without any documentation to back up his charges. Please note that for every charge I have made against anyone in dealing with this issue, I have provided documentation of quotes (in their contexts) that proves the truth of my accusations.
In addition, there is no doubt that brother Harry and brother Ron also differ over “how to treat one whose mate is guilty of FORNICATION FOLLOWING A DIVORCE which he tried to avoid.” See Ron’s following quote:
“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);
But, while brother Harry defends his fellowship with Ron despite their differences, he will not show me (or anyone else) from God’s word where Ron’s teaching is worthy of defense and fellowship. Unlike Ron, Harry will not defend a person’s right to “put away” for fornication which FOLLOWS a divorce which a person tried to avoid, for he disagrees with Ron about this particular “application.” But that is what I am so concerned about. Harry says Ron’s doctrine is not possible, but is willing to fellowship such a doctrine.
Additionally, my teaching is in absolute agreement with Gene Frost’s and Donnie Rader’s teaching (and a host of others) on this subject of post-civil-divorce “putting away,” which both expose the doctrine that Ron is espousing as unscriptural. Compare my teaching with that of brother Frost and Rader. If you see any differences in what we have taught, then please let me know and I will retract my claim.
Please, ask Harry where I differ with Gene Frost and Donnie Rader’s written teaching about post-civil-divorce “putting away.” You will not receive an answer with any documentation behind it, because there are no differences there.
Please continue to study this issue until you understand it. Actually, Jesus’ teaching on this matter is so simple: “...whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.” It is only men who want to add conditions and arbitrary rules to allow such a (divorced) person the “right” to remarry, contrary to the Lord’s teaching.
Well, I must go. I hope this has been helpful. If not, please continue to read from the website, and I have all confidence that you will eventually come to an understanding of it.
----- Original Message -----
I think I completely understand what you have written this time. I hope you understand that I’m not trying to get into the middle of this; I’m just trying to understand both sides of the controversy.
I think I will not forward this info back and forward unless someone on my original post to you send me something back. If they do I will forward it to you.