An Examination of Ron Halbrook’s Charts
By Jeff Belknap
As we witness more and more of brother Ron Halbrook’s erroneous teaching on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (MDR) coming to light, the need to reprove it becomes more evident, as well (Proverbs 18:17; Ephesians 5:11).
Following, are some of Ron’s new charts recently posted to the Truth Magazine Website. Chart (# 26):
It is this last point (his theory) that has caused what Ron deems as an “overreaction” on the part of those who are publicly raising objections to his teaching. The other points Ron listed are simply diversions from the present controversy and are not germane to the determination of whether one whom the Lord calls “put away” is authorized to employ a post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication, and remarry another while his/her bound mate lives.
Ron’s theory manifests a lack of respect for the Lord’s irreversible decree “and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Matthew 5:32b; cf. 19:9b; Luke 16:18b). Furthermore, his “application” denies the Master’s unequivocal statement of fact. Ron’s abstract approach to the verses cited above reduces them to matters of personal choice (Romans 14). Meanwhile, he is not only loosing where God has not loosed, he is falsely accusing those who dare to dissent, with being out of balance, binding scruples, and overreaction (see Proverbs 28:4; Jude 3-4), whereby he seeks to bind the acceptance of his teaching upon those who recognize it as advocacy of adultery.
Observe brother Halbrook’s last point about the “Prospective Fornicator.” Webster’s definition of “prospective” is: “1) Being still in the future; anticipated; expected. 2) Looking toward or concerned with the future; anticipatory.”
What is so ironic, is that brother Halbrook and others who espouse the same doctrine deny belief in “The Waiting Game.” Also, please understand that when brother Halbrook describes a wrongful sundering of the “one flesh” marriage relationship with the words, “Gets Divorce Paper,” that he has an underlying meaning. Please note Ron’s following words from a sermon he preached in Wilkesville, OH (June 14, 1990), in which he clarifies what he means by “gets divorce paper”:
“…When you have an unscriptural divorce, as men count it, it’s not so with God. That bond is still intact. 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…” (emp. jhb). Play Clip! 1
His above quote indicates that his view about the one who “is put away” is colored by his belief that a divorce by a “prospective fornicator” is “nothing” in the eyes of God. Brother Halbrook holds to this belief in the face of Jesus’ teaching which acknowledges the reality of unapproved divorces, and imposes prohibitive consequences for both bound parties involved in it.2
According to Ron’s chart, when the person who has not yet fornicated, divorces his wife (“gets divorce paper”) and subsequently commits adultery, then it is “overreaction” and binding of scruples to “Press to Point of Division” that the “Faithful Mate Not Remarry.”
Yet, Ron does not mention that Matthew 5:32; 19:9 and Luke 16:18 specifically condemn remarriages to another (after an unapproved divorce) as adulterous, for both those who are put away (given a “divorce paper”), as well as for those who marry them!
Brethren, let us reason together: Adultery = sin = separation of fellowship between the adulterer and God. This separation also affects the separation of the adulterer from those who continue to remain in fellowship with God (I John 1:6-7). Such a conclusion is neither “overreaction” nor binding of scruples, it is a necessary inference! And if that is not enough, consider the direct teaching in I Corinthians 5:6-9 and Revelation 2:14, 20-22, which condemn the fellowship of adulterers and those who advocate it.
If brother Halbrook’s assertion that it is “overreaction” and binding when men say that the “faithful (put away) mate” may “not remarry” is true, then he must first prove the premise that he only assumes. Scriptural evidence must be provided to support the notion that the innocent person who “is put away” against their will (and whose bound partner subsequently commits fornication) is no longer amenable to Jesus’ teaching that “he who marries her that is put away doth commit adultery” (while her bound mate still lives, Romans 7:2-3).
This, he has yet to do. Within the materials brother Halbrook covers in the 1st Annual Truth Magazine Lectures [Wednesday, July 14th: Renewed Commitment to Balanced Preaching – 11:00 - 11:50, and Role of Government in Divorce/Remarriage (Mental Divorce) 2:30 - 4:00], please search his material with a discerning eye to determine whether he establishes such proof of exception to Jesus’ clear rule of law for the “put away.” If he does not prove such an exception by scripture, we must reject his premise that those who contend against post-divorce “putting away” and remarriage to another have a “lack” of “Balanced Preaching.”
Within brother Halbrook’s charts, not only does he advocate his error under the pretext of “Balance,” he condemns those who oppose his teaching as “overreacting.” He portrays critics of his “application” as controversialists who are “obsessed,” want to “war,” “debate” and “cancel meetings.” However, we must understand that these unjust and false accusations come from a man who has a long history of public denial that he has taught the doctrine which he now seeks to promote. Please compare the conspicuous contradiction between Ron’s reply in the exchange (immediately following), with the last point in Ron’s above outline.
In the April, 2001 issue of Gospel Truths, brother J. T. Smith asked Ron to comment on the following question:
“A husband decides to put away his wife and she begs him not to. He decides to go ahead and do it anyway. She goes to the church and elders and voices her opposition to it. The divorce is final. A few years later the husband remarries. She then goes before the church and elders and expresses to them that she is now scripturally putting him away. She can then remarry without sin.”
In response to the above scenario question, brother Halbrook wrote on page 9 of this Gospel Truths issue (also referring back to a letter that brother Smith wrote to him on February 17, 1993) and replied, “My letter dated February 27, 1993 explained that I do not believe or teach such a view” (emp. his).
Moreover, in an effort to stifle the brethren’s concern, Ron characterizes this situation as “Mostly Theoretical!” However, discussion of this scenario relates to “the rule” regarding our Lord’s teaching on MDR, not “the exception” to His rule (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:10-11, 15).
Contrary to Ron’s “mostly theoretical” claim, within The Warnock-Deason Exchange (which brother Halbrook cites in his next chart), brother Warnock acknowledged that this scenario was “typical of many.” Weldon wrote:
“The woman I used for illustration (typical of many situations today) is trapped, according to brother Deason’s position, by human precepts and judgments. What if the husband simply abandoned his wife, no divorce, and two years later he committed adultery? Could she divorce him for fornication and remarry? I do not see a dime’s worth of difference in this and what I wrote in the November issue of STS.” Weldon E. Warnock, [“‘Divorce and Remarriage’ Response;” Searching The Scriptures (March 1986)]
Additionally, Doctor Peter Orli exposes Ron’s mischaracterization in his Q/A of the Seven Myths of Divorce, http://www.divorcesource.com/CA/ARTICLES/peter1.html
Myth #1 states, “Most men cheat on their wives.”
Dr. Orli answers this erroneous belief by saying, “Actually, the best designed study to date indicates that nearly 80% of men report that they have never cheated on their wives.”
Nevertheless, even if this scenario were a deviation from the norm, Jesus acknowledged that people would be wrongfully put away (Matthew 5:32; 19:9; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18; I Corinthians 7:10-11, 15). Therefore, we must be concerned with unity regarding the Divine regulations for that revealed situation, as well as for the others.
Nevertheless, downplaying the importance for brethren to unite upon what constitutes adultery after one “is put away,” Ron portrays his “application” as “mostly theoretical!” With that thought in mind, note also Ron’s succeeding chart (# 27):
Again, as we consider the doctrine of post-divorce “putting away” for post-divorce fornication, Ron tells us that “study” is “helpful.” Yet, ironically and unfortunately he has been absolutely unwilling to have a helpful, public “study” of this issue since the time that his teaching came to light, though many have requested such since 2001. Although he asserts (in his charts) that his teaching abides in “areas of growth,” “personal scruple” and “judgment,” he will not articulate HOW it fits into that category, when considering the Lord’s statements of fact revealed in Matthew 5:32; 19:9b and Luke 16:18b.
Additionally, Ron cites The Warnock-Deason Exchange and implies that the continuing relationship of these two brethren after their discussion is a shining example for us to imitate today. Unfortunately, such uninspired examples do not demonstrate how to establish authority. In fact, inspiration says that to measure (and compare) ourselves by ourselves is “not wise” (II Corinthians 10:12). Obviously, since Ron has no scripture (book, chapter and verse) to authorize his position, he is miserably grasping for straws to facilitate him to teach his error with impunity.
Furthermore, it is important to notice some of the things brother Connie W. Adam’s stated regarding this doctrine at the time of The Warnock-Deason Exchange. First of all, Connie equated this theory with “‘mental divorce’” and “the ‘waiting game.’” Secondly, according to the words of brother Adams, for one to arrive at the second “putting away” position for post-divorce fornication advocated by brother Warnock, he “must trade on the silence of the scriptures” (emp. jhb). Connie also revealed that the flaw in Weldon’s (and Ron’s) post-divorce “putting away” contention is that the cause of fornication occurs “after the fact of divorce and not before…for one waits (post-divorce, jhb) until the other sins and then claims scriptural cause” (emp. jhb).
Brother Adams also stated in this discussion (back in 1986), “But I feel strongly on this subject and don’t want one single reader to have the impression that the editor of this paper accepts the position mentioned above” (emp. jhb). Apparently, brother Adams didn’t “feel” that this was a Romans 14 issue back in 1986. Remember, we are obligated to “accept” Romans 14 issues, but prohibited to “accept” that which is unauthorized (cf. II Corinthians 11:4; Colossians 3:17; II Timothy 2:19)! Nevertheless, regardless of whether brother Adams did not accept the position in the 80s, at this late date, he definitely accepts those who promote it and who denigrate what he believes (or believed) to be the truth on the issue.
Additionally, not only did brother Deason strongly oppose brother Warnock’s teaching back in 1986, but he also sent me an e-mail letter in 2001 in which he stated his view that Ron’s claims of unity based on teaching the same law but differing in application didn’t “stand the test of even casual logic.”
In brother Donnie V. Rader’s book [“Divorce and Remarriage: What does the text say?,” Lesson 8, Mental Divorce (May Some Put Away People Remarry)], he also condemned the second “putting away” theory as an erroneous “application” (p. 74). Within this chapter, brother Rader equated post-divorce “putting away” and subsequent remarriage with “instrumental music in worship” and “ice cream on the Lord’s table.” Moreover, he called it “sin,” “adultery,” and what the Bible “emphatically forbids” (p. 78).
Regarding the teaching of this book (which has been advertised on the Truth Magazine website) the following reviews were cited:
“An excellent work for class study. We believe brother Rader has rendered a valuable service in the production of this work and commend it to all into whose hands it might fall.” – Connie W. Adams (Connie W. Adams also wrote the Book’s Foreword)
“I believe it is well written and gets right at the heart of the issues on all the questions you discussed. I would highly recommend it for class study and for personal study. It is objective, clear and thorough. Most of all it is scriptural.” – H. E. Phillips
Brethren, I cannot explain how one can equate something with “adultery,” “instrumental music in worship” and “ice cream on the Lord’s table” (or how one can commend such a correlation via a commendation of the book that contained the teaching) and then act as though it is a non-fellowship issue (Matthew 23:3; Titus 1:16). Can you? Something is terribly wrong in Zion, and brethren need to know what is taking place (cf. Isaiah 56:10; Ezekiel 3:17-18; Obadiah 11; James 4:17)!
These brethren who have so forcefully condemned the false doctrine which they now fellowship are the very same men who condemned the Romans 14 route to continued fellowship with Homer Hailey and his adulterous doctrine. Their earlier intolerance for error where others were concerned only magnifies their own inconsistencies (Matthew 7:1-5; Romans 2:1, 21-22)! Is it any wonder that the brother who has commended these discrepancies (between teaching and practice) as “maintaining balance,” is the primary advocate of this erroneous doctrine?
Because brothers Adams and Rader have been tolerating brethren who are aggressively advocating what they, themselves described as “adultery,” “sin,” what the Bible “emphatically forbids” and a doctrine which “must trade on the silence of the scriptures,” brother Halbrook uses their influence to promote further acceptance of his erroneous teaching. Beware brethren, a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (I Corinthians 5:6; 15:33; Galatians 5:9)!3
On the other hand, because other brethren are trying to be consistent and teach that “sin,” “adultery,” and what the Bible “emphatically forbids” are indeed fellowship issues, they are supposedly guilty of “overreacting,” being “obsessed,” wanting to “war,” “debate” and “cancel meetings.” If Isaiah 5:20 does not apply here, pray tell, where would it (cf. Galatians 1:6-9)?4
Moreover, at the conclusion of Donnie’s Divorce and Remarriage book, under the subtitle, “Divorce And Remarriage And Fellowship” (pp. 145-149) brother Rader wrote:
“The attitude of many is that issues that surround divorce and remarriage are so difficult and since we all disagree we should let the matter alone and let each individual settle it for himself. If so, shall we ignore those who live contrary to the teaching of Matt. 19:9? Shall we allow people to divorce and remarry and live in adultery and never say a word? Shall we let the preachers and teachers who encourage such relationships pass without notice?”
When Donnie’s questions are honestly answered, we will understand that brethrens’ continued fellowship with those who propagate adultery manifests a superior love for the praise of men than for their eternal souls (Galatians 1:10; 4:16)!5
1 See: It Is Nothing
5 See: When Silence Is Not Golden