THE “NEVADA STRAW MAN”
By Jeff Belknap
(The following are quotes from brothers Weldon Warnock, Ron Halbrook, Tim Haile, Harry Osborne, and www.DivorceSource.com)
Weldon E. Warnock
“If Bill secretly flies to Las Vegas with his secretary, gets a ‘quickie’ divorce and marriage, his wife, Sue, has to remain single because she has been put away. The consequences of such a position show its fallacy and untenableness” (emp. jhb). Weldon E. Warnock; [What Saith The Scripture? (Rom. 4:3); “Divorce and Remarriage” Response (March 1986, Searching The Scriptures)]
The article from which the above quote was taken was written in 1986 and promptly refuted by two brethren in the same venue. As we will see further down in this document, the true “fallacy” is not the consequences of those insisting that the Lord meant what he said when he stated, “and he who marries her who is divorced commits adultery.” What is truly “untenable” is the use of utterly fictitious scenarios involving legally impossible “quickie” Nevada divorces, as a proof text for error. - Jeff Belknap
Question: “If you have a woman who has been in a situation where her husband has committed adultery and he puts her away. He’s the one that filed for divorce. Now where does she stand?”
Ron’s Answer: “In that case, what you have, you have to make a distinction between a scriptural putting away and an unscriptural putting away. Because the man goes through the farce of a civil action in putting her away in a legal sense (he has done that—the civil courts will record it), but in the sight of God he has just acted out a perversion and a lie, and God doesn’t accept what he has done. Now, it’s interesting that Mark helps you on the point you’re raising in chapter 10, verses 11 and 12. Notice, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another committeth adultery against her.’ Notice that. Now that describes what you were just describing. Well, if he committed adultery against her, then she has grounds as an innocent party to put her mate away for immorality. And, to illustrate, what you’re saying is not in any way hypothetical, my wife thinks I’m here tonight studying with you from the Word of God. I could be in Law Vegas getting a quickie divorce. And I could come home and tell her, ‘Guess what.’ (emp jhb) Now does that mean—and, maybe I’ve been with prostitutes in all that time—does that mean then that God says to her, ‘Well, you don’t have any grounds here?’ I have been immoral and she has scriptural grounds on that basis to put me away from the viewpoint of what the Bible teaches.” Ron Halbrook; (“Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage,” Belen, NM, 21 March 1988)
“There is some overlap between God's law, and the laws of many human governments, on the subjects of marriage and divorce. However, mistakes are made when people attempt to apply civil law definitions to divine concepts, or when they attempt to interpret scripture from a civil law prejudice. These attempts at comparison are doomed to fail for a number of reasons, but for now, I wish to emphasize the fixedness of God's law in contrast with the fluidity of man's laws.”
“In the US there are almost as many different divorce laws as there are states. Furthermore, because of reciprocity laws that exist between the states, if you don't like the divorce laws of your state, all you have to do is go somewhere else! Reciprocity laws mean there is no uniform procedure for obtaining a divorce. This is exactly why so many divorces are obtained in Las Vegas. Their liberal divorce laws, coupled with state reciprocity laws, have traditionally led many people to the state of Nevada when they want a quick and easy divorce. These divorces are granted by the state of Nevada to people who reside in other states. These divorces will be granted regardless of the reason, regardless of whether or not the divorced party has any knowledge of the divorce, and regardless of whether or not the divorced person consents to the divorce. This fact demonstrates to what extent human laws contradict divine laws on the subject of marriage and divorce” (emp. jhb). Tim Haile; (“When Human Laws Collide With Divine Laws,” May 2001 issue, Gospel Anchor)
Earlier last year, I exposed the fallacy of brother Haile’s above Nevada straw man as legally impossible (proof below). Nevertheless, Tim continued to cite, as if it were fact, the possibility for the same kind of fabricated scenario again this year in his lesson (immediately below).
“Frequently these days, I get spam email advertising these very inexpensive divorces. In fact, most of them are advertising only one consent, only one has to consent to it, the other one does not even have to know about it in order to get these divorces. So, they are going to be notified after it’s too late” (emp. jhb). Tim Haile [Question/Answer Session (2-12-02) after his lesson on “Biblical ‘Putting Away’” during the All Day Bible Study; The Warfield Blvd. church of Christ, Clarksville, Tennessee].
The only conclusion to be drawn is that these brethren recognize their lack of scripture to prove their baseless post-civil-divorce-putting-away doctrine and thus, need to stir the emotions of those they hope to influence. Never mind that such a scenario could not even take place! However, they know that the majority of those who hear such cited scenarios will simply accept them as truth. Hence, such methods work very well to stir emotions, arouse sympathy and color the hearer’s reasoning with other than scripture (cp. w. I Cor. 4:6; II Jn. 9).
“And yet, some would suggest by the idea of making the civil proceeding that which is equated to Biblical putting away – here goes a person out here and takes the civil action – person doesn’t know that – I particularly know of a case of this happening in Houston. Man went away to Las Vegas. His wife thought he was leaving on a Monday to go on a business trip to New York; he actually went to Las Vegas with a girl he had been having relations with. He went out there on Monday, filed for divorce, and in Nevada you have a three day waiting period, you can mail the procedure to the spouse. When it was mailed, it didn’t get to her before they got back on Friday. When they get back on Friday, he says, ‘by the way hun, I didn’t go to New York, I went to Las Vegas. I’ve divorced you, I’ve married her.’ The first his wife knew about it was at that time. She told him, ‘I don’t want to have anything to do with you if you’re ungodly and going to stay in that relationship. I’m going to put you away. That farce that you had of an action out there in Las Vegas is not what was putting away.’ If civil procedure is the putting away, that woman was divorced, didn’t know about it, and there is no way she can be protected by the law of God. I suggest to you the principles of God would show the very opposite. The principles would show she does have a right to say ‘here’s why I’m going away from you. I’m expressing that as the reason why. I’m taking action. You get your stuff out of here.’ That’s Biblical putting away - and it’s Biblical putting away for the cause, and it’s Biblical putting away after the very principles that Jesus made clear” (emp. jhb). Harry Osborne; (“What is Biblical Putting Away?,” at a meeting in Lakeland, FL on May 29, 2001)
(Click Here to listen to this quote)
Please acknowledge what brother Steven Harper wrote (regarding the use of such false case scenarios) in his article: Follies, Fallacies and Fabrications, on this website.
Brother Harper wrote:
“And, finally, some are resorting to pure fabrications. Some, failing to win with one method of fallacious reasoning, are fabricating situations to plead their case. Have you read about the one where a man goes away to Nevada and divorces his wife without her knowledge (some will say he committed sexual immorality prior to this and others do not)? They then plead that surely we would not claim that she could not now “put him away” because she did not have the opportunity to countersue or protest. What’s missing, though, is Scripture that teaches such is even possible.
It is sad that some are going to such great lengths in defense of the indefensible. These cases, and other heart-tugging examples that are used to bolster their otherwise weak positions, are pathetic. We should recognize that some of these situations they present in an effort to “win” the argument cannot even be possible! I challenge this hypothetical situation that has been offered up in the emotional plea for the woman who has been put away “against her will” or “without her knowledge.” I urge those of you who have Internet access to go to:
and search through each state’s laws on divorce to find even one state that allows for such to happen. I’ll give you a hint: You won’t find one. Not even the state of Nevada. The closest you will come to such a situation is divorcement when one has disappeared and hasn’t been heard from for two years. (I believe it’s in Ohio.)
My sincere plea to you when considering this issue — or any other — is that we consistently look to the Scripture for what we believe and practice. If we cannot find Scripture that illustrates what we believe and teach, we need to give it up. If we have to resort to emotional pleas and hypothetical situations that emphasize feelings over God’s revealed word, we need to give it up.”
[Because of copyrights, I could not quote from the website, however, I will offer a summation of the information from it, which contradicts the above quotes, and you may verify this information at:
In fact, to divorce in Nevada, one must first be a resident of that state for six weeks before they even become eligible to file for divorce. Moreover, the spouse must be notified of the divorce before it can proceed. If unable to find the spouse to notify them, the filing spouse must be willing to testify under oath that he has made a “very good effort” to find and notify his or her spouse, then a “service of process” must be published in the newspaper (this process is called “Constructive Service;” information found under Q & A section link from above web site). Even if the spouse (who was filed against) is agreeable to the divorce, it takes a minimum of one to one and one half months to complete the process (after six weeks residency). If the spouse contests the divorce, it can take up to a year.
We must not forget that in a divorce, there are assets that need to be divided and often child custody decisions must be made. Even the civil (“ungodly”) courts realize that both parties require representation, and therefore, settling a divorce case takes time. - Jeff Belknap