Weldon E. Warnock
87 Ormond Drive, Scottsville, KY  42164
(270) 237-9514

 June 25, 2002

Dear brethren at Carriage Drive:

Brother Belknap put on his web site some months ago a short excerpt from an article I wrote in Searching the Scriptures in 1985. It remains there until now. He also has a portion of Jim Deason’s reply to my article. His appeared in STS in March of 1986. My response to brother Deason also appears in that same issue, but Jeff doesn’t have my response to Jim on his web site. He omits it. Wonder why? Since some of you see his web site I am sending this material.

I think it is unfair to me for Jeff to post a part of Jim Deason’s article without including my response. So I am enclosing quotes from Jeff’s web site, my articles as well as Jim Deason’s article. What prompted Jeff to go back 16 years to find a tidbit from an article I wrote and post it on his web site, I don’t know. Jim Deason and I had the exchange between us, then dropped it, and went on with our work in the Lord. We remain the best of friends. In the 10 years I preached in Beckley, this issue never came up. My position is held, or at least shown tolerance, by most preachers I know, including the ones used in meetings at Carriage Drive.

My position on marriage, divorce and remarriage is that there are three classes of people who may marry: (1) The one who has never been married. (2) The one whose spouse has deceased. (3) The innocent spouse whose mate commits adultery. As to the putting away, loosing from, dismissing, divorcing, some perceive this as JUST a legal matter. We are not bound or loosed before God at the courthouse. People get married all time, legally, but are not necessarily bound by God. People also get divorced all time, legally, but they are not always loosed by God. Many of the women in the first century were ALWAYS the put away. This is still true in some cultures today, like the Bedouins (nomadic Arabs) in the Middle East.

Hoping this finds you well. I’m through with my meetings till September. Luke made the allstar team in baseball. He is playing with the seven and eight-year old boys, although he won’t be seven until August. He is on “cloud nine.”

 Kindest regards,
Signed Weldon

Weldon Warnock 

Along with his letter to all the brethren was the following on a second piece of paper:

From Jeff’s website

“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)


Brother Jim Deason’s Article

(Searching the Scriptures, March 1986)

In the November issue of STS brother Weldon Warnock wrote an article entitled….

I think the real nuts-and-bolts issue of this disagreement is in the definition of “divorce.” Brother Warnock uses the term with two different meanings in his illustration: 1) The first time, when the man is divorcing the woman, he is talking of a legal (civil) divorce; 2) The second time, when the woman is divorcing the man, he uses the term in the sense of a mental act.  The scriptures do not so equivocate, wherever the terms “divorce” or “put away” are used in reference to a marriage they have a singular meaning.  A divorce is a divorce in whatever society one may be. When one has been divorced they can’t turn around and divorce the person that has already divorced them as brother Warnock indicates. A person is either the one being divorced or the one doing the divorcing, he/she can’t be both at the same time. I would like brother Warnock to give a single definition of the word “divorce” and apply it to both persons in his example.  It would be interesting.

Brother Warnock’s position with regard to his example implies at least two things: 1) There can be no real divorce unless scriptural grounds are present; 2) One cannot be divorced (put away) unless they mentally agree to it.

First of all, if there can be no real divorce unless scriptural grounds are present, why did Jesus say, “Whoever divorces his wife, EXCEPT for immorality…” (Matt. 19:9)? The very fact that the exception clause is found in Matt. 19:9 is proof that two people can actually be divorced for unscriptural reasons but, nevertheless, they are divorced.

In the second place, what passage teaches that in order for one to actually be divorced they must agree to it? What passage allows them to reserve themselves mentally from a divorce, claim to still be married, and not be “really” divorced?  One may indeed sin against his wife by divorcing her with unscriptural cause against her will but, nevertheless, is it not still a divorce?  I know this has hard and unpleasant consequences.  It is similar to being shoved off a cliff, there may be no justifiable reason and you may not have agreed to it but the consequences are still the same.  Such are merely the facts….”

Jeff Belknap, Evangelist
Carriage Drive Church of Christ, 100 Carriage Drive, Beckley, WV  25801
Home Phone (304) 255-1136
Office Phone (304) 252-8108

 July 3, ‘02

Dear brother Weldon,

I hope you and yours are all well and that you are experiencing are favorable recovery from your surgery.

I received a copy of the letter you sent to our members and feel the need to respond.  In your letter, you wonder why I have done some things regarding my website. If you had addressed those questions directly to me, I would have been glad to answer them for you. Since the actual answers to your ponderings are different from the conclusions you appear to have drawn, it may have prevented the need for this exchange. 

First of all, I realize that your concerns are over a public matter and as such, it is not necessary to address your brother (me) and “him (me) alone” with your concerns, as Matthew 18:15-16 teaches.  However, even when Paul rebuked Peter publicly due to the public nature of his wrong, he did it “to his face” (Gal. 2:12-14). Hence, since your letter was obviously written to address a matter in which you have “ought against” me (Mt. 5:23), I was disappointed that you did not at least include me among the many recipients of it.

First of all, you stated:

“I think it is unfair to me for Jeff to post a part of Jim Deason’s article without including my response.”

However, please note that brother Deason’s quote is found in part one (on my site), line 9, under the subheading:


While your quote is found in part three, 35 lines later, under the subheading of: 

·                     REVEALING QUOTES BY BRETHREN UPDATED! (6/7/02)

On my website, both quotes which you addressed are plainly separated – both by several other writings and clearly by purpose and aim. However, on the paper which you sent with your letter (entitled “From Jeff’s website”), you have them connected, side by side.  I am afraid that such a connection may lead others to the false impression that I posted the portion of Jim Deason’s article in direct response to your quote. This conclusion is even more likely to be drawn when considering your following words:

“…He also has a portion of Jim Deason's reply to my article.  His appeared in STS in March of 1986.  My response to brother Deason also appears in that same issue, but Jeff doesn’t have my response to Jim on his web site.  He omits it.  Wonder why?...”

Moreover, one of the items that you included in your paper “From Jeff’s web site,” was incomplete. The reason I say this is that in my website posting of brother Deason’s article, the page heading over it stated, MENTAL DIVORCE?  A REPLY, By Jim DeasonRon sent out this article (early Spring, 2001) with his own handwritten contradictory comments along with a package of other articles and personal comments that promote his ‘classic’ mental divorce ‘application.’” Such a heading clearly explained my purpose for having posted it, which had nothing to do with you, but everything to do with brother Halbrook’s teaching. 

In addition, on my website document (see enclosed copy of the complete document), brother Ron Halbrook’s notations were included immediately to the right of brother Deason’s partial article (again, reflecting the real purpose for my posting of a portion of it). Finally, I had only used the portion of brother Deason’s article that was necessary to show where brother Halbrook had commented on it.  If I had posted it for the purpose of refuting your own writing, I would have posted the entire article, which was written to address it. 

Additionally, your quote is located under the subheading, “Revealing Quotes By Brethren,” and is found after ten pages of many, much more recent quotes by other brethren. In fact it is the very last quote (the 41st of 41). Please consider and compare the difference in impressions left by your paper, “From Jeff’s website” and the actual website distance between brother Jim Deason’s quote and yours, as well as the differing contexts and subheadings under which these items were posted.

Unfortunately, you also left out some very pertinent facts regarding this issue.  Your following quote implies that your writing about the post-civil-divorce putting away issue (known to most by the term, “Mental Divorce”) was one which I searched to find after “16 years.”  You wondered:

“What prompted Jeff to go back 16 years to find a tidbit from an article I wrote and post it on his web site, I don’t know.”

Your question leads me to believe that you are personally unfamiliar with all of the material on my site.  I say this because I do not believe you would make such a statement if you had read the first item on the website’s front page, which documents my purpose for establishing the site.  [See the website’s homepage copy, enclosed.  (When I copied this homepage for your viewing, I used capital letters and underlines to emphasize the pertinent sections, although on the actual site, such emphasis is not given.)]  It has to do with the fact that brethren such as Ron Halbrook, Tim Haile, and Harry Osborne were allowed ample opportunity to write their views on this issue publicly (publications such as Gospel Truths, Gospel Anchor), while brethren who opposed the post-civil-divorce putting away were not allowed equal opportunity for response in existing brotherhood publications.  (The editor of Truth Magazine also refused to deal with this issue).

After “16 years,” advocacy of this issue has returned to PUBLIC life by men such as Ron Halbrook, Harry Osborne and Tim Haile (and others).  It is my conviction that such teaching, which results in the unlawful (adulterous) remarriages of some who are put away, must be opposed by those who recognize its threat to the purity of the church (I Cor. 5:6-8).  Therefore, my website was begun to address their teaching, as is evidenced by its content – from beginning to end.  

The main reason I referred to your quote within the context of the website, is to show that brothers Halbrook, Haile and Osborne are advocating the same doctrine today that was silenced in the mid ‘80s.  In addition, the responses that were written to it back then prove that my views on this issue are not “new” or “peculiar,” as those who oppose me have charged.  Contrariwise, it was their post-civil-divorce putting away that was considered to be “new” and “peculiar” by a host of brethren.  This is the reasoning behind many of the articles on the website.

One of the reasons why I believe that you were able to enjoy longevity of “tolerance” by “most preachers” on this subject, was that you discontinued teaching on the issue (in your words, “this issue never came up.”)  Brother Connie Adams’ editorial response (to your teaching on this matter) in Searching the Scriptures states:

“It is my conviction that there are only three classes of people who have a right to marry: (1) those who have never been married: (2) those whose companions are dead; and (3) those who have put away a companion for the cause of fornication. It appears to me that any attempt to find authority for anyone else to marry, must trade on the silence of the scriptures. I realize that brother Warnock's illustration involves fornication but is after the fact of divorce and not before. It is very difficult for me to see how this is not in reality the ‘waiting game’ for one waits until the other sins and then claims scriptural cause.  I am also made to wonder if we may have the ‘mental divorce’ then why not at the other end of the marriage have a ‘mental marriage’ before the fact of social and legal requirements being met.  Indeed, is this not the very thing claimed by those who insist that two people may cohabit as long as they have a ‘meaningful relationship’ and plan to get married anyhow?” (emp. jhb). Connie W. Adams (Searching the Scriptures, February issue, 1986).

Notice that it appeared to brother Adams (back in 1986) that your teaching on this issue advocated “the waiting game,’” “mental divorce” and trading “on the silence of the scriptures.” Hence, I believe that, had a public advocacy for your position on this issue been continued after your exchange with brother Deason, there would have been little “tolerance” shown.

I agree with your stated position below:

“My position on marriage, divorce and remarriage is that there are three classes of people who may marry: (1) The one who has never been married. (2) The one whose spouse has deceased. (3) The innocent spouse whose mate commits adultery.”

However, it is what you have not said that I disagree with.  Please note that in brother Connie Adams’ 1986 quote above, he stated his belief in the very same three classes of people who may marry.  However, despite your agreement on that essential principle, he outlines his disagreement with your belief that a lawful divorce can be obtained for fornication which takes place “after the fact of divorce and not before.”  I share that same disagreement, which is more fully explained on the website.  (If you don’t have access to the internet yourself and are interested in some of my articles which outline our areas of difference regarding the post-civil-divorce putting away, let me know and I will be glad to mail them to you.)

In Brotherly Love,
Signed Jeff

See my website at www.mentaldivorce.com

Jeff Belknap, Evangelist
Carriage Drive Church of Christ, 100 Carriage Drive, Beckley, WV  25801
Home Phone (304) 255-1136
Office Phone (304) 252-8108

July 6, ‘02

Dear brother Weldon,

I hope that you and Betty are well and that your current medical tests result in a favorable report.

I am writing to let you know that I just yesterday (7-5-02) received my copy of the letter you sent to the brethren.  Since other members had received theirs prior to Sunday and I had still not received a copy from you on Wednesday (when I mailed you my letter), I assumed that you had not sent one to me.

Please forgive me for thinking that you had not sent me a copy of the letter you sent to the brethren here.

In an attempt to rectify my mistake, I also put the following notice in the back of our bulletin:


For those who have received a letter in the mail regarding my website, I have copies of my response available for those who are interested (just ask me for one).  Also, please note that I will be sending another letter of acknowledgment, since this past Friday (7-5-02), I just received a copy of the letter which several members had received last Saturday. The postmark on the letter I received was 6-26-02, so it was likely mailed at the same time as the others, but evidently there was a delivery problem with the USPS.

Signed Jeff

Weldon E. Warnock
87 Ormond Drive, Scottsville, KY  42164
(270) 237-9514

 July 8, 2002

Jeff Belknap
100 Carriage Dr.
Beckley, WV 25801

Dear brother Jeff:

I pondered over my response to my excerpt and a portion of Jim Deason’s article on your web site for some time. Whether my approach was the best I don’t know, but I felt I had to do something as members at Carriage Drive were reading your web site, having me in the context of heresy. I am not a heretic, a factious person. In 50 years of preaching I have never sown discord among brethren. On certain matters I would show moderation toward their views, like weddings and funerals in the meetinghouse and women wearing the artificial covering. I certainly have NEVER caused any trouble on what is labeled by some as “mental divorce.”

Whether my excerpt from STS in 1985 and the portion of Jim Deason’s article from 1986 were side by side on your website or a 100 pages apart, they are there at your own choosing. Brethren can still read them and get a wrong impression. Basically, I sent the complete articles to several members at Carriage Drive so they could read all I said and in context. Yes, I know about the present controversy, but I haven’t been in it, except as others have introduced my name of something I wrote over 16 years ago.

Most brethren who disagree on this issue have been tolerant toward one another and not divisive. This saddens me that this issue is alienating brethren, and while we are fighting one another, the world out here is being by and large, ignored. Brethren are bludgeoning, ripping and tearing one another while the world goes to hell in a “handbasket.” In the letter to Carriage Drive, I stated the three types of people who may marry. I have always preached this, which is applicable to all societies, cultures and generations.

I am wondering what will come along next to disturb the church? the war question? I can see some brethren now who say that killing in all wars is murder Hence, those serving in the Armed forces, including brethren, are murderers or accessories to the fact. What kind of label that issue would be given, we will have to wait to see. War is a nasty thing, but men and women sometimes have to go to retain our freedom.

Concerning Connie Adams, he and I remain the best of friends. I just talked to him on the phone last Saturday. I was a staff writer for Searching the Scriptures, which Connie edited, for many years, even to its final publication in 1992. We differed on this point, but we didn’t go around calling one another a heretic. Such shenanigans would have been stupid. Connie’s attitude toward Ron Halbrook, Larry Hafley and others is one of tolerance and moderation. Why can’t you be of the same persuasion? As you perhaps know Donnie Rader holds the same position you do, but we have no problems as we work together in the Guardian of Truth Foundation. I don’t consider Donnie a heretic and he doesn’t look upon me as one, either.

If your position is correct, what is the solution in a culture where the women are ALWAYS put away by their husbands? Is the law of Christ subordinate to the whims and peculiarities of man-made traditions? Too, how about an innocent party who files for a divorce for adultery, but the State won’t allow putting away for adultery, so the innocent has to allow “incompatibility” to be written on the divorce paper. Is this mental divorce, since the innocent one meant the divorce for adultery, but could only get incompatibility?

Thank you for inquiring about my state of health. Surgery for the removal of the gall bladder could not be proceeded with due to a glitch on the EKG. I am scheduled for a heart cath tomorrow (Tuesday) at St. Thomas in Nashville. I am hoping for the best so that I can get rid of these gall stones. They are putting a “glitch” on my eating habits.

Give everybody my kindest regards.

Signed Weldon
Weldon Warnock

Note: I subsequently was granted permission from brothers Deason and Adams to post The Warnock-Deason Exchange in its entirety on the website.

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