Maxey - Thomas Debate
An Examination of a Proposition
Relating to Divorce and Remarriage

Thursday, February 22, 2001

Al Maxey Responds
To Ron's Comments & Examines
The Present Indicative of Matt. 19:9

With regard to our "eunuch" discussion, Ron wrote: "I believe, if I were to continue with an analysis of his words we would continue to digress from the present discussion." I tend to agree with Ron on this point. Indeed, I think many areas of our present discussion are rapidly approaching the "agree to disagree" stage. I think Ron is a wonderful Christian man, and a devoted disciple of Christ, from what I know of him. I'm proud to call him "brother!" However, I differ with Ron completely regarding Jesus' teaching on divorce and remarriage. I believe he is as wrong as he can possibly be on this matter .... and, in fairness, he undoubtedly believes the same about me.

We can both quote many sources which bolster our individual points of view, and we can line up "authorities" behind us .... and we have both done so during the course of this debate. And there is nothing inherently wrong with such presentation of scholarly support. But this ultimately "proves" neither position. Ours is a topic which has been debated for centuries, and by more able scholars than either of us! Ron and I won't settle the matter for Christendom by our exchanges with one another. The religious world does not anxiously await the outcome of our debate so that universal doctrine may be established once and for all. Nevertheless, I believe it is good for disciples who differ to continue to dialogue with one another, rather than isolate themselves from all those with whom they disagree. As long as the lines of communication remain open between those of differing convictions, then divisions and factions are more likely to be avoided, and the potential for unity remains alive.

Thus, I will make a few comments on his most recent post, and then move on to the next area of concern in this debate; an area to which Ron alludes a couple of times in his last post. I might note that I am "straining at the leash" to respond fully to numerous statements made by Ron in his last post. It is most difficult to let some of what he said go unanswered and unchallenged. However, we could very quickly become so sidetracked from the stated purpose of this debate that the readers (as well as the debaters) would lose focus. Perhaps Ron and I can delve into some of these matters at a later date when this debate is over. I would be willing, if he is.

Some General Observations

Ron wrote: "When Vine defines the noun as 'unlawful intercourse with the spouse of another' why do you find fault with me? Did I originate the definition?" No, of course not. And I do not disagree with the definition given by W.E. Vine. It is a legitimate definition, and, as I have already pointed out, it is clearly used in some passages of the Bible. I agree with you completely that John 8:3-4 and Hebrews 13:4 have this meaning clearly in view when using the term "adultery." I think it is equally clear that in Revelation 2:22; Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38 something other than a sexual meaning and application is in view. The word is used variously in Scripture, a fact which is obvious to even the casual biblical student, and thus one must seek to know something of the context (both immediate and extended) in order to come to some determination of which meaning and application best fits a particular passage, and which is most consistent with the overall teaching of Scripture on the subject in question.

I do not find fault with you for accepting the definition you do. It is a valid definition, and a biblical one. However, I DO find fault with your unwavering insistence that the context in the passages in question in this debate DEMAND that the definition of "sex with one other than one's spouse" is the ONLY conceivable definition that could possibly apply. You absolutely refuse to even acknowledge the possibility of any other legitimate usage or application of this word being in view in these passages, even when the definition you have chosen makes little sense in the context and when a manipulation & redefining of terms is required for you to make your theory work. It is this with which I have a problem, Ron.

Questions and Answers

You asked five questions, and I will give a brief response to each. I will first list your question, and then provide my answer.

  1. Can a person ever live in adultery?

    • Jesus characterized some as being "a wicked and adulterous generation." They were seeking signs and evidencing lack of belief and trust. Their very lives were a denial of God's covenantal care. Thus, in this case, I would certainly say they were living wicked and adulterous lives. It was far more than individual acts which Jesus was condemning here, but rather a condition of heart and mind in which people had turned from their covenant with God, and even doubted His concern for them in their daily lives.

    • The only time that I would ever characterize a person as "living in adultery," in the sexual sense, would be if a man, while still married (no divorce has been secured), moves in with a woman "other than his spouse," and lives with her and continually has sex with her. This living with her, while his wife lived elsewhere, would be a "living in adultery." Romans 7:3 also seems to convey this thought. If a woman joins herself to another man in some close association (the word "marries" is NOT in the original text there, by the way; a marriage is NOT in view in that passage), while still under the authority of a husband, she is termed an "adulteress." She is associating with one "other than her spouse," and this is an adulterous association (whether sex is actually taking place or not). For an in-depth analysis of this passage in Romans (which really has nothing to do with NT teaching on divorce or remarriage), I would refer you to Chapter Seven of my book Down, But Not Out in which this is analyzed:

  2. Is the word "adultery" to be understood literally or metaphorically in John 8 and Hebrews 13?

    • I've answered this several times already during the course of this debate.

  3. If one were to divorce and marry another person, and God did not approve of that divorce, would the marriage (to another) be acceptable to God?

    • I would not use the word "acceptable." This implies approval, at least it does to me. I don't think God approves of ANY divorce, and thus any union with another person, while one's former spouse still lives, is less than the IDEAL. And anything less than the IDEAL I would never characterize as "acceptable."

    • You spoke of God not "approving" of a particular divorce. Frankly, I don't think God "approves" of ANY divorce. Thus, ALL divorces are lacking His "approval." God HATES divorce (Malachi 2:16). However, divorce happens. So do remarriages. I believe God recognizes both; thus, they are legitimate in the sense that a marriage has indeed ended, and a new marriage has indeed begun. As you have pointed out many times, and I agree, recognition does not imply approval. They are REAL divorces, and they are REAL marriages, but they are also less than God desired and hoped for. ANY failure to live up to His calling disappoints our God, but by grace we can be accepted in spite of our failings.

  4. When two people get married does God have to be a part of that marriage for it to be acceptable to Him?

    • I have heard people say this for years. EVERY marriage has THREE partners to the covenant, they say --- man, woman and God. Obviously, since God is God, He is involved in everything that happens under the sun. When a bird falls from the sky, He knows .... and cares. However, I think a marriage can be fully legitimate even if the man and woman choose to exclude God from their lives. Ron, when two atheists marry, are they really married? Are the wicked, godless peoples of the world really married? By excluding God from their lives, is their marriage therefore in some way invalid? NOT a real marriage?! I believe a marriage takes place when two people vow commitment to one another, and enter into a covenant of marriage with one another. Yes, ideally, they will want to make God a party to every aspect of their lives, including their covenant of marriage. But, a covenant of marriage is no less valid if they choose not to.

  5. What is the definition of "breaking of the covenant?" What does it include or not include?

    • If I vow, or make a covenant with my wife, to love and cherish and nurture and value her all the days of her life, and to care for her in sickness and good health, in poverty and abundance, and to remain faithful to her, forsaking all others, and then I later willfully and knowingly violate those vows .... I have broken the conditions of that covenant. In time, these broken covenantal vows, if not repented of and remedied, can lead to the breakdown of the covenant of marriage itself. This was why Wycliffe and Tyndale, and even the KJV translators on occasion, would translate moicheia as "breaking wedlock." The marriage itself was broken, and terminated, and they realized this was a significant meaning and application of this Greek term.

    • If I refused to care for my wife in her time of sickness, for example, that would be breaking a covenantal vow (since I had vowed to do that). This demonstration of unconcern and lack of love could lead to the breaking of wedlock itself, if not repented of and remedied. By withdrawing my love and care from her, and through repeated demonstrations of such, I would eventually destroy this covenant of marriage. If, to give another example, I broke my vow to forsake all others, and I joined myself to another, this would also be a violation of covenantal trust. If not repented of and remedied, it could also cause the destruction of the marriage itself. There are a great many things which could destroy a covenant of marriage, and each one is a separate challenge to the sanctity of that covenant of marriage. If they can be overcome in love, that marriage survives. If not, then wedlock is ultimately broken.

The Divorces of Ezra 10

Ron wrote: "In Ezra 10 there was recognized marriages; did God approve of them (it was a 'reality' situation)? ..... In Ezra 10 did God recognize the marriages that were then in existence? If He did, then why did Ezra require the separation as he did?"

In any discussion of divorce and remarriage, especially with those of the traditionalist point of view, the situation in Ezra 10 is brought up. You see, and we might as well be blunt here, those who embrace Ron's rigid theology at some point are going to demand that certain couples destroy their covenants of marriage (although these misguided legalistic religionists will phrase it differently so they can still sleep at night and live with themselves). They will declare some marriages to be nothing more than cases of two people "living in adultery," and thus will insist that these couples terminate their marriages (even if children are involved). Since this seems cold and heartless (which it IS), they must try and find justification for this action in God's Word. They apparently believe they have found it, in part, in Ezra 10. I believe they are greatly mistaken.

In order to save time in this lengthening debate of ours, I will refer Ron and the readers to my extensive treatment of this historical matter in Chapter Two of my book Down, But Not Out. The first half of that chapter is devoted to this incident in Israel's history, and my evaluation is quite thorough. Should Ron have any questions over my analysis of this, I would be happy to address them. Go to the following URL (for Chapter Two) and click on the "Ezra & Nehemiah" tag at the top of the page:

Responses to Various Remarks

Ron asked me the question: "Does the word 'adulterer' or 'adulteress' mean one continues in the activity?" First of all, I am assuming that you are using your preferred "sex only" meaning & application of this term. If so, then I would answer your question by saying: "Not necessarily." There is nothing in the word itself which suggests whether the "sex acts" are one time, or whether they are continuing. A person, for example, may only do it once; others may do it repeatedly. Does the term "murderer" mean one continues to murder? The same answer --- "not necessarily." I know a man on death row who is a convicted murderer (in fact, I baptized him in a hallway outside the death chamber). He killed a little girl who was only 8 years old. That was his only murder, but he is always referred to on TV as a "murderer." And yet acts of murder are NOT continuing. One can "commit" both murder and adultery, and only do it once!! And yet such individuals are still called "murderer" and "adulterer."

Ron asked: "Was Herod's second marriage really a marriage? He did divorce his first wife. Since it was really a marriage (and the Scripture does say they were married), then God recognized it. When God recognized it, did He approve of it?" I think you have reasoned your way to the answer, Ron. Yes, his marriage was a real marriage. It was not an honorable marriage, and it was certainly far from the IDEAL, and it even violated some of the restrictions set forth by God, but it was a marriage. Did God recognize it? Yes. Was it a real marriage? Yes. Did God approve of it? No.

Again, Ron confirms agreement with me on this principle: "Why would you say I would have to deny that the second marriage is a marriage? Merely because a second marriage occurs does not mean God approves of it (as you have said yourself). Neither have I said (or implied) that a divorce is not a divorce. All that I have said with respect to this is that a divorce that has occurred does not necessarily mean that God approved of it." My point exactly, Ron! We agree. Divorces are real; they happen. And the divorced remarry; it happens. Subsequent marriages are real, too. It is less than God's IDEAL for men and women; it does not please Him; but He does recognize them. God isn't happy that people violate His law and commit murder, either; but He still recognizes that the person murdered is really DEAD. He doesn't say, "I told you NOT to commit murder, so I'm not going to recognize that body as really being dead. I'm going to pretend it's still alive, so it is not entitled to a burial!" Dead is dead; divorced is divorced; married is married. This doesn't mean He always approves, but they are real nonetheless.

Was David's marriage to Bathsheba honorable? I do not believe it was. David slept with her while she was still married, and then killed her husband to get him out of the way. There was nothing honorable about any of this. But, did God recognize this union as a real marriage? He certainly did. In fact, through this union would come King Solomon ..... and the Messiah!!

Ron wrote: "You don't like the idea that Jesus applies the word 'adultery' to a second marriage." Whether I like the idea or not is immaterial. My point, Ron, is that I do not believe Jesus DOES apply the word "adultery" to a second marriage. I believe Jesus applies it to the breakdown of the previous marriage. I could turn this around and say the same to you: "Ron doesn't like the idea that Jesus applies the word 'adultery' to the first marriage, and thus he has to restrict the meaning of the term to make it apply only to the second marriage." We can go both ways on that one!! This is not a matter of either of us NOT LIKING what Jesus said, but rather of two differing perspectives as to what was ACTUALLY SAID by our Lord. I don't believe He actually declared what YOU say He declared. That's the problem here.

In point of fact, most worldly-minded people would probably like your view of the word "adultery" a lot more than they would the interpretation I have presented!! You see, Ron, "adultery" for you is not linked to the divorce so much as it is to the remarriage!! Divorce, therefore, becomes the "easy sin" in this whole scenario. It is only when one gets married again that things get serious, according to your theory. Maybe Malachi 2:16 should have been written to say: "'I hate remarriage,' sayeth the Lord."

Ron has at least, in this post, acknowledged that the word we translate "adultery" CAN mean what I have stated it means. That's a positive step!! He wrote: "Is 'breaking of the covenant' involved in adultery? Certainly it is, but in the reading of Matthew 5 and 19 the primary definition (unlawful sexual intercourse) is the demanded application." Well, I think I have already amply demonstrated that no such DEMAND is present in the context. Just the opposite. Ron went on to write: "Certainly, adultery includes the idea of breaking covenant as much as any other sin against a spouse might include the idea of breaking covenant. But adultery here in Matthew 5 and 19 does not mean breaking covenant; it means unlawful sexual intercourse." Again, I could not disagree more. But, I will allow my present arguments against this position to stand. They are clear and convincing, and a matter of public record, and I think the readers can see through Ron's inconsistencies on this matter ..... especially with respect to the teaching in Matthew 5, where his definition, despite his protestations, simply will NOT fit. Indeed his definition presents numerous problems and absurdities, and is based on huge assumptions. In short, Ron has not even come close to "proving" that the context demands his view be the only one adopted.

False Teacher?

Ron wrote: "Since you think that teaching I believe is an abomination from hell, then is it fair to say you think I'm a false teacher?" Not at all, brother. I think you are a genuine, devoted disciple of Christ who is teaching something which is false! Ron, there is a vast difference in "teaching that which is false" and being a "false teacher." ALL of us are probably teachers of things which are not entirely true. NONE of us has arrived at perfect knowledge and understanding, thus each of us at times will teach things which are false. That's just a fact ..... unless you are that rare individual who has arrived at perfect, infallible insight and understanding of all things. No?! You're not?! I didn't think so!!! Me either!!!

Apollos was a mere mortal (Acts 18), just like you and me. I'm sure Priscilla and Aquila did not charge him with being a "false teacher." However, there were some things about which he lacked vital knowledge. Thus, they took him aside and showed him the way of the Lord more perfectly. That's where I would place you, Ron. I believe there are some things you need to seriously rethink. However, this does not make you yourself a "false teacher." A "false teacher" is someone who is himself false; his motives are impure; his focus is on self, rather than on the Lord, Truth and God's people. Look at II Peter 2:1-3 (where this term is actually used), and you will see that "false teacher" modifies the nature of the man far more than the nature of what he may or may not be teaching.

Yes, Ron, I believe your teaching is false. Very false!! I feel it has done much to further afflict those who are already suffering. It has led to the destruction of marriages, and will ultimately lead to some losing their salvation. It is deadly! And, sadly, some good, honest, devoted brethren, like you, have ignorantly embraced it. I know .... I used to be one of them!!

Quoting From Collier

A rather large portion of Ron's last post was lifted almost verbatim from a web page or two on which Gary Collier expressed his views about the Lord's teaching in Matthew. I don't know Gary personally, but according to the web site (which I checked out), he is/was with the University of Denver's Iliff School of Theology. He was responding to a question posed on a couple of Internet discussion lists: the Biblical Greek List (of which I was a member for some time) and the Exegesis List.

I don't know how much credibility Ron hopes the readers and I will bestow upon Gary's opinions, but apparently Ron values this man's insights. Personally, I was less than impressed with his attempt at "scholarly exegesis." As the owner of perhaps the largest and most active brotherhood (Church of Christ/Christian Church) discussion list on the Internet (over 200 messages per day from almost 500 members from all over the world, many with terminal degrees) I know the type of insights which can be found on these lists. There is a bit of everything. (For example, one Gospel preacher, who deemed himself a Greek expert, claimed the significance of the passive voice in Matthew 5:32 was that "women are passive in sex, whereas men are active." Now there's a bit of "scholarly insight" for you!!). Gary, like any other mortal, shared his opinion .... and Ron was impressed .... but Gary is not infallible; he's not quite God yet. What he had to say carries no more weight with me than any other man's opinions. These "insights" certainly give us something to reflect upon, but for the ultimate answers I turn to the Word itself.

With regard to many religious doctrines, Ron, we had better face a pretty harsh reality: at times the thinking of the majority of the world (including recognized "scholarship") is woefully misguided and misinformed. Ron likes to point out that the religious thinkers of the world favor his view more than mine. I'm comforted in the thought that the same could have been said of the teaching of Jesus when compared with the majority of religious thinking of His time. I believe Ron would quickly retreat from this position of "truth by popular vote," however, when these very same scholars he so warmly embraces would declare their overwhelming favor of sprinkling over immersion, the use of musical instruments in worship, original sin, and infant baptism, just to name a few!! Suddenly, these enlightened scholars would be little more than a rebellious rabble of godless digressives. If they can all be so clearly UNenlightened on other major issues, then perhaps we should not be so quick to sing their praises (simply because they agree with us).

By the way, I almost found it amusing that in the lengthy quotation from Gary Collier it appears that this "scholar" differs as much with Ron as he does with me. Gary's major premise is that the man of Matt. 19:9 was trying to use Scripture to justify divorce (this is the particular "hobby" Gary has chosen to promote). In the course of developing this premise, Gary made the following observation:

There is sooooooo much more in Ron's post that I would like to "pick at," because I am convinced he is way off base on some matters of vital importance, but I fear I would just be going over matters already discussed at great length elsewhere in this debate. Rather than continuing a fruitless discussion on matters already "cussed and discussed" to death, and about which Ron continues to remain confused, I will simply move on. Suffice it to say, Ron and I disagree. We have both presented our reasoning for our views, and now we have reached a point where we are doing little more than "picking at each other." Time to move on!!

The Present Indicative in Matthew 19

Ron wrote: "Jesus said that if one were to divorce his wife and marry another that person would commit adultery and continue to do so." Ironically, just four sentences later, Ron said: "You attribute to me the putting of words into the mouth of Jesus." Yes, I have suggested that. And I'm about to suggest it again!! Please show me where in this passage .... or where anywhere, for that matter .... Jesus says that if a man divorces his wife and marries another he would commit adultery "and continue to do so." Jesus didn't say those words, Ron, so I'm assuming YOU put them there!!

Of course, I am well aware of the process whereby Ron has arrived at his false conclusion. I also believe he is dead wrong. Ron's view is that the remarriage is actually little more than a continuing state of repeated sexual offenses with one other than one's spouse, thus it is a "continuing in adultery." This is often referred to as "living in sin" or "living in adultery" (neither of which are ever found in the Bible with reference to marriage). This theory is derived from the fact that the word which is translated "commits adultery" in Matthew 19:9 appears as a Present Indicative in Greek. To those who embrace this theory, the present indicative signifies "continuing action." Thus, they declare this implies the meaning: "keeps on committing adultery." And since adultery is seen by these theorists as being exclusively a sex act, the continuing in adultery means that the couple keeps on having sex, and thus keeps on committing adultery, and that this all is happening in the remarriage. This is their theory. But, is it valid? I personally do not believe it is!

Ron's understanding of the Greek Present Indicative in Matthew 19:9 is horribly confused and flawed. I mentioned earlier that I was a member of the Biblical Greek List (which is hosted by a prominent university). Last year, while engaging in a similar debate with another Gospel Minister, I posed this premise of Ron's to the members of that discussion group and asked for their insights. The response was immediate and overwhelming.

Ron's apparent belief is that the present tense should be interpreted as signifying continuing action, and therefore the verb employed suggests that the meaning is "keeps on committing adultery." What Ron seems to be unaware of, however, is the significance of the present tense when used in the indicative mood. Dr. Carroll D. Osburn (formerly of Harding Graduate School of Religion), in the publication Restoration Quarterly (Volume 24, Number 4, 1981), wrote an extremely scholarly article entitled The Present Indicative in Matthew 19:9. It can be read in its entirety (and I would advise everyone to do so) at the following URL:

Let me share some of the points Dr. Osburn makes in that article. He begins by stating, "In recent discussion of the interpretation of Matthew 19:9, it has been ventured by some that Moichatai must mean 'continues to commit adultery' because the present indicative necessitates continuous action." This is exactly Ron's contention, by the way. But, is Ron correct about this? Dr. Osburn notes that such a theory is false, "based as it is upon imprecise understanding of Greek mood distinctions." Dr. A.T. Robertson observes, "It is not wise therefore to define the present indicative as denoting 'action in progress' like the imperfect" (A Grammar of the Greek NT). Dana & Mantey say, "It is a mistake to suppose that the durative meaning monopolizes the present stem." Dr. H.W. Smyth, in his Greek Grammar (Cambridge: Harvard University Press), notes that the "present stem denotes the simple action of the verb in present time without regard to its continuance."

If one examines carefully the indicative mood, one will find it "is normally employed in all Indo-European languages to denote a simple statement of fact, but it has a wide variety of uses, such as the present of customary action, present of general truth, cognitive present, futuristic present, oracular present, historical present, annalistic present, present for perfect, and past and present combined" (Dr. Osburn). Dr. Robertson notes "that the most frequent use of the present indicative is the 'descriptive present,' the simple statement of a fact with no specific reference to continuity." He goes on to point out: "Of the more than 700 instances of the present indicative in Matthew's Gospel, the vast majority of occurrences are 'descriptive' with no continuity under consideration."

Most feel that of the various forms of the present tense which may be employed (and there are a great many), that it is most likely the Gnomic Present which is in operation in Matthew 19:9. Dr. Osburn writes, "The use of the present indicative in discussing a general truth is as old as Aeschylus and Plato. It is this 'gnomic present' which occurs in Moichatai in Matthew 19:9 when Jesus provides the general truth that 'whoever divorces his wife except for unchastity and marries another commits adultery.' In such a 'gnomic present,' or 'present of general truth' (see: Dr. Smyth, p. 42f) continuity is NOT under consideration."

Dr. Osburn concludes (after much scholarly, in-depth, validating analysis), "Thus, it cannot be said that the present indicative in Matthew 19:9, or any other Greek text, 'cannot mean other than continuous action,' for any such argument blatantly disregards the several idiomatic uses of the present indicative in which continuity is not explicit. ..... In Jesus' statement of that truth Moichatai must be taken as a 'gnomic present' in which continuity is NOT under consideration."

Ron has based his theory largely upon a misguided interpretation of the force and focus of the Present Indicative in Greek. This has led him down a false hermeneutical trail. The use of the Gnomic Present (and indeed the simple and common use of the Present Indicative itself) suggests the phrase "commits adultery" does NOT denote continual action. Ron wrote: "Jesus said that if one were to divorce his wife and marry another that person would commit adultery and continue to do so." Well, Ron is wrong! He again has placed words in the mouth of Jesus. Jesus did NOT say that this man would "commit adultery and continue to do so" (as Ron claims). This comes solely from Ron's flawed interpretation of the Greek Present Indicative ..... NOT from the lips of Jesus Christ.

The phrase "commits adultery" (Present Indicative) is a simple declaration of Truth, not a declaration of continuing action. For example, I can use the same "gnomic present" in the phrase: "Whosoever takes a gun and shoots a man in the head commits murder." Does the phrase "commits murder" (being a Present Indicative) indicate continuous action? Of course not. It is rather a declaration of historic truth, even though it appears in the present tense. A man who casts his wife off in favor of a union with another woman (or for any other reason) is guilty of committing adultery. This is a simple statement of fact, as with the man who "commits" murder. Continuance of the action is not even remotely in view here. Jesus is NOT condemning the second union per se, He is rather condemning the action of casting off a woman, breaking covenant with her, so as to pursue a selfish goal (in the case specified: to embrace another woman). It is this sinful casting off that is the adulterous action. EXCEPT (here's the force of the so-called "exception clause") in a case where the man casts off the woman because it was SHE who broke covenant with the husband by her destructive behavior. In such a case culpability lies at HER door, not at HIS.

Can Ron seek out and produce a list of "scholars" who will agree with him that the Present Indicative denotes continuous action? Of course he can (and he most likely will), but these scholars are very much in the minority among their peers. He can also probably produce scholars (perhaps some of the same ones) who will insist at great length that "baptism" can acceptably be practiced by sprinkling or pouring, rather than immersion. The bulk of reputable Greek scholarship, however, clearly sides with the view I have presented, and it denounces the view embraced and taught by Ron. After much research, I side with the majority position of Greek scholarship and completely reject Ron's view that the Present Indicative of Matthew 19:9 denotes "continuous action." It simply does NOT.

I thought it interesting, and somewhat ironic, that Ron was so quick to point out to me that "Scholarship refutes your way of thinking." He somewhat scolded me for "standing in judgment" of a host of recognized scholars and authors. Well, again, isn't it most curious that Ron now finds himself in the very same position?!!! Will Ron now take his own advice and bow to the views of the bulk of scholarship? Will he now turn from his false teaching?!! After all, a majority of reputable scholars declare Ron's view is completely false, and thus his whole premise that a remarriage is a continual "living in adultery" is erroneous!! This is a major part of his teaching, and it has just been shot down in flames. Will Ron accept this and modify his teaching, or will he "stand in judgment" against these numerous scholars? He expects ME to submit when faced with the same challenge ..... but, will HE?

In a "back door defense" of Ron (and as an "escape route" for him), let me just interject here that I think this illustrates a very important point. There is great diversity of understanding and thinking on this subject, even among reputable scholars. That is an obvious fact. In some areas of interpretation these scholars agree with me, in some areas they agree with Ron. Licking our finger and sticking it in the wind is hardly the way to determine biblical Truth. That is why I have done my OWN research in the Word to determine God's Truth with respect to MDR (and that research has been presented in book form in Down, But Not Out). Some of my findings scholars agree with, some they disagree with, but I believe my findings are completely consistent with the WHOLE of God's Word on the matter. And if the numerous positive comments of those who have read my book is any indication, a great many people are coming to a new awareness of biblical Truth in this matter, and are rejecting the harsh doctrines of traditionalism. Many of these testimonials can be read at:

Let's face it, where would we be today if some did not dare to break away from the traditional teachings of the religious world and dare to think and study for themselves? Truth, realistically, will almost always be the minority position in a world overwhelmed by darkness and confusion. That is why I don't get too terribly concerned when Ron says "scholarship" may differ with me on some point .... nor should Ron get too concerned when they differ with him. We should both consider the views of the scholars, but to blindly submit to the popular position is folly. The popular position may be correct; but it may not be. History seems to confirm the latter view more than the former. Where would the Reformation be, for example, if it had not been for men like Luther? Where would the English Bible be if it had not been for "rebels" like Wycliffe and Tyndale? Where would our own Restoration Movement be if not for daring disciples like the Campbells and Stone? Where would Truth be if not for those who dared to swim upstream against the flow of popular theology gushing from the dark recesses of our past religious history?

We should not discount the thinking of great scholars, and we should especially give careful and serious consideration to their voice when they seem to overwhelmingly agree on some matter. However, Truth is rarely found in the halls of popular opinion or scholarship, but far more often in the humble home of the diligent disciple seeking out God's Will from His Word.

I believe a careful examination of the overall teaching of the Scriptures with regard to marriage, divorce and remarriage will show MY findings to be far more consistent and in harmony with revealed Truth than the traditional theology embraced by Ron. More and more people, as they begin to think for themselves and to carefully and prayerfully examine the Word, are rejecting the troubling traditional teachings on MDR promoted by Ron and others like him. It is my prayer that one day soon Ron will utterly reject these harsh doctrines as well. We need his zeal and dedication on the side of Truth, and I will be praying for that transformation of this devoted disciple!!

Home Index