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

Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Ron Thomas Responds
To Al's Recent Comments
& Presents His Summation

Al's opening remarks in his concluding post makes it clear, from Al's perspective, that I did not deal substantively with his material. I deny this strongly. I have indeed dealt with his material in a substantive way --- it just happened to be in a way that Al did not like the obvious conclusions one would reach. I indeed offered some "one-liners" but they were adequate for the comments he made. Some of my responses (i.e., the tone) were in direct proportion to what Al offered to me.

As with any debate there are going to be "gaps" in communication. I genuinely tried to analyze what Al said and consider it against plain Bible teaching. Also, I have attempted to stay on message. It was very easy to get sidetracked; I tried not to allow myself to be sidetracked.

Al wrote: "This was simply an opportunity for both of us to publicly present 'our case' for the personal perspectives we each hold on MDR, and more specifically which we embrace on a particular aspect of that monumental issue (as stated in the form of a proposition)."

I concur with this statement.

Point of Clarification --- #1

Al wrote: "With regard to my interpretation of the Romans 7:1-6 passage, Ron stated: 'Al, one thing you'll note that I didn't do (as you did), I didn't try to offer a novel interpretation to the context for a pet theory.' Frankly, I don't think I have proposed some 'novel' interpretation."

The "novelty" of your interpretation was your refusal to accept what all other commentators have recognized; a remarriage was in view. You refused to accept this and on that basis I described your view as I did.

Al wrote: "'IF, while her husband is living, she is JOINED TO another man, she shall be called an adulteress' (vs. 3). My contention is that Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, chose words other than the common words depicting a marriage. And I believe he did so to characterize something different about this relationship she had with this other man. If it had been a genuine 'marriage' that Paul had in mind, he certainly knew the words to use to convey that concept (after all, he himself used them more frequently than just about any other NT writer)."

Paul may have used another word, if he desired, but the word he did use does not eliminate a remarriage from view.

In your opening remarks you mentioned the failure to communicate. If you cannot honestly conclude what my view is from what I said in my previous post with respect to Romans 7, then, I suppose, no other words I could have used would have made any difference.

You have stated that a "divorce certificate" was implied within the text because of "background." It does not matter that Paul made no mention of it, it is still implied (and you want us to understand that). But, let us make mention of you wanting to have an implied divorce certificate (though not explicitly stated), and, yet, you will not allow an implied remarriage of Matthew 5:32a (something demanded by the meaning of the word and the context); you cry foul. Self-serving!

Al wrote: "And yet, Ron also states that no divorce has occurred between this woman and her first husband."

Go back and read again where I said this.

Al wrote: "Ron has also acknowledged .... that 'if a divorce occurs the analogy fails.' Indeed, Ron somewhat scolds me for even mentioning a 'certificate of divorce' in my background discussion. He wrote: 'Al, have you inserted words into the text? I don't recall reading anything about a divorce certificate.' But, Ron continues, 'as long as it serves your purpose by being part of the "background" you can insert it into the analysis.' He again scolds me for even raising the possibility of divorce in the background of the text. I guess this leaves me scratching my head!!"

You either missed my point entirely because of genuine confusion or you are attempting to confuse others (I'm not sure which one it is). A discussion on divorce would destroy Paul's analogy. Because of this Paul does not mention it; he is not affirming or denying its occurrence. If one were to understand it as being included or not it would be on the basis of the context. His point is adultery and remarriage and an application with respect to law and the Christian. Is the woman (of the illustration in Romans 7) divorced? She is. How so? Based on the context. I have supported this not only on the basis of Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon, but also on the basis of the context. See my previous post.

Point of Clarification --- #2

With respect to your "point of clarification #2" I will admit of a terse response. But I insist that is what you have done. When you "broaden" word meanings, when the context does not justify such a "broadening," then manipulation occurs. With this "broadening" approach that you have applied its very easy for one to conclude as you have --- marriage for all. But the Scriptures do not justify your hermeneutical approach and, consequently, remarriage is not for all all the time (as you would have us believe)!

I would have dealt with the matter in a much more thorough way if you would have continued to make a serious study of 1 Corinthians 7. As it was, you simply alluded to it a few times. Since we are not going there, as this discussion is finished, I will offer no new material.

Point of Clarification --- #3

You asked me the question as to whether God blessed this union of David and Bathsheba. I, in turn, asked you to tell me what portion of that which David did was looked upon in a disapproving (or approving) way by God. I know full well what the answer is. God looked upon everything David did (in this context) in a disapproving way.

Al wrote: "Just something else for you to reflect upon, Ron, when you claim what you do with regard to Philip and Herodias still being regarded as married by the Holy Spirit because she is called Philip's 'wife.' As I stated before, this is simply a common idiom, nothing more!! Your ignorance of that fact is affecting your theology, and it is causing you to ascribe things to the Holy Spirit which are both ridiculous and false!! That's not a safe course to follow, brother!!"

Common idioms are well accepted in hermeneutics --- no dispute there. And yes I'm aware of what the Holy Spirit said with respect to Bathsheba having been the wife of Uriah. But, again, I insist that you accept common idioms when they serve your purpose and only then. Did the Holy Spirit recognize her as being the wife of Uriah? He did. So, David stole the wife of another man. Al would have God bless this?!

Al wrote: "God did not approve of this whole sordid affair."

But, you have God "blessing" it? So, God blesses what He does not approve of?

Al wrote: "And from that union (yes, they were joined together in the sight of God, and by God) came not only King Solomon, but King Christ!! Did David repent of his sins? Yes, he did (read Psalm 51). Was a 'fruit or evidence of that repentance' a required putting away of Bathsheba? No, it wasn't. Will David be in heaven one day? Is he saved? Only God can answer that, but I firmly believe that we will likely commune forever on that eternal day with this 'man after God's own heart.'"

Why would you say, "only God can answer that" when you have already said that God joined and blessed the union? Does the Bible SAY that anywhere? My "thinking" on the matter may or may not be correct, but I'm not going to tell others what God ACTUALLY did.

Point of Clarification --- #4

Though, Al, I can appreciate the difficulty you personally have with the application of "point of clarification #4" I do think you have opened yourself up to more than you want. There's no need for me to further comment because you would need to respond, and since this is the conclusion of our discussion, that would be unfair.

Point of Clarification --- #5

Al wrote: "The 'solution,' therefore, as proposed by those who embrace such a 'novel' idea, is DIVORCE!! The remarried couple (whether they have children or not) must get a divorce (although you would try and ease your conscience, so that you could live with yourself and sleep at night, by declaring that this couple was never really married to begin with, at least not in GOD'S eyes, and that they were therefore never really divorced from their original mate, at least not in GOD'S eyes). This, of course, denies the reality of divorce and remarriage, and destroys the common meaning of those words. It means divorce is not really divorce, and marriage is not really marriage .... but what's a little twisting of Scripture when one's theory is at stake?!! This perverted theory also proffers divorce as the divine remedy for remarriage!!! Now there is a 'novel' idea!!!"

Once again, Al, you have it dead WRONG. You can't live with the idea of "adultery" having its normal meaning so you "twist" the idea --- that it's to have a "broader" meaning when the context makes you uncomfortable. There is no denial of there existing a "real" divorce or a remarriage (and you'll never read where I said there was); they exist. However, consequences will be experienced to such a haphazard application of God's word; it is pretty serious! It will be for those in the "compromise" and it will be for you as well (for teaching it).

You might save yourself some time (and ink), Al, and quit thinking for someone else. You have no idea what I think (unless I were to tell you).

Al wrote: "I'd step back and do some major rethinking here, brother!!! You are on extremely thin ice!!! I have sounded the trumpet of warning, brother .... whether you listen or not is up to you. But you can never declare you weren't warned."

I may be on "thin ice" about many things, but you have already fallen through. Al, though your so-called "warning" is received with graciousness --- it is not I who needs to be warned. I'm not the one who redefined or reapplied words from their common meanings.

Point of Clarification --- #6

Al wrote: "I fully accept those definitions from the many reference sources you have cited .... If one definition of a word doesn't seem to fit well in a passage, then consider another (don't manipulate the passage to make one's preferred definition fit, as Ron has blatantly done in Matthew 5:32a)."

You "fully" accept? No you don't. If you were to accept "fully" what the lexicons have said, then you would have discarded this position of yours long ago because not ONE of them say what you want them to say. But, you are so insistent upon manipulating what God said that you refuse what recognized authorities have said.

Reprehensible? If you were honorable you would accept what the lexicons say, all of them. But, you refuse. Tell me, who's doing the reprehensible thing here? Even in Louw & Nida's work, which is based upon semantic domains, the word "adultery" is to have its literal meaning (exclusively) --- there is nothing figurative about it at all in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. You may not have denied the literal meaning, but you refuse to accept it in the passages under discussion because it does not conform to what you want to believe --- so you "broaden" it. Now, this is manipulation! I stand by ALL the charges I have made!

Al wrote: "I have simply refused to deny the legitimate wider semantic range of these words, and this irritates Ron to no end, although on occasion he has been cornered and forced, reluctantly, to admit the validity of this wider range of possible meaning and application."

YOU are the only one (with the exception of John Edwards and Olan Hicks) that I'm aware of that does such a thing. No scholar that I've read has "handled" the text like you. You are so insistent in upholding a false theory that you manipulate words --- there is no question about it! You think I have been reluctant to accept something; you speak incorrectly. But, you'll think as you will.

Al wrote: "In my post of February 13th I wrote: 'When I pointed out that the word moicheia does indeed have the meaning "breach of covenant; breaking wedlock," Ron observed: "Your comment above is true, but not in the text of Matthew 5 or 19."' I continued, 'I cited Greek authorities simply to demonstrate that the word DOES have such a wide semantic range, something they all acknowledge, by the way. Something even YOU acknowledge, Ron!!' Ron refuses to USE any of these other meanings and applications, but he has at least acknowledged their existence."

This is so as required by context, nothing more. Not one of those scholars, though, have applied this "breaking of covenant" like you in Matthew 5:32 or 19:9, not one! It is UNDERSTOOD in the word, it does not MEAN "breaking of the covenant." Just like the word "lie" contributes to the breaking of the covenant, but it does not MEAN that! Man! What mishandling Al does!

Al wrote: "Thus, it troubles me greatly that he has resorted to the tactics he has; declaring I deny the meaning and application he himself has chosen. Let me again state for the record: I do NOT deny that as a legitimate meaning and application. What I deny is that all the passages in question in the Bible DEMAND that this is the ONLY meaning which can EVER be applied. Ron has misrepresented the facts here, and I find it very hard not to believe it was done willfully."

Ron has done no misrepresentation. You just don't like the fact that I have called you on your "mishandling" of the word. That's exactly what I mean --- you have mishandled the word!

Al wrote: "Our problem is that I realize that the reference works provide a wide semantic range of meaning and application for these two words (and for most words). Very few words are limited to just ONE meaning and application. When pressed to do so, you have even reluctantly admitted this. The problem is, Ron, you have selected a SINGLE meaning of these terms (a SEXUAL meaning), and God help the poor soul who stands in the way of your MAKING this single meaning and application FIT every single passage pertaining to MDR in the Bible."

I have done no such thing. I have accepted what the lexicons have said --- you have not. This "semantic range" you refer to NEVER applies the figurative application of the word in Matthew 5:32 or 19:9. Only YOU do that. I've selected nothing at the exclusion of the other. But, I allow words to have their normal meaning; you don't in the context of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

Al wrote: "Thus, you will add people and events to passages, and shove the whole scenario decades into the future, wrecking both context and grammatical integrity, simply to FORCE your SEXUAL definition into every single passage."

Another one of your fabrications. I NEVER said that the "sexual definition" applies in "every single passage" like you attribute to me. Identify one Greek scholar, next time you are in a discussion of this sort, that has done what you have done. They simply don't exist.

Al wrote: "It is no wonder that you have attacked me for this one thing more viciously than anything else: you CAN'T concede this point, not even in one single passage!!! Thus, you use the old debating tactic --- when your point is weak, attack the opponent."

If my point is so weak you could have (and would have) demonstrated this a long time back with Greek reference works. But since you have not it becomes evident who has the weak point.

Point of Clarification --- #7

Al wrote: "You yourself referred me to certain specific pages in Wallace's work, Ron. I read them and pointed out to you that they did not support your view that the word in question is deponent. I notice that you have conveniently tried to ignore this!!! Wallace listed the conditions which must be met for a word to be considered as a true deponent."

I did not "conveniently" ignore what Wallace said. A pure fabrication! I'm quite aware of what he said and, further, as you noted in your last post moicheia was not on that list of either "true" deponents or otherwise. So, your comment proves nothing (once again)!

Also, with respect to my comments on a deponent, I said I was willing to defer to one more informed than myself. You can interpret that anyway you like (it makes no difference to me). But, I'll accept one who's credibility is firmly established before I'll not accept what they say. Is it possible, Al, that there might be some debate between scholars on this word? Not according to you, I'm sure. You use the mighty "brush-stroke" and erase it all. But, this makes no difference to me whether it is a deponent or not for your position will NOT stand. It is easily defeated on other grounds.

Point of Clarification --- #8

Al wrote: "Ron wrote: 'The PAI certainly speaks of what is happening in the now, but it does not exclude what might follow the now.' Ron, if an action is BEGUN in the NOW, and is seen as actually happening right NOW (although not yet concluded), this mood does allow for a reasonable assumption that what has BEGUN may well continue for a time, possibly even unto its logical or desired completion or result."

I agree with this. The context and word meanings determine whatever "continuation" exists.

Al wrote: "If I were to yell out: 'That man is driving his car toward a washed out bridge!!!' .... this would be a statement of present reality with respect to the verbal action of the driver. It obviously assumes that the present action will continue to some degree, but for how long and with what result is NOT certain."

True enough. The "continuation" is unstated; the context determines it.

Al wrote: "The future removes us from the REALITY and ACTUALITY of the present. Flying off the bridge, crashing and being killed are possible scenarios for that driver, but they are certainly not the only ones! Actuality and reality CEASE when we move beyond the present. That is the nature of the present indicative (and the limitations of it). The best one can do is make projected assumptions based on present reality, but those assumptions can never be elevated to the level of actual reality itself. This is the leap you are seeking to make, Ron, and it is unwarranted by the grammatical construction of the Greek. One who truly had the level of competency in Greek which you would have us to believe you possess should know this. Ron gave the example: 'He who runs and jumps into a mud puddle will be dirty.' This is an assumption, and is not a true present indicative anyway, Ron. More correct would be to say, 'That person is running and jumping into the mud puddle and is getting dirty.' You phrased your consequence as FUTURE probability, not as PRESENT reality."

Al, is this all the better you can do? I took this essence of this phrase from the Edwards - Collier Discussion (1994). So, my assumption of "getting dirty" is not clear within the sentence? My, oh my, this is remarkable. Did I use the sentence as an analogy?

I excerpted, from my previous post, what I was inquiring of you:

Maybe I should state it this way Al: "He who runs and jumps into a mud puddle IS dirty." How's that? Now, is the "dirty" in the "now" or in the "future?" Truly, you can do better than that.

Al wrote: "Something which occurs exclusively in the FUTURE, and has no reality or actuality in the present, is NOT under the umbrella of the present indicative. It is absurd to try and make it so. This was my whole point in trying to get you to focus on Matthew 5:32a."

Are you building another "straw man" with respect to what you think I said? Adultery does not occur exclusively in the future with respect to Matthew 5:32 or 19:9. It occurs in the NOW and it CONTINUES when sexual relations occur.

Al wrote: "And it happens to the wife when the man divorces her. That's what the passage SAYS ... Whatever adultery is, it IS OCCURRING right then, and it occurs as a result of the husband putting away his wife. That is all the information given, and it is sufficient. I asked Ron to simply tell us what that adultery is."

It says NO SUCH THING! Now you REDEFINE "adultery." Whereas you tried to broaden its application, NOW you REDEFINE it. Adultery = divorce. This is amazing! Again, you have refused to accept the lexicons and what they say about the application of moicheia in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

Al wrote: "Naturally, he says it is sex in the remarriage. There is only one problem with that --- none of what Ron says is mentioned in the text. Neither sex nor remarriage is mentioned in the passage. Other people aren't even mentioned."

Of course, Al, and words have no meaning.

Al wrote: "These three alone make it very obvious that these are NOT parallel passages. Not even close."

Al's rambling in his "point of clarification #8" actually made me laugh. I have never seen someone go to the lengths, as he has done, to deny a position that one can naturally read from the simple English.

Let me excerpt the text from my previous post and analyze what Al said. In the excerpt I will include some comments by the question "Are these parallel?"

Point of Clarification --- #9

Your "analysis" of the PAI in 1 Corinthians 13:5 was a sham. If that is all the better you can do, then it is no wonder you used as many words as you did to say nothing. There was NOTHING in what you offered.

But, I guess I can conclude, from what you said, that "thinking no evil" applies only to the "now." It has no application to the very next instant after the "now." That is pitiful!

Al wrote: "Ron wrote: 'How about 2 Corinthians 5:14? The verb in this verse is PAI. Should we understand the word "constraineth" as something that happens "now," exclusively, without any reference to what follows? The very context makes clear the application of the verb "compels" (NASV).'"

Thanks for the correction from the NASV to the NIV.

At least there was an attempt to deal with 2 Corinthians a little. But, even still, that is not much of an attempt. You are attempting to get the PAI to refer to "now" exclusively. That is as poor of an attempt to interpret Scripture as anything I've read!

"So, Paul, the love of Christ can constrain you only in the 'now' --- it can have NO reference to what happens in the very next instant after the 'now.' So, make sure, Paul, you don't use the PAI next time you speak because Al Maxey will say that you can only refer to the 'now,' not the very next instant (because, you see, Paul, that's not the 'now')."


Al wrote: "I would like to close my part in this debate by restating our proposition, and then commenting very briefly upon each aspect of it in light of the two perspectives presented in this discussion."


A married person who divorces his or her spouse
for any reason other than fornication, and marries another,
is a person who keeps on committing adultery

Al wrote: "The teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ with regard to MDR is really simplicity itself, although it has been made unnecessarily complex and tangled by the manipulations of generations of rigid religionists more interested in law than grace; in herding the flock into their doctrinal pens, than in healing them of their pains."

Al thinks to tell us the "simplicity" of MDR because of what he calls "rigid religionists" and how they handle the text. Then he proceeds, as evidenced in this debate, to apply broad definition to the words "fornication" and "adultery." Everett Ferguson made a comment once, "We can tell the meaning of words by the company they keep" (The Everlasting Kingdom, p. 7). But, for Al this is not adequate. Al has to expand that "company" so he can get his unscriptural view of MDR.

In Al's attempt to "heal" the broken hearted he has compromised the Lord's word terribly and given people a false hope. The Bible describes teachers like him and their listeners as people who want their ears tickled. Is there such a thing as "divorce police" and "remarriage FBI"? I suppose there might be, but Al, unfortunately, gives credence to an immoral lifestyle (his denials not withstanding). What actually needs to be thwarted is the mindset of those Al described and teachers like Al with their liberal application of the Lord's word when He does not grant it.

Al, in an attempt to negate the many references that I have offered, said that many of those same authorities would also subscribe to infant baptism and baptism by sprinkling. Let him support his contention rather than making an assertion. He recognizes that they are against his misuse of words and since he could not find ONE person to support his contention he has introduced what they might individually believe. What they may individually believe I don't know, but one thing I do know and that is Al is WRONG on his word applications --- no question about it!

There is certainly some "guilt" to be applied to a dissolving marriage. But, the texts of Matthew 5 and 19 speak more about how one will get into an adulterous situation than about who is guilty (the one does not exclude the other, but the text does have a primary emphasis).

I cannot deal with 1 Corinthians 7:27-28 (as Al would certainly misapply it) because that would be the introduction of new material and that would be dishonorable.

Al said that the focus of Jesus was not on "remarriage" but Jesus said that any one who marries a divorced woman (remarriage) is committing adultery. Now we know that "is" does not mean "is" with Al, but it does with the Lord!

For those who would like to think that Al is some sort of "loving" Christian more than another, then you can think that if you would like. I can tell you, as certainly as I sit here and type this, that Al is DEAD WRONG with respect to what I teach. That which Al attributes to me ("a graceless, law-centered theology") he will be guilty of when it comes to a position that he has to defend with respect to how one becomes a Christian (unless he does not accept what the Bible says there either).

Concluding Thought

Al's position has been shown to be false on the following basis:

  1. The literal meaning of the words "fornication" and "adultery" are DEMANDED in the reading of Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 as attested by ALL lexicons.

  2. Al's broadened application of "breaking of the covenant" is not attested to by ANY New Testament lexicon with respect to Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

  3. Al's broadened meaning of "breaking of the covenant" will not fit in Matthew 5:32b or 19:9b even after it has been forced into Matthew 5:32a and 19:9a.

  4. The analysis he offered on other passages, whether good or bad, does not justify his mishandling of the text in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9.

Debates are an honorable way to discuss issues as long as the participants are mindful of Whom they serve. This does not mean that points of view will not be seriously challenged, but it does mean that disparaging remarks will not result.

This debate did not go the way debates commonly go. I started out to affirm a position, but after agreeing to a suggestion by Al, ended up in the negative. This is satisfactory as far as I was concerned, but before anyone offers criticism, let it be remembered we did this willingly and understanding the reasons for so doing.

Finally, let me make use of Al's words at the end of his last post: The following words are from Al Maxey. I thought he said it well; I have only substituted Al's name in brackets in place of mine.