A Review of Jeff Belknap's Article:
"Those Who May Marry & Those Who May Not"
by Bill H. Reeves

This article is written in response to an article by brother Jeff Belknap, entitled "Those Who May Marry & Those Who May Not."  I would encourage the reader to read brother Belknap's article in its entirety before reading this review. Also, in the interest of fairness, I will be quoting directly from brother Belknap's article in this response. Brother Belknap used the following table to describe who may, and may not marry:

Those Who May Marry

Those Who May Not Marry

1) Those who have never been lawfully married (I Corinthians 7:2; Hebrews 13:4).

2) Those whose lawful partners have died (Romans 7:2-3; I Corinthians 7:39).

3) Those who have put away their lawful mate for fornication (Matthew 5:32a; 19:9a).

1) Those who have unlawfully put away their mate (Matthew 19:9a; Mark 10:11-12; Luke 16:18a).

2) Those who have been put away by their lawful mate for fornication (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b).

3) Those who have been put away by their lawful mate for any other cause (Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b; Luke 16:18b).


  1. As to “Those Who May Not Remarry,” point “3)” on the right side of the chart, he and his mistaken sympathizers make Lk. 16:18b an absolute, but don’t dare be consistent and make 16:18a, point “1)” on the right side of the chart, also an absolute.  They say that a put-away woman is forbidden remarriage on the mere basis of her being put-away, but they dare not say that the putting-away man is forbidden remarriage on the mere basis of his putting away!  They make a box for the woman, but not for the man.  She becomes a category, but not he!  They have become respecters of persons.  The passage says that BOTH the putting-away man, and the put-away woman, commit adultery upon remarriage. The reason in both cases is the same: there is no fornication in evidence; so, there is no scriptural cause for which to repudiate and remarry.  The reason is not some categorization on the part of man! If there is a put-away status based on Luke 16:18b, then there must also be a putting-away status based upon Luke 16:18a. But brother Belknap and others focus exclusively on the second clause in Luke 16:18. Their position on the b clause demands a put-away status, but they refuse to apply their logic to the a clause. Should they do so their fallacy would be immediately exposed.

      We also note that on point “2)” on the right side of the chart, the b part of Matt. 5:32 and 19:9 is given as proof that a put-away fornicator is not permitted to remarry.  This may be an honest mistake, but it is not the b part of Matt. 19:9 that proves such, but rather the a part!  The put-away person of the b part is put away for just any cause, and fornication is not in evidence. The reason why a fornicator may not remarry (with God’s permission) is simply because it is not authorized by the Lord!  The a part of Matt. 19:9 implies that a man may put away his wife for fornication and upon remarrying does not commit adultery.  From that we rightly infer that, if the innocent spouse may put away a fornicator mate and remarry, the fornicator himself may not!  He is not given permission for remarriage; only the innocent party is given that right.  And, as to Matt. 5:32, part b, the put-away wife was put away without fornication in evidence.


  1. As to “Those Who May Marry,” on the left side of the chart, he writes: “3) Those who have put away their lawful mate for fornication (Matthew 5:32a; 19:9a).”  Note that Jeff does not qualify this statement, but from everything else he writes, we know that he does not believe this unqualified statement. Brother Belknap, if an innocent wife has been unlawfully divorced, and her husband subsequently has committed adultery, may she put away her lawful mate for fornication and remarryJeff says, No! He categorizes her as a put-away woman.  So, he does NOT believe his own statement as expressed!  He believes his statement ONLY if his proviso is added!  Jeff and others can state the truth when writing articles, but in debate they are insistent upon the proposition’s including their proviso!  When misrepresenting their opponent, they always get their proviso in the mix!  But, when trying to appear scriptural they leave out the proviso.   We are not supposed to see the difference.  If I offered to affirm in debate exactly what Jeff here has stated, as he has stated it, namely: “Those (innocent spouses) who have put away their lawful mate(s) for fornication may marry,” would he deny the proposition and debate me?  Or would he, like Joel Gwin, claim that he believes that proposition and therefore can’t deny it?  Well, then, will Jeff and Joel moderate for me as I debate that proposition?  Everyone knows that they will not touch the matter if their proviso is not attached to it!

      As to “Those Why May Marry,  point “3)”,  we should note that Matt. 5:32 does not mention the remarriage of the one putting away his mate.  It is only Matt. 19:9a that mentions a putting-away and a remarriage on the part of the husband.  That passage doesn’t belong in the point being made.

  1. He writes: “Hence, it is clear that following an unscriptural divorce (marital sundering), there is no authority for a post-divorce ‘putting away’ … ”  Note that he first says, “unscriptural divorce,” but then refers to a “post-divorce.”  Why didn’t he say, “post-unscriptural divorce”?    I ask because earlier he wrote: “Obviously, those who are pressing the second (mental divorce) ‘putting away’ doctrine.”  He claims that there are those who press for a “second  divorce.”(albeit “mental,” according to him).  Well, there are in his argumentation two divorces, but they are NOT ALIKE.  There are two divorces that are “heteros” (different in kind), but not two that are “allos” (simply different in number but the same kind). The first one mentioned is an unscriptural one!  The second one (to occur), in today’s scenario being debated, is one permitted by the Lord for the cause of fornication!  Belknap adroitly calls them two “divorces,” or a “second divorce.” But he is careful to not clarify that one is unscriptural and that the other is scriptural; one is not approved by the Lord, and the second one is.  Each spouse realized only one divorce apiece!  One did not have divine authority for his, the other did!  Big difference, Jeff!   Jeff speaks of a “second divorce;” he writes about “two puttings-way.” That precise language is contrived for a purpose.  What he does not say is this: “a divorce that all we brethren agree to be unscriptural and a second divorce that those who agree with me consider unscriptural.”  They just say: “second divorce,” “two puttings-away.”  They are careful how they word it all!

  2. Brethren, false doctrine must employ its own phraseology in order to deceive.  Often it is what the false teacher does NOT say, or avoids saying, that renders his argument more deceptive.  He is careful, in expressing himself, to choose precise words and phraseology to favor his conclusions.  Once in a while he slips up, and expresses himself scripturally, but really doesn’t believe what he wrote, unless his proviso is added to it!

Bill H. Reeves

Review of Joel Gwin's 52 Debate Charts
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