Exposing The Sophistry Of Joel Gwin's Debate Charts:
by Bill Reeves and Tim Haile
August 29, 2003
In the next chart, brother Gwin tries to put brother Reeves' position in conflict with Matthew 5:32. His attempt fails for two reasons: He doesn't understand Matthew 5:32, and he doesn't understand brother Reeves' position. Consider the chart:
1. “Notice,” we are told. Yes, let’s do notice this: the reason that brother Reeves agrees that she cannot remarry without committing adultery is because she was put away not for the cause of fornication! Brother Gwin’s chart doesn’t tell us this. He believes that she cannot remarry without committing adultery because she fits into his box, his contrived category or classification, called, “put-away-women.” Brother Gwin and others refer to this as "the put-away status." We remind the reader that even brother Gwin and his associates do not fully believe that all put-away people are restricted from marrying another. Consider the following:
Romans 7:3 teaches that a woman becomes an adulteress if she marries another man while her husband yet lives. We must occasionally deal with cases where a person was put away by a mate, whether lawfully or unlawfully, but the putting away party later died. Romans 7:3 teaches that the death of one's mate looses him from that mate. Marital commitments and obligations cannot be fulfilled to a dead mate. Now, what about the marital rights of the put-away person whose mate has died? May this put-away person now remarry? Absolutely, he may! Here is an example of a put-away person having the right to marry another. There is no "put-away status." It is not the act of being "put away" that keeps one from the right of remarriage: it is the absence of the scriptural putting-away cause. There is no put-away status: there is merely the consequence of another person's putting-away actions.
Brother Gwin is going to apply this prohibition later to a woman who has had fornication committed against her (Mk. 10:11). But he hopes that the viewer of his charts won’t catch the switch.
Why brother Gwin prepared, or had another prepare, this chart for the debate with brother Reeves is odd indeed, inasmuch as brother Reeves has not and does not make such terms as "unfair,” “unjust,” or “too hard” any part of this controversy! Brother Gwin, in his two and a half hour study with brother Reeves did not hear him make any such argument, nor did he bother for six months (the time between the study and the debate) to ask brother Reeves if he makes such an argument. He simply presented a generic chart and insinuated that brother Reeves might find Matthew 5:32 too unfair, unjust and too hard to accept. Why else would he add that line to his chart? For shame! For whom were these charts prepared? Who did brother Gwin have in mind when he prepared and used a chart accusing one of taking his position based on how "unjust" or "unfair" it is to deny the right of remarriage to the innocent party?
Brother Gwin believes that the sinful action of an ungodly divorcer forever vanquishes the put-away person's right to put away for fornication and marry another. Whould it be acceptable for us to accuse brother Gwin of taking his present position on biblical putting-away because he thought it was "unjust" and "unfair" that an innocent party should get to remarry when he had failed to be the first to reject his mate? Would it be right for us to make such a charge? We shall assume that brother Gwin would object to such an unscrupulous judging of his position. And if we have assumed correctly, might it be proper to call attention to the golden rule (Matt. 7:12)?
2. “What if,” he asks.
a. To answer his question, I send him to Mk. 10:ll.
b. What “status,” brother Gwin? Brother Reeves would say no such thing! What would change (and not “magically,”) would be the cause! She now has the cause of fornication on which to act because her estranged husband is committing adultery against her as long as he remains married to the second woman. Speaking of "magically changed," brother Gwin has magically changed the scenario from one in which the cause of fornication is not in evidence to one in which it is. This subtle switch is "magically" made many times throughout brother Gwin's charts.
c. It is Jesus, not brother Reeves, that says that the innocent spouse may repudiate him and remarry without sin. This woman is the innocent, putting-away spouse of Matthew 19:9a).
(Incidentally, note that on the chart the word “repudiate” is between quotation marks -- and also again toward the end of the chart). What does that imply? That it is a word that only brother Reeves uses? That brother Gwin himself would not use it? Does brother Gwin find something wrong with using that word that Thayer himself uses to give the English meaning for Greek word, Apoluo?)
3. Brother Gwin gives a rendering of Matthew 5:32 that he says is how brother Reeves would render it. No, brother Reeves would have it read just as it reads! That statement of Jesus tells us the consequence for both the husband who puts away his wife not for fornication, and for the man that might later marry her that is thus put away: adultery is committed! That what Jesus says, but brother Gwin et al do not see that, or don’t want to see it. All they see is what the famous ‘put-away-woman” (who had no fornication committed against her) may or may not do! Forget about the men and the actual point that Jesus is making!
Let’s follow brother Gwin’s scheme and give his rendering of the verse. Here is what his position requires:
“Everyone that putteth away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, maketh her an adulteress; and whosoever shall marry her when she is put away committeth adultery, but if later her ungodly husband commits adultery against her, disfellowship her, and all who agree with her, if she exercises the divine permission to repudiate the fornicator-mate and remarry, because the ungodly act of divorcing her without the cause of fornication supercedes divine authority.”
To use brother Gwin’s language: “Is this ‘speaking where the Bible speaks, and remaining silent where the Bible is silent’?”
This completes part thirteen of our study. Please check the next article in the series.