by Dudley Ross Spears

{Editor's Note: I thank brother Spears for taking the time to make these observations regarding brother Smith's baseless argument. Several people have commented to me about this matter and they have expressed their disgust over brother Smith's misrepresentation of me. It seemed expedient for me to use this opportunity to make a couple of observations about this matter.

I was somewhat surprised that brother Smith would be critical of the wording of my affirmative proposition considering the fact that he told me that HE COULD ALSO AFFIRM IT in public debate if he could define his own terms! Well, in our debate I defined my use of my terms, and it now appears that brother Smith has refused to accept my definitions. I fail to see how brother Smith could honestly criticize my terminology when he told me that he could have used the VERY SAME wording. This is dishonest and hypocritical of brother Smith. I thought better of him.

My proposition stated that whenever fornication is committed, a faithful SPOUSE may put away his FORNICATOR-MATE and marry another. I did not use the word “whenever” in a vaccuum. It had a CONTEXT! Of course, this reveals and illustrates brother Smith's real problem. He fails and refuses to respect the context of a particular word or phrase of a given passage. This explains why he and I have found ourselves in disagreement over the putting-away rights of an innocent spouse whose mate has committed adultery against him. Brother Smith ignores the context of Matthew 19:9, Luke 16:18 and other passages, and applies the consequence of a putting-away not for fornication to a putting-away that is for fornication (Matt. 19:9a). This leads him to the false conclusion that no put-away person is authorized to marry another.

I guess I should not feel too wronged. J.T. Has done Jesus the very same way that he has done me, and “the servant is not above his Master”. - Tim Haile}

Gospel Truths, May 2005, edited by J.T. Smith, editorializes on part of the recent debate conducted in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Bowling Green, Kentucky between himself and Tim Haile. Brother Smith laid out a chart depicting four stages of a relationship when fornication, per Matt. 19:9, could happen. He apparently felt brother Haile would have nightmares over the chart. A fair representation of it is below.



The Lord addressed the married

Haile and Company add: “whenever”

Before they met


During the Engagement


While married



Single: After the putting away


Put Away


Matthew 19:9

Whatever brother Smith’s reason and thinking was in presenting the chart and his comments, he made no distinction in his use of the terms, “Unmarried” and “Unbound.” Please note the chart. Both “unmarried” and “unbound” follow the putting away action.

He wrote, “The question must be answered of which stage was Jesus speaking when He made the statement in Matthew 19:9?” J.T. concluded the only time frame Jesus had in mind was “the period while the two people were married before the marriage was sundered.” Did he mean that “married” equates with being “bound”? Did he honestly expect disagreement from brother Haile, or any of Haile’s so-called “Company”?

Tim Haile affirmed precisely the same thing J.T. concluded. The difference is that Tim did not equate being “unmarried” with being “unbound.” J.T. did.

It stunned me a bit to read J.T’s words. Had he not thought through the proposition he signed to deny? How could he assume that the “whenever” the fornication of Matt. 19:9 happens is not during the marriage? Had he not considered the terms “faithful spouse” and “fornicator mate” in the proposition? Tim Haile clearly stated that the proposition dealt with “whenever” fornication was committed against a faithful spouse -- not singles out on a date or an engaged couple.

According to Tim Haile’s own affirmation the whenever fornication is committed had to be during the time the marriage bond was in tact. He also showed that calling a relationship a marriage doesn’t mean God establishes a bond between a man and woman. Nobody has a right to say what brother Smith meant, but his chart and following comments indicate he made marriage the same thing as the bond. His argument from the chart depends on the terms being identical.

The issue turns on the time whenever fornication becomes the cause for divorce or, “for putting away a bound mate.” Obviously this is “the period while the two people” are bound by the Lord. It doesn’t necessarily mean while they are living in the same house. Does brother Smith believe the Bible teaches all “unmarried” people are no longer bound to each other by the Lord? Does he teach that all “married” people are “bound by the Lord” and all “unmarried” people are “unbound”?

Paul commands a wife not to depart from her husband. He adds, “but should she depart she is told to remain unmarried (emphasis added) or be reconciled to her husband” (1 Cor. 7:11). An unmarried woman still has a husband to whom she ought to be reconciled. She is not free to marry anyone other than the husband she left. Why? The lawful bond God established between them is not “unbound” even though she is “unmarried.” Unmarried and unbound are not the same.

A good friend and excellent student of the scriptures provided the following information a few years ago:

The word marriage and the word unmarried have several different meanings, as far as marriage is concerned. The word in the scriptures may refer to a marriage feast, and is a common usage of the term. But primarily the word marriage simply means a relationship. When you go down to the courthouse and you get a marriage license, you are not marrying at that point. A marriage license is a legal document but gives you the right to construct a marriage. But it is not the marriage itself. It is simply a legal document -- gives you the right to have one.”

Brother Haile’s inclusion of “whenever” in the proposition, per his own words, was to “talk about the emphatic of the word ‘when’.” The fornication in Matt. 19:9 is a sexual sin that can become the cause of an acceptable putting way. To be a legitimate cause of putting away it has to be committed whenever the “marriage” bond God created is in tact, not before or after, but during.

A lawful marriage bond may exist while two are no longer “married” in the biblical sense of the term. Whenever the marriage bond exists, if either of the marriage partners commits a sexual sin against the other, who has the right to say the innocent party is prohibited from doing what the Lord Jesus allowed? - DRS