By Homer Hailey
For forty-five years I have held a view on God’s attitude toward individuals who seek salvation in Christ, though they have been married, divorced and remarried previously, which differs from that held by many brethren. Though I have not made an issue of our differing views, or felt impelled to crusade for mine, I have never hesitated to express it when asked.
All at once I find myself under attack by some, being charged as a false teacher, unfit for the fellowship of certain ones who differ from me. This attack began in the spring following a study with brethren in the church at Belen, New Mexico. Because of the misrepresentation in the mind of some, here are the facts.
During the week of October 5-9, 1987, a group from over the country met in Belen to assist in getting the congregation started there. During the week I met with a couple who had left the “liberal” congregation and were meeting with the new group. In the course of the conversation or visit they asked me my view on the condition of divorced and remarried individuals, which I explained. They were in that condition having been baptized after their marriage (as I understood them). They joined the new group.
Following the meeting a preacher held a meeting for the church, preached on the subject, which brought up the question in the congregation: What of this couple and a recently converted woman (as I recall being told). On March 19th (Saturday) of this year, I returned from two meetings, then on Sunday (March 20) I received calls from Lee Stewart, the preacher, asking me to come over and present my view, which he said differed from that presented by the preacher in the meeting. I begged to be excused, but he and Tim Stevens insisted that I come. Reluctantly I went, after they asked if six of them could fly over and meet in my home. Why six air fares when one would answer! So I went there. I left early Tuesday (March 22), was met by Lee and Tim and we went to the meeting place. The meeting was private, and they insisted we keep it that way. A friend of mine from a different congregation wanted to attend, but they did not want it. The meeting was to be private. We sat around a table, fourteen or sixteen I believe, and for an hour and a half I went through the scriptures pointing out the ground of my position, then we spent an hour asking and answering questions. I then left. They had assured me that what they wanted was my view to compare with the differing view, that they might make a decision. I didn’t even make any special preparation, just went as one would meet and discuss a matter. I made some statement that it looked as if I would have to make my views more public; others know how I phrased it; I do not recall. The brethren were not satisfied with the two presentations, but invited brother Ron Halbrook to come and refute my presentation of my position. The video that was made of this meeting has been given wide circulation so that what was to have been a private study has become a brotherhood issue, which is regrettable.
I make no apology for my position; I believe it to be correct. I have no intention of becoming the focal point in a brotherhood discussion of the subject. But neither do I intend to be put in a position where I cannot express my views on this or any other subject in which the truth of God is involved. Any who feel they must consider me unfit for their fellowship must make that decision, though I do not share such a feeling toward them.
Others may feel differently about their mission, but I do not intend to contribute to any division in the church over this issue. If at some future time I should feel that truth will be served by a full presentation of the scriptural grounds for my position, I will exercise my freedom to do so. However, it is both my desire and my intention to continue the practice I have followed on this issue for the past forty-five years.
(Editor’s Note: I appreciate brother Hailey’s note expressing his intention not to make a crusade of his belief that nonChristians are not amenable to the teachings of Matthew 19.9. Although his comments regarding the motives and actions of those who opposed his actions at Belen, NM might be the subject of disagreement by those who originally reported the incident at Belen, the article confirms that these brethren have correctly assessed and reported the views preached by brother Hailey at Belen and earlier at El Cajon, CA.
The view which brother Hailey expresses privately when asked and has preached publicly on some occasions has now become public material. I suppose that Peter may have wished that his conduct in Galatians 2:11-14 would never have become the matter of public contention. But it did and the truth of the gospel was at stake in the confrontation which ensued. In the same manner, the truth of the gospel is at stake in this controversy. Souls are in danger of eternal damnation. If brother Hailey is correct, those of us who are teaching remarried non-Christians, who have had divorces for causes other than fornication, to separate in order to be acceptable to God are guilty of breaking asunder what God has joined together. If brother Hailey is incorrect, he is teaching those who are in adultery to continue in their sin. The consequences are serious and soul-threatening. I cannot see how a public discussion of these issues can be avoided. I do not desire that brother Hailey not be allowed to express his convictions; rather, I request that he or someone else bring book, chapter, and verse to defend this conviction. We desire to see him express his views that they may be tested to see whether or not they are from God (1 Jn. 4.1).
I wish that I could see a way for a tolerance about this matter. However, from my point of view, brother Hailey is defending what I believe the Bible labels “adultery” as acceptable conduct before God. 1 Corinthians 5 states that adultery is a sin which breaks the fellowship of the saints. Although brother Hailey is not practicing adultery, he is teaching a doctrine which condones the practice and encourages those guilty of adultery not to repent. The fact that this adultery is “sanctioned” by civil authorities does not make the sin righteous conduct. Unless one can explain how this false doctrine which leads to sin can be acceptable before God, I cannot conscientiously tolerate it.)
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 3, pp. 70-71
February 2, 1989