Halbrook-Freeman Debate

By Larry Ray Hafley

Ron Halbrook met Jack Freeman in two debates January 15, 16, 18, 19, in North Las Vegas, NV and February 26, 27, March 1, 2, in West Columbia, TX. The propositions for both debates were:

The Scriptures teach that two people joined by God in marriage are bound for life, the only exception being that an innocent partner may put away a mate guilty of fornication and remarry (Affirm: Ron Halbrook; Deny; Jack Freeman).

The Scriptures teach that a person who is divorced by his mate for committing fornication is free to marry another (Affirm: Jack Freeman; Deny: Ron Halbrook).

The first debate was held at the North Las Vegas church of Christ and was well attended with perhaps 120 to 140 present each evening. The second debate was even better with a high of around 500 and a low around 350 present. All audiences were well behaved. Of course, most were Christians, though some “outsiders” did attend, especially in West Columbia. A non-Christian named “Judas,” mentioned as a friend by brother Freeman, was especially interested in the debate in Las Vegas and it surely helped him to see the truth. We did not, however, have a chance to meet him. Those “strangers from the covenants of promise” who attended in West Columbia were impressed by truth and by the appeal to the Bible.

People in the world who are starved for Bible teaching can be fed in such debates. Ron Halbrook’s strong, fervent cries for purity and godliness based on the Bible were encouraging to Christians and attractive to the lost. We err when we think that debates among brethren on so-called “brotherhood issues” will do no good in the community. ‘Internal squabbles” and “brotherhood fusses” are discussed in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians and Hebrews, but no Christians would hide those books from his neighbors, would he?

Personal Reflections

Ron Halbrook has been “closer than a brother” to me for many years. He has encouraged, corrected and helped me beyond my ability to express. I know of no preacher who works harder or longer hours than does Ron. He has a keen mind, but above all, Ron loves the Lord, loves the truth and wants to go to heaven when he dies. His earnest desire to live what he preaches is evident to all who know him. Though he speaks directly with candor and “great plainness of speech,” his kindness and goodness of heart is always present. Ron has the force and power of a blacksmith but the heart of a loving grandmother. This combined with truth, makes his efforts in the kingdom invaluable. One of the elders of the West Columbia church, brother Charles Alexander, said of Ron, “He, like the apostle Paul, knows nothing but ‘Jesus Christ and him crucified.”‘ What a tribute. Obviously, I believe Ron did an outstanding job in the debates with Jack Freeman. If you doubt it, order the tapes.

The Charts

Ron’s charts, and he has hundreds of them, are worth the cost of the debate tapes. Also, the second debate is being transcribed for publication by the Guardian of Truth Foundation. When it is being published, you must secure a copy for the charts if for nothing else. Brother Halbrook did his homework as his charts vividly demonstrate. Unfortunately, Ron does not have the time or the money to make copies for everyone, but the video tapes and the book will enable you to have copies. Some samples charts appear below:

Do We Forbid “To Marry?”

1. NO! Everyone has a right to marry and a responsibility to obey God’s marriage law (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:9; 1 Cor. 7:2)

2. God’s law forbids divorce without cause of fornication and marriage to another again and again and again (Matt. 19:9)

3. God’s law forbids a man to commit adultery, be divorced, marry another and do it all over again and again and again (Matt. 19:9)

Deserted Believer Not To Marry Another – 1 Cor. 7:15

1. Text does not say believer “may marry again” (Robertson, Word Pictures, IV, p. 128)

2. Not deal with “re-marrying after such a separation” (Alford, Greek Testament, 11:525)

3. “Freedom of remarriage” not suggested (Expositor’s Greek Testament, p. 827)

4. “Remarriage is not an issue” in text (G. Fee, 1st Epistle To Corinth, pp. 302, 303)

5. “In such cases remarriage is not approved” (D. Lipscomb & J.W. Shepherd, 1 Cor., p. 102)

6. Allows separation but “not . . . the privilege to marry another” (H. Leo Boles, Luke, p. 317)

God -vs- Satan

1. If you eat, “surely die” (Gen. 2:17) 1. If you eat, “NOT surely die” (Gen. 3:4)

2. Believe & “Baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16) 2. Believe and NOT baptized shall be saved

3. “Whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit 3. Whoso marrieth her which is put away doth

adultery” (Matt. 5:32; 19:9) NOT commit adultery

Does 1 Cor. 7 Authorize

The Put-Away Fornicator To Marry Another?

Text Says This: Not This:
Vs. 2 “Every man have his own wife” Every man who wrecks his marriage & throws away his own wife by fornication or unscriptural divorce, get another wife!
Vs. 9 “Unmarried widows . . . better to marry than to burn” Unscripturally divorced & put-away fornicator . . .better to commit adultery than fornication!
Vv. 27-28 A man “loosed from a wife” (free, never married) and “a virgin” (free, never married) may marry. A man unscripturally divorced or a divorced fornicator may marry a woman in the same condition!


1. Converted Murderer Not Escape Death Penalty (Acts 25:11)

2. Convicted Thief Not Escape “Due Reward” (Lk. 23:40-43)

3. Converted Prodigal Not Regain Money Wasted Gambling (Lk 15:13)

4. Converted Adulterer Not Free To Marry Another Or Continue Adulterous Marriage (Matt 19:9)

Cases Of Adultery

1. Simplest Case: A married man with another man’s wife (John 8-4)

2. Sin Upon Sin: A man divorces his wife and marries another (Matt. 19:9)

3. Sin Upon Sin: The put-away fornicator remarries (Matt. 5:32 read with exception)

“The remarriage of a man after divorcing his wife, or the remarrying of the divorced woman, is tantamount to adultery (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)” [Kittel, TDNT, IV:733]

Tantamount = “Equivalent in value, significance, or effect” (Webster’s 7th New Colleg. Dict.)

Effect = Gal. 5:19-21 (such things); Heb. 13:4

Adultery Defined By Use:

Unlawful Sexual Intercourse Involving Someone Under Constraint Of God’s Marriage Law

1. Married man with another man’s wife (Jn. 8:4)

2. Man puts away wife w/o cause and marries another (Matt. 19.-9; Mk. 1011-12; Lk. 16:18)

3. Woman put away w/o cause marries another (Matt. 5:32; 19:9)

4. Put-away fornicator marries another (Matt. 5:32 & 19:9 read with exception)


I will not attempt to debate the debates in this review. However, brother Freeman’ s main thrust was based on 1 Corinthians 7:2 and 1 Timothy 4:3. He made no appeal with Scripture to show that a put away fornicator may “marry another,” though he erroneously asserted that 1 Corinthians 7:15 implies the words, “marry another.”

Brother Freeman’s position would have Herod’s marriage to Herodias be or become acceptable. Brother Freeman denied it, but he could never be consistent with his proposition in so doing. Ron showed this inconsistency and brother Freeman felt the effects of it as did the audience. Contrary to some post-debate reports, brother Freeman did not argue in the debate that the marriage of Herod and Herodias was sinful because of incest. Had he so argued, the demands of repentance wuld have troubled him again as happened thoughout the debate. Brother Freeman acknowledged that a man could continue to “marry another” and “another” and “another,” even if he were put away for fornication a hundred times! He did not advocate this, but he admitted it could be done and be acceptable in God’s sight. Brethren, are you ready for that conclusion?

Ron was asked against whom a put away fornicator commits adultery when he marries another? His charts answered: that Jesus indicts the put away fornicator as guilty of adultery even though he is no longer married to the first mate.

Do Debates Do Any Good?

Letter From Vegas Drive Church

Brother Keith Greer studied under Jack Freeman for several years but over a period of time became doubtful of the things he was being taught regarding marriage, divorce and remarriage. Following the first debate, the following letter was issued by the Vegas Drive church where brother Greer preaches:

To our brethren in Christ:

“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. . . Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:14-16).

For much too long we have been silent concerning where we stand on the issue of Divorce and Remarriage, and we do not wish to remain so any longer.

On January 15th, 16th, 18th, and 19th, a debate was held between Ron Halbrook and Jack Freeman at the Northside church of Christ. Many of the members of the Vegas Drive church of Christ attended the debate, and following the discussions, the men held a business meeting on Sunday afternoon, January 21, 1990. It was agreed upon by all of the men that we would send a letter to be read at the debate between Ron Halbrook and Jack Freeman in West Columbia, Texas. We want all of the brethren to know where we stand on these matters.

The scriptures teach that two people joined by God in marriage are bound for life, the only exception being that an innocent partner may put away a mate that is guilty of fornication and remarry. We at Vegas Drive affirm that the Bible teaches this to be true.

The scriptures teach that a person who is divorced by his mate for committing fornication is free to marry another. We at Vegas Drive deny that the Bible teaches this to be true.

We also want all to understand that we stand against the “two-law” doctrine of marriage that is being taught by many of our brethren.

1 Corinthians 7:15 does not teach that a Christian has other grounds for divorce or remarriage, and we cannot agree with those who practice and teach the doctrine of desertion.”

We do not agree with the position that Jack Freeman and the Northside church of Christ in Las Vegas hold concerning divorce and remarriage, and we do not want to be associated with what they are teaching. They do not speak for us, and we do not speak for them. We want all to know that we stand firmly on God’s word, nothing more and nothing less.

We hold no animosity towards the brethren at Northside. We love them, and would be only too happy to open up the Bible and study with them. We do not “count them as an enemy” but “admonish” them as a “brother” (2 Thess. 3:15).

The purpose of this letter is to let others know that there is a church in Las Vegas that is trying to stand upon the word of God. We want those brethren who come to our city to know that we are earnestly striving to teach and practice the truth.

May God bless you and keep you until the coming of his dear Son.

Yours in Him,

The men of the Vegas Drive Church of Christ

Yes, debates can be profitable. They can be an effective teaching tool. As with any medium, they can be mis-used, but the Halbrook-Freeman debates, thanks to Ron’s work, were a blessing to the cause of truth and righteousness.


Homer Walker and Glen Lovelady were able assistants to brother Freeman. Brother Walker who preaches for the Eastside Church in Las Vegas, was a great example of courtesy and kindness as a moderator and brother Lovelady was very efficient in handling charts and helping brother Freeman. We appreciate the kind and congenial spirit of both of these men.

Brother Harry Osborne was an invaluable aide to Ron. Harry has a brilliant mind and understands the arguments on the marriage issue as well as anyone. He worked and sacrificed many long hours to help Ron. Our thanks to the Alvin (TX) church for the support of Harry in allowing him the freedom to work in this effort. Also, Mike and Cecil Willis used their talents to assist Ron. Scores of others, especially the ladies of the West Columbia church, were a great help. The Lord will especially reward Donna Halbrook for her “open house” of hospitality. She was both a “Mary” and a “Martha.” Our love and gratitude goes to all the elders and brethren who worked so hard to help Ron in the great work that he did.

Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 11, pp. 331-333
June 7, 1990