Reviewing Brother Bassett’s Article

By Weldon E. Warnock

This will conclude for now the exchange between brother Bassett and me. I appreciate his willingness to discuss these matters of concern and I trust it is profitable to all who read it.

Brother Bassett did not refuse to discuss the alien sinner question at a later date, but I was hoping to consider it presently because his position on 1 Corinthians 7:15 has this broad implication. Perhaps I did not make myself clear enough to brother Bassett. It was not a future date that I had an immediate interest in, but now, instead of our ongoing exchange.

Have I misrepresented Bales and Bassett about 1 Corinthians 7:15 being another cause of divorce and remarriage? Bales wrote, “divorce and remarriage are under consideration in 1 Corinthians 7:15 although they are not the only things under consideration” (Not Under Bondage, p. 186). Bassett wrote a letter to Norton Dye (Dec. 3, 1987) stating, “Yes, I believe I Corinthians 7:15 adds another exception to the one Jesus stated at Matthew 19:9. ” Contrast this statement with what brother Bassett wrote in his reply to me: “Neither of us holds that 1 Corinthians 7:15 provides a ’cause for divorce.”‘ Brother Bassett is being “picky” about there being no cause for divorce in 1 Corinthians 7:15. The verse has “depart” (divorce) in it, and although the unbelieving depart, a divorce takes place, nevertheless, and brother Bassett says the divorce frees the believer to remarry. Wonder if brother Bassett would sanction a believer filing for divorce on the grounds of desertion by an unbeliever?

Whether brother Bassett will admit it or not he does have on his “football team” illustration unbelievers who are married to believers. Yet, he has a problem finding a position for his unbelievers to play as he really does not know for sure if the unbeliever is on the team. If the unbeliever is on the team, he has to play by the rules, but brother Bassett has no rules for the unbeliever as he/she is not subject to God’s marriage laws. So, the unbeliever may, according to Bassett’s position, play any way (and anywhere) he chooses. He may play lineman and run down the field for a pass, hold the opponent, illegally block, clip, run, out of bounds, or anything else he so pleases because he is not bound by the rules. Brother Bassett, you better give up the football illustration as it allows more than you would like to admit, or does it? Actually, Bassett wants two -sets of rules – one for the believers married to believers and one for believers married to unbelievers. But in football, both teams play only with one set of rules.

No, Warnock does not contradict Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:10-16. What brother Bassett does not see is that Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:10-11 is setting forth God’s general law regarding marriage. Jesus, in his public ministry, stated this in Matthew 19:6. Our Lord had said, “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Then in 1 Corinthians 7:12-15, the apostle makes application of the general law to three specific cases that, seemingly, the Corinthians had asked about. Jesus, in his public ministry, had not made application of the general law to specific cases like these: (1) Should the Christian man depart from the non-Christian wife who is content to dwell with him? (2) Should the Christian woman depart from the non-Christian man who is content to dwell with her? (3) What if the non-Christians’ companion leaves the Christian, not being content to dwell with him/her? In this connection, it would have been interesting if brother Bassett had told us what Jesus had said that was spoken to just believers.

I do not recall having said, and neither does brother Bassett, that a Christian should deviously marry an unbeliever so he/she could be in a better position to remarry, repeatedly. I did say, “Their view permits the deserted believer to marry an unbeliever who has divorced a dozen wives or husbands. The result of this kind of thinking has God showing more favor to Christians deserted by unbelievers than he does Christians deserted by Christians. The former can remarry as many times as he/she is deserted, but the latter cannot remarry unless the deserter is put away for fornication.”

Brother Bassett writes, “Was any Corithian so dull that Paul had to tell him he could not be forced to remain with a pagan who would not have him?” Some of the Corinthians were probably pretty dull, brother Bassett, but this is not the interpretation I placed on the passage. You build this straw man and then endeavor to tear it down. My position is that a believer is not under bondage to man, a marriage partner, to give up Christianity or compromise truth in order to save the marriage with an unbeliever (cf. 1 Cor. 7:23).

The rodeo bronc rider illustration is another misfire as it does not illustrate my position. Actually, it represents brother Bassett’s position as his position is that after the bronco rider is thrown off, he may get up, jump on another bronc and continue in the same contest.

Being unable or unwilling to answer the quotations of various denominational scholars, brother Bassett dismisses their comments by reminding us that they are uninspired humans – just like he is when he comments on 1 Corinthians 7:15. Brother Bassett likes what R.L. Whiteside (an uninspired human commentator) wrote on 1 Corinthians 7:15. In fact, he wrote, “Were I to stake my case on a commentator, I would prefer a brother reputed for piety and reverence as well as his knowledge and keen, analytical mind.” Well, let’s see how enthusiastic brother Bassett is about what brother Whiteside wrote on the following matter:

It is argued that aliens may divorce for any cause, and remarry; and then all their sins are forgiven when they obey the gospel; and it is argued that to say their sins are not forgiven is to say that they have committed the unpardonable sin. But there may be a wide difference between an unforgiven sin and an unpardonable sin. Repentance comes before forgiveness. If their marriage was a sin, can they repent of that sin and still continue it? If they were living in adultery, are we to be seriously told that obedience, or rather a form of obedience, to the gospel changed adultery into virtue? Where would such a theory lead? . . . .

It is argued also, as the alien is not in convenant relationship with the Lord, the Lord takes no notice of what he does; and that, not being under the law, he violates no law. But if that sort of reasoning is true, what makes an alien a sinner at all? (Reflections, pp. 410-411)

Do you agree with brother Whiteside concerning aliens, brother Bassett? Remember, you said you prefer a brother “reputed for piety and reverence as well as his knowledge and keen, analytical mind.” Will you take brother Whiteside on what he said about aliens?

After “running to the Greek” in his initial article (quoting Thayer, Wigram and Winter), brother Bassett criticizes me for “running to the Greek.” He compares my efforts to Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, the Christian Church and the “sponsoring church” brethren. Brother Bassett, the difference between me and the preceding groups is that they cannot find their peculiar doctrine in the Greek and I can. You would have more in common with them than I do; like them, you cannot find your position, either in the Greek or in the English. Really, brother Bassett likes the Greek when it suits his purpose. He is not too fond of it in 1 Corinthians 7:15 because it does not teach his doctrine.

Concerning my response on deo and douloo, refer to my first article. In addition, notice that Thayer says of deo, “to be bound to one . . . of a wife, Ro. vii. 2; gunaiki, of a husband, 1 Co. vii. 27” (p. 131). However, Thayer, commenting on douloo, states, “to be under bondage, held by constraint of law or necessity, in some matter, 1 Cor. vii. 15 ” (p. 158). Wonder why Thayer said deo means to be bound to a wife or husband, but made no mention of wife, husband or marriage in his .remarks about douloo? Strange, isn’t it, unless douloo does not refer to marriage, which it doesn’t. Brother Bassett just assumes douloo means marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:15 and tells people, far and wide, based totally on assumption, they are acceptable in the sight of God if they find themselves remarrying under such conditions. Friends, I would want something better than assumption.

Failing to quote all I said and taking a statement out of context, brother Bassett says I am wrong about the statement, “the only kind of slavery a believer has ever been under was before conversion.” Consult my first article and notice that the bondage intended was moral and spiritual slavery to men, whether in marriage, physical slavery, government or business. I specifically stated, “As a Christian, one has never been in moral and spiritual bondage to men, but is a servant or slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.” A slave of whom? The Lord Jesus Christ! By applying douloo (slavery) to the marriage bond, brother Bassett makes marriage slavery. Wonder how our wives feel about that?

For a brother not liking Greek, he uses it a lot. He makes an argument on hapto, saying of the 36 times it is used, it means sexual touching only once (1 Cor. 7:1). From this he concludes that douloo means marriage in 1 Corinthians 7:15. The difference is that the lexicons specifically say that hapto means “carnal intercourse or cohabitation” (Thayer), but where does a lexicon say douloo means “marriage”? See the difference?

How brother Bassett’s quoting another sentence from Davis’ Grammar was unfortunate, I fail to grasp it. Davis states that the perfect tense is a combination of punctiliar action and durative action. Dedoulotai is perfect tense in 1 Corinthians 7:15. Therefore, it has punctiliar (completed) action and durative (linear) action. The idea would be that at conversion the Christian becomes free from bondage (completed action) and continues free (durative action) from bondage. Freedom is the present result from past action. All that Davis said on the matter in question conforms exactly to what I have said. Remember, Marshall’s Interlinear says, “has not been enslaved” (italics mine, wew), stated in plain English. Again, brother Bassett believes the perfect tense points back to the divorce. Before then, if he is correct, the Christian and non-Christian were bound (married), in slavery.

But before I conclude, I need also to ask brother Bassett if an alien comes to you wanting to be baptized 2 who has divorced and remarried 3 or 4 times without fornication being involved, and is presently married (cohabiting), will you run him/her through a rigmarole of human reasoning or will you simply speak as the oracles of God? This one will ask, “I have been married several times and have another’s spouse? ” Say, “Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” And having said precisely what the Bible says, be content with the thought, “Enough said!”

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 15, pp. 470-471
August 3, 1989