Mike Willis Responds!
There are circumstances in which the presentation of the gospel must take on very personal features, even to the point of providing names and addressing the teaching of certain individuals (cp. I Tim. 1: 19, 20). Mike Willis has concerned not a few faithful preachers of the gospel. The primary focus of concern, as far as symptomatic expressions go, have been Mike’s bold teaching on divorce for causes other than fornication, and the emboldened posture of the Guardian of Truth Foundation in preaching the gospel as a foundation.
In the January issue of Truth Magazine, Mike speaks out and very strongly accuses some of providing "false reports," engaging in "slander," and "bearing false witness" again him. These are, indeed, serious charges. I am referring to Mike’s editorial titled, "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness In Discussing Current Issues."
I read with great interest Mike’s editorial. First, I am pleased to see Mike showing some interest and animation! I was, however, saddened to see Mike engaging in such subterfuge and equivocation. Mike claims slander against him in three areas, "False Testimony on Divorce For Any Reason," "False Testimony About Collectivities," and "False Testimony About Going Soft."
In addition to being concerned in general as to Mike’s defense, I was particularly concerned because I have had a lot to say about Mike’s teaching, in warning others and in attempting to precipitate a written debate between Mike and me. I sincerely do not want to misrepresent anyone and, so, I wanted to see if Mike in his editorial could set me straight on his teaching and actions. Alas, Mike has only contributed further confusion and, I am deeply grieved to say, added more seriously questionable, to say the least, behavior to his manner. I do not take pleasure in writing such material; however, Mike is in a position of exerting tremendous influence on brethren and churches today, being the President of the Guardian of Truth Foundation, now obviously much more than just a publishing company, and editor of Truth Magazine, a magazine produced by the foundation. (To read more about the foundation issue, click on "The Guardian of Truth Foundation and Florida College")
Mike wrote: "If brethren want to represent me correctly, let them state that Mike Willis believes that a person is authorized by God to divorce his fornicating mate for the cause of fornication, which cause gives the innocent party the right to remarriage" (Truth Magazine, January, 2007, pg. 31).
Sounds exactly the same as what all faithful preachers teach, does it not? What, then, is the problem with Mike Willis?
Mike follows this biblically correct statement with the following and herein lies the problem:
"Other than that, there is only one reason I know of that authorizes a person to leave a marriage – when he cannot live as a Christian in a marriage…." (Ibid.).
I certainly do not know what all has been said relative to Mike’s teaching on divorcement. However, all that I have heard and read has very accurately represented Mike (see addendum).
In this special defensive as well as charging editorial, Mike after stating the cause of fornication, the cause and only cause Jesus taught, mentions the wife whose children are being "beaten" and then clearly advocates, "…a woman may have no other choice but to leave the marriage" (Ibid, pg. 30). By "leave," Mike also makes it plain that he means "divorce" (Ibid, pg. 30, 31).
I have said many times that, "Mike Willis believes and teaches multiple causes for divorcement." Have I been guilty of precipitating a "false report," "slander," and "bearing false witness," Mike? In Mike’s editorial, he appears to make a play on "cause" and "causes." I have consistently taught and debated for many years that there is only one cause for divorce, the cause of fornication (cp. Matt. 5: 32, 19: 19, I Cor. 7: 2f.). Therefore, while I do believe the woman in Mike’s emotional argument in favor of divorce for a cause other than fornication, the woman whose children are "beaten so badly that they have broken bones," has recourse, I stand opposed to her having the recourse of divorce (Ibid., pg. 30, 31).
Mike charges those of us who have publicly presented Mike as teaching more than one cause for divorcement as being slanderers and committing the sin of bearing false witness. Where is his proof? Is he not simply further adding to his own list of sins by so charging?
Mike manifestly argues that he does not teach multiple causes (more than one) for divorcement; yet, he even argues for more than one cause (fornication) in the very same editorial in which he issues the denial! In Mike’s sermon that he has preached, titled "When Is Divorce A Sin?," Mike states the following:
"a. A person may have to divorce his mate to
break an unscriptural marriage (Matt. 19:9). In this
case, one is divorcing for the kingdom of heaven's
b. A person may have to leave his mate to become or remain a Christian (Luke 18: 29-30; 1 Cor. 7: 15; Matt. 10: 34-48; Luke 14: 26). In this case, one is divorcing for the kingdom of heaven's sake.
c. A person may be in a marriage relationship in which his mate runs up bills which he has no intention of paying. In this case, one's responsibility to God to pay one's bills would demand that he not be supportive of his mate's ungodly behavior (Rom. 13: 8).
d. A mate may be abusive to the children (beating). A person has a responsibility to bring up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6: 1-4). To fulfill that responsibility, may require him to leave his mate to provide for the children.
e. There are some cases in which one must leave to have physical and emotional health. One's obligation to serve God would require him to preserve his physical and emotional well being.
Yes, I have said that Mike Willis teaches divorcement in such situations involving a mate "running up bills" (cause c); not being able to maintain emotional health if the marriage continues (cause e); and even in a case involving "hostilities" (cause f). I teach divorce for only one cause; Mike has multiple causes. The question is, "Is Mike being honest in his editorial?" "Is Mike himself not only guilty of furthering error, but also of "slandering," spreading "false reports," and "bearing false witness" against brethren who have correctly represented and challenged Mike?"
I submit that brother Willis needs to start conducting himself as a Christian and instead of hiding behind his diversionary false accusations, come to the plate and honorably be accountable and debate his cause! All the preachers who are a part of the Guardian of Truth Foundation and Truth Magazine need to back off and take a very objective look at that to which they have joined themselves.
While I have only focused on the first area of Mike’s claims of slander ("False Testimony on Divorce For Any Reason"), Mike is guilty of the precise same basic maneuver relative to "False Testimony About Collectivities," and "False Testimony About Going Soft," at least, in the main.
Let me be plain and free of any hint of obscurity: Mike Willis, you are guilty of teaching false doctrine and even encouraging people to commit sin by teaching your more than one cause for divorce doctrine and you, furthermore, are guilty of sin by charging all who correctly challenge your teaching as being guilty of "bearing false witness"! (I Cor. 7: 3f..) (To learn more about the foregoing discussed teaching that allows divorce for other causes than fornication, read "Divorcement for the Kingdom's Sake" Also of possible interest is, "MDR and the 1990 Guardian of Truth")
I close with Jesus’ words:
"15: Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16: Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17: Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18: A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Matt. 7).
Addendum: Mike contends that he only teaches one cause for divorce other than fornication, this cause being what Mike calls, "…divorce for the Kingdom of heaven’s sake." Such, nonetheless, constitutes "multiple," more than one, cause for divorcement. Under this second heading for divorcement, Mike includes a number of specific causes. Mike, to my knowledge, does not advocate marriage to another, at least not immediate marriage to another, in the position that he takes. However, the full extent of Mike’s teaching in this area has not been fully probed, to my knowledge.