A BRIEF LOCAL HISTORY
1955 E. C. Fuqua held that all non-Christians are amenable to civil law only and are not under the law of Christ. As a result non-Christians are not under the marriage or divorce laws of Jesus. The church rejected such a notion due to the work of faithful Gospel preachers such as Thomas B. Warren. (Divorce And Remarriage: The Warren-Fuqua Debate, 1955, reprint 1985 ; National Christian Press, Inc..)
Pre - 1988 A wide-spread belief in an universal moral code was common in the church when I became a Christian in Fresno, California in 1968. Many members and preachers commonly believed that God from the beginning taught man that certain things were wrong such as murder, thief, fornication. This standard of morality is a part of Genesis, The Law of Moses, and the Gospel of Christ. These sins seem to have always been wrong. Many older preachers and members think of this concept when they hear of a "law of the Gentiles." [Which it is not!]
The marriage and divorce question had gotten particularly ugly. Two very opposing viewpoints reigned. The first is usually termed, "the Guilty Party canít Remarry." This group teaches divorce can only be obtained because of adultery and by the innocent party. The guilty party (the one who committed adultery) can never remarry but must remain celibate the remainder of their life. Matthew 19:3-12 is their proof text. Many in this group would not baptize a person until they investigated their personal marriage history. A person obtaining a divorce for other then adultery or who were the guilty party, could not become a Christian until they abandoned their current family and lived celibate.
In response to the "Guilty Party" group, others sought ways to avoid the teachings of Matthew 19:3-12. Lloyd Moyer presented a teaching which many Christians took up against the "Guilty Party" doctrines. Lloyd Moyer asserted that an act of adultery corrupted and thereby automatically dissolves a marriage. A person divorcing committed only a single act of adultery with their new mate. This act dissolves their old marriage and God automatically recognized their new marriage partner. This automatic doctrine of marriage and divorce eliminated both the need for divorce for adultery and the guilty party canít remarry teachings. This "Automatic" divorce therefore eliminated the impact of Matthew 19.
HOMER HAILEY (1988) Homer Hailey preached a gospel meeting in New Mexico in which he outlined the teaching which became known as "The Law of the Gentiles." The basic teaching was that a universal moral code of laws was given to the Gentiles from creation. This law continues to rule the Gentiles even to the present time. When a Gentile becomes a Christian by baptism, they are at that time placed under Jesusí Gospel. Hence, a Gentile before baptism is under the universal moral code, The Law of the Gentiles. After baptism they are then under the Gospel, The New Testament of Christ. Brother Hailey appears to have developed this doctrine exclusively to deal with the Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage controversy raging within the church.
Homer Haileyís "Law of the Gentile" was designed against the "Guilty Party" group by seeking to eliminate Matthew 19 as binding on individuals before baptism. He asserted that the rules about divorce did not apply to individuals before baptism because they were under the "Law of the Gentile." Homer Hailey admitted that this Law of the Gentile did not exist on the pages of the New Testament. It was nowhere recorded formally or even named in scripture. [Guardian of Truth, November 17, 1988] For more about Homer Hailey and this subject, click on "Homer Hailey."
W. L. Wharton (1988) Wharton preached two local gospel meetings in which he outlined the particulars of the "Law of the Gentiles." He expanded on what he thought it was and how it worked along the same lines as Homer Hailey. He was still unable to produce scriptural evidence of it within the pages of the Bible. [Pioneer Drive church, Bakersfield, Ca. Oct. 23-29, 1988 and Clovis church, Clovis, Ca. Nov. 6-12, 1988] I have a letter from W. L. Wharton strongly denying he teaches similar to Homer Hailey, but in defending what He teaches he in fact confirms the similarity. What I see as different is the terminology not the doctrine. See W. L. Wharton web page.
JERRY BASSETT (1996) On October 13-18, 1996, Jerry Bassett preached a Gospel meeting at Clovis, California in which he attempted to provide a scriptural basis for the "Law of the Gentiles", which he renamed "the First Everlasting Covenant." This is from Jerry Bassettís lesson from October 16, 1996. His lesson provides the best developed material currently dealing with the subject matter. In the end, this doctrine has but a single application: to eliminate Jesusí teaching about divorce upon the unbeliever.
Bassettís teaching is briefly outlined as;
1. There are two Everlasting Covenants: The First Everlasting Covenant which started at creation and the Second which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
2. The first covenant is Godís ordinances which contain principles of proper moral conduct and Godís expectations of man in regard to reverencing God.
3. God added the Levitical ordinances and religious rituals to the first Everlasting Covenant and created the Law of Moses.
4. Every person from creation to Judgment day is born under the First Everlasting Covenant which is law only, pure justice. If they can keep it perfectly they are saved. If they sin once they are lost, cursed.
5. The Second Everlasting Covenant (the Gospel) provides Salvation from the curse of the first Everlasting Covenant. It is a voluntary law and one is baptized into it.
Further information on Jerry Bassett's teachings may be gathered by reading "Rethinking Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage" by Jerry F. Bassett, 1991, Western Printers, Eugene, Oregon.
2. Analysis of the Doctrine
3. What is wrong with this Doctrine
4. Ungodly Behavior
5. Homer Hailey and this Doctrine
6. Letter by W. L. WhartonI will be updating this historical section as I gather more information. Any information would be appreciated on the history of this movement.