Response to TGC’s “And What About Divorce?”

 

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by Standerinfamilycourt

There are at least a couple of Calvinist / Westminster Confession- adhering groups with a prominent national “megaphone” who wish “standerinfamilycourt” would go find some other cause.   Whenever they publish a blog twisting either the context, the language translation or some other crucial aspect of rightly dividing the 4 or 5 most abused scriptures in the bible, SIFC and fellow outstanding permanence-of-marriage bloggers attempt to set the record straight on their blog page comments, where our detailed response won’t get buried under literally hundreds of Facebook comments.    We’ve been routinely censored in blog comments that fully met their posting guidelines (but politely rebutted their mis-assertions) and were typically removed — until recent days.

The blog piece by Kevin DeYoung that follows on The Gospel Coalition is from April, 2014,  pre-dates the inception of SIFC’s blog and Facebook pages by about 6 months.    Imagine our pleasant surprise to see OUR cover on the resurfacing of this blog to their FB page this week!   We have been given much favor from the Lord to be able to connect with national voices, most of whom do earnestly believe they are seeking the spirit of God in marriage matters.  We are especially blessed to do so before our first year has passed.    Our aim has always been to bridge constituencies in pro-family advocacy, as well as act as a voice of conscience to the churches who disagree with the authentically-biblical position on the permanence of marriage  (including SIFC’s own – the subject of another recent blog post on 7 Times Around the Jericho Wall).
If convictions about hypocrisy were not actually landing with these folks, it is unlikely that old blogs about it would be dusted off in this manner.   Not only are they hearing it from the pagans and angry, vulgar “page trolls”,  they are consistently hearing it from people who know their bible inside-out and who are fasting and praying for one more Great Awakening in this nation.

Kevin DeYoung begins as follows:

After last week’s post on gluttony, a host of similar comments bubbled up about divorce. Isn’t it hypocritical of Christians to protest so loudly about homosexuality when the real marital problem in our churches is divorce?

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:   Is the “real marital problem” in our churches truly “divorce”,  Rev. DeYoung?   A recent story in the Washington Post about the trend in marriage and divorce statistics from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics shows a steep drop off in both, that tracks in tandem.   Presumably that trend is reflecting in the church, too, although fewer believers are probably spurning marriage as young people than in the world.    Isn’t the real problem in the church rather the encouragement of remarriage that violates the standard Jesus gave in Luke 16:18, sometimes serially?   And isn’t the root motivation for individuals divorcing in the body of Christ, stripped bare of its litany of classic excuses, really the desire to whitewash adultery through the sure anticipation of the evangelical church’s blessing on a remarriage?   (A  recent survey of evangelical church members by a national polling firm revealed that 90% of those who had been divorced said that their divorce took place following their conversion. )

As G. K. Chesterton put it, a century ago when the forces for civil family destruction were first marshalling the efforts that eventually resulted in the enactment of unilateral divorce:

“It may or may not be superstition for a man to believe he must kiss the Bible to show he is telling the truth. It is certainly the most grovelling superstition for him to believe that, if he kisses the Bible, anything he says will come true. It would surely be the blackest and most benighted Bible-worship to suggest that the mere kiss on the mere book alters the moral quality of perjury. Yet this is precisely what is implied in saying that formal re-marriage alters the moral quality of conjugal infidelity. “

Over many years debating these issues in my own denomination, I’ve often encountered the divorce retort: “It’s easy for you to pick on homosexuality because that’s the issue in your church. But you don’t follow the letter of your own law. If you did, you would be talking about divorce, since that’s the bigger problem in conservative churches.”

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Many would say to this (perhaps a bit flippantly) that we’re not under law, we’re under grace.   Christ did indeed have a law prohibiting divorce of a covenant marriage, which Paul and the church fathers faithfully carried forward.     Divorce, unless undertaken with a motive of restitution and repentance, is only a symptom of the underlying problem.   In Matt. 5:28-30, Jesus got to the root cause: covetousness and lack of contentment which, unlike marriage, is truly genderless.

A Smokescreen
When it comes to debating homosexuality among Christians, the issue of divorce is both a smokescreen and a fire. It is a smokescreen because the two issues-divorce and homosexuality-are far from identical.

For starters, there are no groups in our denominations whose raison d’etre is the celebration of divorce. People are not advocating new policies in our churches that affirm the intrinsic goodness of divorce. Conservatives, in the culture and in the church, keep talking about homosexuality because that is the fault line right now. We’d love to talk (and do) about how to have a healthy marriage. We’d love for that matter to spend all our time talking about the glory of the Trinity, but the battle right now (at least one of them) is over homosexuality. So we cannot be silent on this issue.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  As we pointed out above, divorce doesn’t just happen in a motivational vacuum, so perhaps the more apt comparison to homosexuality  is with legalized adultery (sequential polygamy) not with the civil pretense of dissolving what God has joined.   Making the appropriate substitution, isn’t there a group in your church tasked with affirming a hard-hearted marriage decision, and the culturally-compliant celebration of “moving on”?   (Would that group happen to go by the initials, “D.C.” or “D.R. “?)  Seems there is just such a group, actually-in quite a few churches.

Is the reason people are not advocating new policies in the church to affirm the intrinsic goodness of remarriage perhaps because that task was fully accomplished at least a generation ago?
The battle and fault line would no doubt shift immediately from homosexuality, if the pastor would suddenly obey Jesus and announce  that the church will no longer be performing weddings where one or both of the parties has an estranged living spouse, would it not?   It seems that any time someone dares to tread on anyone’s sexual autonomy, explosive things happen.    Instead, these churches are inappropriately silent on that issue of sealing the unrepentant in their legalized / sanctified adultery, even claiming with no truthful scriptural support that Jesus “allows” what He forthrightly forbade.   If the term “smokescreen” is, in this sense, a defense to the charge of hypocrisy, it is well to remember that the latter tends to be in the eye of the beholder, and is quite difficult to hide from watching pagans.   The louder the protest of the splinter, the greater the magnitude of the unremoved log.

And while we’re at it, Rev. DeYoung, is it not true that Ephesians 5:31 reminds us that the very essence of the  “glory of the Trinity” is the upholding of the sanctity of that which, reflecting that very glory, Jesus made abundantly plain is indissoluble, this side of heaven?    How can any rogue branch (or rotten trunk) of the body of Christ even think about holding forth on the glory of the Trinity when it systematically tramples under foot its most prominent symbol by solemnizing consecutive polygamy / polyandry, and even while misusing the name of the Most High to do so?

Just as importantly, the biblical prohibition against divorce explicitly allows for exceptions; the prohibition against homosexuality does not.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Exceptions also tend to be in the eye of the beholder.    The specific exception Matthew (alone) had in mind was for terminating the ketubah purchase agreement for the betrothed Jewish bride, who in this specific case, happened to be a bit too closely related to the groom, or had been compromised in some other way before the wedding.    This context is not discerned by a superficial  reading of the text at face value without filtering it through several of the five-C’s of hermeneutics,  in this case:

  • content (accurate  translation of key words like “porneia“),
  • context (Matt. 5  sermon on the mount abrogation of Mosaic law;  Matt. 19:9 Roman prohibition against traditional  Hebrew stoning of adulterous spouses)
  • culture (Jewish betrothal customs)
  • comparison  (for example, with Mark 10:1-12 and Luke 16:18)
  • consultation (what did the early church fathers say about an “exception”?  What did they say about the dissolubility of holy matrimony in general?)

The traditional Protestant position, as stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith for example, maintains that divorce is permissible on grounds of marital infidelity or desertion by an unbelieving spouse (WCF 24.5-6). Granted, the application of these principles is difficult and the question of remarriage after divorce gets even trickier, but almost all Protestants have always held that divorce is sometimes acceptable.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  The Westminster Confession is the 17th century product of an Assembly of clerics and members of British Parliament to produce a doctrine based on putting the commandments of Christ to a popular vote of carnal men.     The portions that deal with marriage were greatly influenced by the apostate teachings of Catholic humanist Desiderius Erasmus.    From the moment the words crossed His lips, most human flesh has held that Christ’s law of the indissoluble marriage bond was too harsh to uphold.    Despite 400 years of uncorrupted doctrine upheld by the early church fathers, this tenet of the Protestant Church was established on a 16th century Erasmean heresy that is not supported by sound biblical scholarship.   It is for these reasons that Protestants  “have always held that divorce is sometimes acceptable”, but as Jesus told the first crop of Pharisees, “from the beginning, it was not so!”    Application of Christ’s law of marriage is quite simple, actually.

Rev. DeYoung, when you are before the bema seat of Christ,  and your works are being judged by fire, will you really be pleading to Him that you loved the Westminster Confession with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?

WontLetGo!

Simply put, homosexuality and divorce are different issues because according to the Bible and Christian tradition the former is always wrong, while the latter is not.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:  Homosexuality and divorce may be “different issues” but both share the common trait of violating a non-negotiable element of God’s definition of marriage.   Homosexuality violates Matt. 19:4 / Mark 10:7.   Civil divorce and remarriage violate Matt. 19:6 / Mark 10:9.   We will concede your last point however.   According to the bible, homosexuality is indeed always wrong, but civil divorce is only not wrong when it is motivated to end an unlawful subsequent civil union, with Spirit-led repentance, restitution and restoration of the true covenant in one’s heart and mind.    Today’s Pharisees would urge that person to remain in their adultery,  at the potential expense of many souls, on the pretense that it is “extending the cycle of divorce” or is a “repeat sin”.    God is showing this to be false with each covenant family He miraculously puts back together after decades of man’s divorce, and He sometimes does it with both families that Satan attempted to use the church as his accomplices to destroy for generations to come.

Finally, the “what about divorce?” argument is not as good as it sounds because many of our churches do take divorce seriously. I realize that many churches don’t (more on that in a minute). But a lot of the same churches that speak out against homosexuality also speak out against illegitimate divorce. I’ve preached on divorce a number of times, including a sermon a few years ago entitled, “What Did Jesus Think of Divorce and Remarriage?” I’ve said more about homosexuality in the blogosphere because there’s a controversy around the issue in the culture in the wider church. But I’ve never shied away from talking about divorce. I take seriously everything the Westminster Confession of Faith says about marriage. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman (WCF 24.1). It is the duty of Christians to marry only in the Lord (WCF 24.3). Only adultery and willful desertion are grounds for divorce (WCF 24.6).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Is the Westminster Confession inspired?   Why not preach directly from God-breathed holy scripture?    Rev. DeYoung, you say that “willful desertion” is a ground for divorce.   That’s strange, because Jesus surely didn’t say that (He said spouses joined by God can never again be two), and neither did Paul (he said a wife is dedetai
δέδεται to her husband as long as he lives) nor did Peter.   By any chance, sir, do you happen to know the difference between the Greek root words “douloo” and “deo“?   If the committee that signed off on the Westminster Confession knew this, they obviously chose to ignore it.

 

As a board of elders, we treat these matters with the seriousness they deserve. We ask new members who have been divorced to explain the nature of their divorce and (if applicable) their remarriage. This has resulted on occasion in potential new members leaving our church. Most of the discipline cases we’ve encountered as elders have been about divorce. The majority of pastoral care crises we have been involved in have dealt with failed or failing marriages. Our church, like many others, takes seriously all kinds of sins, including illegitimate divorce. We don’t always know how to handle every situation, but I can say with a completely clear conscience that we never turn a blind eye to divorce.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:  Do you counsel people whose civil union does not meet Christ’s standard of Luke 16:18 to remain in their adultery?   Do you delude them that this sin is the only sin that does not require full turning away and cessation?    Do you counsel “married” homosexuals differently than “married” adulterers?    HAVE YOU KNOWINGLY SOLEMNIZED IN THE PAST YEAR A WEDDING JOINING ANY PERSON TO SOMEBODY ELSE’S SPOUSE, IN GOD’S EYES?

And Undoubtedly Some Fire
Having said all that, it’s undoubtedly the case that many evangelicals have been negligent in dealing with illegitimate divorce and remarriage. Pastors have not preached on the issue for fear of offending scores of their members. Elder boards have not practiced church discipline on those who sin in this area because, well, they don’t practice discipline for much of anything. Counselors, friends, and small groups have not gotten involved early enough to make a difference in pre-divorce situations. Christian attorneys have not thought enough about their responsibility in encouraging marital reconciliation. Church leaders have not helped their people understand God’s teaching about the sanctity of marriage, and we have not helped those already wrongly remarried to experience forgiveness for their past mistakes.

So yes, there are plank-eyed Christians among us. The evangelical church, in many places, gave up and caved in on divorce and remarriage. But the remedy to this negligence is not more negligence. The slow, painful cure is more biblical exposition, more active pastoral care, more faithful use of discipline, more word-saturated counseling, and more prayer–for illegitimate divorce, for same-sex behavior, and for all the other sins that are more easily condoned than confronted.

 FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  “but the remedy to this negligence is not more negligence“….We agree that there’s nothing more uncomfortable than telling a non-covenant couple (particularly a couple invalidly  “married” in your own church) that their union will never be holy matrimony in God’s eyes because of the undissolved prior marriage bond indelibly recorded in the courthouse of heaven.    But the “fire” that is dreaded here still sounds like the fear of man, instead of a holy fear of a deeply-offended Sovereign!   Why is it that few recognize the judgment of that offended Sovereign that has been falling on our nation for four or five decades, and is now coming to a sodomous, polygamous, incestual and bestial crescendo?
Since it is clearly negligent to continue the practice of joining somebody’s covenant spouse to another while the rejected true spouse lives, Rev. DeYoung,   BY WHAT DATE WILL YOUR CHURCH CEASE PERFORMING THESE ADULTEROUS CEREMONIES?

What is the resemblance, Rev. DeYoung, of your church with this church?

Now while Ezra was praying and making confession, weeping and prostrating himself before the house of God, a very large assembly, men, women and children, gathered to him from Israel; for the people wept bitterly.   Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, said to Ezra, “We have been unfaithful to our God and have married foreign women from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope for Israel in spite of this.  So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law. Arise! For this matter is your responsibility, but we will be with you; be courageous and act.” 

– Ezra 10:1-4, concerning the cleansing of marriage desecration the Lord required before He would restore Israel  as a sovereign nation.

 

Or with this one?

What is more astounding than the mere fact that the early Church taught and practiced the complete indissolubility of marriage for so long, is the fact that the Church chose to take its stand against the strong contemporary lax social and legal attitudes toward divorce which prevailed so universally all about them. The Church, today, feels that it is on the horns of a dilemma, because so many divorcees are coming to her for help and encouragement. Shall she accommodate the Scriptures to the apparent need of the unfortunate divorcees, or shall she uphold the Biblical standard of the indissolubility of marriage for any cause while faithfully discharging her duty to such distressed individuals?  Every church of today which considers the lowering of its divorce standards should remember that the early Church stood true to the Biblical doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage in a world that was pagan and strongly opposed to the moral and marriage standards of the New Testament. Not only did the Church maintain her stand on the indissolubility in the early centuries, she changed the attitude and standards of the whole world toward it. Even today the whole Church of Christ and the entire western world is still reaping the rich benefits of that heritage.   Shall the Christian Church of today be less courageous and faithful than the Church of the early centuries of the Christian era? Does she not under God have the same spiritual resources?

“There were other grievous social evils in the early Christian centuries. Slavery enveloped the Roman Empire of that age, yet the Christians did not set themselves to change the thinking of the masses against it, but they did set themselves to change the thinking of the masses toward marriage and divorce. Why did they not attack slavery with the same vehemence? The reason was that the Apostles had not received a “thus saith the Lord” from Christ respecting it. They had, however, received such in the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. No sect or school of philosophy is known to have influenced the early Church in this teaching. From whence, then, did she get the teaching? Certainly she received it from the teaching of the Gospels and from the teaching of the Apostles, who had earlier conveyed the same orally (as well as in writing) to the leaders of the early Church who succeeded them.”

–  Rev. Milton T. Wells,  “Does Divorce Dissolve Marriage?” (1957),  Chapter VIII.

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall   |   Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

 

Emulating a Faulty “Confession”: Assemblies of God 1973 Position Paper Exposed

AOG_HQ_top_viewby Standerinfamilycourt

The summer of 2015 brings not only the pivotal U.S. Supreme Court announcement unilaterally imposing same-sex “marriage” on all 50 states, it brings the annual mass gatherings, and new or revised position statements of various denominations of the body of Christ.    The Southern Baptists conference in Columbus, Ohio convened just prior to the SCOTUS ruling, and an ERLC (Ethics and Religious Liberty Council) statement followed shortly thereafter reaffirming its official position on marriage.

The Assemblies of God will be gathering in Orlando, Florida in August for their biennial  General Council, the first since marriage started to be (re-)redefined, this time by the courts rather than by amoral state legislatures.     This gathering will be reminiscent of an earlier sultry August gathering in Florida forty-two years ago.    In turn, that 1973 gathering turned out to be reminiscent of a gathering in England more than 300 years earlier called the Westminster Assembly.    In both cases, a clear, firm commandment of God concerning the absolute indissolubility of marriage by acts of men was put to a popular vote of carnal, self-interested clerics who found Christ’s instructions to be too unpalatable for their contemporary flocks to live by.   The outcome of the vote itself was all too predictable, but the fallout to the witness and integrity of the Church, in each case, took decades or centuries to fully manifest.   In both cases, the word of God was twisted and re-interpreted while suspending the normal laws of hermeneutics and simple logic, to accommodate and justify the doctrinal vote.   Jesus Christ was never given a vote in either assembly, despite professions of His “lordship”,  and as a consequence, the Holy Spirit was displaced as the anointed Interpreter of sacred scripture.

Permanence-of-marriage blogger Neil Novotnak has done an excellent job of pointing out the scriptural and logical flaws in the Westminster Confession.    This blog will attempt to do the same with  AOG’s 1973 position paper DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE Application of General Scriptural Principles which resulted from a General Council vote in the wake of multistate legislative enactment of unilateral (“no-fault”) divorce, and was approved by the General Presbytery.   This popular vote removed official denominational by-laws that proscribed AOG pastors from performing weddings for any couple where either the bride or the groom had an estranged living spouse, and “removed from fellowship” any pastor who knowingly did so.    (In the early 2000’s, the AOG quietly made it compulsory for its pastors to perform such weddings as it previously forbade for more than 60 years since inception of the denomination.)

This position paper introduces its Statement of Biblical Principles by citing some statistics,

Barna Group, “New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released,” [March 31, 2008 – link no longer available]

and by stating:

“It is imperative at such a time that the Christian church clarify, teach, and faithfully uphold what the Bible says about marriage. The Church must also speak biblically to the issue of divorce and remarriage, which occur all too often as one, or both, marital partners abandon their Christian ethical commitments and responsibilities.” (page 1)

SIFC wholeheartedly agrees with the scriptural faithfulness of the first three points in the Statement of Biblical Principles, but begins to have a problem with point #4 (middle of page 2):

4.  Marriage is to be sexually consummated. At the Creator’s command, the first man and woman were to “become one flesh” for purposes of procreation, bonding, and mutual pleasure in a safe and loving relationship (Genesis 2:24). Jesus himself reiterated the divine intent (Matthew 19:4,5) and Paul instructed Christian spouses faithfully and regularly to fulfill their sexual responsibilities to each other (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

 FB profile 7xtjw  The errors:
(1) This description of purpose completely misses the most important purpose for biblical marriage, and neglects to mention that marriage was the very first of God’s sacred symbols, one that is prominently portrayed in almost every book of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, symbols of which God Himself told us He is jealously protective.     Marriage was, from its Gen. 2:24 beginning, purposed  to represent all of God’s inviolable, irrevocable covenants which were to follow, and also purposed to represent (rather than misrepresent) the relationship of Christ with His bride, the Church, as discussed by Paul in Eph. 5:28-31.

(2) The point #4  AOG discussion of “become one flesh” misses (or deliberately downplays) the most important aspects of what Jesus had to say in Matthew 19 and Mark 10–probably the same chronological occasion–about that process.  Indeed, AOG’s text seems to deliberately stop at Matt. 19:5 in order to avoid the conflicting truth in Matt. 19:6:

The exact words of Jesus:

“Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and femaleand said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”    ( – according to Matthew)

“But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother,  and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”    ( – according to Mark)

These aspects are:

–  God does the joining, and He enters the covenant as a participant, reflecting a supernatural and irreversible event, unique to the specific couple.

– “No longer two” occurs before the physical consummation (unless there was prior fornication between them) and is not primarily an ongoing process.   Furthermore, this phrase clearly refers to how God henceforth views them in commanding no man to separate.

– The man leaves his father and mother, not a covenant spouse to whom he’s been supernaturally joined by God.   The supernatural process is not replicated so long as both spouses live.

Every significant church father uniformly understood this for the first 400 years after Jesus went to the cross, and it was the basis, along with Luke 16:18, for the prior AOG by-laws banning adulterous weddings in the fellowship.    St. Augustine perhaps best captured this scripturally-correct (and conveniently-overlooked)understanding:

“There is a ‘conjugal something’ (quiddam conjugale) which continues to exist between spouses so long as both are alive, even if they have separated, such that any second union can meaningfully be called adulterous.”

(3) AOG point #4 also pulls off a slimy, and sadly consistent, trick of the evangelical marriage revisionists of all stripes:   they convert a commandment or fact of the Most High God into an “intent.”    In so doing, they trivialize the stern warnings against adultery that came repeatedly from the lips of Jesus (such as Matt. 5:28-30),  from Paul (1 Cor. 6:9-10, Gal. 6:7-8 and Hebrews 13:4), and from John (Rev. 21:8).   They quite literally compromise souls out of the fear of man when they should be fearing God, who sovereignly has no “intents”,  “designs”, “ideals”, “bests”, nor the like.   They ignore the entire thrust of Christ’s sermon on the mount, of abrogating various Mosaic accommodations, His warning that His followers’ righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, and that participation in the kingdom of God is at stake.     FB profile 7xtjw

(SIFC is aware of no major scriptural issues with AOG’s point #5 dealing with homosexuality, and fervently hopes they are able to stand firm on the word of God in the coming years, suffering as necessary to do so.)

 

6. God intended marriage to be a permanent union. The man was to depart from his parents’ home in order to “be united to his wife, and … become one flesh” with her (Genesis 2:24). Both Jesus (Matthew 19:5) and Paul (Ephesians 5:31) quoted this passage from Genesis as the foundational premise of marriage. Translating Jesus’ quotation, Matthew used a Greek word for “united (kollaō)that means “to be glued to, be closely bound to”  (Matthew 19:5). Jesus added, “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (19:6).

FB profile 7xtjw The errors:

(1) All of what was just said above about point #4 is of equal weight and force here, particularly error (3) above.

(2) Additionally, in the accurate discussion of the Greek root word  kollao” (actual word form used in the passage is κολληθήσεται – kollēthēsetai) above, there is omitted consideration of a contrasting word used in 1 Cor. 6:16-17 in speaking of sexual immorality that is devoid of the supernatural joining by God in Matt. 19:6.    But before we go there, let’s mention that Matt. 19:6 is the ONLY usage of kollēthēsetai  in canonized scripture (an important fact this is missed when limiting the discussion to the root word “kollao“).  Let’s also mention that in Mark 10:7 the word used is “proskollēthēsetai προσκολληθήσεται (“cleave to”), which is used only twice in canonized scripture, the other usage being by Paul in articulating the supernatural, symbolic element of covenant joining in Eph. 5:31.

What is the contrasting word for carnal physical joining not accomplished by God but wrought by men in insult to God?   It’s kollōmenos  κολλώμενος.     This is the word for joining that can be undone.   In fact, it’s the word for joining that must be undone to be in right standing with God.    (The significance of all of this will be reinforced when we get deeper into this errant position paper.) FB profile 7xtjw

7. God intended marriage to be monogamous. The Creator’s acts in establishing marriage are focused on one man and one woman. The order of marriage itself (Genesis 2:24) is directed at a monogamous pair, “man” and “wife” being singular.  Polygamy did exist in the Old Testament era, of course.  The first case was in Cain’s line (Genesis 4:19) with many Old Testaments examples, including some of the patriarchs, to follow. But polygamy is never held up to be the ideal. The Old Testament writers indirectly criticize polygamy by showing the resultant strife (for example, Genesis 21:9,10; 37:2-36; 2 Samuel 13-18). Passages that idealize marriage normally do so by speaking of one husband and one wife (see Psalm 128:3; Proverbs 5:18; 31:10-29; Ecclesiastes 9:9).  Jesus also affirms that God’s ideal from the beginning was monogamy, speaking of “man” and “wife” in the singular, with the “two” becoming one flesh (Matthew 19:5,6). There is no reference to polygamy as a practice of the Early Church; and, in any event, it would be proscribed for leaders by Paul’s references to a “one woman man” (1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6).

FB profile 7xtjw The errors:

(1) There’s that slew of wishy-washy “i -words” again!   Intent, ideal….idealized…(review again AOG point #4, error (3).

(2) “There is no reference to polygamy as a practice of the Early Church; and, in any event, it would be proscribed for leaders by Paul’s references to a “one woman man” (1 Timothy 3:2,12; Titus 1:6).”
In  light of the facts established above, that God uniquely and irrevocably joins a non-adulterous pair (i.e. no prior living spouse) never again to be two, but considered one person in His sight,  we must consider not only the contextually-recognized type of polygamy (concurrent), but also prevalent type which point #7 of this position paper is aimed to appease (serial or sequential polygamy) .    If covenant marriage is indissoluble except by death, as Paul made very clear (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39), and Jesus forcefully stated in Matt. 19:6 / Mark 10:9,  then to presume to marry another spouse while the first spouse is alive is serial monogamy or sequential polygamy, take your pick.   The LGBT activist community and its supporters, have no problems at all discerning, and loudly voicing, the holes in the AOG’s official witness on this matter, so our denomination’s determined myopia is quite remarkable!
WeRegret
Is it beyond all realm of possibility that there was no mention of polygamy (of either variety), as a practice of the  Early Church because what they did practice was holiness?   And perhaps Paul meant precisely what he said to Timothy and to Titus, that remarried adulterers (by the standards of Luke 16:18) need not apply as deacon or overseer.

Pre-1973, those aforementioned AOG by-laws read as follows:

“(e) We disapprove of any married minister of the Assemblies of God holding credentials if either minister or spouse has a former companion living. “

We daresay that a sizeable proportion of those in attendance to General Council 2015 in Orlando will be remarried, sequential polygamists who benefitted from the rule change in 1973, whose credentials are no doubt impeccable as one-woman (at a time) men.    Greek semantics aside, they will be influential, no doubt, among those casting the next votes on the commandments of Christ versus cultural relevance, if not this year,  by 2017 when perhaps concurrent polygamy will be freshly legalized by court decree.  FB profile 7xtjw

(SIFC is aware of no major scriptural issues with AOG’s points #8, 9 or 10, dealing with the covenant nature, the mutually self-sacrificing nature, or the child-nurturing nature of biblical marriage, other than the vacuous use of those aforementioned “i”-words, so we move on to the AOG’s application of their version of these principles.)

 

The Nature of Divorce

(Point 1- God Hates Divorce, pages 3-4)…”Divorce was not a part of God’s original intention for humanity. His purposes in marriage are hindered when the marital covenant is deliberately broken. The divine purpose can only be realized as the husband and wife subject themselves to Christ and each other, as described in Ephesians 5:21-31….God’s hatred for divorce, however, is not to be interpreted as condemnation of those who themselves are not at fault, but have been divorced and victimized by the ungodly actions of their spouses.  The divorce laws and teachings of the Old Testament were designed to add a measure of protection for the innocent, not to heap guilt upon the victims of circumstances over which they had little or no control.”

FB profile 7xtjw  The errors:   The first sentence is a nefarious understatement, containing one of those “i”-words again.   Divorce is an entirely manmade fabrication that purports to do what God expressly denied men any authority to do (Matt. 19:6; Mark 10:9), to deign to separate a supernaturally-joined one-flesh entity into two again, and remove God’s participation from an unconditional triune covenant.  Only death does that (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39).

The latter part of the statement seems even more nefarious.    SIFC knows of no petition for dissolution of that which God says cannot be civilly dissolved that was initiated by any spouse’s actions.   SIFC can confidently assure all readers from actual experience in the courtroom that actions, regardless how despicable, have no legal standing whatsoever in “family court” !    Petitions are filed by human persons, whether innocent or guilty of harm against the marriage.   Those human persons, all other facts and circumstances aside, are therefore each guilty of rebelling against at least two of the Lord’s commandments,  1 Cor. 6: 1-6, and 1 Cor. 7:10-11 if they are followers of Christ.

Further, the argument that somehow the church’s policies of obedience to 1 Cor. 7:10-11, Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Cor. 7:39, heaps guilt on  “victims of circumstances” is sinful on its face, and even worse, is based on nothing but emotions.   This behavior has been emulated to great effect by the LGBT activists in the days since, because it works, though it is desperately without merit.    Sons and daughters of the King are NEVER hapless victims.   Presuming to assume a role as their defender (apparently against taking up the cross of Christ) of such deemed “victims” thrusts church leadership into a role that God intended only for Himself.    As alluded to in the last sentence of this statement, Moses also made this error, and was rebuked by Jesus for it:  “Moses allowed you to put away your wives because of the hardness of your hearts, but from the beginning, IT WAS NOT SO!”
(We will leave aside for now the additional fact that the Mosaic divorce law applied very narrowly to the Jewish betrothal period, and never applied at all to consummated marriages – discussed fully with the next point below.) FB profile 7xtjw

 

(Point 2- The Law regulated divorce, page 4)…”The Old Testament divorce law was thus a necessary hedge against human sinfulness. The Law provided that, while the husband was the only one who could initiate divorce, he could do so only under carefully prescribed circumstances (Deuteronomy 24:1-4; cf. 22:13-19, 28,29;  Genesis 21:8-21).

The regulative nature of the Law is seen in the confrontation between Jesus and the Pharisees who erred in saying Moses commanded that a man give a certificate of divorce to his wife, thus freeing him to send her away (Matthew 19:1-9).  Jesus pointed out that Moses only permitted (epitrepō) them to divorce their wives—but even then not for “every cause” as was commonly practiced at the time (Matthew 19:3,7,8).  Jesus accurately read the divorce provisions of Deuteronomy 24:1-4 where the Hebrew is a simple sequence that does not command divorce, but simply recognizes that it happens under certain circumstances.

FB profile 7xtjw  The errors:  We shall have to take a scholarly look at each of the scriptures cited above because most have been notoriously and unfaithfully interpreted over the past 500 years.   Given the supremacy God’s design which rarely included any provision for ongoing estrangement between one-flesh spouses, however, we must take exception to the assertion that any manmade contrivance constituted a “necessary hedge” against human sinfulness.   Such notions presume an impotent, rather than omnipotent God!     The verses cited are typically quoted as “proof” that God generally provided for civil dissolution of marriage in certain circumstances.  But looked at more carefully, they are specific courses of action beyond divorce in various specific circumstances, each a unique case and course of Mosaic action.
Further, however, Jesus plainly announced in His sermon on the mount that He was thereby abrogating the Mosaic divorce law in its entirety.

Situation #1 – the unconsummated fiancée, with “some indecency“:

When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wife, and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.    Deut. 24:1-4

(the “indecency” was typically a matter of consanguinity and the rules were there due to the Hebrew dowry and bride price.   This would not have applied to a consummated marriage because of adultery, for example, occurring after the marriage.   The penalty for that offense was stoning to death, which made “divorce” a moot point.   That said, because in 6 B.C. the occupying Romans outlawed this practice throughout the empire, including in Israel and Judah, the Pharisees thought–in similar fashion to today’s Pharisees–that this law would serve as a handy compensation.   Further note:  this scripture is totally irrelevant to Christ’s commandment to be reconciled to our one-flesh covenant spouse, and to release any adultery partners to holiness. )

Situation #2 – the one-time consummation, evidencing prior lack of virginity (or false allegation thereof):

“If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then turns against her,  and charges her with shameful deeds and publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’  then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate.  The girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he turned against her;  and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, “I did not find your daughter a virgin.” But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city.  So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot divorce her all his days.    Deut. 22:13-19

This one should be self-explanatory because it is clear on its surface.   However, note again that the penalty for betraying the marriage covenant through fornication prior to marriage consummation, since it was warranted in the ketubah, or betrothal contract making the Hebrew bride-to-be legally a wife was stoning, not divorce.

Situation #3 – the unbetrothed rape victim

“If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.”    Deut. 22:28-29

We do not see the relevance of this passage to covenant marriage but see that it was included, apparently, because of its mention of “divorce”.     But while we’re on the subject,  the Hebrew root word here is “shalach” which means “send away”.    This is very different from civil divorce of today because it could be accomplished without any civil authority, unless there were extenuating circumstances such as in this instance.

Situation #4 – the repudiated concubine, cast out by the covenant wife

Without pasting in this long passage,  Genesis 21:8-21, we will simply link to it,  which is the story of Sarah sending Hagar away with her illegitimate son.   We again do not see any relevance to the point being made in the paper, but it does appear to be another usage of “shalach“.    If anything, it strengthens the inviolable and indissoluble rights of the covenant family which God mandated from the beginning.   It shows that in the case of a concubine who was a personal maid, the husband was not the only one who could “put away” or “send away”.

(Point 3 – Jesus forbade divorce as contrary to God’s will and word, page 4)…  SIFC agrees with this point in all respects, as stated.

(Point 4 – Paul forbade Christian couples to divorce….page 4)… SIFC substantially agrees with this point except for the subtle inference that there would be valid reasons to divorce a covenant spouse.   The only valid reason to seek to be severed from any spouse would be to reconcile with a covenant spouse after realizing from Christ’s and Paul’s teachings that a subsequent civil marriage was adulterous.

(Point 5 – Paul forbade Christians to take the initiative in divorce simply because their partner was an unbeliever….pages 4-5)… “While making every effort to preserve the marriage, when the unbelieving spouse was definitely unwilling to continue, the believer should not, at all costs, attempt to restrain him/her. In these cases, abandonment, by implication, may be interpreted as grounds for divorce and remarriage.”

The last statement is patently false, conflicting with many other scriptures including 1 Cor. 7:11 and 7:39 within the same passage, but expressly conflicting with the law of indissolubility of covenant marriage except by death.   Jesus bluntly stated at least three times that such a remarriage would constitute ongoing adultery per Luke 16:18; Matt. 5:32; and Matt. 19:9 (faithful texts).   Dropping the inference in this false assertion, and instead taking our direction from Jesus and Paul, it eliminates the relevance of the awkward question that would otherwise go begging in this day of adulterous cohabitation and unilateral divorce, “what happens if you are abandoned by a believing spouse”?

Point 6 – Jesus permitted a Christian to initiate a divorce when “marital unfaithfulness” was involved…..page 5)   Jesus did nothing of the sort!    Both this assertion and its alleged support is deeply problematic on many levels.  In 1957, Rev. Milton T. Wells, president of AOG’s Eastern Bible College (now Valley Forge University) wrote a scholarly book whose foreword was by none other than AOG’s General Superintendent at the time.    This book, obtained from the Flower Pentecostal Heritage archives operated by AOG, is now in the public domain and is carried in its entirety on this blog.   For an intellectually honest, faithfully rigorous, and hermeneutically-sound treatment of the arguments presented in Point 6, we refer the reader to this book, where exactly the opposite conclusions are reached.

AOG- 1973: The Greek word translated “marital unfaithfulness” in these passages is porneia,which would certainly include adultery in the context of these sayings (a pornē was a prostitute). However, porneia is a broad term for sexual immorality of various kinds, often habitual, both before and after marriage (Mark 7:21; Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:18; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

FB profile 7xtjwThis definition of “porneia”, whose Greek root, “porne” means to sell-off in the sense of commercial prostitution, is often cited by contemporary scholars as being a broadly inclusive heading of “sexual immorality”.   However, there is significant evidence from 12 different lexicons and bible dictionaries / commentaries written prior to 1850 or so, that this definition has since been manipulated by translators with an agenda to falsely include immoral acts by married persons, where it originally applied only to various acts of immorality by unmarried persons.   That’s why the older translations, including the Douay-Reims, the Geneva Bible, in addition to the King James version all translated “porneia” as “whoredom” or “fornication”, and treated it separately from adultery, as did both Jesus and Paul very consistently.   Such treatment would be consistent with the discussions above of Deuteronomy 22 and 24 passages that deal only with an unconsummated or single-consummation bride situation.   Rev. Wells was aware of this in 1957, and he discussed the same in his book.    Other than relying on untrustworthy translation, this aspect of Point 6 is purely fabricated.   FB profile 7xtjw

AOG- 1973: (Jesus did differentiate between porneia and moicheia elsewhere [Matthew 15:19; Mark 7:21] and the verb moicheuō is used in Matthew 5:32;19:9 to describe the actions of the sinful party who forces the divorce without a valid cause.)

FB profile 7xtjwThese statements are all true.   However, Jesus made it plain that there is NEVER a valid cause for divorce of a one-flesh covenant marriage under any circumstances, unlike an adulterous union in which God is not a covenant participant.    Since Jesus was clearly talking about the covenant wife it is immaterial whether she was innocent or guilty of premarital immorality.   If she was guilty, He is merely saying it wasn’t the husband who caused her to be guilty, but the time frame to “put away” such a wife has lapsed.  If she is innocent, He is saying that the husband is forcing her into probable adultery by rejecting and abandoning her, so that he’s guilty not only of his own sin, but hers as well.     In any event, He is saying that an otherwise-innocent man who marries somebody else’s discarded wife commits adultery.   In other words, the innocent spouse may not remarry without also committing ongoing adultery.   Unrepentant adultery sends people to hell.  Inexplicably, AOG appears here to be correctly stating all of the objective facts, but not reaching a conclusion that those facts objectively support.FB profile 7xtjw

 

AOG – 1973: In Matthew 5:31,32 and 19:8,9, Jesus spoke of the man’s initiative in divorcing an immoral partner. In Jewish society, normally, only the man had that legal right—though certain upper-class women, as Herodias, seem to have done so (Matthew 14:3; note that in Mark 10:11,12, Jesus warns both sexes against groundless divorces). Clearly, the spiritual principle applies for either men or women. Moreover, it should be noted that Jesus granted permission to divorce only under specific circumstances where sexual immorality was involved. He did not, however, issue a command to divorce, since such action would rule out any possibility of reconciliation…..

It is seldom, if ever, that any single passage gives all aspects of truth on any single theme. To come to an understanding of any truth, we must take the whole of what the Bible teaches, and that is the intent of this paper.”

FB profile 7xtjwJesus did indeed speak of the man’s initiative in divorcing an allegedly immoral partner, but said absolutely nothing that would condone it.    Jesus considered all covenant marriages indissoluble except by death, and not at all dissoluble by men.    The statement that divorce rules out any possibility of reconciliation is patently false and without biblical justification.   Many such couples reconcile and remarry their covenant spouse, as only this is repentance in God’s will.

It is also true that to rightly divide God’s word we must compare with the whole of what the Bible teaches, in context, with correct language translation, consideration of cultural factors, and comparison with all other scripture on the same topic.    When this is done, the faulty rendering of Matt. 5:32 and Matt. 19:9 to contrive an “exception clause” has even less support.   Where is the comparison with Luke 16:18?   Or with Malachi 2?   Or Matt. 19:6?  Or Mark 10:9?FB profile 7xtjw

 

The “Right” to Remarry

Pages 6 and 7 then launch into a 6-point attempt to recast what Jesus three times called adultery (Matt. 5:32; Matt. 19:9 and Luke 16:18 – “whoever marries one who has been put away commits [ongoing] adultery’) as biblically lawful establishment of a “new covenant” for the “innocent spouse”.     This is very odd, because if the guilty spouse cannot remarry by this logic because the marriage covenant is undissolved, neither may the other spouse, innocent or guilty, with whom the marriage covenant is also undissolved remarry.   As Rev. Wells succinctly put it:  “We know of no one-sided marriages.”     These are all the same false arguments we’ve already discredited above, until Points 5(b) and 6 which we will address here.

AOG 1973:   Point  5b, page 7: “The objection sometimes is made that two passages, Romans 7:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 7:39, specifically say a woman is bound to her husband until death; therefore, believers may not divorce or remarry short of the death of their spouse.

Romans 7:1-3—A careful examination of the context shows that Paul’s point is to illustrate the believer’s freedom from the Law. In ancient Judaism, only the husband could initiate divorce. Therefore, his wife was bound to him as long as she lived, unless, of course, he chose to divorce her. Paul’s point is to show that the believer has died to the Law and is now alive to serve in the new way of the Spirit. The passage was not intended to address the problems of divorce and  remarriage.

1 Corinthians 7:39—This verse appears to refer back to verses 8,9 which deal with those who have never married as well as with widows. So Paul is addressing widows whose husbands have passed away. The passage does not deal with the question of divorce and remarriage.  Moreover, Paul has already addressed the problem of abandonment in verse 15 and shown that “A believing man or woman is not bound [that is, free to remarry] in such circumstances.”

FB profile 7xtjw Both arguments constitute presumptions and deceitful rationalizations.   Both presume that divorce of a one-flesh covenant marriage can be accomplished, to begin with, in the courthouse of heaven, and such dissolution deemed valid there.    Jesus spoke very forcefully that this was never the case.   As we are seeing to an ever-increasing degree, civil law is one thing;  God’s law is something else entirely.

There are five “C” ‘s  involved in the principles of sound hermeneutics, and context is indeed one of them.    But it does not follow in either the case of Romans 7:2-3 or 1 Cor. 7:39 that just because Paul is using Christ’s law of marriage in an analogy about something else, that the meaning is in that case taken out of context.   It clearly is not out of context here.  Its meaning, perfectly consistent with a preponderance of other OT and NT scripture, remains completely  valid in this context by valid deductive reasoning (as contrasted with the widespread use of inductive reasoning attempted throughout this paper).   To dismissively claim that these verses “do not address divorce and remarriage” is false on its surface:

Romans 7:3   So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress.”

1 Cor. 7:39 “but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.”

Lastly,  we need to deal with the assertion that  “Paul has already addressed the problem of abandonment in verse 15 and shown that “A believing man or woman is not bound [that is, free to remarry] in such circumstances.”         The presumption, blatantly contrary to both 1 Cor. 7:11 and 39, that an abandoned spouse is “free to remarry” is underpinned by a false translation of the word “bound” in verse 15, and by inferior inductive reasoning, when the facts are present to reach the opposite conclusion via deductive reasoning .    In point 4 on page 6, this paper correctly renders this word as “douloo” meaning “not enslaved”,  but fails to note that this is not the actual word for “marriage bond” that Paul used in verse 39 and in Romans 7:2.   That Greek word is “deo“.    Unless marriage is to be deemed to be “enslavement”, and in light of the conflict with the surrounding verses, it is not scholarly to infer a right to remarry from the usage of the word “douloo“.    That would be inconsistent with the foundational principle that only death breaks the marriage covenant bond.FB profile 7xtjw

AOG 1973:   Point  6, page 7:   “Remarriage establishes a new marriage covenant.  While Scripture makes it clear that errant spouses who sinfully break their marriage covenant do commit adultery, Scripture never places such guilt on the innocent partner. Those who argue that an innocent believer continuously commits sin by living in a new marriage have not a single shred of biblical evidence. Jesus clearly assumed that those who were divorced by sinful spouses, or those who divorced sinful spouses for “marital uncleanness” or abandonment, were free to remarry without any tinge of adultery. However, believers are to remarry one who“belong[s] to the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39) and the new marriage covenant is to be permanent.”

FB profile 7xtjw  This is by far the most egregious statement in the position paper, having moved from unscholarly and misinformed  to inexcusably slanderous of God’s character in covenant.    God does not break any covenant in which He participates, nor does He enter into a duplicitous covenant at the expense of the first.    There is no evidence offered in support of this slanderous statement, because there cannot exist such evidence.    However, our previous blog addressed God’s character in covenant extensively with strong scholarly support.

The statement above that “Scripture never places such guilt on the innocent partner” is  emotionally-charged and assumes an unhelpful perspective.    While Jesus would not have sought to place “guilt” on anyone, He would bring conviction on everyone.   He meant no malice when He stated, “whoever marries one who has been put away commits [ongoing – per the present-indicative verb tense] adultery.”    He was merely stating that the marriage covenant is dissolved only by death, without exceptions.    As for the allegation that there is not a “single shred of biblical evidence…that an innocent believer continuously commits sin by living in a new marriage”,  we certainly have the Greek interlinear translations with Greek verb tense, for all three passages where Jesus made the clear statement, “whoever marries one who has been put away commits adultery“,  Matthew 19:9, Matthew 5:32 and Luke 16:18.  In each case, it’s the present-indicative form used for an ongoing state.    Rev. Wells confirms this in his book by quoting two Greek linguistic experts.    The words of Jesus repeated on three separate occasions is incontrovertible evidence to most.    Jesus spoke of the state of being eunuch for the kingdom of God right after He dismayed His disciples that they could not put away their wives for any cause, including adultery, and expect to remarry without being guilty of living in an ongoing state of adultery due to the undissolved original marriage covenant that is neither dissolved by civil divorce nor adultery nor remarriage.   There should therefore be far more concern for that innocent spouse’s soul than for their “rights” and feelings.

Anyone who has remarried adulterously, whether solemnized in church or otherwise, dare not stay in such a union or consider it permanent.   Paul stated repeatedly that unrepentant adulterers will not inherit the kingdom of God, and that God avenges the adulterous defilers of the marriage bed.    Jesus Himself said that it is better to gouge out an eye or sever a hand than miss heaven due to carnality, and made it clear that failure to forgive anyone, much less the one person on earth with whom we are one-flesh, will forfeit one’s own forgiveness by God.    James warned that teachers of the law will be held to a higher level of judgment than those they mislead.    This would certainly include those who counsel and seal people into the ongoing state of adultery by performing such weddings. FB profile 7xtjw

The remainder of the 1973 Position Paper discusses eligibility for leadership and for church offices, generally following the unscriptural standards set out above, and disagreeing that the ongoing state of remarriage adultery jeopardizes the members’ salvation.   To that extent, these positions are at odds with instructions by Paul that such office-holders maintain their own households in good order, and be the husband of one wife, since adulterously remarried partners are serial polygamists due to the indissolubility by men of their original marriage bond.

In closing, we have now had occasion to observe whether the persecution and shame brought by the desecration of civil marriage due to legalizing same-sex nuptuals by judicial fiat,  devoid of God’s redeeming intervention, would be enough to bring the church under godly sorrow, self examination and contrite repentance.    So far, this has not been the case.   In these couple of weeks the evangelical airwaves have been full of sermons drawing quite valid parallels with the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians, while citing the warnings in Deuteronomy 28, and the resulting exile, but nobody is yet willing to admit it was due to Asherah worship by heterosexuals within the church.   Nobody yet is talking about the moral purge that was carried out under the prophet Ezra that began with the shepherds of God.

We shall have to see whether the expected ascendancy of concurrent polygamists’ “rights” to further redefine civil marriage help the church to recognize its own practices sequential polygamy, and to repent, before the destruction of our nation becomes final in the Lord’s hand.   Two other societies in history, prior to contemporary times,  enacted unilateral divorce laws equivalent to those in the U.S.,  the Eastern Roman / Byzantine Empire, and Bolshevik Russia.    Both societies failed within two generations because the church failed to be the church in standing against it.

 

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

 

Revisiting The Call To Public Witness On Marriage

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by Standerinfamilycourt

It seems that in its hyperfocus on homosexual marriage, the Southern Baptist Convention has missed at least 4  opportunities in its 2015 “Call to Witness” to shore up the requisite moral authority to speak to the Supreme Court and others about the biblical definition of marriage by reaffirming its permanence.   That’s like trying to run the marathon on one leg: lots of effort, little effect and looking very silly in the attempt.  

 

2015  COLUMBUS, OHIO

WHEREAS, God in His divine wisdom created marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18–24; Matthew 19:4–6; Hebrews 13:4); and

WHEREAS, The Baptist Faith & Message (2000) recognizes the biblical definition of marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime,” stating further, “It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race”; and

WHEREAS, God ordains government to promote and honor the public good and recognize what is praiseworthy (Romans 13:3–4); and

WHEREAS, The public good requires defining and defending marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman; and

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC note:   Missed 2015 opportunity to reinforce SBC’s The Baptist Faith & Message (2000)  by reiterating that they will defend marriage as the covenanted, conjugal union of one man and one woman for life.

 

WHEREAS, Marriage is by nature a public institution that unites man and woman in the common task of bringing forth children; and

 

WHEREAS, The Supreme Court of the United States will rule in 2015 on whether states shall be required to grant legal recognition as “marriages” to same-sex partnerships; and

 

WHEREAS, The redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples will continue to weaken the institution of the natural family unit and erode the religious liberty and rights of conscience of all who remain faithful to the idea of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC note:   Missed 2015 opportunity to reinforce SBC’s The Baptist Faith & Message (2000)  by reiterating that eroding religious liberty and rights of conscience of all who remain faithful to the idea of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife for life is just as undesirable as intolerance for those who oppose homosexual unions.

 

WHEREAS, The Bible calls us to love our neighbors, including those who disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Columbus, Ohio, June 16–17, 2015, prayerfully call on the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the right of the citizens to define marriage as exclusively the union of one man and one woman; and be it further

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists recognize that no governing institution has the authority to negate or usurp God’s definition of marriage;

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC note:   Nor does any church have authority to do the same by disregarding either its complementary,  or its indissolubility and permanence.

and be it further

RESOLVED, No matter how the Supreme Court rules, the Southern Baptist Convention reaffirms its unwavering commitment to its doctrinal and public beliefs concerning marriage; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the religious liberty of individual citizens or institutions should not be infringed as a result of believing or living according to the biblical definition of marriage; and be it further

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC note:   Living according to the biblical definition of marriage includes religious liberty to assert the permanence of man-woman first marriage,  especially in the family court system of each state.

 

RESOLVED, That the Southern Baptist Convention calls on Southern Baptists and all Christians to stand firm on the Bible’s witness on the purposes of marriage, among which are to unite man and woman as one flesh and to secure the basis for the flourishing of human civilization; and be it finally

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC note: Missed 2015 opportunity to reinforce SBC’s The Baptist Faith & Message (2000)  by reiterating that among the purposes of marriage are to unite man and woman as one flesh for life in order to secure the basis for the flourishing of human civilization.

If standing firm on the Bible’s witness is important, why not:

RESOLVED, members of the Southern Baptist Convention hereby pledge to honor the permanence of holy matrimony by ceasing to perform all wedding ceremonies where either the prospective bride or groom has a living prior spouse, and to remove from ministry any pastor who knowingly performs such a ceremony?

RESOLVED, members of the Southern Baptist Convention hereby pledge to honor the permanence of holy matrimony by expending political resources and moral influence to end unilateral divorce in every state in the United States?

 

RESOLVED, That Southern Baptists love our neighbors and extend respect in Christ’s name to all people, including those who may disagree with us about the definition of marriage and the public good.

 

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC Concluding Thoughts:   It must be terrifying for Christian organizations to go up on a shoestring budget against the corporate-backed, well funded LGBT political machine.   But was Israel not in the same place, in the natural against her adversaries?   It appears the SBC is willing to play down some of its core biblical principles because it fears the loss of financial support, forgetting the God who pared down one army to only 300 so that His power would be manifest.    He urges the battle is His,  only fear Him alone and do not mock Him by violating His commandments.

Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.

Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God.
They have bowed down and fallen,
But we have risen and stood upright.
 Save, O Lord;
May the King answer us in the day we call.
– Psalm 20

 

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

What about that Samaritan Woman?

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By Standerinfamilycourt

“The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.”   He *said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”   The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus *said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;   for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”   The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet’.   – John 4:15-19

 

Marriage revisionists (remarriage apologists) in the evangelical church love to trot out the story in John 4:5-42 just at the point where they can no longer refute  context and language correction offered in rebuttal of their three or four “go-to” passages, which they insist justify remarriage while a covenant spouse is still living.  Or it comes in handy when they agree with the accurate biblical principles that irrefutably point to the indissolubility by men of the marriage covenant, but in their squeamishness of the consequence thereof, they use this story to justify their counsel that people living in the ongoing sin of remarriage adultery should remain in that sin, despite the stern warnings in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Rev. 21:8 of risk to their souls, despite the idolatry entailed, and despite the trail of unreconciled relationship carnage and legacy of generational sin in sometimes TWO covenant families.

 

“Yup, we’ve got to admit that there is no pre-20th century scholarly support for the notion that the Greek “porneia” is generalized sexual immorality, notwithstanding  our NIV bible translation to the contrary.  OK, we concede that there’s no exception in Matt. 19:9 or 5:32 that truly applies to consummated marriages.   But, Jesus never told the Samaritan woman she had to leave the man with whom she was shacking up, and be reconciled to her first husband…”

“Fine, you’ve showed us that there’s a clause that was amputated from Matthew 19:9, our favorite exception clause verse and that jettisoned clause reads, ‘whoever marries one who is put away commits adultery‘  (Just like Matt. 5:32 and the dreaded Luke 16:18 does.)   Yeah, OK,  “commits adultery” is, in all three verses, in the Greek tense indicating an ongoing state of sin, and not a one-time act.   But Jesus said the Samaritan woman had five husbands, so that proves the marriage covenant must be dissolved by remarriage…”

“OK, so the word ‘bound’ in 1 Cor. 7:15 doesn’t mean ‘marriage bond’ since douloo isn’t the same Greek word as deo, but that Samaritan woman ….”

 

Thank goodness for that Samaritan woman, that fabled woman-at-the-well, lest the cause of hyper-grace cultural relativism be set back at least 50 years in the church!     She is the coup-de-grace, the piece-de-resistance.   By way of “reality-check”, there are a number logical issues to address before the thinking person relies too heavily on the woman-at-the-well to feel eternally comfortable in an ongoing situation that Jesus, in no uncertain terms, called adulterous on at least three separate occasions.   Not only did He say so, all of his disciples’ disciples emulated Him in asserting this for the next 400 years after He went to the cross.

Without naming names or linking to their statements, let me say that it’s nothing short of amazing how many times I’ve seen some of the most disciplined theological minds today,  even those  who have written authoritative papers on the indissolubility of the original covenant marriage bond, fall back on this old saw simply because they feel squeamish about telling somebody who is civilly wed to someone else’s one-flesh covenant spouse that repenting of their ongoing state of adultery must be accomplished by severing the immoral relationship.    Freeing that spouse to recover their inheritance in the kingdom of God (by either remaining celibate or reconciling with their rightful spouse) seems too sinful.    After writing the scriptural truth with solid integrity and sound hermeneutics, they will then avoid bringing that truth to its only fitting outcome, and instead lapse into slovenly inference when discussing that Samaritan woman.

 

So, here are the top five reasons this S-W-A-W’s water jug of purported remarriage justification doesn’t actually hold water:

5.  There are husbands, and there are “husbands“.

The Greek word for “husband” in John 4: 16-18 varies slightly by verse.   Revisionists like to claim that Jesus recognized these remarriages as valid because He allegedly used the word “husband”.    Maybe so, maybe not so much.

4:16  Go call your [andra] ἄνδρα …”   Root word, aner, which is translated “man; male human being”.   It is used interchangeably for both “man” and “husband” in 31 occurrences in the New Testament, but there are several additional Hebrew words that refer more specifically to a lawful male spouse which Jesus did not choose in this conversation.  Keep in mind, He was probably addressing the woman in either Aramaic or Hebrew, and this was then translated into the Greek text that is the basis for our English bible.

4:17  “The woman answered and said, “I have no [andra] ἄνδρα .” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no [andra] ἄνδρα ’;

4:18  “for you have had five [andras] ἄνδρας, and the one whom you now have is not your [aner] ἀνήρ; this you have said truly.”

Strangely, the last usage where Jesus was referring in verse 18 to her partner in cohabitation “is not your husband [aner] ”  is the least specific to the married state, while at the same time referring to the married state.    Among the several words for “husband” or “male companion” in Hebrew that Jesus likely used one or more of in His 4:18 response to this woman when she said she had no husband:   Strongs 376 (eesh / isha) אִישָׁ֔הּ ,  Strongs 582 (enosh) אֱנוֹשׁ ,  Strongs 113 (adon)  אָדֹן ,  Strongs 1167 (ba-al / ba-lah)   בַּ֫עַל  .

 

Just as we have translation issues from Greek to English, there’s no doubt we have the same sort of translation issues from Hebrew or Aramaic to Greek.   True to the “Content” law of hermeneutics, it is just as important to accurate scripture interpretation / application to explore why an alternative synonym was NOT used, as it is to correctly translate the word that WAS used.    Wasn’t Jesus, after all, merely acknowledging the gaping chasm between Mosaic civil law and God’s law, even if He did actually use a consistent Hebrew or Aramaic word for civil marriage partner?

 

4.  Mention of a circumstance or situation does not logically equate to condoning it.   Nor does silence on a matter logically support pure inference.

This is the classic “David-and-Bathsheba” fallacy.   (More recently, it’s the specious  “gay’s OK” argument.)    People seeking to justify sin by shifting the focus off of what Jesus actually said usually try to point to scriptural mention of some vice, typically polygamy or some instance of adultery that prospered to some degree.    Bathsheba’s son became a mighty, wise and wealthy king.    Jacob and David both had multiple wives and concubines and the Lord prospered them.    Jesus is never recorded in any of the gospels as speaking against homosexuality .   So  it must stand to reason that because the author of the book of John didn’t record Jesus as telling this woman the obvious, that she was living in either fornication or adultery, trying to plug a hole in her heart that only Jesus could fill, then adultery must not be all that bad, nor ongoing, if she’s in a “loving, commited relationship”.   (Sound familiar?)   Since He wasn’t recorded as telling her she must leave this man and reconcile with her unique one-flesh covenant husband who had apparently divorced her under Mosaic law, or was deceased, then adultery or civil divorce must dissolve our marriage covenant with God and with our rightful spouse.

Those who try to make this argument are presumptuously overlooking many things.   First, is it not far more reasonable, based on a host of corroborating evidence, including what Jesus consistently said in like situations, to fill the silence on this with the presumption that He did tell her “go and sin no more”,  as He did with the woman taken in the act of adultery?   After all, the Samaritan woman readily admitted her adultery.    Second, Jesus was all-knowing, which was the whole point of this story in the first place.   Is it not perfectly reasonable that as He took His deep look into her soul He already saw that she had reached a point of conviction over her sin so that it was not necessary for Him to voice it?    Didn’t the living water make the immoral relationship redundant in her own heart?    Jesus also didn’t dress her down for any number of other sins He likewise mentions in Matthew 5, such as gossip and slander.  By that same logic are those things OK for us today?

 

3.  The rough circumstances of this woman’s life reflected the very Mosaic law that Jesus was poised to abrogate in Matt. 5:31-32.

It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Moses originally allowed men to divorce a bride via a “bill of divorcement” that then annulled the ketubah the binding Hebrew contract of betrothal if “some uncleanness” was found in her.   He further said that in such circumstances the man could never remarry her if she had subsequently remarried.    Jesus pointed out the hardheartedness of the Hebrew men that caused them to subsequently expand this permission into a “commandment” and extend the “grounds” well beyond the wedding night over the ensuing centuries, until the prophet Malachi rebuked them in no uncertain terms and bluntly told them that God was refusing fellowship with them because He was standing as a witness in covenant with the wife of their youth.    Jesus further rebuked this practice by saying,  “unless your righteousness exceeds that of Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”    He took them back to the garden scene in Genesis 2:24 and reminded them that a man leaves his father and mother (not his covenant one-flesh wife) and is inseparably joined to the wife of his youth.

So, this woman had experienced some combination of multiple divorce under Mosaic law, and (possibly) widowhood.  So exactly as Jesus stated in Matthew 5, with few opportunities to support herself, she was either forced to commit adultery, or had been found not to be a virgin during the betrothal.   Because of the Mosaic law which Jesus had come invalidate, she was foreclosed by the traditions of Hebrew society from any chance of reconciliation with the man with whom God had once supernaturally made her one-flesh.   Presuming he was not deceased,  the abrogation of the Mosaic law cleared away that prohibition.    Regardless of what happened after that, the weight of context of everything else Jesus taught about the absolute indissolubility of the marriage bond makes it far more reasonable to infer that her civil marriages lacked God’s participation and sanction, just as remarriage does today while an estranged original spouse is still living.

 

 

2.  Speaking of laws, why do the basic laws of hermeneutics always get suspended every time somebody’s sexual license is at stake?

We have a wonderful pastor at our Assembly of God fellowship.  He  is passionate about discipleship and passionate that people in our congregation learn the basics of rightly dividing the word of God so that they become discerning of false teaching that would lead them off course.   In a recent sermon series, he taught the five basic “C’s” or principles of hermeneutics:

(1) Content – which depends on confirming the accurate translation of the text, as well as what is described
(2)  Context –  the immediate setting or backdrop against which whatever is going on in the verse(s) unfolds
(3) Culture – the broader backdrop of customs and history
(4)  Comparison – is there a vast body of scripture against which the verse can be validly compared?   Has it also been tested against the five “C’s” ?   Does the popular or the offered interpretation of the verse conflict with the larger body of scripture, or is it in harmony?
(5) Consultation – what do the scholars say?   Caveat:  if it’s a topic involving sexual morality, it is best to make sure some of that consultation is with commentary that pre-dates 1850 when the marriage revisionists began to undertake writing lexicons and commentaries and translating bibles.   Further caveat:  make sure you know who those authors were as disciples of Christ (or not).  Some of them have very colorful backgrounds.   Know about two historical individuals in particular who wrote rogue commentaries of 1 Cor. 7:  Ambrosiaster (4th century A.D.) and his protégé, Desiderius Erasmus (16th century A.D.)  who heavily influenced this aspect of the Protestant Reformation.

As “standerinfamilycourt” has demonstrated above, once the five “C’s” are applied to this liberal interpretation of the woman-at-the-well story, it becomes readily apparent that several of the rules of sound hermeneutics have been suspended, and sometimes by highly-credentialed theologians.

Specifically,  reason 5  above exposes the imprecise translation of the word andra as “husband”  which fails in the principle of Content
– 
reason 4 above shows failure in the principle of
Comparison
– 
reason 3 above exposes imprecision in two principles,
Context
and Culture.
– 
reason 1 below exposes failure in a SIXTH   “C” – Common Sense!

 

1.  Will we REALLY accuse the Master of approving the continuation of an immoral cohabitation arrangement?  Really?

Does the surface absurdity of saying “Jesus never told the woman to leave her present relationship”  actually require any elaboration?   OK, here it is:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’;  but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.”    – Matt. 5:27-30

In recent days I’ve read the words of more than one prominent theologian saying (presumably, with a straight face) that Jesus’ words were only hyperbole.   Paul clearly didn’t think they were mere “hyperbole” when he penned 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Hebrews 13:4 to the body of believers.   I dare them to utter the word “hyperbole” to Jesus’ face as they are explaining why they performed “x” number of wedding ceremonies that sealed people in ongoing adultery when they had the credentials to know better.

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

 

 

Courts and Religious Freedom Dichotomy: Coincidence or “God-incidence”?

FlagDecl_Bibleby Standerinfamilycourt

“The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower…. he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.

 “So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you….The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,  a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.”  – Deuteronomy 28:43-45, 49

 

 

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.   And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.   But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? ….You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?   For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” just as it is written. 
– Romans 1:28-32

 

[UPDATE:  On July 14, 2015 the 10th Federal Circuit ruled against an injunction protecting the non-profit Little Sisters of the Poor from the HHS mandate to provide abortifacients and birth control to employees against their 1st Amendment right to free religious exercise, while on July 17, 2015 a judge in Federal district court, in he 7th Circuit reached the opposite result and granted a permanent injunction to for-profit Tyndale House Publishers.]

 

One week after the cataclysmic 5-4 pronouncement of the U.S. Supreme Court in Obergefell v Hodges, a poignant reminder of a very different sort of religious freedom pronouncement came up in SIFC’s i-phone, as decided by all the same SCOTUS justices only a year ago, June, 2014.   Obergefell held that a newly-minted 14th Amendment fundamental right to redefine civil marriage, and to state-enforced “dignity” (which nevertheless remains a perception of the heart, mind and will as reflected against the backdrop of God’s law) shall supercede the very first fundamental right enumerated in the Bill of Rights,  our irreplaceable freedom of religious exercise and of acting on our right of conscience.   Unlike Obergefell,  that 5-4 majority based their finding on sound constitutional analysis, with appropriate respect for precedent.   That 2014 case was Burwell v Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

The Becket Fund, a public interest religious freedom law firm that successfully represented Hobby Lobby before the Supreme Court last year has also enjoyed a long list of judicial successes affirming Christian-owned profit and non-profit entities who object to the requirements in the Obamacare mandate to provide birth control and abortifacient drugs to their employees.    In so doing, they are upholding a “non-negotiable” in the kingdom of God that dates back to the days immediately following the days of Noah’s flood.    God promised with a rainbow reminder to never again wipe out all life on the earth in a single event, no matter how vile and wicked man became again.   He laid down one expectation, however:  honor life.

Of the dozens of HHS mandate cases filed by religious non-profit organizations and Christian-owned for-profit firms, there have been 28 successful injunction requests to bar enforcement versus only 6 cases denied, and 6 favorable Supreme Court orders resulting directly from the Hobby Lobby ruling.    In the case of a similar number of for-profit firms, there have been 8 temporary injunctions and 39 permanent injunctions granted, versus only one denial.

becketfundHHScases

 

By contrast, the same pro-family, religious freedom Christian law firms, such as Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defending Freedom, who were so successfully defending their clients’ honor of life issues in court, were at the same time losing virtually every case in every state and Federal Circuit where they attempted to uphold only half of God’s definition of marriage – complementarity, but not permanence.   Sanctity-of-marriage is God’s second “non-negotiable“, one that He expects to be defended from far more than only the gender-confused.

Some of the judges in those cases bluntly pointed out the brazen hypocrisy of attempted sanctity-of-marriage arguments which  centered around the welfare of the children, but in the face of those states’ unilateral divorce laws which ruthlessly subjugate the rights of the children of covenant marriages to the (apparently) “compelling” state interest of sexual autonomy for the petitioning parent.   For example, Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th U.S. Circuit, in Latta v Otter eloquently opined:

“If defendants really wished to ensure that as many children as possible had married parents, they would do well to rescind the right  to no-fault divorce, or to divorce altogether. Neither has done so. Such reforms might face constitutional difficulties of their own, but they would at least further the states’ asserted interest in solidifying marriage.”

 

In fact, several of these public interest legal firms who have in their mission statements expressed sanctity-of-marriage and religious freedom-of-conscience aspirations told  SIFC in May, 2013  that the punitive confiscation of retirement funds from a non-offending Christian spouse to award to the offending petitioner as a result of an unwanted marriage dissolution was only an “incidental” religious freedom burden.   The severe curtailment on technical grounds of the right to bring evidence in a dissipation of marital assets claim (that would otherwise defend against such confiscation) solely because of refusing to file one’s own petition based on biblical conviction was not an unconstitutional violation of freedom of conscience.    Constitutional attorneys from a firm which regularly works for these legal ministries, once they were retained with SIFC’s personal funds, resoundingly disagreed with their assessment, and have filed her appeal accordingly.

What is even more uncanny as the marriage redefinition cases unfolded, is the unsoundness of the legal reasoning on which those cases were decided, especially the Obergefell decision.    The favorable hand of God in the HHS cases was nowhere to be seen in the cases that would further desecrate marriage and bring fines and penalties to hundreds of Christian businesses in wedding-related goods, services and facilities.    If marriage is a sacred symbol for the relationship between Christ and His church, where was the protective hand of God in those cases?    Why was the situation so out of hand that two Justices who were performing these sodomy ceremonies and making biased personal statements before the oral arguments were even heard, were not strongly compelled to recuse themselves for the sake of retaining confidence in the integrity of the Court?

Like the harlot of the Book of Proverbs who eats and wipes her mouth, declaring she has done nothing wrong, the aftermath of the SCOTUS announcement shows a defiant, rather than a reflective and repentant mood among the nation’s most influential Christian evangelical leaders.   Some even got into unseemly skirmishes with each other on the battlefield of their respective blogs and facebook pages.    There is much talk of civil disobedience, of church leaders going to jail rather than follow a Federally / judicially-imposed national marriage law.    There are state efforts to cease issuing marriage licenses to anyone.   Nobody seems to even miss the conspicuous absence of the Most High so soon after His stunning presence in defeating the HHS mandate over the same 12 month period.    Only a few are speaking publicly about the connection with unilateral divorce, and none are doing so with a view toward reforming or repealing these laws in order to fundamentally, rather than superficially, rebuild a culture of marriage.

Instead of any sign of contrition on the part of evangelical leaders in the week that has followed the Court’s announcement, in the form of a pledge to stop performing weddings where there is an estranged living spouse, or to work toward reform or repeal of unilateral divorce laws,  all the talk was about circling the wagons around all marriages (whether covenant, or adulterous remarriages) to discourage future divorces, and to “educate young people to choose their spouses with more discernment”.    (SIFC suggests they start with the most basic counsel:  don’t marry somebody else’s spouse!)

Any suggestion is ignored or rebuffed that a real dilemma looms wherein pastors will find themselves counseling “married” homosexuals differently than those suffering the corruption reaped from their own flesh due to being in civil marriages whose roots were adulterous.    Meanwhile, churches are bracing for a likely loss of tax exemptions and liability insurance, while perhaps not even understanding that a future of vandalism and harassment also awaits their events.   Such was carried out in the past in various states by activists against congregations that continue to teach that homosexuality is immoral.    In the UK, Canada, and several other countries, it has become illegal “hate speech” to read certain scriptures from a standard bible behind the pulpit.    How will a church or denomination that couldn’t even withstand the “persecution” of people going down the street in order to defend the sanctity of biblical, covenant heterosexual marriage stand when unprecedented TRUE persecution ramps up?

Where was the Lord in 2013 when SCOTUS was formulating their decisions in the cases of Hollingsworth v Perry and United States v Windsor?    Many fasted and prayed fervently for His intervention that would have prevented trampling of our Constitution that followed, and also prevented so much suffering for His servants running wedding industry businesses.   Why didn’t that sway the Most High?   Why did He instead choose to show Himself mighty in the Hobby Lobby case?   Could it be that He was having a very hard time getting the attention of His shepherds, and was determined to keep trying?

SIFC is personally thankful for some of the precedents that came out of the various marriage redefinition rulings in the lower courts.   Even when the Lord sent Judah and Israel, the apple of His eye, into captivity, He continued to prosper His people until they repented.   He used the resources of her enemies and even urged the people to pray for the prosperity of Babylon while they were exiles in that land.    The Lord shows Himself mightiest when He even goes so far as to turn the  enemy’s own weapons back on the enemy.    May it be so here, in Jesus’ name. 

 

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!

www.standerinfamilycourt.com