“I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Matt. 16:19
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2: 5-6
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9-10
It was exactly a year ago that the events of 2013-2014 had me thinking about All Saints Day in a way I never had before. There had been a startling and shocking rise in martyrdom abroad. The Vatican had just concluded Installment 1 of their Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, with the alarming news that the Vatican was seriously considering changing 2,000 years of marriage doctrine to emulate an apostate aspect of the Protestant Church — with no apparent regard to the resulting societal degradation, nor awareness of discipline of the Lord’s hand coming to bear on her rebellious cousin in consequence of the same.
With my fledgling blog and Facebook pages, this Pentecostal believer had been slowly forging alliances with traditional family champions and organizations, a disproportionate number of whom were Roman Catholics. I had just come through Round 1 with the family court system / Sexual Revolution Enforcement, which left me feeling like a bit of a religious martyr myself ahead of the pending constitutional appeal of the retaliatory decree. I felt the urge to capture these events in an early blog, not even realizing that the year 2015 would unfold so very many significant related events that would be very much of a reprise of the prior year. And so, here we are, still even more threatened by the twin terrors that overhang our nation: sexual anarchy and militant Islam, and wondering if there will be a Great Awakening, or instead, the sealing of God’s judgment.
The Lord had considerably more to walk this covenant marriage stander through in the months following this post. The original thought was to use the blog and Facebook page to write about my journey through the family court system and appeal process, through the lens of faith in Jesus Christ and the lens of what the word of God has to say about the indissolubility of covenant marriage. I hoped to inform anyone interested of the many ways in which unilateral divorce laws deny basic fundamental rights protected by our Constitution for all other citizens except “Respondents” to a so-called no-fault petition. Little did I realize that this effort would soon put me in contact with a treasured network of accomplished bible scholars and church historians, right within the community of covenant marriage standers, who would bring so much richness to my task, and transform the direction of these pages in a way that was much bigger than my limited vision, to bridge between the national, political pro-family network and the geographically-dispersed community of standers, two groups who may never have become aware of their common journey, or even aware of each other’s existence otherwise. I can’t begin to describe the awe that comes with feeling the Lord’s hand in orchestration of an assignment, and the providence that unfolds for it to be advanced. I can only sing His praises for it.
In the early months of 2015, I was introduced to the ante-Nicene church fathers, and would find out that for the 400 years after Jesus went to the cross, every one of them articulated in his own way, what prior to this I only knew through scripture and personal Holy Spirit revelation, that man had no power or authority to dissolve a marriage covenant, nor unjoin what God had joined short of death.
I learned hermeneutic, historical and cultural facts that, for the first time in my long walk with the Lord, caused the scriptures on marriage to finally hold together, rather than contradict each other.
I learned much more about the forces and activities involved in the Reformation’s handling of marriage doctrine, including motives and mechanisms that impacted the way scripture came down to us.
I learned about the church wolves who co-opted and countermanded the teachings of Jesus they deemed to be too harsh. In the process, I learned some appalling facts about the dark side of the character of some of the Reformers, and I learned the history, circumstances and effects of fraudulently handing marriage over to the civil (state) authorities in order to obtain access to dissolution proclamations denied by the Church of Jesus Christ.
In the process, I resolved all lingering doubt in my mind that unrepentant rebellion against God, in marrying another person while a covenant spouse is alive, will cost a person their inheritance in the kingdom of God. In other words, 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21 is most certainly talking about this kind of adulterer. In fact, I realized that this type of adulterer is the only type Jesus is ever recorded in the gospels as defining, and that He warned about this soul-corrupting sin on three different occasions, in a way that leaves me wondering how anyone could possibly wager their eternity on an “exception clause” called fornication (misconstrued, “adultery”).
The news that came down in early September from the Vatican removed all doubt that the Roman Catholic Church was casting about for a way to shore up membership by joining its Protestant counterparts in betraying Christ’s teaching on the absolute indissolubility of sacramental covenant marriage. Since Pope Innocent III in the 12th century, the mechanism for doing so had been “annulment”, i.e. the outright denial that the events Jesus describes in Matthew 19:5-6 and Mark 10:8-9 have actually occurred between a biblically-eligible husband and covenant wife who, sometimes many years and children earlier, had repeated vows before God and (sometimes), a priest. In what Pope Francis has dubbed “the year of mercy”, this initiative speeds up the denial of covenant process and makes it cost-free at the sole discretion of a local bishop. Obviously, with inheritance in the kingdom of God at stake, one has to question how truly “merciful” this approach is, but making what is portrayed as an “administrative enhancement” was observed by commentators as aimed at taking the pressure off the twin proposal to administer communion to remarried adulterers. That seemed fine with a majority of the Western prelates, but SIFC was thanking God for the spirited opposition of the African church fathers to abandoning the sanctity of marriage in this fashion.
This past year, of course, also brought the constitutionally-jarring Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v Hodges on June 26, 2015, and along with it, an opportunity to observe the response of both the Protestant and Catholic Churches, particularly with regard to any signs of introspection, not just the predictable denouncement of the 50-state imposition of sodomized marriage over the democratic will of the super-majorities in numerous states. It should be noted that the “mercy” proposals of the RCC included the same embrace of “married” or “committed” sodomists as well as “married” adulterers. For now it appears that this latter proposal failed in the 2015 Synod completely, and opposition from the Pope was unequivocal. This essentially puts the Catholic and Protestant churches on the same page — tolerating legalized adultery, but vocally rejecting recognition of legalized sodomy. To be sure, there have been some glimmers of introspection concerning accommodation of so-called no fault (unilateral) divorce start to hit the evangelical blogosphere, along with some non-cleric Catholic voices urging a challenge of the religious freedom infringements, but nothing of substance so far. There also does not appear to be much evidence that the “Marriage Pledge” advocated a year ago by First Things Magazine is being implemented, whereby more than 800 clergy of all traditions vowed to stop signing civil marriage licenses if same-sex marriage was imposed by the courts.
In this past year, SIFC also learned to critically question her NIV and NAS bibles, and (thankfully) how to hold them up to the various online tools of detection and scrutiny. I learned that part of the need for this actually had roots in the Reformation and also in the backlash against the Reformation. Once again, this provided the missing puzzle piece for my prior (externally-imposed) fog of why the two or three most commonly relied-upon marriage scriptures didn’t seem to line up with the vast body of the remaining scriptures. My eyes were opened up to incredible facts about how ancient bible manuscripts were chosen and the variations those choices caused in consequence of faithfulness to the original teachings of Jesus and the Apostles.
(photo and downloadable PDF by Sharon Henry)
Since the King James Version has never been for me very conducive to undistracted personal bible study, it was a relief to learn that there is now a contemporary bible translation available, and actually downloadable free-of-charge in PDF version which is translated from faithful manuscripts by a qualified born-again translator, Dr. Wilbur Pickering’s New Testament, called Sovereign Creator Has Spoken (2013).
Of course, the basic tenet of the Reformation, that we are saved by grace alone, by faith in Jesus Christ alone (justification) has also come into sharper focus for me during this unexpected 2015 journey. It did not take long to determine several years ago that heresies tend to pair off, and the heresy that there are “biblical grounds” to marry someone else’s spouse or marry an eligible person following man’s divorce on certain grounds was usually justified with the corollary that even if Jesus really meant what He said about this being adultery, Jesus died for all sins, “yesterday, today and tomorrow”, the idea of physical repentance from remarriage adultery was therefore “legalism” and “salvation by works”. SIFC certainly agrees that Jesus died for our sins of yesterday, and for our nonwillful, unconfessed sins of today, but the tomorrow part has always been a bit problematic. Always before, I resolved it by what the Lord responded back to me in times of prayer and fasting: that a clearly-regenerated (born again) soul can walk away from their salvation, but the fact that they are sealed with the Holy Spirit as a deposit makes that hard — and the Lord pursues hard. Seemingly on an unrelated note, I couldn’t help but notice in certain conversations I observed standers having online with theologians, any mention of the Hebrew betrothal analogy in general, and Mary and Joseph’s betrothal in particular, were summarily dismissed and rebuffed. Usually this was in the context of the running dispute over whether the Greek “porneia” in the presumed Matthean exception clause was to be rendered “whoredom / fornication”, or “sexual immorality”, thereby including post-wedding adultery and (although this rendering still contorts the sentence structure of both Matt. 5:32 and Matt. 19:9), justifying a claim that the marriage covenant is dissolved with Christ’s “authority”. By the same reasoning, then, the OSAS crowd must accept that Christ can therefore divorce us and marry another, but in bizarre fashion, some of them actually make this very same argument against themselves!
Then I had an opportunity to read Casey Whitaker’s “Have Ye Not Read?” – Chapter 10, and struck upon a much deeper insight about Paul’s admonition to “finish the race”. Marriage forms the basis for analogy for our walk with the Lord in so many different aspects, and I believe it does so uniformly when indissolubility is embraced by the believer as well.
Is the marriage supper of the Lamb not in heaven? Is it therefore in the future? Do we not have to actually show up for it? Can we be walking (or running) in the opposite direction and expect to arrive there properly attired and equipped before we run out of time?
“The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son…. But when the king came in to look over the dinner guests, he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes, and he *said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?’ And the man was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matt. 22: 2, 11-14
Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Matthew 25: 1-13
These two parables, of course, like so much of Matthew’s gospel make sense only in the context of the Hebrew betrothal. Christ died for our justification, enabling but not guaranteeing our sanctification.
Finally, there has been much discussion lately whether the Counter-Reformation continues, and in similar vein, whether the Reformation is itself now under reformation. The last 15 minutes or so of the video linked above addresses this more authoritatively than SIFC could, including the connections with the Emergent Church, with the Jesuit challenges, and with the push toward ecumenism. All of these things have unmistakable ties to the prophecy of Daniel, and to that in Revelation. Given the fulfillment of the prophesied recent events in the Middle East and given Russia’s renewed involvement, given the push by Pope Francis, who is indeed the first Jesuit pope, while recently in the U.S. to meet with representatives of non-Christian religions, and given the documentation of plans originating in the late 19th century exposed in A. Ralph Epperson’s 1989 book concerning the New World Order, SIFC’s pope-watching has begun in earnest. Yet at the same time, the backlash has also been noticeably ramping up from those who say there will be no Rapture of the church, and that all prophecies were fulfilled by A.D. 70. In general, these are evangelical leaders who want the current system of entrenched institutional serial polygamy to continue, and for whom the culture war is an ideology of politics dressed in piety far more than it is truthfully contending for the kingdom of God.
We shall see what 2016 brings, especially in terms of the scheduled change in leadership for the United States.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!