Category Archives: Connection of Unilateral Divorce to SSM

Purity For Thee, But Not For We: A Stander’s Response To The Nashville Statement

by Standerinfamilycourt

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?   Or how can you say to your brother,  “Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye”, when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.  – Luke 6:41-42

The commentary on this verse in one of SIFC’s study bibles is quite interesting:  “Even a speck in the eye is very uncomfortable, making it hard to use that eye.   An eye with a plank would be useless, totally blind, so in effect, Jesus is repeating the question, ‘can a blind man guide?’   On the other hand, a plank is so large that one can grab it and remove it without sight.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of blind teachers who don’t think they are, and they do untold damage to their students.”
– Dr. Wilbur Pickering,  The Sovereign Creator Has Spoken (2013)

What a perfect analogy for the major shortcoming of the Nashville Statement and its sponsors!    This document uses a catchall preamble and Articles 1 through 3 to set context and give brief mention to a few other sexual ethics issues, but from there it gets right down to the business of taking dead aim, with the remaining 11 articles, at all of the ever-cascading horrors of homosexualism which seem to worsen with each dizzying new year.   Meanwhile,  Article 1 is the last mention of any other dimension of the full definition of marriage that Jesus gave in Matthew 19:4-6 / Mark 10:5-9, including any implications from the fact that holy matrimony is not only complementarian, but also that it is indissoluble by any acts of men other than death.    To its credit, Article 1 states that the marriage covenant is “lifelong”.    Since most remarriage adulterers at least hope for that, this bland statement does not unduly offend that camp, so long as it is not elaborated upon too closely.

Hence, the Nashville Statement declares war on homosexual practice while leaving the far more pervasive abomination of remarriage adultery / consecutive polygamy essentially ungrazed.    This comes to a head, in particular, in Article 10, where it quite rightly declares that giving approval to homosexual practice constitutes an “essential departure from Christian faithfulness and witness”, and that this is a matter in which there is no room for “moral indifference” or to “agree to disagree”.   Notably, this manifesto quite wrongly omits from Article 10 the abomination Jesus spent an enormous portion of His time condemning:   the use of man’s courts and immoral laws to secure a purported “dissolution”, and mocking God-joined holy matrimony by “remarrying” while having a living, estranged spouse.    Jesus may have addressed homosexual practice in similar terms as He explicitly addressed consecutive polygamy, but there is no canonized record of it, where the record on legalized adultery is repetitive and irrefutable.    Naturally, the obvious resulting hypocrisy is not sitting well with several constituencies on both the Left and the Right.    

As noted in the blog post a couple of days ago, not many members of the covenant marriage stander community have engaged much in responses to this latest conservative evangelical manifesto on sexual ethics released this past week seeking signers and supporters.    However, the activity between various church, parachurch and family policy organizations has been all-consuming on social media even with the backdrop of the flood recovery still underway in Texas.     Opposition from Leftist clergy has also been brisk, as one might expect.     Judging by the volume of rebuttal, there does seem to be a fair amount of concern from opponents that cultural traction might be gained this time, where several other very similar initiatives got the flurry of initial press, then fizzled out, such as the Manhattan Declaration (2009) and The Marriage Pledge (2014). The social media response to the Nashville Statement  is reminiscent of the 40 Questions blog on homosexuality put out by The Gospel Coalition in 2015.   Predictably, everybody and their dog is busy drafting their own version of the fourteen Affirm / Deny statements to get their particular “spin” in.

Here is the background on the sponsoring organization, The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, which states their mission as…”to set forth the teachings of the Bible about the complementary differences between men and women, created equally in the image of God, because these teachings are essential for obedience to Scripture and for the health of the family and the church. ”     According to the group’s website, CBMW has been in operation since 1987, when a meeting in Dallas, Texas, brought together a number of evangelical leaders and scholars, including John Piper, Wayne Grudem, Wayne House, Dorothy Patterson, James Borland, Susan Foh, and Ken Sarles.    They have partnered with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention for this particular initiative.

Currently on the board of CBMW:

Dr. Daniel L. Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, who also has a pastoral background.

Dr. Jason Duesing, Provost of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.



Dr. Denny Burk is the current President of CMBW. He also serves as a Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He blogs at DennyBurk.com.

To summarize, all of these board members hail from either Baptist / Calvinist or Reformed backgrounds which adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith, whose marriage provisions contain the extrabiblical heresy that divorce and remarriage is permissible for the “biblical grounds” of adultery and abandonment.  It would stand to reason that there would be a blind spot, additionally, due to the biblically-unsupported belief that disobeying Christ’s prohibition against marrying a second, third, fourth, etc. spouse while one has a living, estranged original spouse will not actually result in possibly dying in that state and, (as a consequence) going to hell as an unrepented adulterer as 1 Cor. 6:9-10 and Gal. 5:19-21 state.    Most theologians of this persuasion teach that the worst that can happen is “loss of rewards”, and this does not merit refusing to perform a wedding over the already-married-for-life,  nor the “breaking up of another marriage” (selectively applied to heterosexuals, of course).    We can likely expect each of these leaders to be firmly of the “repent in your heart” persuasion if there are adulterous remarriages that somehow fall outside the man-made liberal allowances of the WCOF.     In other words, all heterosexual “marriages” can be deemed to be “sanctified” even if Jesus did declare them to be continuously adulterous on numerous occasions reflected in scripture.

By contrast, the earlier Manhattan Declaration was a project of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian World View, and a reaction to early legalization of homosexual “marriage” in Iowa and California, as well as the stacking of the Federal courts across the country by former POTUS Barack Obama with LGBT-sympathetic judges.    It had the broad strength of some godly input from a Catholic law professor,  Dr. Robert George, and hence, a much stronger statement about the permanence of heterosexual marriage.   It eventually garnered over half a million signers, but perhaps due to Chuck Colson’s untimely death, and perhaps due to failure to raise significant donations, that initiative faded after a handful of years, during which time, significant political and ecclesiastical ground was lost.   The Marriage Pledge was an Anglican effort five years later that garnered about 800 signatures of ecumenical clergy who pledged to cease acting as an agent of the civil state to sign marriage licenses, many of those Pledge signatures coming after the Obergefell U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual “marriage” in June, 2015.     Sadly, what  could have been a wonderful opportunity to bolster heterosexual marriage by effectively taking it back into the church (undoing the colossal damage inflicted by Luther and other Reformers) was missed, as this very worthy initiative also sputtered out shortly thereafter.   It wound up playing out as a brief ecclesiastical temper tantrum, as sodomous weddings were indeed legalized in every state, but the appetite for actually implementing the Marriage Pledge waned, probably because the purifying implications for heterosexual weddings finally dawned on its promoters.    At the present time, the website for the Nashville Statement isn’t disclosing the overall tally of signers, so uptake isn’t able to be monitored.

Because of all of the above, “standerinfamilycourt” reflected for several days before finally deciding to sign, at the same time personally resolving that there would be no money donated until and unless Article 10 is amended to include remarriage after divorce.     Despite the apparent futility of such a request in this particular circle of promoters, a letter to this effect will be written to this board, praising what they got right, and explaining the consequences of the portion they’ve gotten wrong.    At this time, they are surely hearing from seminarians and activists in the liberal wing of the church.   When this initiative fails as the weakest of the three, and as all the prior efforts have failed,  it would be a real shame for these liberal-ish seminarians to falsely conclude that their document was not liberal enough!   As the grip of homofascism  tightens ever harder on the throat of the church, it never hurts to have planted such a truth-seed, and built such a bridge for when the breaking point finally comes.    The Lord began the process several years ago of doing whatever it takes to get the attention of His wayward shepherds before exacting final judgment on the land.    (A suggested letter text is offered at the end of this blog post for anyone who would like to do join SIFC in the correspondence effort.)

Denny Burk’s August 29 blog concerning Article 10 reads a bit myopically:   “Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise.”    ( In that case, Dr. Burk, why doesn’t Article 10 also condemn what Christ called ongoing adultery, not once, but five times?    Do not both sins send people to hell equally? )    These gentlemen would mostly say “no” to this, because Christ apparently died for our premeditated future sins.

Why the Nashville Statement now, and what about article 10?

As a practical matter, Article 10 will only be an effective “line in the sand” if the organization can raise the funds to make it so, by paying for media, conferences, political sponsorship, legal defense and the like.   Signatures don’t necessarily translate into wherewithal, as the Manhattan Declaration demonstrated.   Massive amounts of money pour into the coffers of the LGBT advocacy organizations that the conservative groups have never been able to match.    Indeed, in 2009, Dr. George established a political fund-raising organization, American Principles Project, based on that important lesson-learned.    At this point, SIFC does not recommend that the marriage permanence community donate to this organization, either, because they currently are hyperfocused on issues like homosexualism and its religious liberty fallout,  while remaining completely insensitive to the much more longsuffering, numerous and original religious liberty victims of the Sexual Revolution:  “Respondents” to civil unilateral divorce petitions.   This organization is an additional one that SIFC would recommend corresponding with and building a similar bridge for the appointed time.

SIFC is not a fan of cut-and-paste advocacy letters, and doesn’t really know the first thing about whether or not they actually work in practice.     That said, a “template” can be very helpful as a starting point from which to lay out basic facts then add thoughts from the individual heart.     It is in this spirit that I share my intended correspondence with these two groups.



 EXAMPLE LETTER TO CMBW :

Dr. Denny Burk & Directors


CBMW Executive Office
2825 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40280

For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?
– Luke 14:28

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

 

 

Hey, Here’s a Novel Idea, Let’s Have Everybody Sign a Manifesto on Sexual Ethics

FrMartinDrGby Standerinfamilycourt

In general, the covenant marriage stander community hasn’t paid too much notice to the Nashville Statement that came out this week.  That might actually be pretty healthy, but in the interest of not allowing a good culture-influence opportunity to go by, “standerinfamilycourt” would like to offer up what is hoped will be an amusing introduction, in similar spirit to the one offered by Rev. Doug Wilson in his Blog and MaBlog  post this week, “Brief Statement on Any Future Statements About the Statement“.    (Admittedly, readers will find the Reverend’s humor to be superior to SIFC’s. )

After some prayerful reflection, “standerinfamilycourt” did finally sign the document at the end of the week, with some reservations and suggestions which will be shared in the next blog post.   In the meantime, just imagine if in August, 1969, this statement by a man-of-the (RCC)-cloth, appeared in The Washington Post:

I AFFIRM:  That God loves all [legalized adulterers] .
I DENY: That Jesus wants to insult, judge or further marginalize [serial polygamists].

FB profile 7xtjw  NUGGET OF SANITY:  Once civilly legalized, it seems consecutive polygamists became the least marginalized societally-corrosive population of all time, while their spiritually-and-financially-abandoned covenant families became the most marginalized, by both church and state.

 

I AFFIRM:  That all of us are in need of conversion.
I DENY:  That [people “married” to someone else’s s spouse] should be in any way singled out as the chief or only sinners.

FB profile 7xtjw  NUGGET OF SANITY:   Indeed these folks are not singled out as the chief or only sinners, thanks to the various evangelical manifestos over the years that have all hyperfocused on the symptomatic rise of homosexualism.    Legalized adulterers are simply the most numerous and economically powerful underminers of biblical family.

 

I AFFIRM:  That when Jesus encountered people on the margins, he led with welcome, not condemnation.
I DENY:  That Jesus wants any more judging.

FB profile 7xtjw  NUGGET OF SANITY:  There’s a valid difference between “leading” in the encounter or relationship,  and “discipling / sustaining”   Both are needed.   Both require biblical integrity.  Stating biblical principles as unchanging, unconditional and non-optional is hardly “judging”.    All ideologies have a measurement standard, be they toxic or beneficial ideologies to the health of society.   Jesus also had a measuring standard, and because He will be applying it in the age to come, He spent a lot of time educating “people on the margins” about it,  after welcoming them.     

 

I AFFIRM:   That [legalized adulterers] are, by virtue of [infant] baptism, full members of the church.
I DENY:  That God wants them to feel that they don’t belong.

FB profile 7xtjw  NUGGET OF SANITY:  Not going there concerning the effect of baptism without scriptural authority, except to say that just perhaps the extrabiblical notion of infant baptism is precisely what makes any sexually deviant person (or pair) feel as though they  (unjustly, in their view) “don’t belong” to the church.

 

I AFFIRM:  That [people who “marry” someone else while having an estranged true spouse still living] have been made to feel like dirt by many churches.
I DENY:  That Jesus wants us to add to their immense suffering.

FB profile 7xtjw  NUGGET OF SANITY:   Famously, this was also the position of Dr. David Instone-Brewer and of Erasmus Desiderius (what’s with these Anglican / Catholic humanists?)   What about the far greater multi-generational suffering of the covenant famil(ies) they’ve abandoned or defrauded, while many churches overtly affirm the abandoners and defrauders in doing so?   Nobody “makes” anybody “feel” anything: permission always needs to be inwardly granted, and responsibility for our feelings needs to be self-owned.  Jesus would prefer that people not suffer far more immensely and eternally in hell, and has already given several warnings to that effect [Matt. 5:29-32; Luke 16:18-31, for example]. 

 

I AFFIRM:  That [legalized adulterers] are some of the holiest people I know.
I DENY:  That Jesus wants us to judge others, when he clearly forbade it.

FB profile 7xtjw  NUGGET OF SANITY:  Oh, dear.  We truly need to pray for you, if people living, Herod-like, with the poached and absconded spouses of others are indeed the “holiest” people you know.  We are who we hang out with, according to 1 Cor. 15:33.  As for the alleged “judging”, please kindly see above.

 

I AFFIRM:  That the Father loves [consecutive polygamists], the Son calls them, and the Holy Spirit guides them.
I DENY: Nothing about God’s love for them.

FB profile 7xtjw  NUGGET OF SANITY:  We need to have a much longer perspective on our definition of “love” that extends beyond this temporal life, as the Father actually does.   See again, Luke 16:18-31.   We also need to understand that God’s love is administered separately for each of them as individuals, who are not actually the one-flesh entity Jesus described in Matt. 19:4-6.

 

From Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon’s response to Fr. Martin (8/31/2017)

Jesus clearly based his view of marital monogamy and longevity on God’s creation of two and only two complementary sexes, “male and female”, as established in Gen 1:27; reiterated in Gen 2:24 as the foundation for marital joining of two halves into a single sexual whole (Mark 10:5-9; Matt 19:4-6). This is a “judgment” made by our own Lord: an inviolate standard that the Church must hold at all costs. Our Lord’s words on divorce and remarriage are predicated on the even more essential two-sexes foundation for all sexual ethics, where the creation of two (and only two) complementary sexes implies a limitation of two persons to a sexual union.

(FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC: from here, we make a few substitutions into Dr. Gagnon’s rebuttal, as we did with Fr. Martin’s rebuttal of the manifesto itself.   Advance apologies to those who rightly conform to the words of Jesus,  “Call no man ‘Father’ ).

“Like many who seek to promote [consecutive polygamy as holy matrimony, liberal and evangelical churches, feminist groups, and the like] want to make the “don’t judge” statement a canon within the canon, falsely treating it as an absolute injunction while applying it selectively.

“Contrary to Martin’s contention, Jesus did graciously challenge and warn persons who were engaged in egregious sin, not just in his group teachings but also in individual encounters. When Jesus encountered the woman caught in adultery he did tell her to “no longer be sinning” with the inference that otherwise something worse would happen to her, not merely a capital sentence in this life but loss of eternal life (compare John 8:11 with 5:14).

“Yes, all of us are in need of conversion, but Martin [and these liberal secular and ecclesiastical groups do not] want to convert people out of a [life that Jesus repeatedly said was adulterous in the ongong sense].   [They want] the Church to affirm the sin or at least to [continue not taking] a stand against it.

“Martin complains about the Nashville Statement singling out ‘LGBT people.’  Yet the issue here is the attempt in the broader culture and in sectors of the church from [far too many denominations as well as the Roman Catholic Church of late] to single out [legalized adulterers] for exemption from the commands of God.  [These churches are] not truly welcoming the sinner but rather affirming the sin.  [They want] the lost son to remain lost in the deepest sense, for one is ‘found’ only when one returns in repentance (Luke 15:24).

“Infant baptism does not inoculate an individual against the judgment of God for failing to lead a transformed life. There is no sin transfer to Christ without self-transfer; no living without dying to self and denying oneself (Mark 8:34-37). Paul’s warning regarding the Corinthian community’s tolerance of an adult-consensual union between a man and his stepmother is a case in point.  “Is it not those inside the church that you are to judge?”  (1 Cor 5:12), Paul asked rhetorically. The answer to that question is not ‘no’ (as Martin seems to think) but ‘yes.’

“The Nashville Statement does not claim that persons who engage in homosexual practice can never act in a holy manner [but, nor does it bother with the far more relevant question of whether consecutive polygamists can or should repent of ongoing sexual immorality, ongoing unforgiveness of their true spouse and the idolatry of self-worship, none of which are redemptive or holy.   In fact, the glaring, intentional omission of church-“sanctified” heterosexual sin from Article 10** of the Nashville Statement is quite likely to undermine all credibility in this document because this reflects a substantial lack of integrity or self-examination, signed as it has been by many shepherds who routinely perform weddings that Jesus unequivocally and repeatedly called adulterous].  We all compartmentalize our lives. But the areas we are good in do not validate the areas we are bad in.   From the standpoint of Jesus and the writers of Scripture, engaging in behavior abhorrent to God contests any claim to holiness.

[FB profile 7xtjw**Article 10,  as drafted, reads as follows: “… that it is sinful to approve of homosexual immorality or transgenderism and that such approval constitutes an essential departure from Christian faithfulness.”]

“The bottom line is this: [many of the signers of the Nashville Statement are] using, or even abusing, [their] offices to undermine what for Jesus was a foundational standard for sexual ethics…..”

[FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   As noted in earlier blogs, Dr. Gagnon is, on balance, a solid supporter of marriage permanence, but not necessarily of the principle of absolute indissolubility by acts of men.  In this regard, he has frequently written that he does not consider marital monogamy  to be a foundational element of the Creation account, Gen. 2:21-24, to the degree and extent that gender complementarity is, and has even more frequently written that homosexual practice is, in his estimation therefore, a greater sin than is the practice of legalized adultery.  Nevertheless, he has written in the past that remarriage by the “innocent spouse” following man’s divorce is not scripturally supported.
Dr. Gagnon has recently departed from his tenured post at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (we note, run by the very liberal PCUSA), and he covets the prayers of the saints for his next assignment.  Let’s all pray that he will land in a place that allows him greater freedom to continue training future pastors with full biblical integrity while speaking to all of the grievous excesses of the Sexual Revolution.  For nothing will be impossible with God.
]

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7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

SIFC Weighs in on Contra Mundum Swagger: Following Christ in a Divorce Culture

CMS_Shannonby Standerinfamilycourt

Our politics, culture and churches are falling apart , and the root cause of this decay is divorce and remarriage….I want to demonstrate that our obedience on this issue is a fundamental reason for the havoc we are witnessing in our culture and that our obedience to Christ on this issue will also be a fundamental reason for the victory and restoration of our families, churches, culture and politics.    –   Author,  Jack Shannon

This is a blunt book about God’s displeasure with the altars to Baal and with the Asherah poles that have been built up in our contemporary evangelical churches during the last four decades, and which are now under rapid construction in the last few years even in the Roman Catholic church under the “guidance” of Amoris Laetitia.   (The mere fact that schism over this idolatrous altar-renovation work remains a threat to the RCC is, in SIFC’s view, a profound credit to the faithful discipleship of a remnant few in that church).

Written by the millennial son of a man who demonstrated what it was to stand for a difficult marriage and see it turned around,  this book will also be a satisfying read for those who are shaking their heads at the hype over the tuck-tail Benedict Option (by Catholic convert, Rod Dreher).    Equally commendable to his “stander”-father’s strong, unselfish discipleship is the fact that Jack came through both military service and a Reformed seminary with godly convictions fully intact, and in fact, gave a compelling, bold  defense of the no-excuses indissolubility of holy matrimony in this 2016 presentation to a gathering of graduate students  and faculty of St. Andrews College.   Jack remains a never-married man, but has been engaged in the past.   Contra Mundum Swagger appears largely  based on that 2016 thesis but has evolved a bit in the year since he presented it.

For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit;  to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit,  and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.

–  1 Cor. 12: 8 -10

It is evident which of the functional gifts of the Spirit is in operation in this book, given that the author prepares his audience for the “tone” of the book (page xv of the Introduction).   Most to whom this particular gift is distributed wish they could send it back and choose another that will get them in less trouble.  

Fortunately, truth-telling, outspoken prophets like Hosea, Malachi, Ezekiel, etc. didn’t face a bunch of denominational scrutiny which some today are tempted to argue should therefore discredit the entire message.  It’s OK to  respectfully disagree with some of the critics, while also disagreeing with the denominational bias and eschatology first mentioned in the last few pages of the last chapter.  But such is the author’s privilege, since what we believe about the latter is hardly a heaven-or-hell matter (as contrasted with the core central truth of this book). The marriage permanence  community seems to abound with church-wounded people who will insist (without conclusive  scriptural  support, we’ll add) that pastor-led congregations are not a valid model for the New Testament Church. Once again, what we believe about this is not a heaven-or-hell matter, therefore objections  that the organized church cannot or should not be an important part of the solution are in our view deceitful, counter-productive, and emotionally biased.

On the contrary, most of us read this book as a stern warning that the Lord is returning as prophesied, regardless of our morals, readiness or level of respect. It’s a clear message that God does reach a tipping point,  time is running out and it’s either genuine worship and revival or it’s destruction.

A few nuggets from various chapters in the book:

(Concerning the abuse of grace, individually and as a national body of believers – page 40) :

When people refuse to repent their sins or willingly decide to worship in an unlawful way after being illuminated by the truth, they are bringing severer judgments on themselves for violating the Spirit of grace than if they were merely violating the Law of Moses.  Notice that the punishment for unrepentant sin is harsher in the New Covenant.   Let me say that again: punishments are harsher in the New Covenant.

(When true Christ-followers are accused of “obsessing” over the immorality of remarriage adultery  while “ignoring” other forms of sin –  page 43):

Other sins like lying and stealing may be happening in the church, but they are not defended or condoned by church leadership.   We don’t get together and have ceremonies celebrating masturbation, lust, theft, murder or bearing false witness.  But we do when it comes to the adultery of divorce and remarriage.”

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC Observation:  Lust, theft and bearing false witness are all intrinsic to the adultery of divorce and remarriage, the last time we checked.

(Concerning the “sanctified” nihilism and defeatism that settles in at the church over abortion and gay marriage which directly results from failing to recognize or, even worse, remaining unwilling to remove the log in our own eye – page 82:)

But as it is, we point to things that aren’t really the main sins or are not as egregious as the adultery we affirm in divorce and remarriage.  Instead we say we need to think more covenantally or be louder with our condemnation of abortion or homosexuality, or we formulate things like the Benedict Option where we learn how to give up our dominion mandate.   We tell ourselves that this isn’t really our home and that maybe if persecution came, we’d be the better for it.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC Note:  Dr. Michael Brown is a key example of an influential church leader who has publicly admitted many times that the “log” is there, but he doggedly refuses to believe that it actually needs to be removed.

(Concerning evangelical cluelessness about why believers are coming under persecution rather than prevailing over the Sexual Revolution – page 136:)

Much of the evangelical world simply makes no connection between personal and cultural destruction and the sin in their lives and in their churches.   They just think they are righteous, like Job, and are experiencing similar loss, when in reality they are not blameless servants.   They are guilty as Ham, Achan and Ahab were.  

From our perspective, the only thing we would have preferred to see more scholarly clarity around, is whether the “traditional view”  of marriage (as attributed to the Early Church Fathers; that is, the idea that several of them seemed to hold, that one may civilly divorce due to adultery, so long as they don’t remarry while their “ex” spouse is still living) is really supported by honest original language translations of the original texts of their writings, as these Church Fathers are paraphrasing Jesus, who used the term “apoluo” – literally “from-loosing” – in both Mattl 5:32 and Matt.19:9, and “porneia”  (“unchastity / prostitution” sometimes misconstrued as generic “adultery”), but we don’t really know if the various Church Fathers made the same word choices as Jesus.   If they did,
I don’t think what Jesus said in Matt. 19:6,8 (referring to Gen. 2:21-24) actually supports this “traditional view” at all, and the quoted accounts of several ante-Nicene leaders have them appear to be contradicting Jesus in this,  if the language translation of the koine Greek to contemporary English  is as accurate as it is widely presumed to be.    If we took an honest look at the original texts of these ante-Nicene writings (much the way we are actually compelled to do with scripture texts),  is it not possible that “putting away” (apoluo) did not necessarily anticipate civil action but rather reflected what Paul was prescribing in 1 Cor. 7:10-11, especially given what he had just said in 1 Cor. 6:1-8 ?

The seemingly weak exegesis on page 26 of  Deuteronomy 24:1-4 also contributes to the lack of clarity about “the traditional view”, and about whether the author is promoting it as being biblically supported.   It seems at least as likely that the defilement of the dismissed wife was a condition that defiled her both before and after her first marriage (such as consanguinity, a long term disease of ceremonial uncleanness, pagan citizenship, etc.) as that it would be a sexual defilement which, if occurring in the first union – betrothal or post-consummation, was more accurately  the topic of Deuteronomy 22, and was therefore a capital offense rather than a divorceable one — at least while Moses lived.   It would hardly make sense for Jesus to forbid living in a state of lifelong unforgiveness and irreconciliation toward our one-flesh or anyone else under the New Covenant,  while retaining some “defilement”-based prohibition of that reconciliation.    As it stands, this book can legitimately be construed as promoting a “traditional view” that may not accurately reflect the majority of Church Fathers at all, because the book didn’t do the needed deep dive into those assumptions, despite devoting a chapter to those quotes.   That said, we still doubt that the author’s intent was to promote the “traditional view”,  but merely to describe it.

By contrast, it seems to this blogger that Jesus was not only saying that civil divorce of an original covenant pair was immoral, He was actually saying that marriage “dissolution” by any act of men was impossible.  Since several of the ante-Nicene church leaders developed culturally-biased views over time, including ascetiscm, it seems that relying on what they said more than relying on what Christ said can lead to considerable confusion.  Paul, on the other hand, strictly forbids believers to bring each other before a pagan judge (1 Cor. 6:1-8). This would be consistent with the findings of scholars Jones and Tarwater (2005) as they exhaustively concluded that there is not a biblical instance where God ever abandoned or invalidated an unconditional covenant to which He was a party.  And God never “divorced” Israel, but suspended a conditional covenant while awaiting her repentance.  Absent this small bit of clarity about the shortcomings of the “traditional view”, SIFC’s rating would have been five stars instead of four.

Even so, this book accomplishes all that we would expect from a truly outstanding book on this topic:

  • Recognizing the difference between a root and its fowl fruit; correctly diagnosing the vain imagination that God-joined holy matrimony is  “dissoluble” as the root to cultural decay of every other type.
  • Calling out church leadership and false doctrine for their massive role in creating the mess and demanding that they repent, as did the prophets of old; notably, Ezra.
  • Accurately likening the corrupt system of institutionalized adultery in the church to the crass idolatry that certainly  it is.
  • Frankly acknowledging the financial dimensions of this idolatry.
  • Getting the historical context and the hermeneutics right.
  •  Not shying away from the biblical warning that to die in any ongoing state of sin will result in the lake of fire, no matter the civil legality of it.
  • Denouncing the abusive annulment of holy matrimony.
  • Setting a biblically-correct definition of “mercy”, “grace” and “love” that considers eternity, not just feelings and emotions.
  • Calling upon anyone who is “married” to the estranged spouse of a living person to exit those unions regardless of the years of entanglement and regardless of children born into the unlawful union.
  • Denouncing any believer who goes along with this immorality among friends and family members and who acquiesce to  it without strongly warning the sinners of the hellbound consequences.
  • Astutely diagnosing the troubled “psychology” within the contemporary church:  loss of the mind of Christ.
  • Accurately warning that true revival, when it arrives, is going to look scandalous to most, as repentance is going to cause the divorce rate in the church to literally skyrocket.
  • Very appropriately weaving in a strong theology of covenant, which in fact is woven throughout the bible, which both begins and ends with a wedding.
  • Recognizing that changing the laws and the political system isn’t impossible, but it’s highly unlikely until the church deeply repents, regains moral authority, and becomes actively involved in the process.

 

Some parting thoughts:   Is it more appropriate for the church or for the state to have jurisdiction over marriage?   Is it ever appropriate for the church to assume authority over divorce –  either prior to believers taking their case to court  or in lieu of ?    Is the  contemporary church in so much moral decay that they’ve forfeited any “competence” they may have once had ?     Jesus said, render unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and render unto God the things that belong to God.     God created marriage, and man created the “dissolution” of marriage.   As such, Caesar never had any legitimate jurisdiction over what should have been kept in the church with the exits securely bolted.    The Protestant Reformers were eager to hand over to the civil state that which church leaders no longer wanted authority over.    The only actual reason to do so was an intrinsic rebellion against God’s law that man has no authority to  dissolve holy matrimony.    None of this happened because believers were obeying God in the middle ages,  but because they wanted an avenue for disobedience that would appear as legitimized.     Taking marriage back into the church (with exit doors bolted) and boycotting the civil system altogether will seem as “dominionist” to some in the marriage permanence movement.

The Roman Catholic fringe of the movement is having a very vigorous debate over this “competence” issue right now, while many of the Protestants in the movement question the legitimacy of any large centralized church organization as biblically-supported.    We need to determine whether the goal is for the church to have a role in meaningfully reforming civil family laws, in which case, size and centralized resources would be an advantage, or if the goal is to simply entice people away from the immoral civil system and back toward God’s law, then smaller, decentralized local church bodies with impeccable moral and disciplinary standards will do.  True revival and repentance may help define the heart of God on this.    SIFC proposes that it would not be out of the question for both approaches to coexist for a time and to leverage off each other.

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.    –  Proverbs 16:7

May the Lord orchestrate the wide distribution of this book, and may He multiply its kingdom impact, in Jesus’ name.

 

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

 

www.standerinfamilycourt. com

 

 

Dear Moody Radio Share 2017

by Standerinfamiycourt

——————————————–
On Wed, 3/22/17, Moody Radio, Share 2017 <moodyradio@moodycommunications.org> wrote:Subject: There’s Still Time to Give!
To: [standerinfamilycourt]
Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2017, 9:52 AMWe are so close, but we still need your help!{ SIFC noteabout 8% short of goal on the day after their recent 3-day funding campaign ended, about the same as in the four prior years.]
If you haven’t already given during Share 2017, will you help Moody Radio reach our national goal?
So many of you have already given, but we are still short of our total need. If you have considered giving, it is not too late.
Remember, when you give to Share, you are sharing the good news of Jesus Christ in your community and across the globe.
Please prayerfully consider a generous gift today and Share the Word with others!

——————————————–

On Sun, 3/26/17,  <“standerinfamilycourt”> wrote:

Subject: Re: There’s Still Time to Give!
To: “Moody Radio” <moodyradio@moodycommunications.org>
Date: Sunday, March 26, 2017, 1:13 PM

Dear Moody Radio Management,

Perhaps this shortfall Moody keeps experiencing over the past few years is the Lord’s chastening, and not the economy.   Many of us certainly love Up for Debate and most other Moody programs, but can offer no money for Moody Radio until all programs that regularly sanction legalized adultery are ceased and apologized for.  If there’s a need for a “blended family pastor” ( just because he appears to be a “successful” legalized adulterer), it’s not surprising at all.  People living in defiance of God’s clear word, rightly-divided, have homes absolutely rife with dysfunction – how can it be otherwise with the coveting and wrongful retention of another’s God-joined, covenant spouse (Matt. 19:6; Mal.2:14) ?  It is the wicked desire to cling to this soul-destructive ongoing state of sin that fuels the demand for the likes of “Pastor” Ron Deal, as well as wicked books written by a host of adulterers and adulteresses (James 4:4).

Moody has on occasion shamelessly even offered these books as a donation-spurring mechanism, tickling the ears of people who desperately need to instead repent.  Programs such as Focus on the Family, Family Life, and Building Relationships are three among many on Moody which are an affront to the kingdom of God for this reason, encouraging millions to live for self instead of taking up their cross of forgiveness and obedience to the harder commandments of Christ.
.

ὃς                    ἐὰν         ἀπολελυμένην                      γαμήσῃ          μοιχᾶται
whoever          if             her having been divorced     shall marry   commits [ present-indicative verb tense – Matt. 532b; Matt 19:9b-KJV, Luke 16:18 adultery  

What IS surprising is Moody’s unabashed embrace of something that’s pointing the audience to hell instead of away from hell.  R A Torrey would have been appalled, since Jesus stated on 3 different occasions that EVERYONE who marries a divorced person is committing ongoing adultery.

Torrey, in “How to Pray” (1900):  “The prevailing immorality is found everywhere.  Look at the legalized adultery we call divorce.  Men marry one wife after another and are still admitted in good society; and women do likewise.   There are thousands of supposedly respectable men in America living with other men’s wives, and thousands of supposedly respectable women living with other women’s husbands.”

RATorrey2

It is on this same basis Paul stated twice to the body of believers that no unrepentant adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God, and also stated twice that only death, not any act of men, dissolves God-joined holy matrimony or severs the God-created,. supernatural one-flesh entity (sarx mia) which Jesus described in Matt. 19:6.

History has shown that no society can stand for more than 2-3 generations after enacting unilateral divorce if church leadership also accommodates it rather than remaining salty in resistance – witness ancient Israel who had to undertake the purging repentance from unlawful marriages described in Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, to recover their nation.   Witness the late Roman Empire which was vanquished two generations after enacting the equivalent of today’s unilateral divorce — but Christ’s church survived and thrived because early church fathers were nearly unanimous in the faithful teaching that only death ends holy matrimony, and in disciplining its adulterers in the fashion Paul instructed in 1 Cor. 5.   Failure to repent always leads to an insufficient number of well-adjusted citizens to overcome the rising numbers of wounded, deranged, demented and dysphoric citizens produced when both church and state institutionalize what Jesus consistently called adultery.

Blended

Two states with rare, godly legislators (Texas and Oklahoma) are currently working to repeal this immoral and unconstitutional civil law that has cost much of the church its very integrity over the past 5 decades — why do we hear nothing of this on Moody?   Where is the call to prayer and fasting for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven?   Could it be the snare of the fear of man is greater than the fear of God?

Respectfully, There’s Still Time to REPENT !

[“standerinfamilycourt”]

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

Let’s Take an AUTHENTIC Stand for Marriage, Christian Right

NatMarriageWkby Standerinfamilycourt

February 7 – 14 is National Marriage Week.
During this week, there will be much going on that is vital and valuable to our nation, but there will be no getting away from the fact that in the corrupted culture of contemporary evangelicaldom, it will be “finders keepers”, and millions in faux “marriages” which are not holy matrimony, will be encouraged to stay there at the peril of their very souls.  The excellent organization, Breakpoint.org promotes it in this audio link dated January 5, 2017.

Talking about marriage “permanence” is politically acceptable to this crowd, but it will not resolve the nation’s problems because it will not touch the root issue.   Rather, the message needs to be around the far more relevant and offensive topic of holy matrimony indissolubility, according to Matt.19:6,8 and Luke 16:18. This needs to be in the heaven-or-hell terms that Jesus and Paul unflinchingly cast it.

Some crucial topics not likely to be on this year’s agenda:

– When will pastors stop performing weddings that Jesus repeatedly called adulterous (and tell the congregation why) ?

– When will pastors stop signing civil marriage licenses that reflect the only unenforceable contract in American history, and which since 1970, in no way corresponds to Christ’s Matt. 19:4-6 definition of marriage?

– When will pastors stop smearing and stigmatizing the growing stream of true disciples of Jesus Christ who are coming out of adulterous civil unions to in order to recover their inheritance in the kingdom of God? [1 Cor. 6:9-10; Mal. 5:19-21-KJV)

– When will repealing unilateral divorce in all 50 states become as high a moral priority as outlawing the slave trade, or repealing Row. v. Wade, or ending sodomous “marriages” ?

Given what Jesus and Paul both had to say about remarriage adultery (repeatedly by each), true revival when it arrives, is going to look horrifying to the organizers of National Marriage Week, but it will be pleasing to God.   The horror will not be due to the repenting prodigals, but due to five decades of false, hireling shepherds not doing the job the Owner of the fold gave them to safeguard souls first, and then covenant families.

ignatius-antioch

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

What if This Had Been Dr. Brown’s Stream Article in 1972?

Sorry, But We Won’t Rewrite the Bible for Divorced People Who Have “Remarried”
two-rings-in-a-bible-900-AskDrBrown
by Standerinfamilycourt

Dr. Michael Brown has written an article for The Stream in response to a letter he says he received from a self-professed bi-sexual Christian, and another man’s commentary on his Facebook page, entitled, “Sorry, But We Won’t Re-Write the Bible for Gays and Lesbians“.   Knowing what we do about the extensive history of biblical revisionism and man-voted “culturally-relevant” revision of denominational doctrines / practice, we couldn’t help doing what it immediately comes to mind to do when such articles come out, goring the other guy’s ox but leaving our sacred cow untouched.   Had there been a fiery Dr. Brown to take up an equally-vigorous defense of the Matt. 19:6-end of God’s definition of marriage, would we be where we are today?

 

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC Notes:  Dr. Michael Brown is an Assembly of God ordained pastor, who by his own testimony, came to faith in 1971 after growing up in a Jewish heritage.   In 1973, about 2-1/2 years after the first blatantly-unconstitutional unilateral divorce law was signed by Gov. Ronald Reagan in California (1969), the AOG in their annual General Assembly voted to abandon their 60 year old “bylaws” that prohibited all AOG pastors from performing a wedding involving anyone with a prior living spouse, and banned from pastoral credentials anyone who was remarried with a prior living spouse on either side of the remarriage.    We have blogged about this 1973 event previously.   Dr. Brown’s biography doesn’t indicate the year of his AOG credentials, but it seems clear the earliest possible date would have been late-1970’s.   He married Nancy Gurian Conway Brown in 1976 at age 21, recently passing his 40th wedding anniversary.   (We know Nancy’s maiden name is Gurian, but we do not know where the Conway name comes from.)  FB profile 7xtjw

 

In response to my open letter to I.M. Sanctified, who describes himself as a divorced and remarried Christian, Richard S. posted a lengthy comment on my personal Facebook page, including this statement: “The logical conclusion to your theology (remarried people can’t physically repent from their ongoing state of sin, if they do, it must be because they don’t have faith or are deceived) is extremely damaging to the souls of people who have been through divorce and have married somebody else. That was the point of I.M.’s letter.  No amount of nice words will erase the damage [of implying that his 2nd, 3rd or 4th “marriages” were adultery].   Only honest reconsideration of your theology will bring healing.  Please don’t discount/deny the faith of you divorced and remarried brothers and sisters. They have much to contribute to the church.”

Of course, Richard has completely misstated what conservative Christians believe (we don’t say or believe that if adulterously- married “Christians” don’t exit those immoral unions “it must be because they don’t have faith or are deceived”), just as other parts of his comment (not quoted here) were also based on serious misunderstandings.

But that is secondary to the bigger issue, and Richard is one of many who are telling serious Bible believers that, “Only honest reconsideration of your theology will bring healing.”

He could not be more wrong.

First, what Scripture says on marrying somebody else’s inseverable one-flesh spouse while they remain alive is not negotiable, and no amount of new books or videos or personal stories will change that.

As I explained in my book “Can You Be Married to Somebody Else’s Spouse and be Christian?  no new textual, archeological, sociological, anthropological or philological discoveries have been made in the last fifty years that would cause us to read any of these biblical texts differently.  Put another way, it is not that we have gained some new insights into what the biblical text means based on the study of the Hebrew and Greek texts. Instead, people’s interaction with the divorced and remarried community has caused them to understand the biblical text differently.”

Simply stated, if not for the sexual revolution, no one would be reexamining what the Scriptures state about God’s intention for His creation. No one would be wondering if two divorced people could “marry” or if a husband could be joined by God to both a covenant and a non-covenant wife.   No one would be doubting that the Lord made men forwomen for life, and that any deviation from that pattern was contrary to His design and intent.

As one New Testament scholar was candid enough to admit, it was clear to him that the Bible forbade marrying another while having a living, estranged spouse, but when his own daughter came out as  the fiancée of such a man, he changed his opinion on the subject.

That’s why I’ve often stated that there is not a single argument that can be brought from God’s Word to defend the practice of marrying adulterously after man’s divorce, but there are powerful emotional arguments that can be brought. In that context, I’m often reminded of Jesus’ words that, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”  (Luke 14:26).

Second, if there was something to reconsider in our theology we would gladly do it. The truth be told, as impossible as the “adulterously remarried Christian” arguments struck me, I went to the Lord about them, buying the books that defended this new way of reading Scripture, reading the stories (and listening to the stories) of professing adulterously remarried Christians, allowing my heart to be torn and my mind to be challenged.

At the end of the day, as a biblical scholar, a lover of Jesus, and a lover of people, it was impossible for me to accept their arguments. The Word is just too clear on this, and without some kind of emotional or social or other pressure to reconsider what Scripture states, no one would deny this.

Third, those who argue that Christians agree to disagree on lots of things without denying each other’s faith fail to realize that they do not agree to disagree on behaviors that Scripture strongly condemns — unless they themselves are living in some kind of moral compromise.

We’re not dealing here with a question of whether speaking in tongues is for today or whether Christians are required to tithe or whether Jesus is coming before the tribulation. We’re dealing with redefining the very meaning of marriage and claiming that a behavior that is plainly condemned in the New Testament — I’m talking about cohabitation with someone else’s God-joined one-flesh spouse— is now blessed by God.

And while God alone is the judge of every professing Christian, be that person gay or straight, we cannot embrace as fellow brothers and sisters those who are affirming, practicing, and even celebrating sanctified, legalized adultery.

We will put our arms around everyone who struggles with lusting after someone else’s spouse and refusing to forgive or reconcile with their own spouse, loving them and embracing them and encouraging them in their walk with the Lord, whether their walk entails transformation from unforgiving to forgiving life partner or whether it entails celibacy. But we will not and cannot affirm and bless what the Lord Himself opposes. To do so is to do a disservice to those perishing in the divorced and remarried community.

Fourth, God’s message of grace and truth brings healing and wholeness and deliverance and freedom, as millions of people from every walk of life can attest, including large numbers of people who once were in adulterous “marriages” which they’ve now exited to reconcile with their own spouse.

I’m quite aware that there are genuine haters of “standing” covenant spouses in the Church (I plan to address this yet again in the coming days; God is their judge as well), and I’m quite aware that Christians have often failed to demonstrate Christlike love and compassion to the divorced-against-their-conscience community (to put it mildly).

But I’m also quite aware that when we speak the truth in love and people actually hear what we’re saying (not the interpretation they put on our words but the real message of our words), if that message is received it will bring life not death.

To all of you reading this article who say, “I’m divorced and remarried, I’m Christian, I’m involved in a union with someone else’s covenant spouse, and we’re thriving in the Lord,” I invite you to call my radio show or to send me your story or, if you live in my city, to get together with me and some of your friends — not for the purpose of debate but for the purpose of honest, loving, heartfelt interaction.

And if you have time, would you watch my video, Can You Be ‘Married to Someone Else’s Spouse and Christian? and tell me what I don’t understand and where I don’t display genuine empathy?

And if you’d like to read my book by the same title and you genuinely can’t afford it, email me your story, include your address, and I’ll send you a copy for free. You will not find a hateful word in the book, but you will find someone who cares.

In the end, though, your issue is with the Lord not with me. I can assure you that He understands and He will provide everything you need if you truly entrust your life to Him.
{END]

 

You [adulterers and ] adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
James 4:4

 

Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.
1 Corinthians 6:16-18

 

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”

 Therefore,

“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”

And,

“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 6:16-18

 


www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

The Obstructed View from 2002: Debating One-Flesh and Covenant From the Pulpit

FoundersBaptby Standerinfamilycourt

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?   For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.   For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;  but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,  but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.   Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.    1 Corinthians 1:19-24

Sometimes in this ministry, the Lord puts an unexpected enlightenment in our hands which allows us to get a very interesting glimpse of what has gone before in the history of the remarriage debate within the evangelical Protestant church.    A late-night instant message linked SIFC to a very interesting recorded sermon where in late 2002, a Baptist pastor from Spring, TX was doing an excellent job of debunking 1 Corinthians 7, faithfully setting the record straight, section by section, on just who Paul was addressing with his various pieces of instruction, and methodically closing the door on the various evangelical heresies that proliferate (like mold) from the humanist propensity to “run with” advice that Paul meant for a different group, while ignoring the context (and even the content) of what he wrote within the same chapter.    We have also blogged recently on this 1 Cor. 7 topic.

Despite the excellent insights this man of God was bringing forward in his message, around 25 minutes in he attempted to use the term “agamos” [ἄγαμος] , as in “let her remain unmarried” per 1 Cor. 7:11,  to assert that man’s divorce was real in God’s eyes and that it indeed dissolved what both Jesus and Paul asserted could only be dissolved by death and by God’s hand.   If according to Paul she is “no longer married”,  he argued,  how can her marriage not actually be dissolved in God’s eyes?   Overlooked is the fact that this passage is silent as to whether a civil divorce is actually undertaken by either spouse,  rather than a mere separation.    “Gamos” can mean either wedding or marriage, i.e. uniting with a spouse, so Paul’s usage could simply mean in a literal sense, “without a new spouse / wedding” while remaining perfectly consistent with Paul’s overall message about indissolubility except by death.   This presumption on Rev. Caldwell’s part that man’s divorce dissolved holy matrimony was troubling, and since this message was part of a 12-part series,  SIFC couldn’t help but wonder how this pastor treated the topic of God’s character in covenant, as well as the crucial topic of the one-flesh state and its severability or inseverability by acts of men short of dying.

Fortunately, this entire sermon series is available online, so a listen to the very first installment of the series proved a bit infuriating, but still very worthwhile for gleaning some insights into the development of evangelical heresies in both of those two pivotal matters, treatment of covenant, and treatment of the one-flesh state joined by God’s hand.    So pivotal and central is a correct understanding of these, that if that foundation isn’t rock-solid, there is no adequate foundation for discerning or refuting the full range of divorce and remarriage heresies.    (The only thing that’s equally pivotal in this regard is a correct understanding of the betrothal nature of our salvation, binding on heaven, but revocable by us through choosing to die in a persistent state of willful disobedience to His commandments.)   Naturally, a Calvinist-leaning Baptist pastor is far more likely to temper his marriage permanence views on  the notion of “once saved, always saved”,  especially when faced with the discomfort of needing to admonish those who are living in a state of being adulterously “married” to someone else’s one-flesh partner, or when faced with the need to refuse to perform such a wedding.    We know of only one (part-time) Baptist pastor whose “pastoral care” is biblically faithful to that extent.

Why did SIFC find the content of that first sermon on Genesis 2:18-24 infuriating as well as enlightening?    First, it strikes us as highly unusual for a pastor, already brave enough to do a 12-part sermon series on marriage,  divorce and remarriage,  to do any sort of a studious “deep dive” into the supernatural nature of the one-flesh state.   It far better serves the evangelical marriage revisionists to claim that the one-flesh state is a gradual human process accruing over the course of the union, rendering counterfeit spouses   interchangeable  with covenant spouses, with the passage of time.   Even the very commendable, and far more accurate series by Church of Christ pastor David Sproule  in 2013 didn’t linger long on the topic of one-flesh.   What was triggering this in 2002, and why have we heard so little about it from any pulpits since?

Secondly, Rev. Caldwell of Spring, TX seemed to be coming up with a very novel treatment of Jesus’ command in Matthew 19:6, “therefore what God has joined, let no man separate.”   He argues, while stating that John MacArthur also makes this point (but we must have missed it), that Jesus was not referring to individual couples in His commandment, but to the institution of holy matrimony as a whole.   This, of course, implies that God covenants with an institution, but with regard to any given pair that He has joined, it’s a sliding covenant, that is, it is in bearer form.    The sole biblical “support” offered for this idea is tenuous at best.   Caldwell argues that Jesus’ use of the word translated “what” was deliberately chosen not to mean “whom“.   That word in the original text shows as     ( 3739 [e]
ho ), according to both www.biblehub.com and www.scripture4all.org.    As we drill into the concordance reference, we find that it can mean either “what” or “whom”, depending on the context.    We feel the context of Jesus’ words argues far more strongly for “whom“,  otherwise Jesus would have been agreeing with the Pharisees and Moses, which He obviously did not do.    If Caldwell got the notion and its support solely from MacArthur, it’s no surprise, the latter being notorious for the liberties he takes with his scriptural eisogesis when it comes to defending marriages that Jesus and Paul repeatedly called adulterous.   Many denominations prefer, post-1970’s, to treat this verse as though it isn’t there – ignore it.   Caldwell and MacArthur apparently prefer to redefine it.   This appears to be a concept that didn’t develop the traction to go anywhere after that. 

With regard to the first thing that’s noteworthy about Caldwell’s sermon, he mentions the work of Dr. William Heth of Taylor University in Indiana, an interdenominational Christian college.  Caldwell is impressed (as are we) with Heth’s insight in his 1985 book, co-authored with Dr. Gordon Wenham,  Jesus and Divorce:  The Problem with the Evangelical Consensus, specifically, that the one-flesh joining of holy matrimony is a point-in-time event effected by God’s hand, and not a gradually-accruing process.

It turns out that the year 2002 produced quite a lot of scholarship (and pseudo-scholarship) on marriage ethics that apparently triggered Caldwell’s sermon series.   That was the year that Dr. David Instone-Brewer published his studious, but thoroughly heretical book,  Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible

CWs_coverDRinBible
and it was a few years before Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary wrote an excellent scholarly paper rebutting that book.   In 2002, the first of the tyrannical same-sex marriage lawsuits was surfacing in Massachusetts resulting in court-ordered legalization of sodomous nuptials the following year, and several years before the hypocritical implications of fighting off this development and its totalitarian fallout while cleaving fiercely to its entrenched system of legalized institutionalized adultery would begin to plague the evangelical church.   In that same year, 2002, the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology published opposing pieces by  Heth, who had now decided to align with Instone-Brewer in a reversal of conviction,  and his former co-author Dr. Gordon Wenham who held true to the biblical position.    This journal edition was also just beginning to grapple with the political rise of the homosexualist lobby.    It is fairly likely that these 2002 developments were at least the backdrop, if not the actual trigger for Caldwell’s unusual deep-dive into one-flesh joining and God’s role in it.

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.    –  Galatians 1:10

As mentioned before, Heth had recently been influenced to change his earlier position to the liberal position of Instone-Brewer, a journey he describes in this journal article.    This 2002 article reveals that Heth was not only swayed by the pseudo-scholarship of Instone-Brewer but also by two of the scholars mentioned  (and quite convincingly rebutted) by Drs. Jones and Tarwater in their 2005 paper,  Are Biblical Covenants Dissoluble?  : Toward A Theology of Marriage.   That scholar was  G. Hugenberger, author of Marriage as a Covenant,  in which he purported to cite Old Testament instances where God abandoned various covenants as evidence that the marriage covenant was dissoluble if one of the human parties declared it dissolved.
[FB profile 7xtjw SIFC  noteIf Hugenberger’s  rationale truly reflected God’s reality, this would greatly blunt the Christian community’s motivation to set aside their carnal proclivities and take a strong moral, political stand against the constitutionality of unilateral (“no-fault”) divorce, would it not?   Instead, we have religious freedom legal defense ministries shamefully adopting a blanket policy not to get involved in such cases, claiming there’s only an “incidental” violation.]

To be clear, both Heth and Wenham had always taken the politically-correct Protestant position that divorce was “allowed” for so-called biblical grounds, hence that it was recognized by God and effectual in dissolving covenant marriage, but prior to Heth’s change of heart, both men agreed that remarriage while that “former”  covenant spouse lived was forbidden by scripture.    If a premise is incorrect in some respect, it’s really difficult to be on-target in the scholarly discussion that falls out from that.    If divorce is indeed deemed to dissolve the marriage bond in God’s eyes (as per Hugenberger), what basis actually remains at the end of the day for forbidding remarriage?    Indeed if either choice, to remarry or not to remarry, has no effect on either spouse’s eternal destination, why does the debate matter at all, in the first place, against that Calvinist backdrop?   Heth  journeyed to this new place, he tells us, under “concern” for the opinion of other renowned scholars toward his earlier work (fear of man exceeding the  fear of God), and because Instone-Brewer’s arguments seemed compelling to him, as did Hugenberger’s.

What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?  May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,
That You may be justified in Your words,
And prevail when You re judged.”    –  Romans 3:3-4

From the Jones & Tarwater 2005 rebuttal to Hugenberger and Heth, page 10:

“…both Köstenberger and Heth appeal to the work of Gordon Hugenberger as the basis for their belief that covenants may be dissolved. Hugenberger contends that covenants can be both violated and dissolved, asserting that these ideas are conveyed by the same Hebrew expression (Hiphil of parar + berith).32 In order to corroborate this claim, Hugenberger cites fourteen scriptural examples of covenants that were ostensibly dissolved (Gen. 17:14; Lev. 26:44; Deut. 31:20; 1 Kgs. 15:19; Isa. 33:8; 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 14:21; 31:32; 33:20; Ezek. 16:59; 17:15; 44:7; Zech. 11:10-11).33

Despite Hugenberger’s monumental contribution to the study of biblical covenants, we are not persuaded by his evidence for dissolubility. While Hugenberger correctly notes that the Hebrew word parar may be translated with the English term “broken” or “annulled”34 — connoting violation or dissolution — parar does not necessarily carry both meanings at the same time. Imposing more than one meaning simultaneously upon parar is what James Barr calls the error of “illegitimate totality transfer.”35 In other words, it is wrong to conclude that because a covenant was “broken” it was, therefore, “dissolved.” An examination of the fourteen aforementioned examples, we believe, sufficiently demonstrates this truth.

First, three of the passages (1 Kgs. 15:19; Isa. 33:8; Ezek. 17:15) cited by Hugenberger refer to treaties between men where God is clearly not a covenanting party. Thus, even if these agreements were dissolved, they would have no bearing upon this study, for we are solely concerned with covenants in which God is a part.  With that stated, it is not even certain that any of these three examples constitute an occasion on which a covenant was dissolved. In fact, the example from Ezekiel seems to illustrate the exact opposite as the prophet asks, “Can Israel break her sworn treaties like that and get away with it” (Ezek. 17:15)? The Lord answers with a resounding, “No!” (Ezek. 17:16). By allowing Israel to be punished, then, the Lord demonstrated the applicability and enduring nature of the terms of the covenant. Thus, these three examples fail to demonstrate that covenants in which God participates can be dissolved.

Second, two of Hugenberger’s examples (Jer. 14:21; 33:20) deal with the prophet Jeremiah’s consideration of whether or not the Lord will dissolve his covenant with Israel. Jeremiah records a prayer on behalf of Judah,

LORD, we confess our wickedness and that of our ancestors, too. We all have sinned against you. For the sake of your own name, LORD, do not disgrace yourself and the throne of your glory. Do not break your covenant with us (Jer. 14:20-21).

While it could be argued from this prayer that Jeremiah believed it was possible for God to dissolve his covenant, later God revealed that annulment of the covenant was not possible, not even theoretically, as he declared, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself. I will rebuild you” (Jer. 31:3-4). Furthermore, in Hugenberger’s second example from Jeremiah, God demonstrates the permanence of his covenant by comparing it to the times of night and day: “If you can break my covenant with the day and the night so that they do not come on their usual schedule, only then will my covenant with David, my servant, be broken” (Jer. 33:20). Thus, these two examples fail to demonstrate that biblical covenants in which God participates can be dissolved — indeed, they seem to indicate the exact opposite.

Third, eight examples mentioned by Hugenberger (Gen. 17:14; Lev. 26:44; Deut. 31:20; Isa. 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 31:32; Ezek. 16:59; 44:7) refer to God’s people violating the terms of a covenant. A careful reading of these texts, however, reveals that such violations did not dissolve the covenants in question. For example, are we to believe that the Abrahamic covenant was dissolved (Gen. 17:14)? To the contrary, Scripture evidences that God’s covenant with Abraham was “forever” and “eternal” (Gen. 13:15; 17:8). Moreover, on at least eight different occasions, Scripture affirms that God “remembered” his covenant with Abraham.36 Thus, Gen. 17:14 cannot represent a dissolved covenant.

Contrary to Hugenberger’s interpretation, these eight examples of Israel “breaking” their covenant with the Lord beautifully illustrate God’s attitude toward the nature of covenants in which he participates. For example, Moses prophesied that the people would rebel and break God’s covenant (Deut. 31:20), and Scripture repeatedly records the fulfillment of this prophecy and its subsequent consequences (Isa. 24:5; Jer. 11:10; 31:32; Ezek. 16:59; 44:7). Yet, as we have argued above, the Lord’s punishment of his people for covenant violations is itself a de facto demonstration of the enduring nature of these arrangements. Ralph Alexander writes that the Lord’s punishment of his people affirms “his immutable faithfulness to his covenants.”37 Similarly, Andersen and Freedman comment on God’s wrath toward covenant disobedience noting that, “The punishment is not an expression of a broken relationship. On the contrary, it is enforced within the relationship; punishment maintains the covenant.”38 Therefore, as with the previous examples, these eight citations fail to demonstrate that biblical covenants in which God participates can be dissolved.

The prophet Zechariah presents the final example (Zech. 11:10-11) cited by Hugenberger. When Israel returned from exile, God implored the people not to act like their fathers had before them (Zech. 1:1-6), because real blessings, Zechariah records, will come only when God’s people obey him and walk in righteousness (3:7; 6:15; 7:9-14; 8:14-17). Sadly, however, the people acted as did their ancestors whose behavior had caused them to be exiled (Zech. 7:1-14). The people of Zechariah’s day had rejected the pleas of the righteous and consequently, writes the prophet, the Lord would withhold his covenant protection if there was no repentance (Zech. 11:10) — that is, God would “break” his covenant. Did the Lord, therefore, dissolve the covenant he had made? Certainly not, as the last three chapters of the book present an eschatological picture of God pouring out his grace upon the nation in the end times (12:10-14:11). Once again, far from dissolution, God’s judgment demonstrates his faithfulness to the covenant.

In addition to the fourteen examples cited by Hugenberger, we surveyed every example of berith in the Old Testament (267 examples), as well as of diatheke and suntheke in the New Testament (34 examples), and were unable to discover a single example of a dissolved covenant in which God participated. Like the language used to describe the nature of biblical covenants, the manner in which covenants are established, and the way in which God deals with covenant violations, the absence of any dissolved covenants in which God participates provides evidence that points to the indissoluble nature of biblical covenants.


Since Rev. Caldwell especially highlighted Dr. Heth’s writings about the nature of the one-flesh relationship, and to Rev. Caldwell’s credit he noted God’s hand in creating it instantaneously, we looked forward to seeing firsthand how Dr. Heth treated the topic of one-flesh and how he could possibly reconcile his new liberal views with what Jesus said in Matt. 19:6 about it being inseverable except by death.    It turns out that Dr. Heth’s revised view fails to mention God’s hand at all, nor the supernatural, instantaneous event.    He instead chooses to degrade  sarx mia to hen soma, citing Gen. 29:14; 37:27; Lev. 18:6; 2 Samuel 5:1; Isaiah 58:7), and steers well clear of the enlightening New Testament descriptions delivered by Jesus and by Paul, for example, Eph. 5:28-30.

I had argued that the covenant and consummation of marriage made two totally unrelated people as closely related as they will be to their own flesh and blood children.   However, the unity between unrelated persons established by the marriage covenant is not the same as the vertical blood relationship between a parent and a child nor the horizontal blood relationship that exists between siblings. The Genesis 2:24 phrase, “they become one flesh,” refers “to the bondedness which results from and is expressed by sexual union” and “refers to the establishment of a new family unit”..

(Dr. Heth, that’s not what Jesus said and you know it.)
Today we know that even sodomists claim to form a sexual union and a “new family unit” under the sanction of the civil state, but today Dr. Heth might well be the first to protest that there’s no one-flesh relationship since God’s hand isn’t joining them, given the correct views he once held but “repented” of with regard to heterosexual unions.

Heth’s co-author, Dr. Wenham, on the other hand, in his countering article tragically fails to address the one-flesh relationship at all, and only touches on the nature of covenant in passing, leaving Heth’s newly-embraced fallacies unrebutted scripturally.    Instead, Wenham embarks on a much-needed contextual argument for the invalidity of concluding that one may remarry after divorce.    He does a masterful job of starting with ante-Nicene church fathers, then working back in time to the apostles’ positions, then the person of Jesus, and finally Judaic tradition, showing quite effectively how none of these support the Erasmean view that the innocent party in adultery or abandonment may remarry.    At one point in the article, Dr. Wenham says this:

“The same is true of the second half of the statement in both gospels: “He who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery” (Luke 16:18b); “If she divorces her husband and marriesanother, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:12). The Lukan form of the statement is almost the same as Matthew 5:32b.  The Markan form is unusual in envisaging a woman taking the initiative in divorce proceedings, which rarely happened in first century Palestine.   But what is striking about both forms of the saying is the implication that divorce does not break the marriage bond, so that sexual relations with anyone but one’s first spouse is adultery.

Unfortunately, this is the closest Wenham ever comes to deducing that divorce is entirely man-made and not recognized by God, i.e. that only death dissolves a God-joined union, or that not all civilly-sanctioned heterosexual unions are God-joined for that very reason.    In other words, he never brings his accurate observations to their full inevitable conclusion, and never makes the heaven-or-hell linkage with 1 Cor. 6:9-10 or with Galatians 5:19-21.   Perhaps if he had, he’d have never been published in a Southern Baptist scholarly journal.

Dr. Al Moehler was the editor-in-chief of that 2002 journal edition.    In 2010,  Dr. Moehler went on to write a convicting and influential article,  Divorce – the Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.   How much more convicting and influential might this piece have been if the deceiver hadn’t wooed away Dr. Heth and broken up the collaboration with Dr. Wenham, curtailing their further studies into the divine and inseverable nature of the one-flesh relationship that God has now revealed to so many in the common laity.

 

(Our previous posts on the topics of one-flesh and God’s character in covenants with men are here and here.)

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

7 Times Around the Jericho Wall  |  Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

AN OPEN LETTER TO DR. MICHAEL BROWN: CONCERNING MARRIAGE HYPOCRISY AND KIM DAVIS

Kim..againby Standerinfamilycourt

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.     James 4:4

Dear Dr.  Brown,

This past week saw the Governor of Kentucky sign into law the bill inspired by Kim Davis’ five-day trip to jail last year, which now protects the right-of-conscience of elected court clerks not to affix their names to civil licenses that legalize sodomous unions.    Mrs. Davis, in her third adulterous marriage, was widely quoted at the time (and with dead-on biblical accuracy) that this issue was to her a matter of heaven-or-hell.    Last year you blogged extensively about Mrs. Davis and her right-of-conscience under the First Amendment, while this week you posted a brief teaching video on divorce and remarriage which drew a torrent of rebuke on your Facebook page from the marriage permanence community because of your reliance on 1 Corinthians 7:15 to deem remarriage by a deserted spouse not to be adultery, saying that such a person was “no longer bound” to their inseverable one-flesh state and their indissoluble joint covenant with God.

Although we wrote a scholarly blog some time back about the chronic abuse of 1 Corinthians 7:15 in contemporary evangelicaldom as part of our series on disciplined application of the principles of sound, basic hermeneutics, we won’t take you to task on that “understanding” of yours, nor on your underlying presumption that Jesus “allowed” one believer to take another into the family court system before a pagan judge, of which Mrs. Davis ran for election as her county’s official recorder of countless decrees that unilaterally shred families in violation of the right-of-conscience of roughly 80% of the civil case “respondents” and their children.
familycourtdozer
We know this issue has already been on your heart to a truly commendable extent, as you wrote in your blog, “Christians Have Been Hypocrites, So Now What?”

What we’d like to do is revisit another blog you wrote in September, 2015, “Why a Christian Blogger is 100% Wrong about Kim Davis”, specifically:

RE:  “2) … He is right in highlighting the Bible’s strong condemnation of divorce (with rare exceptions), but he forgets that Kim Davis had her multiple divorces before coming to faith in Jesus, at which point she began a new life as a forgiven person.”

Respectfully, Dr. Brown, can you please direct your readers (and ours) to the scripture which confirms that coming to saving faith in Jesus Christ unjoins the one-flesh entity God formed with the covenant partner of our youth, despite Jesus plainly stating  (Matthew 19:6 / Mark 10:8-9) that this God-joined entity will never again be two?   Can you point out the scriptural support for assuming that either civil divorce or entering another civil marriage “dissolves” the unconditional covenant which God entered into with that supernatural one-flesh entity?   Did He not rather say…”I stand as a witness between [Kim Davis] and the husband of her youth…”
(Malachi 2:14) , saying that the husband of her youth IS (not “WAS”) the companion of her marriage covenant?

Did Jesus not highly commend His cousin John the Baptizer,

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.   From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. “   Matthew 11:11-13 

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John; since that time the gospel of the kingdom of God has been preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.   But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to fail.

“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and HE WHO MARRIES ONE WHO IS DIVORCED FROM A HUSBAND commits adultery.”     Luke 16:16-18

…after John sacrificed his literal head to uphold the one-flesh holy matrimony covenant between Herodias and the husband of her youth when he told Herod, “it is not lawful for you to have YOUR BROTHER’s (divorced) wife.”     (Mark 6:17-18)

In fact, the account in Luke 16  is only one of three separate occasions where Jesus voiced NO exceptions when He bluntly stated,

“…EVERYONE who marries a divorced person commits [enters into a state of ongoing, continuous] adultery.”

We know He wasn’t merely speaking of a one-time, past act  because of the present-indicative Greek verb tense He used on all three occasions.   We’ll grant that the divorces were past acts, but such talk is really only a deflection from the true issue, that of cohabiting under man’s paper with the one-flesh spouse of another living person.    (If  Mr. Everyone  then “marries”  Mrs. Deserted, is that “marriage” only half-adulterous under this ever-popular 1 Cor. 7 theory?)

In light of Rom.7:2-3, 1 Cor. 7:39….and 1 Cor. 6;9-10 and Gal.5:19-21….

Can you show us the scripture which says that baptism converts ongoing holy matrimony to a “sin” that can be washed away for the benefit of remaining in an adulterous union under man’s civil laws?   Or the one that confirms that coming to Christ singles out serial polygamy as the only sin in all of biblical history that doesn’t actually need to be forsaken to be “forgiven”?   As a consequence, will you counsel a lesbian differently who has come to Christ “married” to another woman for whom she has civilly divorced the husband her youth?   Is the lesbian’s soul more valuable than that of the serial polygamist, or are you not being a “respecter of persons” ?

Not to attempt to speak for you, since you were silent in your blog about your scriptural justification for all this, we suspect you may be referring to the commonly-encountered abusive exegesis of 2 Cor. 5:17 while detaching and looking past verse 18.   If this is the verse you had in mind when exonerating Mrs. Davis’ ongoing state of remarriage adultery, is this lesbian who is now a “new creation in Christ”  equally exempt from the requirement to forgive her one-flesh rejected husband so that she will be forgiven,  and from the “ministry of reconciliation” of the very next verse (2 Cor. 5:18) toward the companion of her marriage covenant, which Paul tells us is dissoluble only by death?

In light of the heavy reliance of evangelicals on the other side of this argument who insist, contrary to what Jesus and Paul consistently taught, that acts of men are sufficient to dissolve and terminate an unconditional covenant in which God is a covenanting party, Dr. Brown, we would like to direct your attention and consideration to a September, 2005 scholarly work by Drs. David W. Jones and John K. Tarwater published in Reformed Perspectives Magazine,

Are Biblical Covenants Dissoluble?:
Toward a Theology of Marriage

Paul reminded us at least twice that the only act of men that accomplishes this feat of dissolving a covenant in which God is a participant is his or her death, or that of their God-joined, one-flesh spouse.    These authors rigorously examined all of the earlier scholarly works on this topic and brought forward the overwhelming support that it is as Jesus, Paul and Malachi all asserted it was, that God never breaks or abandons covenant, as an intrinsic part of His holy character, even when the human subjects do, and does not enter into a competing covenant.

Far from countenancing unlawful marriages and heterosexual disrespect for the sanctity and indissolubility of holy matrimony, Ezra chapters 9 and 10 demonstrate what church leadership’s attitude ought to be, and what God requires in terms of the personal holiness of those who would retain or recover sovereignty of a nation that God once favored but is now severely chastising!

We don’t bring these matters to your attention flippantly,  Dr. Brown, but under the holy awe of God’s already-advanced judgment on this land…of His astounding sense of humor in working through a Kim Davis to make His point to a tone-deaf and stiff-necked bride who protests loudly against every conceivable  encroachment  to the First Amendment, while remaining oblivious and unconcerned about the oldest, most expansive and pervasive surrender of Constitutional right-of-conscience protections ever inflicted on American society, the enactment of unilateral divorce laws in all 50 states, the last as recently as 2010.

Last question:  in her recent religious freedom victory, does Mrs. Davis still put her official signature as a blood-washed new creation in Christ on licenses that legalize the same serial polygamy in which she personally continues, with apparently no fear of God?

We’re not too sure that Chris Boeskool is necessarily a Christian blogger,  but we’d like to propose that he  is only 75% wrong about Kim Davis, in light of the biblical authority he legitimately brings to bear on the matter of how God sees the selectiveness of Kim Davis’ convictions and the status of her domestic arrangements.

Thank you for considering the perspective of the international community of covenant marriage standers in the matter, Dr. Brown.

Blessings in Christ,

“standerinfamilycourt”

 

www.standerinfamilycourt.com

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

Questions, RE: Ask Dr. Brown’s Warning to Shepherds Who Mislead The Sheep

Dr. Brown, in August of this year you did a marvelous piece that went out to hundeds of people on our page and was very well-received.   It was called “Christians HAVE been Hypocrites, Now What?”   Connecting the dots, it stands to reason that each retained act or position of hypocrisy pushes more sheep over the cliff (or keeps them hiding in the bramble bushes!).

DrBrownsSheep

 

In it, you quite accurately stated,

“That’s why I’ve said for years now that no-fault heterosexual divorce has done more in the church to undermine marriage than all gay activists combined, and that’s why I’m all for any spiritual movement that calls us to recognize, confess and forsake our sins by the grace of God and the power of Jesus’ blood. Repentance blames no one else and makes no excuses. Instead it takes full responsibility and makes an about-face, receiving mercy and restoration from the Father.”

The community of covenant marriage standers would like to ask a few questions about how this is playing out in your church and circle of influence, therefore, in the months since you wrote this piece:

 

(1) Are you expecting most of the repentance to come from the flock?   If so, is there any particular sin cordoned off as not requiring cessation as part of repentance?

 

(2) Are you teaching people the full truth about how Jesus defined adultery? Do you teach Matt. 5:32b as well as Matt. 5:28?   Do you teach Matt. 19:9b (or only the NIV version)?   When was the last time you preached on Luke 16:18?

JesusDefinedA

 

(3) Are you teaching people that the “b” portion of these scriptures, relating to the otherwise-innocent person who marries somebody else’s spouse, carries NO “exception clause”?

 

(4) Speaking of question (2), are you teaching your flock the things that are necessary since the start of the 20th century (post-Westcott & Hort) to be true “Bereans”?   Are you teaching them the basic principles of hermeneutics, what an interlinear text tool is online, the character and history of the men who shaped their NIV, and the critical information about the manuscripts their bible is based on?   Do they know that 47 verses have likely been eliminated from their bible version due to the prejudiced choice of manuscripts?   Do you teach them to compare modern lexicons, commentaries and bible dictionaries with those written prior to the 19th century and encourage them to research the discrepancies when it’s a verse dealing with marriage and sexual ethics?

 

(5) Do your people know who the church fathers were for the first 4 centuries of the church, and whether any of them taught a “Matthean exception” or a “Pauline privilege”?   Do they know the true history of and when and why these things actually began to be taught in the church?

 

(6) Do you have people in leadership or on staff who are the husband of more than one wife, the wife of more than one husband, or do you give them a pass if it’s 1-at-a-time?   Have you considered the example that this sets,  in light of Paul’s well known instructions to Timothy and Titus?

 

(7) Are you rewarding and incentivizing no-fault divorce by performing weddings that you’d be deeply ashamed to invite Jesus to, after the way HE defined adultery?   Are you pronouncing some people “man and wife” instead of pronouncing them serial polygamists?

 

(8) Do they see you and your team walking before them in the uncompromised fear of God above all fear of men?

 

(9) What are you doing politically to repeal or reform unilateral divorce?   Your congregation no doubt knows which constitutional protections are violated by sodomous/polygamous/incestuous marriage — but do they know that unilateral (no-fault) divorce laws violate the exact same fundamental rights, including religious freedom and right-of-conscience?   Do they know how much these violations have cost taxpayers every year in transferred social costs?

 

Ketuba

(10)   Do you preach “once saved, always saved”,  or do you realize that  our  human marriages  are  an  analogy  of the  Messianic Covenant all the way from Genesis to Revelation?    Surely with your background  you’re aware that  Jesus’  “script”  for the Last Supper  was  verbatim the Hebrew betrothal  ceremony,  and that an unfaithful bride  who  turned away and didn’t show up for the marriage supper, no oil in her lamp,  no wedding garments,  without  confessing and repenting, broke her ketubah  and would be divorced by the Bridegroom instead of becoming the bride as intended.    Is it then so inconsistent for Paul to apply 1 Cor. 6:9-10 , Galatians 5:19-21 and Hebrews 13:4 to those Jesus actively and repeatedly called adulterers?

For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
2  Corinthians 11:2
Knowing that God protects and delivers when we are no longer mocking Him, we trust you have been working on some of these and will consider the ones you haven’t had a chance to think about just yet.           – “standerinfamilycourt”

#1M1W4L   #LukeSixteenEighteen

 


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

Evangelicals Won’t Cave, Dr. Moore? We Shall See…

ERLCblogPhotoby Standerinfamilycourt

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessnessTherefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.   And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.   Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.”     –  Matthew 7:22-27

 

Dr. Russell Moore, of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,  writes in First Things Magazine, October, 2015, “Why Evangelicals Will Not be Surrendering to the Sexual Revolution”, asserting that the Evangelical church will stand strong and will never grow accustomed to same-sex marriage or in any way acquiesce to it, despite a handful of megachurches  who have moved in that direction during 2015 or earlier.     Before telling us why this is the case, it seemed necessary for Dr. Moore to first assure us (again) that any charges of heterosexual hypocrisy were way off-base, and the assumptions that the pagan culture are banking on to normalize tax advantages and the façade of “marriage” over sinful relationships did not arise from the previous track record of betraying traditional marriage.   (Dr. Moore repeats most of the same arguments that “standerinfamilycourt” rebutted in a previous post, so rigorous reference to scripture rebuttal won’t be repeated here.)

Predictably, the time frame under Dr. Moore’s argument seems to myopically start circa 2003, (perhaps with Lawrence v Texas,  or perhaps with the same-year case that imposed sodomized “marriage” on the state of Massachusetts)…thereby avoiding any concession to the fact that Evangelicals actually and unconditionally surrendered to the Sexual Revolution some 45 years ago.   This unconditional surrender made biblical marriage permanence doctrine that had been unquestioned prior to 60 years ago gradually become controversial, fractious and “legalistic”, as more and more people in the church chose adulterous remarriage over the clear word of God on this matter.   Pastorally, it became the subject of much defensiveness (oozing out of Dr. Moore’s arguments) among partaking and non-partaking pastors alike until Luke 16:18 became virtually obscene as a sermon text!    In light of the doctrine changes brought about in some denominations to avoid financial losses in the wake of unilateral divorce,  is it  appropriate, or is it premature to measure the Church’s resilient ability to stand strong under persecution well before any actual persecution has arrived on her doorstep as a consequence of marriage redefinition, wave 2?

Dr. Moore writes:

Could the next Billy Graham be a married lesbian? In the year 2045, will Focus on the Family be “Focus on the Families,” broadcasting counsel to Evangelicals about how to manage jealousy in their polyamorous relationships? That’s the assumption among many—on the celebratory left as well as the nervous right. Now that the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case has nationalized same-sex marriage, America’s last hold-outs, conservative Evangelical Protestants, will eventually, we’re told, stop worrying and learn to love, or at least accept, the sexual revolution. As Americans grow more accustomed to redefined concepts of marriage and family, Evangelicals will convert to the new understanding and update their theologies to suit. This is not going to happen. The revolution will not be televangelized.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   America will likely not survive another 30 years without drastically reforming heterosexual ethics in the Church.    FOTF has long since degenerated into “Hyperfocus on the Blended Family” because intact covenant families have grown so rare due to the complicity of the Church with serial polygamy.    No nation in history has shaken its polygamous heterosexual fist at God for as many as three generations and survived to tell about it.   Ironically, it may not even be the homosexualists that become the final instrument of God’s wrath.   There are many recent signs it might be a soon Rapture, followed by radical Muslim force, or in reversed order.

 

In any given week, I’m asked by multiple reporters about the “sea change” among Evangelicals in support of same-sex marriage. I reply by asking for evidence of this shift. The first piece of evidence is always polling data about Millennial support for such. I respond with data on Millennial Evangelicals who actually attend church, which show no such shift away from orthodoxy. The journalist then typically points to “all the Evangelical megachurches that are shifting their positions on marriage.” I request the names of these megachurches.

The first one mentioned is almost always a church in Franklin, Tennessee—a congregation with considerably less than a thousand attendees on any given Sunday. That may be a “megachurch” by Episcopalian standards, but it is not by Evangelical standards, and certainly not by Nashville Evangelical standards. The church is the fifth-largest, not in the country, not in the region, not even in the city; it is the fifth-largest congregation on its street within a mile radius. I’ll usually grant that church, though, and ask for others. So far, no journalist has named more churches shifting on marriage than there are points of Calvinism. They just take the Evangelical shift as a given fact.

That presumption is a widespread case of wishful thinking. Many secular progressives believe that Evangelicals, along with their religious allies, just need a “nudge” to catch up with the right side of history, a nudge they are more than willing to provide through social marginalization or the removal of tax exemptions or various other state-mandated carrots and sticks. Our churches can simply accommodate doctrines and practices to new family definitions, these progressives advise, and everyone will be happy. Religious liberty violations, then, aren’t really harming Evangelicals, this reasoning goes, but instead are helping us to get where we’re headed anyway a little faster.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   All valid points with the exception of the harm assumption, but so what??    What happens when the tax exemptions are taken away, and round after round of vandalism occurs to churches, as was the case in Massachusetts?    Will the highly-leveraged corporate entities buckle under the financial strain and defecting membership – either folding or complying?     Much rides on the type of Presidency we end up with in January, 2017.   The odds seem pretty long against a God-fearing POTUS who can stand strong against fascist domestic terror.     Is it more merciful for God to let up on His hand of judgment to aid a man-after-His-own- heart to the Oval Office, or is it more merciful for Him to continue to chasten His unrepentant American bride?

 

This narrative is entirely consistent with the sexual revolution’s view of itself—as progress toward the inevitable triumph of personal autonomy and liberation. As Reinhold Niebuhr put it, in the context of the New Deal, “In a democracy the crowning triumph of a revolution is its acceptance by the opposition.”

But however confident and complacent are these helpers, they can’t change the fact that the Evangelical cave-in on sexual ethics is just not going to happen. There is no evidence for it, and no push among Evangelicals to start it.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC :   Does it seem a bit naïve to expect this to take the form of a grassroots movement, as Dr. Moore suggests?    Won’t such a thing happen the way it always happens – that is, pandering to staunch the exodus of church members (and money) when donations are no longer tax deductible to the tither, and the church must now pay taxes on those donations?    Won’t people just continue to do what they’ve done for the past 40 years after the fire and the presence of the Holy Spirit left the church as a result of embracing divorce and remarriage?   Won’t they just keep seeking out a quiet, feel-good experience where they don’t have to deal with “drama” on their fleeting weekends?

 

In order to understand this, one has to know two things about Evangelicals. One, Evangelical Protestants are “catholic” in their connection to the broader, global Body of Christ and to two millennia of creedal teaching; and two, Evangelicals are defined by distinctive markers of doctrine and practice. The factors that make Evangelicals the same as all other Christians, as well as the distinctive doctrines and practices that set us apart, both work against an Evangelical accommodation to the sexual revolution.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Really?   For half a millennium, a significant tenet of that creedal teaching has been flatly rejected by all but a tiny faction of  the Protestant Church, though it was based on the repeated words of Jesus Christ and echoed by all the significant early church fathers for 400 years after:   that marriage joined by God is permanent until death and is indissoluble by any act of men.

 

The first stumbling block to any Evangelical cave-in is the Bible. Evangelicals are not “fundamentalists” in the way many have come to use the term—characterized by uniformity on secondary or tertiary doctrines along with a fighting sectarian spirit. But conservative Evangelicals are—and always have been—“fundamentalists” in the original meaning of the term, within the context of the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the early twentieth century. The controversy there was not over whether the millennium of Revelation 20 is literal or whether the days of Genesis 1 are twenty-four-hour solar cycles, much less over whether the King James Version of the Bible is the only legitimate English translation of Scripture.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  The church went right along during the late 19th century with the wholesale revision of their bibles by a panel of occultists, socialists and other proponents of the New World Order that substituted manuscripts, eliminated dozens of verses of scripture, deliberately mistranslated certain key words, and suspended the normal principles of hermeneutics to come up with bible versions and commentary that provided loopholes, to create an illusion that man can dissolve marriage and can unjoin what God has joined.
To the sodomy-justifier, Evangelicals who quote Romans 1 and 1 Cor. 6 are “fundamentalists“.   To the remarriage apologist, disciples who quote Luke 16:18 and Matt. 19:6 are “legalists“.    Somebody rebuking  your sexual autonomy in Jesus’ name?
Slap a label on them!

 

The issues were the most basic aspects of “mere Christianity”—the virgin birth, the miracles, the atonement, the ­bodily resurrection, and the inspiration of Scripture. The Evangelical commitment to biblical authority means that the Bible is not written by geniuses but by apostles, to use Kierkegaard’s distinction. The words of the Bible are breathed out by the Spirit, as the apostle Paul puts it (2 Tim. 3:16). “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man,” the apostle Peter teaches. “But men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:    All canonized scripture is God-breathed, but how do you discern biblical authority if you can’t trust your contemporary-version bible?    Have you ever tried to locate any of the following verses in your NIV:   Matt. 17:21; Matt. 18:11; Matt. 23:14; Mark 7:16; Acts 8:37 ?    What happened to the word μοιχεύω  moicheia (adultery) in Galatians 5:19 ?    Do you know the background and character the people whose hands that bible passed through from original language manuscript to publisher?   How about just their names, so that you can “google” this information?   What was God-breathed becomes reeking halitosis in the hands of occultists, universalists, socialist handlers of the scriptures.    Compound that issue, which has existed since the turn of the 20th century, with the 21st century issue of You Version verse-at-a-time scripture delivery, and the resulting biblical illiteracy becomes very hard to reverse.

 

The Reformation principle of sola scriptura does not mean, as it is often caricatured by non-Protestant Christians, that the only authority is the Bible and the individual Christian. It means instead that the only final authority is the prophetic-apostolic word in the writings of Scripture. If an Evangelical needs driving directions to Cleveland, she consults Google maps, not her concordance. If, though, Google tells her that first-century Judea was uninhabited, she knows Google is wrong. The authorities here conflict, and Scripture trumps other authorities, not the other way around.

It’s also not accurate to say that sola scriptura negates church authority or the necessity of tradition or a teaching office. The most vibrant sectors of American Evangelicalism are those most committed to creedal definition and to a disciplined church. Evangelicals, though, do not believe in a “once saved, always saved” sort of eternal security for any particular institutional church. A church can lose the Gospel and with it the lampstand of Christ’s presence (Rev. 2:5).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  If only the Evangelical establishment represented by leaders like Dr. Moore could have their arguments traverse the last 18 inches from head to heart,  repentance that leads to averted judgment might be possible.   “OSAS” (once saved, always saved)  is exceedingly shaky ground as the “hill to die on” when it comes to individual evangelicals, as well as  any “particular institutional church.”    Yet OSAS and selectively ignoring Christ’s instruction about the indissolubility of the marriage bond seem to be the proverbial Siamese twins, joined at the hip.    If people can be so easily convinced there is no eternal consequence for following their flesh, one has to question whether they are sufficiently in Christ to lay down their lives for anything.   Speaking of sola scriptura, what did the writer of Hebrews say?    What did James say?   What did Jesus say?
(Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:28-31; James 2:14-26; Matthew 7:21; Luke 6:46; Matthew 25:10-12)


W
hether one agrees or disagrees with the Evangelical view of scriptural authority, a persistent cultural pattern has emerged from it. Evangelical Protestants are always aware of the possibility of false teachers. They judge every human teacher or teaching against the text of Scripture. This by no means is foolproof—see the heresies of prosperity gospel teaching, for just one example—but it does mean that innovators must be especially cunning, able to explain their views in a way that does not seem out of step with the Bible—if they are to win a long-term hearing among Bible-believing Evangelicals.

Revisionist arguments will not work among conservative Evangelicals because people read the texts, and the biblical texts—as orthodox believers and antagonistic unbelievers agree—hold to a vision of marriage and sexuality wholly out of step with post-Obergefell America.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   The true, unadulterated scripture also holds to a commandment for marriage that is wholly out of step with  Erasmus, Luther and Calvin, and is anathema to the Evangelical Right.

 

Revisionists get around that flat conflict by citing a context for the text, asserting the difference between ancient and modern notions of sexual orientation. But, Evangelicals reply, the definition of marriage is not grounded in ancient Near Eastern culture but in the created order itself (Gen. 2:24). That’s why Jesus speaks of man-woman marriage and its permanence as “from the beginning” (Mk. 10:6). Moreover, the canon asserts that even this natural “one-flesh union” points beyond nature to the blueprint behind the cosmos, the mystery of the union of Christ and his Church (Eph. 5:32).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Calvinist revisionists have been adept for decades at  ignoring context and insisting on a blind face-reading of the text, never questioning the translation fraud that rendered “fornication / whoredom / prostitution”  (premarital sin)  as  simply “sexual immorality” (which could then be twisted to include  adultery, even though this rendering is blatantly out of context – “hermeneutics 101”).

Much has been made in media circles of Evangelical dissenters from traditional orthodoxy on questions of sexual ethics. These dissenters, however, are not leaders known for Bible-teaching or church-building or institution-leading. They are known for the dissent itself. In virtually every case, the high-profile “Evangelicals” who have shifted on sexual ethics were already theologically liberalized on multiple other issues, often for decades. An “Evangelical” who attends a mainline, liberal Protestant church or who shares platforms with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is not likely to be received as an Evangelical by Evangelicals.

Journalists covering such dissenters should ask them these basic questions: Where do you go to church? What do you believe about the inerrancy of Scripture? Is there a hell, and must one believe consciously in Christ in order to avoid it? They cannot portray these figures as representative Evangelicals unless they give certain answers. I would bet that a little probing would show that these stories are the equivalent of writing an article about the Democratic party’s views on foreign policy by citing hawkish independent-Democratic former U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Does it sound a bit like Dr. Moore believes that sacredness lies in being an Evangelical  rather than in being a Christ-follower?

 

In his commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, the late Anglican Evangelical John R. W. Stott offers a prescient point relevant to this issue. It turns on Paul’s defense, in the opening chapter of the letter of his apostleship, of his genuine witness to the risen Christ and his authority to speak on Christ’s behalf by the Spirit. Against Paul were the “super-apostles” who sought to divide Paul from the original apostles in Jerusalem and even from Jesus himself. This contest did not end with the apostle’s beheading in Rome, Stott observes, nor with the close of the canon.

The view of modern radical theologians can simply be stated like this: The apostles were merely first-century witnesses to Christ. We on the other hand are twentieth-century witnesses, and our witness is just as good as theirs, if not better,” Stott wrote. “They speak as if they were apostles of Jesus Christ and as if they had equal authority with the apostle Paul to teach and to decide what is true and right.”

The sexual revisionists within Evangelicalism appeal not merely to the priesthood of all believers. They appeal to the apostleship of all believers, something orthodox Christians of all branches reject. It underlies the crux of the revisionist argument: that the apostles did not know what we know now about sexual orientation.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Yet didn’t Erasmus sing the same tune?  In practice, aren’t Luther and Calvin elevated, not only to apostle status, but actually held above the authority of Jesus in the apostate church?

 

The fact that homosexuality—and other forms of sexual immorality—is always and everywhere spoken of negatively in Scripture is explained away by a lack of scientific knowledge about loving, monogamous same-sex unions, the immutability of sexual orientation, or something else. Such arguments make sense if the authority of Scripture rests in the expertise of the apostles and prophets themselves. If, on the other hand, the authority of Scripture rests in the Spirit inspiring and carrying along the authors, the arguments collapse. If the Bible is a coherent book, with an Author behind the authors, one can hardly say that God is ignorant of contemporary knowledge about sexuality.

The revisionist position stands, then, not on an interpretation of the words of Scripture, but on a choice of who is the author of them. The revisionists are not only teachers; they are apostles, too. They can pronounce the meaning of Christ just as the first-century apostles did. The revisionists most often wish to keep the attention on Moses and Paul, pointing to the fact that Jesus said nothing about homosexuality. Of course, by defining marriage in terms of male–­female complementarity and by affirming the moral teachings of the Torah, Jesus did speak to the issue. Not only that, but Evangelicals don’t set the words of Scripture not explicitly uttered by Jesus in so ­malleable a condition. If “all Scripture” is breathed out by the Spirit (2 Tim 3:16), and if the Spirit inspiring the biblical authors is the “Spirit of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:10–11), then every text of Scripture is Jesus speaking, not just those that publishers code out in red letters.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Don’t Evangelical revisionists do the same sort of “explaining away” when they say things like: “Jesus didn’t tell the woman at the well to leave her immoral cohabitation”,  and “Jesus didn’t say covenant marriage is indissoluble except by death”.     Paul did say so – so why don’t the above principles apply when heterosexual ethics vs. autonomy is the topic at-hand?

 

Increasingly, though, revisionists have to deal with Jesus himself. Journalist Brandon Ambrosino argued that the best argument for same-sex marriage is that Jesus was simply wrong about marriage, owing to the fact that he was ignorant of contemporary scientific notions of sexual orientation and the evolving standards of a morality of love. It takes quite a messiah complex to school the actual Messiah on moral and ethical truth, all while claiming to follow him. This argument is immediately off-limits for Evangelicals because they are, first of all, “mere Christians” who agree with Nicaea and Chalcedon about who Jesus is. The argument that “Jesus would agree with us if he’d lived to see our day” won’t work for people who know that Jesus is alive today—and that his views aren’t evolving (Heb. 13:8).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Jesus is indeed alive today, yet Evangelicals seem to forget that He’s watching them, too, with a very grieved spirit at their blatant disobedience to His commandments.    If Evangelicals know who Jesus is, why do they think they’re acceptably doing behind his back what they would never do to His face?    Was Jesus “the same yesterday, today and tomorrow” in 1972 when it was deemed to be time to amend the doctrine on divorce and remarriage?

RATorrey2

 

Some would say, though, that even if the ­Bible can’t be easily made to fit into a sexual revolutionary matrix, the culture will change quickly enough to make traditional ­Christian sexual ethics implausible. The Church will adapt to same-sex marriage the way the Church adapted to divorce. Pastor Danny Cortez, for instance, who was dis-fellowshipped from the Southern Baptist Convention for moving his church to a “welcoming and affirming” position on homosexuality, argued that Evangelicals have already moved in this direction on divorce and remarriage. Few celebrate divorce in theory, but there are many divorced and remarried people in our pews, sometimes even in our pulpits. There’s some truth to this. I’ve argued for years that too often Evangelical churches are filled with “slow-motion sexual revolutionaries,” adapting to where the culture already is, simply ten or twenty or thirty years behind. Divorce is all too common in Evangelical congregations, even the most conservative ones. But divorce does not show us the future as it relates to the current controversies over marriage and sexuality.

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC:  Focusing rhetoric on man-made rebellion of divorce rather than the soul-endangering consequence of the real sin of ongoing continuous adultery that non-widowed remarriage always entails.    Why isn’t the focus at the very least on ceasing to perform such weddings?

ELutzerMoodyChurch2

 

First of all, most Evangelicals (unlike Roman Catholics and some other groups) believe there are some instances in which divorce and remarriage are biblically permitted. Most Evangelical Protestants acknowledge that sexual infidelity can dissolve a marital union and that the innocent party is then free to remarry. The same is true for abandonment (1 Cor. 7:11–15). Disciplined churches that held couples accountable to their vows would see far fewer of these situations, but, still, remarrying after divorce is not, on the face of it, sin in an Evangelical perspective, and never has been.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC :   If it doesn’t line up with exactly what Jesus SAID,  of what possible relevance is  what “most Evangelicals BELIEVE?”    Even a casual bible scholar should be able to discern that
1 Corinthians 7  does not even remotely contain an authorization to remarry except in the case of widowhood (verse 39).   What did Jesus say?   Any Evangelical perspective that doesn’t call sin what Jesus repeatedly called sin is no better than the homosexualist perspective.    It’s simply the pot calling the kettle black.

PotNKettleApplied

 

Beyond that is the question of what repentance looks like. In an Evangelical Protestant view, a ­remarriage after a divorce may well constitute an act of adultery, but the marriage itself is not, in the view of most Evangelicals, an ongoing act of adultery. Even if these marriages were entered into sinfully in the first place, they are in fact marriages. Jesus spoke of the five husbands of the woman at the well in Samaria, and differentiated them from the man with whom she lived, who was not her husband (John 4). Same-sex unions, which do not join male and female together in the icon of the Christic mystery, do not constitute marriages biblically. Repentance, in this case, looks the same as it does for every other sexual sin—fleeing from immorality (1 Cor. 6:18).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Once again, any view of “most Evangelicals” that contradicts what Jesus actually said, and what Paul actually said is nothing more than wishful thinking and hot air.     Dr. Moore says “remarriage after divorce ‘may well’ constitute ‘an act’ of adultery”.    Why is he willing to concede this much after saying above that sexual infidelity dissolves a marriage?    Isn’t it because Dr. Moore KNOWS  all too well what Jesus said and KNOWS Who alone can dissolve what GOD has Himself joined?     By what authority, then, may Dr. Moore claim that marriages entered into sinfully are holy matrimony?    Surely  not by the fallacious appeal to the Samaritan woman-at-the-well!   Does he know the difference between civil marriage and holy matrimony?    Does he realize that only the latter has God’s participation (regardless of any pastor’s) and therefore neither are “sanctified” adulterers joined together in “the icon of Christic mystery”?    How can he possibly say that a two-party civil contract, where there’s a prior 3-party undissolved covenant with a living estranged spouse, constitutes a biblical marriage?    Dr.  Moore begins this section by asking rhetorically what repentance looks like for a civil marriage entered into sinfully.   He then applies to homosexuals advice that he should be applying to these adulterers :  “Repentance, in this case, looks the same as it does for every other sexual sin—fleeing from immorality (1 Cor. 6:18).

 

A better example for the future shape of this debate is that of “Evangelical feminism.” In the 1970s and 1980s, a movement gained steam in Evangelicalism to read biblical texts on gender in a more egalitarian way. These feminist groups stood with other Evangelicals on biblical inerrancy (and on the prohibition against homosexuality) but argued for women’s ordination. They wrote scholarly books and articles on why the apostolic prohibitions on women “teaching and exercising authority over men” (1 Tim. 2:12) were culturally conditioned, addressing specific problems in the first-century churches rather than timeless prescriptions for the Church. Several years ago, I argued that although I strongly disagree with it, I thought Evangelical feminism would win the day in American Evangelicalism. The cultural currents were simply too strong, I thought.

I was wrong. It is now hard to find leaders of Evangelical feminist organizations who are recognized by the rest of the movement as solidly conservative and orthodox. The ones who speak up and often about gender are those with “complementarian” (traditional) views. The largest Evangelical denominations and church-planting organizations and conferences are now complementarian (in a way that wasn’t true at all just a decade or two ago). What happened? The center of gravity in Evangelicalism moved from “seeker sensitive” pragmatism to a yearning for connection to older, theologically robust, confessional traditions, which often had developed theologies of gender. Moreover, the “slippery slope” from Evangelical feminism to heterodoxy proved to be real. More and more Evangelical feminists applied their gender views to sexuality in ways clear enough for conservative Evangelicals to see it as a rejection of biblical authority.

It is not the case that gender egalitarians challenge Christian orthodoxy at the same fundamental level as same-sex marriage revisionists do. I disagree with these egalitarian arguments, but they have a far stronger case for their views than the sexual revisionists, both in terms of the biblical text (examples of women leaders such as Deborah the judge and the joint inheritance of men and women in Christ, etc.) and in terms of the history of the Church (some orthodox groups in, for instance, the Wesleyan and Pentecostal wings of the Church had women preachers and leaders long before the modern feminist movement). Yet if Evangelicalism can withstand the strong cultural tides of feminism—even in its most popularly palatable forms—Evangelicalism can do the same with the even more clearly defined issues of sexual morality.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Oh good.   After quite a bit of highly-defensive meandering in this piece, we’re finally going to have an opportunity to talk about the topic of cultural caving and what may or may not evoke it.    Forty-five years ago, the marketing model  “seeker friendly” took hold of the Evangelical church.   If the Pentecostals were going to compete with the Baptists down the street, they’d better stop being so “legalistic” about applying too literally the sanctimonious “whoever marries a divorced person commits adultery” standard to all those innocent victims of family court,  stop making them feel like “second-class citizens” and stop “heaping blame”.    Their feelings must be respected at all costs (never mind their soul).     Members signed up for the “me-focus” package, and well, if I’m not getting fed, there are plenty of churches with snazzy focus-group names down the street and over in the strip mall.    “Unsupportive” doctrine, therefore, fell with barely a nudge to topple it during the 1970’s (much less any Berean scholarship).
Dr. Moore’s “stand firm” analogy with the feminized pulpit falls apart quite quickly because feminism in the church didn’t get imposed via the withdrawal of tax-exempt status and taxpayer deductions from churches that failed to feminize, or that preached against feminism.   Bricks weren’t thrown through the stained glass windows, nor were burning crosses set on the church lawn. No parking lot obstructions or picketing campaigns interfered with services in protest of failing to feminize the church.    There wasn’t any “drama” to seek refuge from in the church down the street who maybe isn’t giving the government such a hard time.    And are the sexual morality issues that clearly defined?    Since Evangelicals think nothing of consecutive polygamy that was beyond scandalous just 60 years ago, how will the imposition of concurrent polygamy be resisted?    Since Evangelicals are so fond of saying Jesus would never insist that even a wrongful, adulterous marriage be dissolved, how “heartless” would it be in five years to insist that a “throuple” shed one of the spouses when there are kids involved from both concurrent unions?

 

The Christian sexual ethic is controversial, to be sure, and in different ways at different times, it always has been. But it’s not the most controversial thing orthodox Christians believe. That would be the doctrine of hell. In almost every generation of the Church, someone seeks to negotiate away the doctrine of hell through a universalism that sees to it that judgment will not fall on sin. Churches that embrace universalism typically start out on that path with exuberance, as they are freed from the shackles of guilty consciences and fears of eternity. But those churches quickly wither and die. There are no universalist megachurches, no universalist church-planting movements. That’s because consciences are not burdened with an externally imposed eschatology; consciences are pre-loaded with an eschatology. The law written on the heart, the Apostle Paul writes, informs the conscience which “bears witness” toward the day when “God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom. 2:15–16).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  If the above is so, Dr. Moore, why are God’s current-day prophets lambasted for saying “it is not lawful for you to have her?”  Why are they told that Jesus “died for our past, present and future sins?   If there are no universalist mega-churches, how do you explain Joel Osteen and Joseph Prince and T.D. Jakes?   And how, Dr. Moore, do you account for the poll result showing that 90% of divorce and remarriage in the Evangelical church occurs after the members profess faith, if eschatology is “pre-loaded” in faithful consciences?   Hpw do you account for the Ashley Madison bust outing more than 400 pastor-clients?    Isn’t it a bit more as Dr. Stephen Baskerville recently observed in Crisis Magazine?

What the Christian political class is telling our secular patrons and everyone else is that we can all still have our divorces, live-in girlfriends, plus our friends, funders, and political allies who enjoy these sins, and the churches will hold their tongues. The only problems serious enough to elicit our opposition are caused by those homosexuals, not us. The problem is someone else’s sins, not our own. The profoundly un-Christian quality of this stance is obvious…..Individual Christian leaders who propose serious reforms are ignored and marginalized or shouted down by the Christian establishment.”

 

What the sexual revolution’s revisionist ethic asks is that the Church adopt a pinpointed surgical-strike universalism, one that denies that judgment is coming for this one particular set of sins. As with any form of universalism, this doesn’t liberate people, but rather enslaves them to their own accusing consciences. Even if we can excise what the revisionists call “clobber verses” from the Bible, we cannot overpower the witness of the conscience.

FB profile 7xtjw S IFC:   How is this any different than what the Evangelicals revisionist ethic asked earlier with regard to remarriage adultery /  sequential polygamy?   Is Luke 16:18 a “clobber verse” in this sense?   If so, why doesn’t the “witness of conscience” prevent new adulterous weddings from being performed?  
Why did over 700 evangelical leaders sign up for the First Things Marriage Pledge prior to the date that will live in infamy  (June 26, 2015) but we’ve yet to hear of a single church that followed through and actually implemented it?   How can a Kim Davis run for office to issue licenses to marry someone else’s spouse in her role as court clerk without an overwhelming witness of the conscience?
How can the Pope release plans this past week to expedite the “annulment” of church marriages with children (adding untruth and apostasy to abomination), yet not a single Evangelical leader,  Christian legal ministry or family policy council have one word to say about it?    You’re absolutely right, Dr. Moore, surgical-strike universalism is pure balderdash!
Or as the Lord Himself would have put it (a mere five verses before the serial polygamy “clobber verse”) :

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much.  Therefore if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?  And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”   (Luke 16:10-13)
 

 

Will some high-profile Evangelicals cave on a Christian sexual ethic? Yes, of course, a few will. Some Evangelical leaders are entrepreneurial and driven by pragmatism and a need for relevance. Others use Evangelicalism the way an aging rock star uses the country music audience when he’s too old for top-40 radio. They make a living peddling mainline Protestant shibboleths to Evangelical markets because, after all, that’s where the money is. But, as the apostle Paul says of the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres and of the false teachers in the first-century church at Ephesus, “They will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all” (2 Tim. 3:9).

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:   Why was it that Paul was able to confidently say Jannes and Jambres would not get far because their folly would  be exposed and plain to all?    What if the particular arm of the body of Christ was founded on an apostate tenet concerning marriage to begin with?   What if Luther and Calvin were the Egyptian hucksters?    What if the eventual fruit of that was that 60% of the pastors are now embroiled in the Egyptian magic, or have close family members who are?   What if the church mortgage dictates what you can say from behind the pulpit, or the policies or political participation you can adopt?


Secularization and sexualization have put orthodox forms of Christianity on the defensive, especially the most culturally odious form of Christianity, conversionist Evangelicalism. This not only changes the nature of the Church’s mission field; it also clarifies the Church’s witness. What previously could be assumed must now be articulated.

For nearly the past two centuries, Evangelicals, especially in the South and Midwest, could count on the culture to do a kind of pre-evangelism. The culture encouraged people to aspire to a kind of God-and-country citizenship, to marriage, and to stable family life. Even when people didn’t live up to those ideals, they knew what they were walking away from. Evangelicals, then, could use “traditional ­family values” to build a bridge to people for the Gospel. Churches could plan on crowds to hear counsel for a better marriage, or how to put the sizzle back in a sex life, or how to discipline toddlers or maintain a good relationship with one’s teenagers. One could trust that the culture shared the “values.” People just needed practical tips on how to achieve those values, starting with “a personal relationship with Jesus.”

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC :  Having lived 26 adult years in the “buckle of the Bible belt” ,  it would be remiss not to point out that this same region, teeming with 57 varieties of  Baptists / assorted Pentecostals and suffering a dearth of Roman Catholics, was an early and enthusiastic adopter of unilateral divorce, and with the exception of Texas, none of these states produced a single early constitutional challenge to the blatantly unconstitutional statute.  The “buckle” state has long led the nation in the marriage failure rate, and its neighboring cousins have produced the top regional results, suggesting that it’s a serial problem in those states.    Paul and several prophets repeatedly warned that stiff-necked unrepentance always leads the Most High to abandon a people to reap the fowl fruit of their own idols.   Each time the Lord brings forth a Kim Davis or Ashley Madison debacle, it ought to be a comforting sign that He’s still faithfully pursuing a prodigal nation, saying “return to me, for I am your Husband” (Jer. 3:14).

We can no longer assume, even in the Bible Belt, that people aspire to, or even understand, our “values” on marriage and family. These parts of our witness that were the least controversial—and could be played up while playing down hellfire and brimstone, for those churches wanting a softer edge—are now controversial. Churches that reject the sexual revolution are judged as bigoted. Churches that don’t won’t fare much better, for in a secularizing culture, churches that embrace the revolution are unnecessary—just as the churches that rejected the miraculous in favor of scientific naturalism were in the twentieth century.

FB profile 7xtjw SIFC:  Did Dr. Moore just call the Southern Baptist Convention unnecessary?    Perhaps if being called “bigoted” smarts, it would be wise to rethink the over-liberal use of the “legalist” label from within?

In post-Obergefell America, Evangelicals and other orthodox Christians will be unable to outrun our freakishness. That is no reason for panic. Some will suggest that a Christian sexual ethic puts the churches on the “wrong side of history.” Well, we’ve been on the wrong side of history since a.d. 33. The “right side of history” was the Eternal City of Rome. And then the right side of history was the French Revolution. And then the right side of history was scientific naturalism and state socialism. And yet, there stands Jesus still, on the wrong side of history but at the right hand of the Father.

If we are right about the end of human sexuality, then we ought to know that marriage is resilient. The sexual revolution cannot keep its promises. People think they want autonomy and transgression, but what they really want is fidelity and complementarity and incarnational love. If that’s true, then we will see a wave of refugees from the sexual revolution, those who, like the runaway son in Jesus’ story, “come to themselves” in a moment of crisis.

FB profile 7xtjw  SIFC:   From this point, “standerinfamilycourt” rests her case and will just let the readers savor the remaining rich irony in Dr. Moore’s sincere but myopic eloquence.    However, pay careful attention to the second-to-last sentence, because it is truthful and profound.   It alone is the reason why the two-part definition of marriage (complementary and permanent) will indeed be resilient whether there is a prodigal moment in the U.S. and western countries  ahead of final judgment / Rapture, or not.   There’s a strong danger that the bridesmaids who brought their oil and trimmed their lamps, along with a small remnant from our country, Canada, Europe, will be mostly from those countries we once evangelized who have not stained their garments, and will be the ones swept up and admitted to that marriage supper of the Lamb.

I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”  – Rev. 2:18-19

 

Churches so fearful of cultural marginalization that they distort or ignore the hard truths of the Gospel will not be able to reach these refugees. Churches that scream and vent in perpetual outrage won’t, either. It will be of no surprise if the churches most able to reach those wounded by sexual freedom, and the chaos thereof, will be the churches most out of step with the culture. Whatever one thinks of the “temperance” of many wings of American Evangelicalism, it is no accident that so many ex-drunks, and their families, found themselves walking sawdust trails to teetotaling Baptist and Pentecostal churches, not to the wine-and-cheese hour at the respectable downtown Episcopalian church.

The days ahead require an Evangelicalism that is both robustly theological and warmly missional, both full of truth and full of grace, convictional and kind. This does not mean a kind of strategic civility that seeks to avoid conflict. The kindness that is the fruit of the Spirit is of the sort that “corrects opponents,” albeit with gentleness and patience (2 Tim. 2:24–25). A Gospel-driven convictional kindness will not mean less controversy but controversy that is heard in stereo. Some will object to the conviction, others to the kindness. Those who object to a call to repentance will cry bigotry, and those who measure conviction in terms of decibels of outrage will cry sell-out. Jesus was controversial among the Pharisees for eating at tax collectors’ homes, and he was no doubt controversial among the tax collectors for calling them to repentance once he arrived there. He sweated not one drop of blood over that, and neither should we.

While I am not worried about Evangelicals’ caving on marriage and sexuality in post-Obergefell America, I am worried about Evangelicals panicking. We are, after all, an apocalyptic people, for good and for ill. We can wring our hands that the world is going to hell, but then we ought to remember that the world did not start going to hell at Stonewall or Woodstock but at Eden. Adam was our problem, long before Anthony Kennedy. Mayberry without Christ leads to hell just as surely as Gomorrah without Christ does. We cannot respond pridefully to the culture around us as though we deserve a better mission field than a sovereign God assigned to us.

FB profile 7xtjwSIFC:  Presumably what’s meant here by “panicking” is ceasing to tell the “unregenerate” about this version of Jesus Who is just fine with being misrepresented by His bride, as though the first, third, seventh, and tenth commandments no longer apply.   If the Kim Davis episode didn’t make it plain that the “unregenerates” have caught on and aren’t buying, this is going to come off as worse than silly.
Perhaps there will be an Evangelical reprieve from facing the obvious-to-everyone-else, and Dr. Moore will appear to be correct that the Church can keep hopping for another season only one marriage-definition “leg” and while only having to fend off the homosexual brand of moral anarchy, if sufficient Obama backlash tilts the 2016 U.S. presidential election to the right without resulting in a Trump presidency.    Long odds, but possible.  Even so, we must not forget that this only reduces the threat of the Assyrians, but does nothing to move God’s hand against the Persians (who will make short work of the Assyrians regardless).

This means that Evangelicals can best serve the culture by being truly Evangelical. We are not in a “post-Christian” America, unless we define “Christian” in ways that disconnect Christianity from the Gospel. The mission of Christ never calls us to use nominal Christianity as a bridge to redemption. To the contrary, the Spirit works through the open proclamation of truth (2 Cor. 4:1–2). It is the strangeness of the Gospel that confounds the wisdom of the world, and that actually saves (1 Cor. 1:18–31). The Gospel does not need idolatry to bridge our way to it, even if that idolatry is the sort of “Christianity” that is one birth short of redemption. Our frame of reference is not happier times in the 1770s or 1950s or 1980s. We are not time travelers from the past; we are pilgrims from the future. We are not exiles because American culture is in decline. We are exiles and strangers because “the world is passing away, along with its desires” (1 Jn. 2:17).

I don’t think American Evangelicals will fold on our sexual ethic. But if we do, American Evangelicalism will have nothing distinctive to say and will end up deader than Harry Emerson Fosdick. If so, the vibrant Evangelical witness God has called together in Nigeria or Argentina or South Korea or China will be alive and well and ready to send missionaries to preach the whole Gospel. Whether from America or not, a voice will stand, crying in the wilderness, “You must be born again.”

Russell D. Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and author of Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel.