October 11, 2017
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth
Revive Our Hearts
P.O. Box 2000
Niles, MI 49120
RE: Skit, Day 2 of Revive 17 livecast
I and the womens’ ministry of my longtime church have attended your events in Indianapolis and on a few occasions, including two Saturdays ago, we gathered in a retreat setting to join you for part of the simulcast. I drove down to join, though I have now moved to a neighboring state. Typically, we always have a mix of generations in attendance, beginning with the teenage girls whose lives and values are just forming. I am writing to express my biblical concern over the content of the skit that preceded Dannah Gresh’s message on purity. Before I do, I’d like to bring a few brief scriptures to the fore, if I may, since Titus 2 begins with a plea for sound doctrine:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’ 28 but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. 32 So then, if while her husband is living she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress though she is joined to another man.
A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
Of course, Nancy, you know that these scriptures are: Matthew 5:27-32, Romans 7:2-3 and 1 Corinthians 7:11 and 39, by those two “graceless legalists”, Jesus and Paul, respectively. I think it’s also important to acknowledge that the Matthew scripture is the first of three separate occasions where Jesus delivered the [bolded] message [closing verse 32] using the same present-indicative Greek verb tense (according to two different apostolic, Spirit-led authors), meaning that where the translation renders moichatai as “commits adultery”, a more precise rendering would be, “enters into a state of ongoing adultery“.
The message of the skit was intended to model an “older woman” (who is purported to have “repented” from adultery) admonishing a “younger woman”, who is dangerously flirting with adultery, not to go there. However, for those of us who know our scripture well enough, there were actually two practicing adulteresses in this skit: girl #1 who is presently violating vs. 27, and girl #2 who is continuously violating vs. 32. The verses in the middle dramatize from the Master’s perspective just how eternally dangerous both forms of adultery are. With this in mind, it was disappointing to me that this skit reinforced the world’s too-narrow perspective on what constitutes adultery, and appears to be ignoring Christ’s higher definition of the same, for which we all will ultimately answer.
I shudder for the young ladies in the audience, because most of their evangelical moms and dads don’t know (or don’t care to accept) Christ’s definition, and as a result, actual souls are on the line, just as Jesus made graphically clear in that passage, and again in Luke 16:18-31. In a few years, when their daughter wants to “marry” some other living woman’s estranged husband, just because man’s paper and the man-voted Westminster Confession of Faith each say she may, those parents will probably feel queasy, but the particular brand of “grace” that rejects moral absolutes will seem to compel acceptance of it, if she insists. I’d like to point out in contrast, that Paul would have considered such things worthy of the degree of church discipline he urged in 1 Corinthians 5, due to the preciousness of those souls that are on the line. Indeed, John the Baptist, whom Jesus highly commended, would have deemed those souls as worthy of his very head.
If I may, I’d like to share as a mom and grandmother why I believe that when it comes to this type of discussion, accurately communicating the “why” matters every bit as much as communicating the “what“, especially when it comes to young, exploring minds. Jesus defined marriage itself in Matthew 19:4-6, and 8. Most contemporary evangelicals attempt to reject and ignore verses 6 and 8, which tell us all of the following things that many, if not most of us, would rather not hear:
(1) God does the joining in holy matrimony (or declines to, in which case it’s only man’s counterfeit)
(2) This joining occurs upon valid vows from eligible parties (the man leaves his FATHER and MOTHER, not his existing one-flesh companion who is still living).
(3) This joining, as an act of God, is instantaneous, not gradual, contrary to what most liberal, contemporary commentators would prefer we believe.
(4) This joining creates a new supernatural entity that is severable only by death and can’t be counterfeited by men, not even by His appointed shepherds.
(5) This new entity is one party to an unconditional covenant–with God (per Malachi 2:13-14) being the other party to that indissoluble covenant….“She IS (not ‘was’) the companion of your marriage covenant.”
Aside from this unanimous teaching of all of the early church fathers from the 1st – 4th centuries, Spirit-led men of God such as R.A. Torrey, an early president of Moody Bible Institute, also held to this view despite a Calvinist background and despite the revisionism of those who succeeded him in leading the Moody organization. In his famous book, “How to Pray”, Pastor Torrey said this:
Neither he nor Jesus nor Paul would have ever made the assertions they did if they believed that man’s paper dissolves holy matrimony in God’s sight. Boiled down, adultery is sleeping with someone else’s spouse who has not died, or it is coveting them in that way. Man’s civil or church paper doesn’t change it, because Matt. 19:8 tells us that due to the sacred concept of one-flesh asserted in vs. 6, and His holy participation in an unconditional covenant, He never delegated that kind of authority to men…”MOSES allowed…but FROM THE BEGINNING, IT WAS NOT SO”. We speak very shallowly today of “restoring a culture of marriage” in the church when we ought to be speaking instead of no-excuses indissolubility, since this contemporary impurity is what is most keeping the church from true revival.
Some of the most shining moments at your conferences have featured covenant wives, Vicky Rose for example, obeying 1 Cor. 7:11 and standing for their one-flesh prodigal spouses for as long as it takes for them to be won or restored to the kingdom of God. I like to think that one-flesh is a sort of spiritual weapon in that regard, as Paul strongly hints in 1 Cor. 7:14. Standers who don’t stand from the pure motivation that their estranged spouse’s very soul is on the line will never go the distance. Sadly, standers tend to be scolded by evangelical pastors and counselors for taking on this quite-legitimate burden, which to a one-flesh partner is actually unavoidable.
Jesus and Paul both used unique words in describing this supernatural joining, cleaving and its resulting supernatural entity, and entirely different words to describe its man-contrived counterfeit, as follows:
Just imagine the power that would be added to the many excellent points of Dannah’s admonition on purity if its basis had been the supernatural, instantaneous one-flesh entity and God’s unconditional covenant, instead of the unsanctified brand of “grace” that demands no actual repentance or obedience, hence no genuine submission to the process of moving toward purity:
- We avoid erotica and pornography because they will never match the supernatural one-flesh state that God inhabits, and with which He unconditionally covenants
- We choose our partners for this indissoluble entity wisely because the one-flesh state applies until death, for better or worse
- Man’s divorce isn’t attractive when both partners understand the nature of the one-flesh state, because we know sarx mia can’t be replicated for us outside of widowhood.
- Not only is purity a process, God applies no religious or moral test when He creates and covenants with the inseverable one-flesh entity between only the biblically-eligible. It existed between Potiphar and Mrs. P, Ahab and Jezebel, Hosea and Gomer, Philip and Herodias, Herod and the daughter of King Aretas of Petra, as well between Timothy’s parents.
- The one-flesh entity is a fact of divine metaphysics “from the beginning”, and not rules, permissions, exceptions or allowances. It was actually God’s true grace that made this objectively so, making the question of “legalism” completely moot in this realm.
- We love and nurture our own husbands and wives because they indeed are (literally) our own flesh (Eph.5:28-29).
- We oppose unilateral divorce laws and support their repeal when there’s an opportunity to do so because those laws often send people to hell in pairs, just as gay marriage laws do.
For the sake of the young ladies in the audience who have all of these choices ahead of them, as well as for the sake of the standers whose estranged spouses have somehow remained in the church, I wish girl #2 had gotten the very same intended points across by sharing how she was now obeying 1 Corinthians 7:11 in remaining celibate or reconciling with her own husband after her one-flesh “divorced” her, since those are our true biblical instructions. For me, the most grievous element of this skit was the unnecessary slander God endured because of the unsupported assumption that He had brought a strange man to this already-married woman just because “husband” #2 seems to be a professing believer.
Nancy, I have enclosed an excellent book by the faithful and scholarly bible teacher, Joe Fogle, entitled “One Flesh“, calling your attention in particular to the chapter on church history which starts on page 65. This is the book I was recently relieved to find out I would not have to write myself someday. I apologize in advance if reading this upsets your relationship with the Moody organization whom the marriage permanence community has tirelessly attempted to persuade to truth over the years. Aside from your established role as spiritual mother to millions of ladies, you now step into the role of actual mother and grandmother, so I pray this book will help in some way as you walk out all of these callings. Thanks again for all that you do.