“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.” – Matthew 10:34-36
Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. – Luke 6:26
Some of us have a bad habit of mirroring our self image after the perceptions and expressed feelings of others. Hopefully this unhealthy tendency diminishes under the power and control of the Holy Spirit as we acquire the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). But keeping our self-concept firmly rooted in Christ doesn’t happen automatically. We have to take a deep breath and be intentional about it. “Standerinfamilycourt” has some dear longtime church friends who happen to be legalized adulterers, by Christ’s definition. Well over 30 years ago, the wife civilly divorced her God-joined, one-flesh husband for some infraction, and probably a very serious one. Already a mother of young covenant children, this lady “married” a more faithful gentlemen, and at some point thereafter, they got saved together. They are the perfect argument for the evangelical crowd which cites 2 Corinthians 5:17, the “proof-text” that none of what Jesus repeatedly said about marrying another while the spouse of one’s youth is still alive “should apply” to them because it all happened before they were born-again. This couple is gracious, generous, hospitable in every way, and they both serve the church until they drop from exhaustion. They were among the first to make us feel welcome in our new Assembly of God church after we moved from a distant state almost 20 years ago due job relocation. When SIFC’s spouse (who was also very close to them) later went prodigal, they were the couple that made sure there was at least a birthday lunch that didn’t pass in lonely isolation.
In those earlier days, SIFC was aware that their “marriage” was adultery, biblically-speaking, but was sincerely wrestling with a couple of issues that delayed any warning to them:
(1) whether those who die in legalized adultery always forfeit their inheritance in the kingdom of God (that is, go to hell despite all their goodness otherwise).
(2) whether an infinite God deals with such anomalies on an individual, case-by-case basis, knowing the hearts involved, and being more lenient with those whose pastors, under whom they were in submission, have innocently misled them.
Issue #1 was definitively resolved through some events that occurred within the past 3 years, after this couple had moved away. Face it, would we not all behave very differently if we knew that not missing heaven due to clinging to a biblically-illicit relationship, (the opposite certainty) was even a possibility? We might not remarry ourselves, out of a continued desire to love and obey Jesus, but we would at least have the relief that our prodigal spouse and our dear friends would not be risking hell if we didn’t do our best to speak up, I believe. There would be no compelling reason to offend them with this (admittedly) harsh truth under those circumstances. We could “live and let live”, and people would have a much-improved opinion of us. We could then afford to be much gentler in our modes of influence. We could attend a retreat and let heresy and misinformation float through the room while we “chill”.
Indeed, if millions of people weren’t actually going to hell for dying in the ongoing state of legalized adultery, if there really were no justifiable scriptural connection between #LukeSixteenEighteen and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, then the constitutional offense which unilateral divorce represents to Christ-followers would be much lighter (at least with regard to the violation of our right to free religious exercise), and we could conscionably “chill” with regard to working for full repeal, in order to go along with the many who are trying to mitigate the 14th amendment violations of property and parental rights by working for various tweaks to the existing laws, which they see as more “doable” than full repeal. (But, I digress.)
The timely, definitive resolution of Issue #1 in SIFC’s personal experience made Issue #2 absolutely moot in one fell swoop. SIFC’s very public “ministry” was launched as a result, though it was not originally planned that way. Issue #2 became even more moot as awareness grew of the free online resources available to any sincere Christ-follower wanting the truth and wanting to obey, also with the growth in vocality of the Marriage Permanence movement leaders and members, including several solid pastors with very well-done online sermons. As deplorably difficult as this matter is, it’s becoming increasingly impossible for anyone in the church to honestly claim they’ve not been warned, unless they live under a rock. This trend is quite likely to continue, orchestrated by God.
One day the wife of this couple (a facebook friend) broke into an online conversation SIFC was having with another gentleman on the topic of the need for adulterously “married” partners to sever those unions. She gave a very emotional plea around all that she had experienced in suffering under her true marriage with the unsaved husband of her youth, then the Lord bringing her a godly husband and who got saved with her. A very dicey exchange followed along the lines of SIFC’s then-recent discoveries described above, and also how our denomination had officially moved from a biblical to an unholy and unbiblical MDR doctrine in 1973 (another recent discovery). My dear friend was told that the pain of this is entirely the fault of the evangelical pastors who decided they knew more than Jesus and Paul about what was right in God’s sight, and that I came to be conclusively convinced with the confirmation of reliable authorities of its heaven-or-hell nature. My friend’s Catholic upbringing, which she felt redeemed out of, did not help the conversation much, suffice it to say.
At the end of the conversation, we “agreed to disagree”, and I was amazed that she did not “unfriend” me. Nor did she “unfollow” me, apparently. Some time passed, during which I was also exposed to my own relatives, among whom there are also a fair number of the adulterously “married”, and at some point last year, this lady started occasionally posting these nondescript “swipes” on her wall, addressed to who-knows, similar to this:
“If becoming ‘religious’ has made you more judgmental, rude, harsh, a backbiter, you need to check if you are worshipping God or your ego.”
Obviously, there is no way to deliver a message that half or more of the “marriages” in the church are no more than papered-over adultery, according to Jesus that would not come off as harsh to most people. John the Baptist certainly found this out in no uncertain terms. I decided to just let the snipes and swipes go by without a response of any sort, but did notice they tended to come after a particularly outspoken day with others on repenting from legalized adultery. On two of these occasions, there had been a reference to 1 Corinthians 5 in the hours that preceded, and the instruction “not to even eat with such” (in hopes that they will repent and the souls will be rescued, as Paul hoped in the situation he was addressing.) Yup, that would probably do it! I realized that the combination of this sister continuing to follow “standerinfamilycourt” while avoiding any further direct confrontation beyond that first long ago challenge on my wall probably had at least a small element of conviction in it (and probably no small amount of frustration that SIFC was not “healing” out of the “cult” phase — with past-due apologies tendered). I began to ask myself if, the core message having been dutifully delivered to her, it might be best at this time to quietly “unfriend” her to spare her the emotional turmoil of my very public ministry until the Holy Spirit could finish the job of convicting. Before doing this, I sought the advice of fellow standers in a non-public forum. Some suggested tweaks to privacy settings I wasn’t aware of, and others pointed to the conviction that is likely building insider her. One particularly insightful comment went like this:
” I think what most of these friends think … is that “we” are the ones sending them to hell for remarriage.. when we know that power is not within us but God…”
Now this is some food for thought: how might they think what they think about this? Do they want us to just “shut up” ? I’m sure they do! Do we speak such a thing as consignment to hell “into being”, in their estimation or fears, as the Lord does? Do they think we “pray them” into hell (or that we would even remotely want to)? How could the judgment of hell (or its prospect, at least) be coming from anywhere but the One with divine authority to do it?
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
– Matthew 10:28
There is the fateful scene in the book of Acts, with Ananias and Sapphira, where Peter says: “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well.”
(The pair had sold land and misrepresented the proceeds from it which they had pledged to the community of believers.) Those speaking out the truth in marriage permanence are speaking scripture, but aren’t coming even close to taking this kind of authority in Jesus’ name as Peter did. It will never be deemed “loving” in most people’s eyes to tell someone that their “marriage” is adultery and their soul is on the line. But it is even more unloving not to tell them, even if in today’s warped culture, pointing out immoral behavior is deemed a “worse” sin than committing the immorality in the first place. This is because the guilty conscience cannot be rational, and cannot see that a godly rebuke, though it’s coming out of the mouth of a human, is ultimately from God. David saw this, for example, did not protest to Nathan that the prophet’s ego was talking and that he was a backbiter. How could he when the moral rebuke of murdering a covenant husband in order to legalize and conceal his own adultery was to his face? In the instance of an offended, furtive follower of a public ministry that rebukes the culture of the harlot church and the anti-Christ actions of its leaders (usually by name), it’s most accurately the taking of offense just because “the shoe fits”. There’s another word for this: fruitless conviction.
The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, But the righteous are bold as a lion. – Proverbs 28:1
If anything constitutes “backbiting”, it’s putting a “corrective” message on one’s wall that has no “To” line. This friend is not normally a wicked person, and her predicament is largely due to the faithlessness of the shepherds she followed in subconscious preference to following what’s actually in her bible. Even for “standerinfamilycourt” who loves both of these legalized adulterers of 30+ years deeply and personally, it going to be the saddest of days when conviction does finally and properly land, and they realize they must separate in order to see each other in heaven. They spent those decades doing what they sincerely thought was godly and right, in devotion to both Him and each other. If any unlawful couple caused SIFC to wrestle with the Lord about #LukeSixteenEighteen, it’s this couple.
We tend to make an assumption in the contemporary church that Jesus, Paul and the apostles were consistently meek when addressing all issues, and that they only got “rough” with the Pharisees. This leads to the belief that anger or directness is never appropriate or “godly” in dealing with a deadly spiritual cancer — one, in fact, that is infested with demons. A recent article, Read The Gospels To Discover The Jesus Nobody Likes To Talk About by Glen T. Stanton in the Federalist states it this way:
“Two truths about Jesus seem to be at odds with the modern Christian understanding and presentation of God’s son. First, the God-man, unbound by time, held a decidedly ancient and unenlightened view of the world by contemporary standards. Second, he did hurt others’ feelings and didn’t apologize for it—and not just those of the religious fat cats of the day. Along with the tender Lamb of God, we find a lion as well. We must admit to and accept all of this if we want to know the whole divine person of Christ.”
Very typically, the other person like this in many of our lives is our own prodigal spouse, someone who does not need any enticement to think and speak negatively about their true one-flesh covenant mate in order to self-justify keeping the counterfeit. If that person was ever born-again, the Holy Spirit is pursuing them relentlessly, day by day, hour by hour, and doing so from within. It’s easy for the blame for that to fall on the praying covenant marriage stander who has not taken off their wedding ring even though their spouse may have put on a false one. If the covenant spouse also takes an unrelenting public stand against institutionalized adultery, meaning to change both law and culture, it escalates from there. Prodigals are half-right about the blame for their discomfort. We are instruments or agents of what they dread, but we are not the Divine Orchestrator.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!