All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; for the earth is the Lord’s, andall it contains.If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake.But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake;I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved. – 1 Corinthians 10:23-33
Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
– Ephesians 5:16-33
“Standerinfamilycourt” has never been one to belong to dozens of social media sites and pages, being extremely selective and purposeful about which ones merit THE LORD’S time which has been entrusted to advance the kingdom of God. This balance of time is certainly going to look different from disciple to disciple, depending on the particular assignment we’ve been given in these last days. The half-dozen sites SIFC has committed to membership in generally serve these main purposes, consistent with kingdom assignment:
(1) plug into high-quality scholarship of others so that 7 Times Around the Jericho WallandUnilateral Divorce Is Unconstitutionalcan be as reliable as possible in dividing God’s word (and on the flip side, promote respectful avoidance of misusing the word of God)
(2) provide a trustworthy connection point to refer opposite-sex individuals who contact our pages seeking to be ministered to deeply — which should be done by a same sex person who is spiritually mature.
(3) extend the reach and circulation of our posts so that the stander community is aware of, and connected with, other voices and communities who are our natural allies in the righteous, interdependent quest to abolish unilateral divorce and clean up the apostate churches to the extent possible.
(4) keep tabs on what satan is up to these days in opposing God’s kingdom. He loves to send in intruders and hang out on standers’ pages, too, while constantly shifting his ugly tactics.
Many covenant marriage standers will belong to an astounding number of sites and seem to be online “contending for the faith” all day and night. Knowing firsthand how addictive social media is, especially to isolated and often-alienated standers, one has to wonder how much time is being truly spent in intercession for the rebuilding of our torn up families, pleading with the throne of heaven for the soul of our estranged one-flesh partners, and praying protective hedges around our impacted loved ones, especially given satan’s particular rage against us. Not a few in the marriage permanence community, if they were completely honest with themselves and others, have seemingly given up expecting the Lord to restore their holy matrimony union (if they haven’t instead come out of an unholy matrimony union). Some, wrongly in my view, see Paul’s instructions in 1 Cor. 7:11, “remain unmarried [celibate] or be reconciled…”
as “either / or” instead of “both / and”, and this is reflected in how they spend their time and emotional energy. I pray that the Lord will greatly surprise these folks one day.
A well-run site for covenant marriage standers (and for others with hearts open to the truth of marriage indissolubility), will have ground rules that look something like this:
– this is not a dating site – name-calling, gossip, personal attacks and bad language will not be tolerated here – off-topic posts and those pushing divisive, controversial ideologies not essential to inheriting the kingdom of God will not be allowed in our space, nor will debate on them be permitted – promotional posts for unrelated ministries, products, etc. will be removed as spam
It is not typical at the present time for most pages which are geared to a doctrinally pure, continuously-maturing covenant marriage stander or repenting prodigal membership, to have more than a few hundred members or followers, nor rapid net growth (joiners far exceeding the unjoiners). Yet when one gives this reality some reflection, such small following is still equivalent to a small-to-medium-sized church congregation. Given the other reality that in a lot of cases, a particular site may become the church-surrogate for an unfortunate number of standers, the integrity and consistency with which the rules are applied takes on a sobering importance. Everyone in this marriage permanence community has recently had a front row seat for the sad spectacle of what happened under the cronyism, carnality and lack of accountability in Greg Locke’s brick-and-mortar church. Though virtual fellowship is not typically a matter of financial stewardship, the situation might not be too different in some of the stander sites in many other important respects, complete with defecting sheep who fall into carnality because the responsibility for discipling the members wasn’t quite what it should have been in some sites where the defectors were hanging out. When a standers’ site is growing at megachurch pace, it doesn’t hurt to take an objective look at what might be driving that aberrant pace and be a bit wary of failure to consistently apply the site’s own rules.
SIFC joined a fast-growing page recently that seemed to be well-run, at least as it appeared from the outside. Its owner is an organizer of weekly conference calls of very high quality, good attendance, and excellent guests. The live streaming of these calls had just become available on that site, with convenient playback. Despite misgivings some months earlier about the pushiness of the owner in posting the call notices on several restricted-topic sites and being rather obstinate about respecting those owners’ reasonable requests not to do so, SIFC began to join these conference calls on a fairly regular basis due to the quality of the speakers. Site membership had grown to about 1300 with a dozen or so new joiners weekly to site membership. At first it appeared this site would nicely meet all three of SIFC’s top desired purposes for joining, as described earlier, and for committing to being a contributing member of helpful standers’ group. Some of the handful of soundly-based groups that had been fruitful a year or two ago had gone fairly inactive, so the time seemed ripe.
After two or three weeks’ participation, SIFC has come away feeling as if comments in response to some of the posts had invited everyone there to a dinner party where, unknowingly, there had been meat sacrificed to idols served, which offended some guests of weaker faith. Let me explain.
At the time point of joining, there was quite the conversation ongoing on about a male stander who had fallen prey to a heretical remarriage apology page, but had simultaneously been a member of this particular group, from which he evidently pursued several female standers (as confessed by one of them) before selecting a another stander to “marry” while his covenant wife remains a living prodigal. To-date, two of our blog own posts have early-flagged and discussed the role of this man’s profuse legalistic ideologies which directly contributed to his moral fall, and (likely) to the ongoing depth of estrangement from his true wife.
Against this unfortunate backdrop, it was incredibly disheartening to see legalistic and dogmatic posts by one of the page’s moderators in the next two weeks on all of the following off-topic issues that drew contentious debate:
– the alleged”corruption” of attending a flesh-and-blood, brick-and-mortar church that has an appointed pastor or pastoral staff
– the alleged “pagan-ness” of Valentine’s Day celebrations
– the alleged “impropriety” of addressing anyone, great or small, by a title
This appeared to be the only type of post ever observed being made by this gentleman in that time frame. Not only were the moderator-poster’s extrabiblical biases being promoted, but anyone not practicing them was being overtly condemned. SIFC’s first appeal to observe the site’s own posted rules was made to the owner in a comment on the post. The site owner publicly commented that he agreed with the legalism complained of, and would therefore allow the posts to remain for the heated and unseemly discussion that ensued. SIFC challenged the moderator-poster on all three of the above distractions, a man whose “story” hadn’t been revealed in SIFC’s short sojourn on the site, but his faith background can likely be guessed from the ethnicity of his name and the apparent appeal to him of these particular dogmas. One of SIFC’s challenges was quickly deleted by somebody with access to do so, and SIFC received two PM’s from the site owner claiming that the dissenting comments constituted “name-calling”. (Apparently because SIFC used the “L-word” as a descriptor). In a display of spiritual maturity, this fellow removed himself for a morning from the page membership, then the next thing SIFC knew, the page was “no longer available”. Not only was I removed, but evidently also blocked from the page.
This site had all of the ground rules described above in place, and then some, as follows:
“This is NOT a dating site. There is ZERO tolerance for name calling, gossip, slander or profanity. If you do not answer questions, you will be ignored, and you and your posts may be deleted. Posts of false doctrines or false teachers will be deleted. This is not a debate forum. Keep posts focused on [marriage, adultery, divorce and remarriage].
DO NOT POST VIDEOS BY UNAPPROVED SPEAKERS. APPROVED SPEAKERS HAVE THEIR WEB SITES LISTED AND/OR ARE MODERATORS. VIDEOS SHOULD BE APPROVED PRIVATELY BY A MODERATOR PRIOR TO POSTING ON [site name]. (Examples: types of baptisms, tongues, women head coverings, dress or other topics that Christians have been divided on hundreds of years) Not a place to advertise your business. Violators and their posts will be deleted without warning.”
These were indeed enforced against infractions committed by non-cronies of the page owner, as SIFC observed on one occasion when a lady was admonished, not for a post but for a question she raised about a legalistic and divisive doctrine. On the other hand, outright slander against a very effective and godly pioneering marriage restoration ministry was actively defended by the site owner when interjected by another commenter, interfering as she was with help SIFC was attempting to provide to a new member in the crisis of his wife leaving him. Nope, this site is clearly not safe for referrals from Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional as originally hoped.
Reflecting on this incident in its aftermath, several thoughts come to the surface that (at least in SIFC’s estimation) if heeded will help keep the looney-tunes “cult” perception, not to mention actual stander defections from biblical morality, at bay so that the marriage permanence community as a whole be taken seriously by people who can potentially help us make a difference for families, a goal I’m certain this site owner shares.
Many years ago, SIFC and spouse were trained in our charismatic, nondenominational church, which practiced a plurality of pastoral leadership as modeled by the 1st century church, into a 13-week course for house church leaders called “The Maturity in Christ Series”. We weren’t very chronologically mature at this time in the early ’80’s, but we then went on to teach this course together to new leaders a couple of times after that, while we co-led a house church with a seasoned couple who were both bible college grads. Without denominational leadership and sound doctrine, the atmosphere was ripe for every kind of lunacy to be tracked in from outside, and indeed, we observed much during this time that was successfully resisted by the framework that the leadership had proactively established and the careful grooming and monitoring of the lay leadership. On one occasion, there was an administration of (Matthew 18:15-17) public church discipline to a male house church leader who had become romantically involved with a troubled female in his charge. This man was put out of the church for refusing to terminate the immoral, extramarital relationship.
In those days, marriage permanence was preached from the pulpit of that church. Unlike the affluent Methodist church downtown, the number of remarried divorced pairs could be counted on the fingers of one hand. The typical dogmas and distractions that regularly surfaced were very similar to today’s virtual communities of believers: dress and makeup legalisms, Sabbath disputes, head coverings, holiday observance, homeschooling, women working outside the home being likened to “streetwalkers”, legalism about pursuing college at a secular institution, order in using the gifts of the Spirit, and so forth. Similar to our virtual communities, people were being born again after spending their upbringing in churches with autocratic authority structures and some clearly pagan or extrabiblical practices, and these folks tended to backlash in the opposite direction of whatever they have grown up with until a period of responsible small group discipleship had brought them into better balance.
But what happens when a stander or repenting prodigal is persecuted in their traditional church, or even worse, put out of it for being outspoken about remarriage adultery being a hellbound sin? The discipling processes can be short-circuited in some cases before a person has matured spiritually. They can easily become distrustful of all traditional churches, due to the widespread apostasy over the remarriage issue, and assume all pastors are incorrigible and all churches apostate. However, it doesn’t stop there. Instead of becoming spiritually secure individuals, it becomes necessary to disparage and accuse anyone who is attending an actual church and attempting to influence their pastor toward scriptural faithfulness. This was indeed the tone taken in one of the posts by the page moderator, who appears from this behavior to have come out of a faith tradition where church leadership is deemed “infallible” and not to be challenged. Only, who’s there and qualified to disciple him in the virtual church? Who’s properly trained and willing to do so? Only somebody who can see (or has seen) where the man’s error is taking him!
Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
There’s a key reason why SIFC opted for an open community page instead of a closed group – lack of time and biblical qualification to act as a de facto pastor. There are just over 600 self-elected followers to Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional, none of whom are very likely to mistake the page for a suitable church substitute.
(By contrast, a community page started four years earlier, similarly targeted as ours, but which doesn’t call non-covenant “marriages” adultery, doesn’t seek to reform the laws, and doesn’t write about things like hell, toxic Calvinism, and the corruption of our contemporary bibles, has eight times as many page fans.) Even so, ministry, prayer and referral (as appropriate) takes place behind the scenes upon request on UDIU, and there is a comfortable margin of time for this to occur with good handling while maintaining the page, and while assisting on a couple of other pages. People don’t (normally) get insulted, protest loudly and huff off on our page — which I’d say is good for public decorum. They simply “unlike” and “re-like” our page.
Were there 1300 group members to deal with, coming and going through a page-owned gatekeeping process, that’s equivalent to a fairly large church, and maintaining this administratively pretty much requires a staff, as indeed this page has appointed its moderators. The site owner told me he works the page himself an average of eight hours a day.
An overseer, then, must be…. and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. – Timothy 3:7
Page owners in the marriage permanence arena must understand that their page is a pseudo-church (unless the following is very small or unless they regularly and sincerely urge participation in a real church or house church fellowship wherever possible), and they must understand that the shared leadership of that page are indeed pseudo-pastors, at least to a portion of their members. Is this page owner therefore willing to qualify these folks serving as his moderators according to Paul’s guidelines in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1? If not, what unction do they really have for criticizing the qualifications of a non-widowed remarried pastor? If they don’t consistently “police” the lunacies and heresies surfacing on their page, are they any better than Paul found the Corinthian church to be when he rebuked the leadership for tolerating similar lunacies and heresies in his first letter? If they have defectors who go into immorality, is this not a potential sign of pastoral deficiency?
And what is their strategy for discipling and counseling the women in their virtual congregation? There are one or two virtual marriage ministries that have addressed this issue thoughtfully and made effective provision for it. At least one of the leaders of this particular page, however, claim there’s something wrong with a female Christ-follower if, deprived of the covering God expects from her absentee husband, she therefore decides to be under the covering of a traditional pastor. Yet her critics on the page really don’t have anything superior to offer her in the alternative. What then happens in the vacuum is (unfortunately) that some can be preyed upon by insiders and outsiders alike.
Here’s a quick reminder of a few of the substantial benefits someone who can’t or won’t attend a flesh-and-blood fellowship miss out on:
– communion (the taking of which just might be felt by our absent one-flesh partner)
– anointing with oil when ill
– meals brought over when ill
– small helps in severe situations they are unable to do themselves
– opportunity for mission trips
– opportunity to mentor young people
Surely, the Lord would not have His sheep criticized in this fashion for being a part of a congregation that provides things which He clearly intended for us to have that the alternative gatherings, real or virtual, can’t necessarily provide? I think of an isolated late middle-aged woman who died alone in her house in our neighborhood several years ago who wasn’t even discovered until a part of her roof fell in due to heavy snow, and whose out-of-state children then had to be tracked down. How incredibly sad, and I’ve often wondered if she had been a stander.
Let’s face it: we standers tend to be a mess emotionally, and long years of standing don’t normally make it any better. These online groups tend to be a magnet additionally for wounded people who, for whatever reason, reject having spiritual authority over them, who bristle at the idea of tithing (one legalism they do agree not to tolerate), and at other disciplines they shouldn’t be finding excuses to avoid. Often this behavior and mindset is due to being raised in a church that was pompous in requiring the use of titles, and in declaring individual leaders “infallible” while promulgating the traditions of men that contradict the word of God. Standers’ groups should be safe havens for those who have been involuntarily rejected or persecuted by their brick-and-mortar church. But bad behavior that is harmful to the others on the group page should never have a safe haven. Response to this behavior should follow a Matthew 18:15-17 process with no favoritism shown. “Excommunications” should certainly follow this process, and should be done with correct motives which are soul-related. “Excommunication” should never result from other members pouting at being admonished.
For the body is not one member, but many.If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.– Corinthians 12:14-18
Another thing typically happens in large, virtual pseudo-churches. All of the usual functional and spiritual gifts have a tendency of showing up in the group’s members and manifesting in posts and comments on the page. One of the key pieces of leadership training my honey and I received “way back when” was instruction in what some of these gifts look like in their actual exercise in a group, including both the strengths and the weaknesses of each kind of person so gifted. However, many standers have always been taught some measure of cessationism, so this conversation could not even be had on this particular group page, according to the stated rules. One is perfectly free on this page, therefore, to hyper-apply Matthew 23:1-12, according to the YouTube video of some self-appointed “theologian”, but God help anyone who dares exercise the gift of, say, discerning of spirits in that group. That “passed away” with the Apostles, after all. Unfortunately, satan doesn’t spare the marriages of charismatics any more than he does the marriages of the “Reformed” or the Baptists. Pretending within a group of Christ-followers that the functional gifts don’t exist doesn’t make them “poof” go away. God certainly knows that a body can’t function without a nervous system, so chances are that an “excommunicated” nervous system just might grow back through another member. Successful groups, flesh-and-blood or virtual, learn how to benefit from the functional gifts in an orderly fashion.
I do not share my written perspective on this to get back at the group, for if so, I would name them. I also do not write this out of any desire to rejoin, based on what I so quickly learned about how its governance stacks up with my pre-contemplated desires for investment of time in such a group. At best, rejoining would fulfill only objectives (3) and (4) – not good enough to compensate for the much greater downside, as it currently stands. I will probably not repost this blog to Unilateral Divorce is Unconstitutional, because a portion of that diverse audience is best not exposed to petty squabbling and (actual) cultishness in the body of Christ. I blush that the poor man who was a new joiner seeking help for a horrible family crisis was exposed to it that day, and can only pray he wasn’t so turned off that he won’t follow up on the good referrals he was given. My main hope is that this post will trigger the marriage permanence community to reflect on what they hope to achieve from group membership, and for the many others administering marriage permanence pages to prayerfully gut-check their own priorities and objectives, responsibly considering some of the eternal implications for running their page.
Surely, making one’s own decision whether to be part of a traditional church or observe Valentines Day are both lawful, according to the Apostle Paul, and whether or not they are both profitable depends on the circumstances involved, which are not for a third party to judge in any event. Similarly, Jesus did not forbid a disciple from voluntarily addressing someone by their title. At least that was the interpretation of the Shepherd of Hermas (addressing an angel sent to him in a dream):
““And I said to him, ‘Sir, if any one has a wife who trusts in the Lord, and if he detect her in adultery, does the man sin if he continues to live with her?’ And he said to me, ‘As long as he remains ignorant of her sin, the husband commits no transgression in living with her. But if the husband knows that his wife has gone astray, and if the woman does not repent, but persists in her sin, and yet the husband continues to live with her, he also is guilty of her crime, and a sharer in her adultery.’ And I said to him, ‘What then, sir, is the husband to do, if his wife continues in her vicious practices?’ (The Shepherd, Second Book, Commandment 4:1)
Rather, Jesus taught that it was presuming upon the glory of God to insist that others address us by a title. Someone of weaker faith might not see one of these issues as the scripture intended, and someone of the weakest possible faith will have issues of conscience over the shallowest reading of scripture or every suggestive, but ill-researched teacher they encounter. I humbly suggest that such folk are not yet ready to teach others if they elevate such things to a heaven-or-hell gravity.
My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. – James 3:1
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!
What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.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 10:27-28
“Quick overview. Covenant wife divorced me early nineties. Stood approx. 4 years until Cov. wife became engaged. Starting dating..fell into sin..ended up marrying woman I impregnated 1 week before cov. wife was remarried. Tough second marriage. 3 year separation where I stood for the non covenant marriage and she did come home with another mans child. Fast foward 15 years and she left again. This time as reading the bible and studying the blinders came off. Now back to standing for covenant marriage altho cov wife seems to have had a very blessed marriage. Sometimes I think if I had married one week after I would have had a good marriage and hers would have been bad. The struggle I have is with how my covenant wife has seem to have been so blessed. Reading your blog there was an article where you had come to grips with remarriage being a hell or heaven matter. What was the information the settled the matter in your heart? You see so many people in remarriages that love God…works demonstrate their faith, etc. that it’s hard to believe that an eternity in hell awaits them. Your thoughts are appreciated.”
( SIFC: Of course, we have addressed these recurring questions in many prior posts, such as this one, and this one, but we’re not surprised that the central question keeps popping up.)
Thanks for your question, Page Fan. You raise many issues in your question, and the response can get lengthy in a hurry. Since it’s a question many have, I’d like to give you a quick answer about the events that solidified the heaven-or-hell heart knowledge for “standerinfamilycourt”, and give you a couple of resources to digest on your own. Then, with your permission, and keeping your identity confidential, what I’d like to do is bring a fuller response to everyone through a blog post by the end of February. May I ?
The first thing to understand is what Jesus was telling us in Matt.19:6 and 8. Humanists, from Moses to the Pharisees, to Martin Luther to Pope Francis, have always rebelled against God’s order, which was established at creation, by trying to make the question of divorce and remarriage about allowances and “permissions”.
Jesus came along and said, “no, it’s strictly about metaphysics — to which there are no exceptions.” This is what He’s saying in Matt. 19:6: only God’s hand can form the lifelong one-flesh entity of holy matrimony. He does it instantaneously and supernaturally, creating an entirely new entity, “they are never again two (according to the verb tense He actually used, translated into Greek) but one flesh.” God then becomes the other party with that new entity to an unconditional covenant. All of this occurs BEFORE physical consummation if the couple was chaste before taking vows.
Where they weren’t chaste, but there is no living, estranged spouse, it occurs before they are back up the aisle and out the door.
This is the foundation that makes all non-widowed “remarriage” adultery, and is why Jesus repeated on three separate occasions that EVERYONE who “marries” a divorced woman enters into an ongoing state of adultery. If it was adulterous for another man to “marry” YOUR covenant wife, it is equally adulterous for your one-flesh to claim to the world that she is “married” to that man, regardless of how “blessed” it might look from the outside.
I assure you, she knows that “hen soma” (satan’s glittery but pale counterfeit discussed in 1 Cor. 6:16) is a hollow substitute for “sarx mia” – the supernatural, God-joined genuine article. Jesus was not just saying in Matt.19:6 and 8 (SIFC: notice the verb tense again in “it was not [EVER] this way”) that divorce was immoral — He was saying that man’s paper claims of “dissolution” were IMPOSSIBLE. Only death severs the one-flesh entity, and only death removes God from the unconditional covenant He has made with that inseverable one-flesh entity. To the divorced and remarried priest He addresses through the prophet Malachi (chapter 2), He says….” the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she IS (not “was”) your companion and your wife by covenant.”
I have always known from my earliest days as a believer that non-widowed remarriage was fake and adulterous, and this came by revelation of God’s direct word and the Holy Spirit’s counsel to me personally. I stood strong against the rapidly-apostasizing church four decades ago based on that. But even in those days, I only knew a fraction of what I was eventually to learn. So here are the events that clarified things for me:
The first thing was that the pastor of my own church decided a few years ago to take many weeks to teach the entire congregation on Sundays how to use the principles of sound hermeneutics in bible study to detect and avoid error / “spin”. He was so serious about it that he did this right from the pulpit in the main service. He wasn’t teaching on marriage, just general principles. I then read a 1957 book called “Does Divorce Dissolve Marriage?” written around the same kind of rigorous hermeneutic framework as I had just learned in church, written by a bible college president who died in 1975.
The second thing was the range of accomplished bible scholars I met shortly afterward. Soon I met displaced pastors whose covenant wives had divorced them, but they had obeyed the Lord and remained celibate, some of them for 30 years who never had a church again after that, expressly because they refused to “remarry”. These guys (and in one case an accomplished lady bible scholar who had repented of an adulterous “remarriage” with another woman’s “divorced” husband), taught me how to use free online deep bible study tools to get back to the original Greek and Hebrew texts, which then exposed all of the places where liberal bible translation committees had distorted our English-language bibles over the past 100 years or so to make divorce and remarriage seem acceptable. I then found out there were a handful of happily married pastors, in quite a mix of denominations, with congregations who agreed with these “divorced” pastors and preached the truth boldly from their own pulpits — all of the truth. Being able to see the differences in Greek word usage that the liberal commentators don’t tell people about, helped me deeply understand the nature of both one-fleshand God’s unconditional covenants, as well as His character in how He treats His holy symbols.
Once I had this hermeneutics and online tools methodology under my belt, I happened to be accepted as a FB friend by a prominent professor (former Catholic) in a mainline Protestant seminary who had become an early friend of our FB page, and who had once rebutted Dr. David Instone-Brewer’s erroneous and liberal book from 2001. Dr. G allowed me to post marriage indissolubility comments on his wall, which is a gathering-place for Christian leaders and students, but he became uncomfortable and PM’d me one evening when I posted evidence that it’s a heaven-or-hell issue, just as remaining in a sodomous relationship is for gays who claim to be believers.
Dr. G: ” [SIFC}, I think you are beginning to dominate the discussion on my divorce post overly much. I think people understand your point. Some of it is helpful but careful for overkill.”
SIFC: “Good evening, Dr. G. Sorry I’ve offended. I’m in the middle of finishing a blog, so will give it a rest, and I do appreciate the touch-base. I do have a question, if it’s something you’ve addressed before. In your mind, is there any difference between “not inheriting the kingdom of God” and going to hell? This is a serious question and would love to have your input some time. Thanks.”
Dr. G: “Not inheriting the kingdom of God means exclusion from eternal life.”
SIFC: “So I guess your response would be “no difference”?”
Bottom line, he readily admitted that they mean the same thing, and has continued to allow me to post the same kinds of comments ever since. (The other possibility might have been for him to cite “loss of rewards”, as some of the Calvinists do with regard to the born-again who disobey the Lord in this area, but he didn’t do so.)
By that late evening incident in 2015, I knew that it wasn’t wrong to link 1 Cor.6:9-10with Luke 16:18, since after all, Jesus Himself did so in verses 19-31 of Luke 16. Notice He also does so in Matthew 5:27-32, keeping in mind that when those words came out of His mouth, there was no bible committee to sanitize it by adding “helpful headings” and “suggested divisions”. (Dr. G still claims there is adultery and “adultery-lite” depending on whether or not there’s man’s paper involved, but this learned seminarian has never been able to point to any scripture that supports this, except for the (irrelevant) story of the woman shacking up with a non-husband, to whom John’s account doesn’t tell us Jesus told her she had to “come out of” – but neither does John’s account tell us that He told her to hie herself off to the rabbi and “marry” the dude, post-haste.)
Dr. G is similar to John Piper and Voddie Baucham, good men who all agree that “remarriage” is adultery before it actually happens, but who all object, without scriptural basis, to the idea that repenting of this ongoing sin is done the same way as repenting of any other ongoing state of sin.
The third thing that happened is that I was exposed to all of the writings of the early church leaders, from the Apostles – people who had been in the house with Jesus after His confrontation with the Pharisees about remarriage being adultery, where He spoke of becoming a “eunuch” for the sake of inheriting the kingdom of God – to the ones that lived some 300 or 400 years later. They were unanimous about it as well. Even if some of them did consider man’s “divorce” real in terms of a separation, they all knew it didn’t dissolve anything until somebody died, so they all unanimously forbid remarriage while an estranged spouse was still alive.
One of them, Ignatius, who was the bishop of Antioch (died when executed by the Romans in a den of lions) said this around 100 A.D. :
“Do not be in error, my brethren. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. If then, those who do this as respects the flesh have suffered death, how much more shall this be the case with anyone who corrupts by wicked doctrine the faith of God, for which Jesus Christ was crucified? Such a one becoming defiled in this way shall go away into everlasting fire, and so shall everyone that harkens unto him.”
This audio link with important church history details is by Rev. Stephen Wilcox – whom I also highly recommend to you as a contact. Stephen runs the Spirit of Hosea Fellowship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhhGSHJAef4
We have to understand that remarriage adultery doesn’t just break the commandment against adultery. It also breaks the 1st commandment against idolatry (finding God-substitutes / self-worship), and the 8th, 9th and 10th commandments (stealing, bearing false witness, and coveting that which belongs to another).
If we die in the ongoing sin of remarriage adultery we die in all of those other sins as well, and we know from Rev. 21:8 that unrepentant liars and covetous idolators are cast into the lake of fire. Ditto for living in an ongoing state of unforgiveness which Jesus repeatedly stated will send people to hell if they die in that state (see Matt. 18:23-35). Adulterous remarriage constitutes permanent unforgiveness, taking our own revenge, as well as idolatry, covetousness, theft and sexual immorality.
If we stand for our covenant marriage, our motivation has to be right — we have to dread the idea of our God-joined one-flesh being cast into the lake of fire so much that we are determined to go the distance in what will seem like endless deprivation. We have to dread the idea that our children and grandchildren are likely to emulate our example of something that could send them to hell, unless they have the chance to observe us drawing a durable moral line in the sand. Above all, we can’t presume to give the Ruler of All Heaven and Earth a selfish time limit before we go and jeopardize yet another person’s soul by purporting to “marry” them when we are already joined for life in holy matrimony by GOD.
There’s much I can say about the appearance that your wife is “blessed” while “married” to somebody Jesus repeatedly called an adulterer. To gain some perspective, I suggest you read all of Luke, chapter 16, and think deeply about everything Jesus was saying in that rich chapter and how it all ties together. The part about unrighteous mammon (following the world system), about John the Baptist who was beheaded for warning a pair of remarriage adulterers to repent or face hell and what Jesus thought about that, and finally the story of the rich man and Lazarus, thinking about how that relates to your exclusive one-flesh and the counterfeit she is “married” to.
But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.– Matthew 5:44-45
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. – Galatians 6:7-8
(SIFC: When we sow peas, we don’t reap corn. We usually reap much later than we sow, and normally, we reap much more than we sow. When the covenant wife “divorces” her husband, she takes herself out of the God-ordained covering-and-authority structure that includes her God-joined husband with God over him, which is also planting a “seed”, of sorts. That act [unrepented], too, is a “work” that is demonstrating her “faith”, is it not? God’s mercy toward her may be because she was never taught any better, but we cannot say.)
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.” Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, were listening to all these things and were scoffing at Him.And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” – Luke 16:12-15
In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and *saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. – Luke 16:23-25
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14
Truly, I say to you, “they have their reward in full.” – Matthew 6: 2, 5, and 16
Finally, Page Fan, do remember that God joins and honors valid mixed and pagan marriages as indissoluble, equally as He does “Christian” marriages. However, if anyone in this scenario is unsaved, not born again, remarriage adultery won’t be the primary reason they wind up in hell. Nobody can afford to put the cart before the horse. I hope you will recognize these women in your life, and all the children, as souls first who need Jesus more than anything else.
Blessings, Page Fan, and I hope this helps.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!
An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money.He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. – 1 Timothy 3:2-7
J D Hall of Pulpit and Pen broke a tragic revelation* last week, which the rest of the media quickly grabbed up in their own headlines. Satan had brought down yet another high-profile evangelical pastor, using head-slander against his own one-flesh wife and the allure of another man’s wife. Satan had successfully attacked not just one, but two covenant families– and a church congregation in the process.
(*Small silver lining:J D Hall “gets it” when it comes to the perverse relationship between “family courts” and the evangelical churches, and doesn’t mind using his microphone to enlighten his evangelical listeners. Don’t miss the excellent listening between 8:38 and 10:08 minutes into the linked Pulpit & Pen podcast, January 12, 2018 about the dissipated moral authority of the church which prefaces the description of Hall’s phone conversations with Locke.)
The social media report last week was, that outspoken (some would say, angry-spirited) neo-conservative Pastor Greg Locke had accused his wife of 20 years of being mentally-ill, had filed for divorce and had sent her away on a bus without their two natural and two adopted children, who will be in the joint custody of himself and his mother. Further, he had recently installed his wife Melissa’s “best friend” as an administrative assistant at Global Vision Bible Church in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee (suburb of populous and affluent Nashville) which Locke founded in 2006, and Locke was allegedly dating this woman who had also filed a recent divorce petition against her own husband.
(from the church website staff page, 1/17/2018)
If this scenario is beginning to sound like deja vu to the readers, there’s good reason it does. The Locke cult-following (some even within the circle of covenant marriage standers) were indignant, unable to believe it could possibly be true, and were chiding the re-posted reports as “shameful gossip”. Meanwhile, many standers who have been down this infidelity road with their own spouse were finding it hard to overlook all of the telltale signs in this sorry story, and the familiar narcissism in Locke’s video statement from January 11, (which Locke has apparently had the common sense to take down in the days since he posted it). Evidently, the podcast link in the first paragraph above is the only place to get back to at least the Pen & Pulpit audio of the video that was taken down this week from Locke’s public figure facebook page, the relevant portion starting at approx. 17:30 minutes.
Locke, of course, fancied that “damage-control” was possible (and probably necessary) with his 1 million+ facebook following, so he posted this now-removed video to his wall late last Thursday, implying that his wife (not he) had filed the divorce, while giving various conflicting time frames for her departure. He blamed his “haters” and in a tearful plea, insisted “I’m not an adulterer.” Not even in his heart, apparently. He said his church was “fully aware” of his relationship with the other woman (we suppose so, since they had “agreed” to put her on staff), and said the church was “walking beside him” in his “brokenness” (as opposed to taking the biblical step of asking Locke to step away from ministry for the season needed to attend to his family). According to the podcast audio recounting Hall’s very recent phone interview with Locke, Pulpit & Pen challenged Locke’s statement that the divorce was final, as Locke strongly implied in the video. It is very disturbing indeed that Locke tearfully concluded the now-removed video as follows (approximately 26:30):
“I told them [his GVBC congregation], ‘I’ve gotta move forward with MY kids, and with MY life’….and people are, like, are you going to reconcile, are you going to work on it? Do you understand if you’ve ever been divorced, that divorce is the finality of what you’ve been working on. It’s not the beginning and the cause of it.” – Locke, January 11, 2018
He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. – Matthew 19:8
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. – 1 Cor. 7:39
Approximately 23:25 into the Pulpit & Pen podcast, there is discussion of the counsel Greg Locke said (to J D Hall and Locke’s facebook audience) that he had sought from Charles Stanley’s ministry in Atlanta, GA. Stanley’s wife Anna (deceased since 2014) obtained a civil divorce from Charles in 2000 after 42 years of marriage, and about seven years of legal separation. Unlike Greg Locke, Stanley is accountable to a church board, and Stanley’s church board voted that he not step down so long as Stanley remain unmarried (per the biblical instruction in 1 Cor. 7:11). To-date, there has been no evidence at all that Stanley has not done so. Presumably, he has also honored the Lord by remaining celibate.
In other words, unlike Greg Locke, Charles Stanley is a covenant marriage “stander”, and unlike Greg Locke, Charles Stanley is now eligible to remarry if the Lord should so lead. “Standerinfamilycourt” takes exception, in this age of unilateral divorce, to the notion that a celibate, standing pastor whose children are grown and gone, raised orderly, should step down. (SIFC has full respect for those who reasonably disagree on the basis that such a pastor failed to properly care for his wife according to Ephesian 5.) In our humble opinion, at any rate, the board of First Baptist Church in Atlanta seems to have handled Mrs. Stanley’s prodigal departure in a way the Apostle Paul would have approved.
By contrast, Locke’s Global Vision Bible Church is independent, and similar to the Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB) denominational background Locke first pastored in before founding his present church, there appears to be no church board to be accountable to, according to our search of the church’s website. Any comparison Locke makes of himself with Charles Stanley is totally spurious, therefore. According to accounts that various church members gave to J D Hall, Locke issued an ultimatum one autumn 2017 Sunday to his congregation (last 15 minutes of the link) after Melissa’s departure, and he has no intention of stepping back or stepping down, despite the fact that his young family is not well-governed as the qualification scripture for pastors (1 Timothy 3:2-7) requires. If he “marries” the adulteress Tai McGee to keep his position, he will no longer be “the husband of one wife”. All of the above is the classic scenario of how so many legalized adulterers come to replace chaste, biblically-qualified pastors behind our evangelical pulpits in the harlot church. Is there any wonder why God’s judgment is falling so heavily on His church?
Another pastor, Stephen Anderson, of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, AZ (another Independent Fundamental Baptist church, denominational membership, about 8 million) is a marriage permanence pastor who has done videos criticizing fallen, high-profile pastors who refuse to repent from their adultery and also refuse to step down from ministry, most notably Kent Hovind, whose adulterous remarriage in early 2016 to divorcee Mary Trocco is already in divorce proceedings (mercifully). In this video, Anderson echoes what Hall said about pastor qualifications, and the need for Locke to step down.
Anderson had been critical of Locke in an early 2016 video for a reason we don’t concur with, namely Locke’s backing away from the extreme Calvinist doctrine, “once saved, always saved” in Global Vision’s doctrine statement. Our position on the nature of justification and sanctification can be read here, and also here. Anderson goes so far as to question whether Locke has had a genuine born-again experience, due to this theology difference and Locke’s public persona, which we probably should not be judging until Mr. Locke has had an opportunity to “finish the race”, though we know the evangelical church in general is full of false converts. The theological criticism and Anderson’s questioning of the social media / political route Locke took to gather his following all arose before there were indications of marriage problems between the Lockes. Although we disagree with that aspect of Anderson’s criticism, his biblical observations about putting away Melissa, taking up with another man’s wife, and the condition of Locke’s family calling for him to step away from ministry at this time are all spot-on, echoing J D Hall.
In looking at accounts of Locke’s upbringing, divorce and adulterous remarriage is an unresolved generational issue in his family, and the trademark angry spirit with which Locke tears into liberals and the gay community, he apparently came by as a result of the divorce and remarriage-related family strife in his young years. Locke’s mother “divorced” his father after her true husband was sent to prison, and “married” another man when Locke was only five years old. Understandably, this usurper and his “step-son” did not get along. Before his conversion experience outside the family, Locke had various brushes with the law. But nobody ever went back and taught Locke that his mother’s soul was endangered because she was living in ongoing adultery, or that this “stepfather” was an immoral fixture in his childhood home. Perhaps if this had occurred, it would have helped dissipate some of the anger and self-focus that it’s clear he carried over into his “ministry”. The wicked example of unrebuked remarriage adultery is almost always self-perpetuating in the next generation. Whatever “standing” Locke felt like he had done for his own allegedly difficult marriage,
“divorce is the finality of what you’ve been working on. It’s not the beginning and the cause of it.”
…before looking around to replace his wife and “move forward” with “HIS” kids and “HIS” life, is likely to have been done out of a legalistic spirit, if the holy concepts of supernatural inseverable one-flesh (sarx mia) and unconditional covenant have never been biblically explained to him. This kind of an upbringing which normalizes Christ-defined immorality even in church also tends to lead to narcissism, feeling “owed” by God, out of the sharp sense of deprivation that years spent in an immoral home can foster in the heart of a kid who wasn’t properly discipled after coming to faith. Somebody in that family needs to draw the kingdom line with the devil!
A visit to the website of Global Vision Bible Church describe an element of the church’s “DNA” as “Loud where God is loud and silent where God is silent.” What an ironic statement for the (reputed) LGBT(xyz) community’s “worst nightmare”! Jesus didn’t feel the need to say much of anything for that which was no threat to the Jews or Gentiles of the 1st century, but repeatedly forbid and warned against precisely what Locke is in the process of doing now, and for which he is apparently receiving no discipline, or even rebuke, at all from the other leadership of that church.
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife.You have become arrogant and have not mourned instead, so that the one who had done this deed would be removed from your midst.
For I, on my part, though absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged him who has so committed this, as though I were present.In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, SO THAT HIS SPIRIT MAY BE SAVED in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—NOT TO EVEN EAT WITH SUCH A ONE.For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church?But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. – 1 Corinthians 5
Who remembers the Ashley Madison scandal from 2015 that rocked more than 400 U.S. evangelical pastors exposed in that scandal– for who they are, when they think no one is watching? From the mouth of one who’s so “important” that he doesn’t feel it matters who is watching:
SIFC (1/30/2018) – Sorry folks, it seems Locke has taken this video down as well since publication of this blog post. It was priceless, as one can just imagine.
Even if Locke is not yet sleeping with this woman until he can obtain the sham civil and church paperwork (doubtful, since his judgment is already so clouded), are there any obvious and recorded signs of this man being areviler? Or covetous? As King David was sent a prophet named Nathan a year or more after his illicit wedding to Bathsheba, to tell him “you are the man!” he was not allowed by God to use his empire and an unlawful “marriage” to cover up his sin, neither will Greg Locke.
Since Locke independently established his non-denominational church, it is likely he personally wrote the Statement of Beliefs for that church, with only limited input or external ratification. These are brief, and they read as follows:
“WHAT WE BELIEVE (GLOBAL VISION BIBLE CHURCH):
We believe the Bible is the perfect Word of God. It is without error from beginning to end. The Bible is our sole Authority for faith and practice. (2 Tim 3:13-17)
We believe that salvation is provided by Jesus Christ and Him alone. It is through his death, burial and resurrection that men are saved from sin. It is the blood of Jesus that cleanses us from all sin. Works and religion cannot save in anyway. The Gospel is the power of God unto Salvation. Furthermore, we believe that Christ died for all men and upon the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the REPENTANCE OF THE HEART and the confession of the mouth men are Born-Again of God’s Spirit. (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 15:1-4, Eph 2:8-9)
We believe in the eternal salvation of all believers. Once a person trusts in Christ, they are forever kept by the power of God and CAN NEVER BE LOST. Salvation is truly everlasting life. However, those who have trusted Christ are His and will obey Him and His Word. We do not believe a person can live any way they so desire and be saved. The Bible DOGMATICALLY DECLARES that a person will be a new creature in Christ. (2 Cor 5:17, Jn 10:27-30)
We believe in the Bible doctrine of the Trinity. We believe in one God, co-existing in three persons: The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is the father who planned our salvation, his Son Jesus who provided our forgiveness and the Spirit of God who SEALS OUR STATEbefore God. Furthermore, at the moment of SALVATION we receive all of God’s Spirit. We do not get more of God, rather we must surrender more of ourselves to him on a daily basis. (1 Jn 5:7)
We believe that the local New Testament Church is God’s ordained institution. It is through individual bodies of believers that the Great Commission is carried on throughout the world. (Acts 2:41-47, Matt 28:18-20)” “Standerinfamilycourt” has highlighted some phrases in three of these GVBC tenets that could be contributing to Greg Locke’s spiritual confusion, and therefore, could be specifically leading him down the wrong path. The joke, in places like Tennessee, is that if you’re an evangelical, you’re going to be a Baptist (therefore, a Calvinist) — it’s just a matter of which of the 57 varieties of Baptist (Southern, Freewill, Regular, Fundamental, etc., etc.) one chooses. Hence, we have an Independent Fundamental Baptist taking to YouTube to rebuke an nondemoninational independent Baptist over the degree of toxic Calvinism practiced (i.e. who has the worst “salvation by works” doctrine in the other’s eyes). (1) “Repentance of the heart” is not repentance at all unless the feet are doing a physical U-turn at the same time. People in this mindset confuse “salvation” with either sanctification or justification, and dismissively label obedience to Christ’s commandments “salvation by works” or “legalism”. New Testament scripture makes it clear that we can fall away, even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, if we persistently and habitually choose not to obey the commandments of Christ. We are warned in the book of Hebrews that this process hardens a believer’s heart, and that there is a point of no-return once the Holy Spirit becomes so grieved and quenched that He cannot do His convicting work in us any longer. Toxic Calvinists will claim that this constitutes, “not being born again to begin with” (as Anderson does toward Locke). Anderson may legitimately do so only if he can conclusively demonstrate that the wandering soul in question was never indwelt with the Holy Spirit. This is a tall order for we humans who lack omniscience. If we know a person well and we are Spirit-filled, we only know the point at which the Holy Spirit did indwell someone else, from the degree of transformation in their life and consistent heart attitudes thereafter for a long season. We have no way of knowing conclusively that He did not indwell someone specific at some point, unless perhaps it’s one of our functional gifts. Unfortunately, the first person someone with the spirit of adultery (a self-worshipper) lies to is himself or herself, and equally unfortunately, “repentance in the heart” can be premediated in Calvinist environments because of the “once-saved, always saved” (OSAS) heresy. This is mocking God, which Paul repeatedly warns cannot be done without eternal consequences if not genuinely (and physically) repented. (2) “Dogmatically declares” (that a person will be a new creation in Christ) pretends that our free will “goes away” and will no longer be exercised. God has endless ways to persuade us from our free will before it destroys our eternity, but unfortunately, He doesn’t ever override it. We indeed are a new creation in Christ from the moment we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, but it’s an error to claim we will never backslide. We should know this instinctively from the experience of the believers who surround us. The fact that we are no longer able to be controlled by sin does not mean for a moment that we are prevented from willfully resubmitting ourselves to that control at a later point. Someone deceived with a spirit of adultery who genuinely believes he and his intended adultery partner are born again very commonly reasons that,“since I am doing this, and God is ‘blessing’ it, it must be His will, otherwise the Holy Spirit (Who is, in reality, both grieved and quenched) would not allow it. I must have not been doing God’s will in my marriage, since that wasn’t so blessed.”One can just imagine how tempting this reasoning is if Greg’s characterization of Melissa being mentally ill is true. If there’s a way to lay down one’s cross that men will allow other men to get away with, it becomes very hard to resist. The IBF denomination Locke formerly belonged to teaches strongly against divorce and remarriage, but does so legalistically, with the Calvinistic spectre of “not being born again to begin with” hanging over a prodigal’s head. Contrast this legalistic obedience with what the Church Father, Origen said: “If we love this neighbor, we are fulfilling the entire law and all the commandments by his love.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe.
” It is absolutely impossible for one who loves Christ with his whole heart and with all his inner being to do anything displeasing to Christ.
“For the one who loves him not only does not commit murder, which is prohibited by the law, but he does not become angrywith his brother because he whom he loves takes delight in this.
“And not only does he not commit adultery, but he does not look at a woman in order to desire her. But instead he says to him, “My soul desires and faints for the living God. ”When would one who loves Christ, who has even abandoned everything he owns to follow Christ, think about stealing [someone else’s one-flesh]?
“On what occasion does the one who loves Christ bear false testimony, when he knows that the one he loves was betrayed by false testimony? “He who loves Christ inevitably loves his neighbor [including his one-flesh] as well. For a disciple is marked as belonging to Christ by this proof alone, if he loves his neighbors. For it is certain that he who does not love his neighbor does not know Christ.
–Origen, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans.
Someone who believes that “salvation” cannot be lost, regardless of whether they make choices that evade their ongoing sanctification (obtaining the wedding garments and the oiled lamp needed for admission to the future marriage supper), can easily rationalize that God will “grade them on a curve”, come Judgment Day, and in fact, they will only have their “rewards” reduced (1 Cor 3:11-15). Hence, for the same reason, they don’t feel it’s necessary to exclude legalized adulterers from their pews and church coffers, they feel “their right to be happy” in this life is worth the gamble they’ve taken with the Most High. (3) The Spirit of God “Seals our state” and Holy Spirit indwells upon “salvation“. Examined closely, these two statements are mutually exclusive due to timing factors. The Holy Spirit indwells, as a deposit (not a guarantee, as one unfortunate translation renders it) upon our justification. Our salvation is not complete and conferred until we arrive and are admitted to the marriage supper of the Lamb. SeeHow Good is the Pledge of Being Sealed? for the detailed hermeneutic support for this doctrine correction. The effect of this error on a Greg Locke-style prodigal is a combination of the two deceits discussed in (1) and (2). The reference in (2) that “We do not believe a person can live any way they so desire and be saved” (limited to drinking, smoking, dipping, chewing, dancing, fist-fighting, sodomizing, tongues-speaking, cussing, sleeping with someone else’s wife without the proper paperwork) most likely refers to someone who “was never saved to begin with”. Greg Locke has a searchable sermon file, as many Baptist pastors do, on SermonAudio. Using the search terms, “marriage”“divorce”, or “remarriage”, SIFC was unable to bring up any sermons at all on those topics, despite GVBC having been in existence for ten years. This could be because M D R (marriage, divorce and remarriage) is a deliberately silent topic in his church, which is not at all unusual. Nor is that necessarily a bad thing if the pastor does not believe in the no-excuses indissolubility of God-joined holy matrimony. Greg Locke is no Stephen Anderson.
Before wrapping up, a quick look at Tennessee divorce law indicates that, based on the longest of the many conflicting time frames Locke mentioned in the now-deleted facebook video, the very soonest this “dissolution” can be final is July, 2018, based on a combination of no-fault and 1 year desertion grounds, unless there is a mutual petition, in which case, the parents must still attend a parenting class before anything can be finalized, since there are minors in the home. Other grounds require a trial and evidence, if contested, and that can take considerable time to get docketed. Divorce petitions are public records, so the filing date is searchable in their county, and the petitioner can be known. Locke insisted in the video that he didn’t file, and perhaps that’s true, but it’s also a matter of public record. Melissa could have filed on either no-fault or adultery or banning from the home grounds, if it’s true that Greg didn’t file. He stated that Melissa was sent, and is living out of state, so any divorce proceeding will entail delays and continuances, especially where children are involved. The timing, therefore could not have been sufficient for a finalized decree, as Locke implied to the contrary, and Hall astutely disputed last week. We all know that there are no “ex” wives in the kingdom of God, only ex-adultery partners, so Locke was lying to himself and to God by deliberately calling Melissa his “ex” wife. There is still time for the compassionate to pray for this family.
(1) irreconcilable differences if: [a] there has been no denial of this ground; [b] the spouses submit a properly signed marital dissolution agreement (see below under Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures); or [c] this grounds for divorce is combined with a general fault-based grounds or (2) living separate and apart without cohabitation for 2 years when there are no minor children. Fault:
(1) impotence; (2) adultery; (3) conviction of a felony and imprisonment; (4) alcoholism and/or drug addiction; (5) wife is pregnant by another at the time of marriage without husband’s knowledge; (6) willful desertion for 1 year; (7) bigamy; (8) endangering the life of the spouse; (9) conviction of an infamous crime; (10) refusing to move to Tennessee with a spouse and willfully absenting oneself from a new residence for 2 years; (11) cruel and inhuman treatment or unsafe and improper marital conduct; (12) indignities that make the spouse’s life intolerable; and (13) abandonment, neglect, or banning the spouse from the home.
If the court feels as though there is a possible chance of reconciliation, it will postpone any trial or hearing date and request the parties to attend mediation or counseling. In cases involving minor children, the court requires the parents to attend a parenting education class prior to the divorce being finalized.
Pastor Locke, you have the Other Woman’s children and four of your own, plus your entire congregation watching you turn your back on the Lord’s commandment. The word of God says that we are a “kingdom of priests”, and God does not continue in fellowship with treacherous and violent priests.
“This is another thing you do: you cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping and with groaning, because He no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring. Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.” – Malachi 2:13-15
UPDATE 1/21/2018:Pulpit & Pen continues to be contacted by members of Locke’s church and by family members of the parties involved, so they have continued to report on the situation. They pulled the public record of the divorce filing, dated November 13, 2017, Melissa as Plaintiff. They also reportedly located Melissa living in a women’s protective shelter. The earliest an uncontested divorce can be final in the eyes of the State of Tennessee based on the filing date is mid-February, so Locke was clearly being untruthful in his January 11 video where he claimed to the public to be already “divorced”. In the eyes of God, Greg and Melissa Locke, and this Tai McGee and her rightful husband, will be married until one of each couple passes out of this life, and hence, it would have been so much better for everyone concerned if Melissa had taken her complaint to Criminal Court, instead of “family court”.
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!
I’m Living in an Ongoing State of Legalized Adultery with Somebody Else’s Spouse. Can I Get Away With It?
We have been responding to the 3-part blog series by David Servant called, “I’m Divorced and Remarried. Am I Living in Adultery?” This appears to be the final installment.
The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. – Proverbs 18:17
We responded to Points 1 through 6 of remarriage apologist David Servant’s very comprehensive scripture-denial-and-obfuscation campaign in Part 3A, our earlier blog post, and with his Parts 1 and 2, in our corresponding Part 1 and Part 2. We noted that Points 1 through 5 in his Part 3 were items of repackaged redundancy that did not raise any substantive new arguments that we had not previously discredited in our two earlier responses. However, Points 6, 7 and 8 do raise some new arguments that we will focus on in this post.
#6 of 8 – David Servant’s Rebuke of The Prophet Ezra for “Breaking Up Families”
In the Old Testament book of Ezra, there is a story in chapters 9 and 10 about 113 Jewish men who had married foreign wives, a transgression of the Mosaic Law. Under either conviction or ecclesiastical pressure, those men divorced their foreign wives. This shows that the proper response to a marriage that is displeasing to God is to divorce. Thus, all those who are divorced and remarried should also divorce, as their adulterous marriages are displeasing to God.
SIFC: Ah yes, the wizard of manipulative semantics is back at it again….“either under conviction or ‘ecclesiastical pressure’ “……”the proper response to a ‘marriage’ that is ‘displeasing’ to God is to ‘divorce’ “. (At least he got the last part right.) We have been pointing out throughout our response to David Servant’s misguid(ing) blog series why God does not participate in all (civilly-legal) “marriages”, nor does He consider them morally-interchangeable, nor does He operate on the ridiculous idea that current possession is nine-tenths of the law. If the 7th and 8th commandments aren’t evidence enough of this, then there probably is no persuading David Servant, sad to say. God defines the marriages He participates in through the mouth of Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6, and vividly describes His supernatural role at each wedding for a biblically-lawful marriage:
And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his FATHER and MOTHER and be joined to his wife, andthe two shall become one flesh’?So they are no longer [by the verb tense, “never again” ] two, but one flesh. What therefore GOD has JOINED TOGETHER, let NO [HUMAN] separate.”
By this passage, we explicitly know that two types of civilly-legal “marriages” in our western culture are non-marriages (and not merely that they are “displeasing”) in God’s eyes:
(1) Where a living spousehas been left, instead of one’s father and mother
(2) Where the genders are the same
By this passage, we explicitly know why these are non-marriages, either ongoing (1) adultery, or (2) sodomy:
(1) God has declined to do the joining, AND
(2) The parties remain two throughout their sodomous or adulterous papered-over union, sometimes “one-body”, but never one-flesh, AND
(3) The prior one-flesh entity remains intact regardless, AND
(4) Man has no power or authority to sever the prior, biblically-lawful union, because Jesus tells us God never delegated this to men, reserving that power only to Himself.
In part 3A, we explained at length that the God-yoking Jesus described was called sunexuezenin the Greek. This is a supernatural instantaneous event that creates an inseverable one-flesh entity for as long as both spouses remain alive. That is, man can neither create nor sever it, even if physical separation takes place under man’s law, or lawless abandonment occurs. Jesus goes on to say in verse 8 that God never delegated that power or authority to any man (including Moses), and it is consequentially illegitimate for any civil government to usurp such authority from God. Where there is no sunexuezen, there is no holy matrimony, and the relationship is consequentially an illicit cohabiting conjugal relationship. It is, as Jesus repeatedly stated, ongoing immorality, be it homosexual or heterosexual. In the case of the 113 immoral households purged under Ezra’s prophetic leadership, the adultery of taking a foreign wife was first against God who forbid it and did not create sunexuezen between the “spouses”. In some cases there was an additional layer of adultery — against the God-joined Jewish wife of the husband’s youth who was still living. To call these immoral households “families” is a slap in God’s face.
Bringing this concept back to the contemporary unlawful marriages, it is far more material in the eyes of God that the sinful relations immediately cease, physical separation takes place, that reconciliation occurs with the rightful covenant family members, and somewhat less material that one’s legal life be cleaned up from a civil system (so-called “family courts”) to which God never delegated any authority in the first place to create or dissolve holy matrimony. Hence, “divorce” isn’t really the central issue in authentic repentance which restores one’s forfeited inheritance in the kingdom of God, despite Servant’s sarcastic characterization. The central issue is as follows:
Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
– 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
This separation naturally entails providing morally and financially for any non-covenant children of the union, regardless of the legal status, and we can also see this element playing out in the Ezra account, chapter 10:
Now therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives.” Then all the assembly replied with a loud voice, “That’s right! As you have said, so it is our duty to do.But there are many people; it is the rainy season and we are not able to stand in the open. Nor can the task be done in one or two days, for we have transgressed greatly in this matter.Let our leaders represent the whole assembly and let all those in our cities who have married foreign wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of each city, until the fierce anger of our God on account of this matter is turned away from us.”
The marriages with foreign wives were non-marriages for the same core metaphysical reason that legalized adultery and sodomy-as-“marriage” are non-marriages. God did not participate to create an inseverable one-flesh entity (sarx mia), so there was no holy matrimony, only immoral cohabitation that had been legalized in the eyes of men only. It should be noted from history (without opening a new, spurious “silence of scripture” claim, since history and rabbinical accounts both attest to this) that many of these foreign wives were concubines under an entrenched system of concurrent polygamy in Hebrew society under Mosaic law. In those cases, the sarx mia /sunexuezen union was only with the original lawful Jewish wife, and the carnal-only hen soma union was with all others, as is the case today with the biblically-lawful covenant wife, and however many rivals her one-flesh husband may attempt to legalize. We also know from the book of Malachi that sequential polygamy was also present in Israel at the time, where God-joined wives were being “put away” to “marry” a foreign wife.
Was this purge done under conviction, or was it done under “ecclesiastical pressure” as Servant fancies ? Verses 1 – 4 of the text make it pretty clear that the conviction was certainly there. We don’t even see the prophet of God making a speech, but we see the conviction falling more or less spontaneously on the people as a result of Ezra’s concerted time of prayer and vicarious confession. We see that they came of their own volition from a distance to where Ezra was (verse 10:1) when the conviction fell. (We see David Servant writing a 3-part blog series to show them the error of following an obvious cult leader. ) We see no dissent until much later in the process of carrying the command of the Lord out, but only on the part of two men, which all by itself is utterly amazing, considering the nature of the command of the Lord. This can hardly be described as “ecclesiastical pressure”, nor can it be reasonably described as anything but a supernaturally-orchestrated event. As with some of our western countries today, it was also an event on which the future rule of the nation depended, before God’s harsher judgment was to land there. We have to look to historical accounts for what happened next, since the Holy Spirit provided no Ezra, chapter 11 to explicitly tell us.
Servant: “While there is no doubt that 113 Jewish men transgressed the Mosaic Law by marrying foreign wives, there is no place in the book of Ezra where it is recorded that God instructed or expected them to divorce their foreign wives….Again, nothing in the book of Ezra indicates that God initiated or approved of the proposal.”
SIFC: Servant is perhaps emboldened to make this next ridiculous “argument from silence” because we aren’t told in the book of Ezra what happened afterward, but we are told in historical accounts that this purging was necessary before the Lord would clear the way for pure, clean hands to rebuild the temple. We’re told earlier in scripture that God had reached a tipping point with the complicity of church leadership in institutionalizing their immorality with which they had not only become complicit, but the priesthood had themselves become partakers. Some of that scriptural documentation comes in other books, such as Malachi and Nehemiah near the conclusion of the 70 years exile, and in the major prophets ahead of Nebuchadnezzar’s raid. These two post-exile prophets were both contemporaries of Ezra the prophet, and twenty years later, Malachi’s message remarkably echoed Ezra’s, as these Jews slid from their purged concurrent polygamy practices into the sequential polygamy that Jesus eventually confronted 400 years after the Lord sent Israel no more prophets until John the Baptist.
We should also pay attention to the fact that Ezra had the Lord’s anointing to lead the second group of released exiles back from Babylon to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the temple.
For Servant to suggest (without evidence) that Ezra cooked up some sort of “cult action” apart from the Lord’s instruction, then argue for that unsupported speculation out of alleged scripture silence, as if just anyone can be canonized in scripture as an authorized prophet of the Lord, seems just a bit over the top. If anything, Malachi’s parallel message gives divine confirmation to Ezra’s authority and Spirit-led intercession, nay, his vicarious confession on behalf of the people he was leading spiritually. As for “nothing” within Ezra indicating that God initiated or approved of the repentance from forbidden and immoral-but-legalized relationships, how’s “…let all those in our cities who have married foreign wives come at appointed times, together with the elders and judges of each city, until the fierce anger of our God on account of this matter is turned away from us” ?
At the point of participation in institutionalized immorality, His shepherds had traded away all of their moral authority required to carry out their ecclesiastical responsibilities prior to the exile. At the earlier point where they had become merely complicit, they lost the supernatural involvement of God in carrying out their ecclesiastical responsibilities. Precisely the same thing happens to denominations and individual churches whose doctrine is changed to accommodate institutionalized serial (or concurrent) polygamy: the Holy Spirit departs the sanctuary, and is quenched and grieved in the individuals occupying the defiled sanctuary. The temple rebuilders of our day will be the literal husband of one wife, and not “one at a time”.
Servant: Additionally, there is good reason to think that, even though the 113 Jewish men had transgressed the Mosaic Law by marrying foreign wives, God did not expect those men to then divorce them.
Why? Because God expected the people of Israel to keep their covenant vows, even when those vows went against His revealed will. A case in point is Israel’s covenant with the people of Gibeon, wicked Amorites whom God wanted Israel to annihilate during the conquest of Canaan led by Joshua….And so we have to wonder why God would not want 113 men in Israel who made vows to foreign women to keep their vows, even though it was not his will for them to make those vows in the first place.
SIFC: This vow business is an inference, but in this particular instance, not actually a valid one. This is due to the intrinsic violation of the prior inseverable one-flesh entity created between the true spouses (in at least some of the concurrently polygamous cases involved in the Ezra purge) and due, in all cases, to the inviolable prior covenant of all believers to have no other gods before the Lord.
Rather strangely, in Servant’s estimation, the vows made before God with the spouse of our youth (by which He says in Malachi 2:13-14, He stands as a witness–to the point of withdrawing fellowship with the violator when they are repudiated)…are only a “sexual contract” which Servant then claims is annullable with a piece of man’s paper. Yet the conflicting subsequent vow to forever repudiate the divinely-favored vow at the very cost of hell, must be “kept to his own (eternal) hurt“. It’s akin to the silly claim that only covenant eggs can be “unscrambled”, but not adulterous “eggs”. The Divine joke is on Servant (and his fellow serial polygamy apologists) that the hand of the Lord who is the lover of our souls, Whose love is big enough to unscramble those rancid, adulterated non-covenant eggs does it all the time, and puts true one-flesh partners back together, after sometimes decades of man’s “divorce”, — often on both sides of the illicit union. That’s because, not only was it not His will for them to make those second vows, it was the destruction of their souls to make them. “Do not be deceived, no adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God.” The Gibeonite analogy is false here, because there were no God-joined one-flesh relationships repudiated in that vow with the pagans.
Servant: The servant of God, guided by his integrity, “swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Ps 15:4). And did not God hold those 113 men accountable for the suffering they caused the women whom they divorced, as well as their common children “to whom the kingdom belongs” (something which Jesus incidentally proclaimed within seconds of one His Four D&R Statements; see Matt. 19:14).
SIFC: If the servant of God is indeed guided by his integrity, that integrity will lead him back to his one-flesh mate and their covenant generations. Otherwise, he is not a servant of God at all, but only a dime-a-dozen hypocrite, a tare among the wheat. If he “swore to his own hurt”, then why do not his original vows preclude and take precedence over any subsequent vows?
Did God hold those 113 men accountable for the suffering they caused the women whom they wrongfully “married” and the resulting children? Perhaps, so, at least until they offered the required atonement sacrifice at the temple altar that afternoon. Even so, God would have held those men far more accountable had they dug in their heels and refused to repent of those immoral relationships, continuing on in them. He would have held them far more accountable for the whoredom and idolatry they were clinging to, which competed with their holiness and with their worship of the living God with their bodies.
Noncovenant children are not the only children involved in a good many of these pseudo-marriages. Also watching the adulterous charade, and being forced sometimes to witness the blasphemous “wedding” ceremonies by a “pastor” they thought they could trust, are the covenant children and grandchildren of the true holy matrimony union(s). It is only the latter about whom God directed these rebuking words through the mouth of the prophet Malachi:
Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife OF YOUR YOUTH, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she IS [not, “was”]your companion and your wife by covenant.But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a GODLY OFFSPRING? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife OF YOUR YOUTH. – Malachi 2:14-15
When mass-immorality is normalized both in civil law and in the church, and that immorality is a clear heaven-or-hell matter, it gives rise to an emulation risk in the next generations until society either repents en masse, or entirely collapses within three or four generations. God is concerned with the evil ongoing practices of the larger society, not just the individual cases. We need to beware, lest the rise of militant Islamism become our “Persia” and rabid homofascism become our “Assyria” in chastening for our sequential polygamy practices.
Servant referenced the milder of two passages carrying the same warning:
“But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14
Another passage in Matthew which Servant is by inference alluding to goes like this:
“And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!” – Matthew 18:4-7
Servant’s hands are far from clean with regard to the duty he owes as a former pastor and as a current teacher, to both the covenant and the noncovenant children, yet he is pointing his accusing finger at the repenting prodigal parents seeking to obey the Lord. Remember, it takes pure, clean hands to rebuild the temple. He may stop his braying against “divorce” of adulterous unions the moment he ceases to perform or attend adulterous “weddings”, which directly drive the evangelical demand for more “divorce”. If pastors obeyed the Lord and refused to solemnize these abominations in the holy fear of God, as they consistently did only 60 years ago, Servant would have very little to publicly squirm about, and his personal taxes would be a lot lower, as a bonus. Financing the Sexual Revolution is very, very costly.
A child from an adulterous civil-only union is by far better off having a repenting parent sit down with them and show them in the word of God that what they (the parent) have done will cost souls in that family, and warn those children not to emulate what they’ve (unfortunately) witnessed, drawing the line that the sin needs to stop in the parents’ generation. In many cases, the covenant spouse is rises to the occasion upon reconciliation to absorb the non-covenant child into the covenant household, and in other cases, the children watch the sole repented parent walk out the word of God celibately for the rest of their lives while praying for the soul of lost parent if the latter is in an adulterous subsequent union. This is far better than pretending that societally-normalized sin isn’t sending millions to hell, contrary to the clear word of God that it is doing so.
Servant: Beyond those things, the fundamental reason why God forbade the Israelite men from marrying foreign wives, namely, the great risk posed by those pagan women of turning the hearts of their Israelite husbands from devotion to the Lord, has absolutely no application to modern Christians married to Christians, even when one of them at one time was previously married and divorced.
SIFC: Everyone should realize by now that Servant’s last assertion is outrageously untrue in the ending thought. All willful, unrepented sin turns and hardens a man’s heart from serving God. Not all idolatry is directed toward a stick of wood. Indeed, the apostle James calls the friends of the world system “adulterers and adulteresses” (figuratively and literally – verse 4:4 – Antioch manuscripts), and says that this creates enmity with God. Under the New Covenant, obedience is to flow from the heart, and not from external regulations. The bulk of evangelicals today take this to mean that obedience need not flow at all. What they don’t realize is that if obedience is not flowing, or there’s a cordoned-off area, it means the heart is hardened because the inward “god” is one’s self. This applies to Christians married to Christians, and it equally applies to Christians married to pagans, Jews, Muslims, etc. But we must defined “married” the Matthew 19:4-6 way, with no politically-correct terms substituted to include non-marriages. If someone remains in a non-marriage after having the false teaching they grew up with authoritatively corrected by the word of God, they have a hardened heart and are involved in idolatry no less than were the guilty under Ezra’s leadership. There’s even more bad news about hardened hearts, according to the book of Hebrews: they cause born-again people to fall away eventually.
Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,15 while it is said,
“Today if you hear His voice, Do not HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, aswhen they provoked Me.” – Hebrews 3:12-14
Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter BECAUSE OF DISOBEDIENCE,He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before,
“Today if you hear His voice, Do not HARDEN YOUR HEARTS”
Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that NO ONE WILL FALL THROUGH FOLLOWING THE SAME EXAMPLE OF DISOBEDIENCE.For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. – Hebrews 4: 6, 7, 11-13
Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled..
– Hebrews 12:14-15
Non-forgivers and those who insist on an imaginary “exception clause” to disobey the Lord and take their own ongoing revenge against the exclusive“bone-of-their-bones and flesh-of-their-flesh”(Genesis 2:23) are at the very highest risk of hell, because their illicit action is irrefutable evidence of a hard heart from the beginning,
a heart which has no intention of forgiving unless God changes that heart. Jesus bluntly stated that all such people are headed for hell unless they repent. Their own considerable sins will not be forgiven.
Mr. Servant may claim that the purge of idolatrous, unlawful “marriages” described in the book of Ezra, “has absolutely no application to modern Christians ‘married’ to Christians, even when one of them at one time was previously married and divorced….” when he can demonstrate that Jesus had multiple churches as His bride, and that God removed a slab of ribs from Adam’s side in case he’d need one or more reserve brides. Both events, had they occurred, would have proven these husbands as idolatrous self-worshippers who had the Lord’s “approval” for that heart condition.
Servant: Paul’s prohibition for Christians to divorce unbelieving spouses, we have to question how anyone could advocate that some Christians should divorce their Christian (or non-Christian) spouses because of a story of 113 Israelite men divorcing pagan spouses.
SIFC: This is false logic. It does not follow that a commandment not to do “x” invalidates a separate commandment not to live on in a state of “y” . We also have to watch the definition here of “spouse”, since according to Jesus, the spouse is the one immorally-but-legally abandoned, and their counterfeit replacement is an ongoing adultery partner for as long as the spouse lives. There is quite a difference, obviously, between civilly-legal and biblically lawful.
#7 of 8 – Servant’s Attempt to Recharacterize The Herod Incident
“John the Baptist reprimanded Herod Antipas for his marriage to his half-brother’s wife, Herodias, calling him to divorce her. This serves as an example for all the Christians who are in adulterous marriages, who also should divorce.
Answer: This claim is built on several assumptions, one of which is the assumption, again, that Christian couples in which one or both were previously married are considered by God to be in “adulterous marriages” or “still married to their original spouses in God’s eyes,” which I have already shown is not the case if we consider all of Scripture.
SIFC: Servant has “shown” nothing of the kind. Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said in Matthew 19:6 and 8, and in Matthew 5:32b, as well as Matthew 19:9b-KJV and finally, Luke 16:18b. It’s that simple.
Servant: But let’s consider the marriage of Herod Antipas and Herodias. First, it’s worth noting that Herodias was named after her grandfather, Herod the Great, who also happened to be Herod Antipas’ father. That not only explains why their names are so similar, but also tells us they were related. Herodias was Herod Antipas’ niece. Theirs was an incestuous marriage.
Both had previously been married, Herod Antipas to a woman named Phasaelis, daughter of King Aretas IV of Nabatea, and Herodias to Herod Antipas’ half-brother, Philip. But when Herod Antipas was once visiting Rome and staying with Philip, he and Herodias fell in love, or perhaps it might be better said that they fell in lust. They agreed to marry once Herod Antipas had divorced Phasaelis. When Phasaelis learned of their plans, she journeyed back home to her father, King Aretas IV, who subsequently declared war against Herod. Herod lost that war. But the main point is, in order to marry each other, Herodias divorced Philip and Herod Antipas divorced Phasaelis. It was a classic case of obvious adultery under the guise of marriage.
SIFC: Indeed it was a classic case of adultery under the guise of “marriage”, blood ties notwithstanding. Servant is owed great credit here for finally venturing into the history books to pull out what scripture is silent about, for example, the facts about Herod’s one-flesh covenant wife whom he “divorced” (or so he thought). Contrast this attention to factual detail with Dr. John Piper’s lazy coyness in a blog he wrote last year with the same purpose in mind. Piper was just full of speculations, including questioning whether Herod had actually “married” Herodias, or maybe JTB was merely rebuking him for messing around with her. Servant does a good job here — until he gets lazy, too…
Servant: And did John actually call on Herod and Herodias to divorce as a remedy for their sin? If he did, Scripture doesn’t say, and so we should not make that assumption. We could just as rightly claim that John was calling for Herod and Herodias to be stoned, as that is what the Law of Moses prescribed for adulterers, and clearly, that is what they were guilty of.
SIFC: Pray tell, how was a jailed prophet ever going to hope to get a king stoned for adultery? History tells us the Romans had banned stoning since about 6 B.C. That’s why “divorce” was such a big, hairy deal to the Pharisees in the first place. John was willing to put his life on the line precisely because he knew that neither Herod nor Herodias were ready to meet their Maker in their current unregenerated state. Why in the world would he be hoping for their stoning? He had no reason to speak just to condemn them, despite what guilty parties always seem to think. He was seeking their repentance. And, of course, when one has no authoritative support for one’s point, there’s always the trusty “argument from silence”, which we see whipped back out by Servant. Indeed, according to Servant’s normal argument (apparently now abandoned), he suddenly holds that Herod and Herodias, now “married”, were still guilty of adultery. (Apparently, it’s only after Jesus went to the cross that adultery by legalized adulterers was “over with” on the wedding night and thereafter).
Servant: But let us imagine that John was actually calling them to divorce. If he was holding them to the standards of the Mosaic Law regarding divorce and remarriage, neither would be permitted to return to their former spouse (according to Deut. 24:1-4). But both would be free to remarry anyone else, with the exception that Herodias would not be permitted to marry a priest (fairly unlikely). So what, exactly, would be the point of Herod Antipas and Herodias divorcing? Why would John call them to divorce if they could not return to their former spouses but could marry just about anyone else? What would be the point? And are we to imagine that John was calling Herod and Herodias to divorce and remain celibate until their original spouses died, the alleged new law of Christ?….no warrant to claim that John’s condemnation of Herod and Herodias’ marriage has any application to us other than the fact that it has always been wrong for anyone to divorce their spouse in order to marry someone else.
SIFC: Another invalid assumption of Servant’s is that Deut. 24:1-4 “prevented” the respective reconciliations, Herodias with Phillip, and Herod with Phasaelis. We’ve shown where Deut. 24:1-4 most likely did not address actual or alleged capital infidelities until Moses’ bones had returned to the dust. Instead, this narrow regulation dealt with defiling conditions that prevented marriage which were of a non-capital nature and were discovered during the betrothal period. These things made a betrothed wife unsuitable for the consummation of the marriage both before the ketubah was agreed, and after termination of the ketubah. Furthermore, the Mosaic age had ceased, and the Messianic age had commenced with the start of John’s ministry in the wilderness,
Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying,“Repent, for THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND.”For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said,
“The voice of onecrying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’”
– Matthew 3:1-3
At that point, Herod and Herodias were no more under that old Mosaic regulation than any contemporary person is today hindered from putting their covenant family back together and keeping their violated, but unsevered holy matrimony vows. Furthermore, both covenant marriages remained fully intact, or John would have had no basis for his rebuke. He did not say to Herod, “it is unlawful for you to have your brother’s ‘ex’ wife”. He said, “it is unlawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
#8 of 8 – Servant’s Overboard Attempt to Make the Relevance of Hebrew Betrothal Custom Just Go Away
The “exception clauses” in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 should not be interpreted as allowing for divorce if a man discovers that his wife has committed adultery. Rather, Jesus was speaking of the discovery, during the betrothal phase, of illicit sex during or before the betrothal phase. And for that offense it was lawful to break off one’s engagement. And this is the same thing Paul was writing about in 1 Cor. 7:27-28, another scripture that is mistakenly applied to married persons when it actually only applies to betrothed persons. So your claim that God allows divorce under certain circumstances, which thus makes allowance for remarriage in some cases, is wrong. Only death can dissolve a marriage. Thus there is no divorced person who is legitimately divorced, and there is no remarried person who is legitimately remarried. So all remarried people should divorce their current spouse to either return to their original spouse or live celibate lives until their original spouse is dead.
Answer: If one holds to the supposition that marriage is dissoluble only by death and not by legitimate divorce, then the “exception clauses” in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 (“except for immorality”), as well as Paul’s allowance for divorced people to remarry in 1 Cor. 7:27-28, are problematic. So we should not be surprised that Divine Divorce proponents and their conservative counterparts have come up with explanations that attempt to harmonize those problematic passages with their views. I addressed the “Betrothal View” in two footnotes in my first article, as it seems so obviously far-fetched that it isn’t worthy of actual discussion. However, the Betrothal View seems to be a cardinal doctrine of Divine Divorce proponents, so I will address it.
SIFC: Servant’s treatment of this aspect of humanist ideology versus the unchanging truth of God is nothing short of moronic, not to even mention anti-Christ. But we’ve already been there — at length. However, since he’s willing to “indulge” the disciples….
Servant: To put it bluntly, the Betrothal View makes Jesus look stupid.
Note that, in Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees recorded in Matthew 19:3-12, the Pharisee’s initial and follow-up questions, Jesus’ initial and second reply, as well as the scriptures referenced in their conversation (Gen. 2:24, Deut. 24:1-4), all refer only to married people and the lawfulness of divorce between them. The topic remains consistent throughout the conversation. But then, according to the Betrothal View, Jesus allegedly ends the conversation with a statement about lawful divorce that has absolutely no application to married people, but only to engaged people! And that makes Jesus look stupid. It also makes those who make Jesus look stupid look desperate to defend their doctrine. They are forcing a meaning that reflects their bias into a passage of Scripture.
SIFC: We literally seem to see Servant’s mind doing backflips here (that “alternate reality” again, evidently) and hoping the rest of us will join him in his mental gymnastics. Some of us just can’t keep up (a mercy) and prefer the straightforward, spinless word of God as it appears in the literal language and original texts. There is no “legitimate divorce” except for the civil exit from a hellbound union with someone else’s God-joined spouse.
There is no objective and conclusive evidence that Deuteronomy 24 applies exclusively (or even at all) to consummated marriages, except possibly for the phrase that is rendered “sends her out of his house” (which could have occurred right after the wedding night). The passage appears almost like an afterthought of Moses, given the comprehensive coverage of Mosaic marriage regulation in Deuteronomy 22. We just don’t know. What we do conclusively know, however, is that the standard of Deuteronomy 24 does not meet the standards of morality necessary to enter the kingdom of God, any more than Deuteronomy 22 does. We know that when the Pharisees confronted Jesus about divorce, He bypassed any discussion of those regulations quite deliberately and took us back to the Garden to make this point: He has ushered in a New Kingdom where the one-flesh, God-joined entity (sarx mia) will no longer be allowed to be dishonored by the contrivances of men, just as the baton has passed from Moses to Joshua (whose name is a precursor of Jesus) to Jesus, where it forever rests. We also know that the unequivocal statement that Jesus made about man’s divorce is that God was having none of it. “Mosesallowed (and that’s not a compliment, by the way)...BUT I SAY UNTO YOU…”
It is well-established in scripture and history that once a ketubah contract was agreed and accepted, the betrothed bride had all the legal rights of a consummated bride, and hence she was called a “wife” for typically a year before she became his one-flesh. It took a legal act to dissolve (set aside) the ketubah for due cause. This was called “cutting off” כִּרי ֻתת (kerithuth) in the Hebrew, and because their culture doesn’t directly translate into ours, the bible translators called this “divorce”. It is true that when stoning was banned, post-Moses, by the Babylonian and then the Roman conquerors of Israel, rabbinic practice expanded the interpretation of the law to cover the loss of marriage termination by death permitted by Moses in Deuteronomy 22, and it was this situation that Jesus, in a practical sense, was speaking into when He was challenged by the Pharisees. Jesus could have taken them on a long and rambling history lesson with all these legalistic twists and turns, but He was a concise communicator who focused like a laser on the heart-condition. There was no point in affirming Mosaic regulation that He had come for the express purpose of abrogating in order to establish the higher rule of the kingdom of God. Deuteronomy 22 and 24 were both as moot at the time of that conversation with King Jesus as was prohibiting consumption of pork and shellfish, or stoning our disobedient children.
Servant: In the other instance where we find the “exception clause,” in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Betrothal View makes Jesus look equally, if not more, stupid.
In that instance, Jesus first references the Pharisees’ twisted teaching, which they derived from Deut. 24:1-4, saying: “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give a certificate of divorce’” (Matt. 5:31). So the topic is “married men divorcing their wives.” But in the next sentence that completes everything Jesus has to say on the subject, Betrothal View proponents have Him strangely correcting the Pharisaic viewpoint with a declaration that has no application at all to married men, but only to betrothed men. They have Jesus saying, “It was said, ‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give a certificate of divorce.’ But I say, whoever breaks off his betrothal, except for immorality, makes his former fiancée commit adultery, and whoever marries her commits adultery.” Jesus appears to be an idiot.
SIFC: Servant makes an astute observation that the Pharisees’ teaching was “twisted”, but we have no lack of contemporary Pharisees in the evangelical church who share the same carnal mindset. These Pharisees flatly refuse to see the obvious: Jesus was agreeing with neither Hillel nor Shammai, because God’s holy ordinance has always, since the Garden, been inseverable and indissoluble, endued with God’s participation and bound by the holy attributes of His character. As God’s symbol for the relationship of Christ with His church, also for the handing down of the Ten Commandments to His people, and for the Godhead itself, how could God’s chosen symbol be severable or dissoluble? Blasphemy!
Since Servant is struggling so to understand Matthew 5:27-32, we will break it down for him:
Jesus was speaking of an innocent betrothed or consummated wife (in this context, the distinction is moot since the wife is hypothetically innocent in either case) who is innocent of (Hebrew: zanah, Greek: porneia). Both words, along with “fornication” connote commercial prostitution, which by culture was a premarital offense to the Hebrews, literally “playing the whore”. (We defy Mr. Servant to produce a pre-1900 concordance that renders these terms as the generic “sexual immorality” which we see today in the liberalized concordance editions and liberal translations.) Jesus kept this sin distinct from His reference to adultery at the end of the verse because it is clearly not the same sin.
Jesus was here saying to his Jewish male audience that if a man sends away (literally, “from-looses”) his contracted or his consummated bride who was not guiltyof selling her wares, then if she commits the adultery of marrying someone else while he lives (because sarx mia is inseverable and the unconditional holy matrimony covenant is indissoluble), her damnation for it is on his head as well as hers. If she is guilty of selling her wares, then her damnation for marrying another while he lives is only on her head because she engaged in the sin of adulterating their indissoluble covenant on her own volition. We know the covenant is indissoluble because any man who marries her also commits ongoing adultery, according to Jesus. Sometimes Pharisees need a picture drawn for them, and the one below seems to do nicely for that purpose, starting at 5 minutes in. Bottom line: Jesus was not discussing any “exception clause” at all in Matthew 5:32, much less one that allows a spouse to take their own revenge for adultery (or for any other offense).
We also need to note here that nobody asked Jesus a question in this first instance of discussion of the no-excuses indissolubility of God-joined holy matrimony. He broached this topic Himself and introduced His divine view as He was introducing the kingdom of God, and as part of a longer declaration of the points in the Mosaic law He was hereby abrogating: raising the moral standard on, to include the heart motivation. As we soon see, this triggers all of the subsequent challenges from the Pharisees–which still continue to this day by those who stubbornly refuse to accept the moral absolute or its eternal consequences for disobeying.
Servant: But it gets worse. Betrothal View proponents always point out that the “exception clauses” found in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9 include two Greek words, porneia and moicheo, respectively translated “fornication” and “adultery” in the King James Version. Matthew 19:9 reads, “Whoever divorces his wife, except for porneia, and marries another woman commits moicheo.” Betrothal View proponents claim that, because Jesus used two different words, He was making a distinction between the sexual sin committed by the immoral woman and the sexual sin committed by the man who divorces and marries another. The immoral woman did not commit moicheo, but rather porneia, so her sin was not adultery, but fornication, a sin that can only be committed by an unmarried person. Thus Jesus must have been speaking of pre-marital illicit sex discovered during the betrothal phase.
SIFC: We demonstrated above that Servant is inferring an “exception” in Matthew 5:32 that simply doesn’t exist. We know this, both straightforwardly, and because Jesus conclusively eliminated ALL possible “exceptions” when He said rather concisely,
Where does one draw the line on “exceptions”? Any reading of Luther’s writings or of the Westminster Confession of Faith makes it pretty clear that carnal humans have a very hard time of drawing this line anywhere on exceptions when it comes to sexual autonomy. Jesus was far too wise not to slam the door shut on all exceptions. In Matthew 19:6 and 8, He made indissolubility about divine metaphysics to which there can be no exception. Far from Servant’s blasphemous claim that Jesus was “endorsing” man’s contrived “dissolution” of holy matrimony, what actually came out of Jesus’ mouth repeatedly is precisely the opposite of an endorsement. But there’s more bad news for Mr. Servant: Jesus repeated at least twice more that everyone who married a divorced person is entering into an ongoing state of adultery, including at the end of Matthew 19:9 (suppressed by liberal bible translators in most contemporary English translations). Servant’s only response to this is to dishonestly pervert the verb tense Jesus is well-documented as using, in a silly and unsupportable attempt to claim this is a “one-time act” on the adulterous wedding night.
It’s not just us wild-eyed “cultists” who hold to the view that porneia and moicheia used in the same passage mean that the broader context must be used to define porneia, it is the view of many respected scholars who agree. As did 100% of the writers and editors of concordances published prior to 1850.
We need to concede here that not all “DDD-er’s” (Servant’s label for what he sees as our “cult”) agree on every aspect of the betrothal view. Some fail to understand that although contemporary engagement can indeed be broken without a subsequent marriage being adultery in God’s eyes, the similarity with the now-defunct Hebrew tradition of kiddushin ends right there. Some have a false foot in the Hebrew Roots camp, and would mistakenly carry Deuteronomy 24 into our Messianic times. Some are (rightly) appalled at the idea that a bride today could be “divorced” the day after her wedding night, because she did not disclose her non-virgin status to her contemporary husband before the wedding, so they (or rather, satan) use this to discredit the highly supportable betrothal understanding altogether. Some wrongly buy the establishment “churchianity” view that Deuteronomy 24 is dealing with sexual sin, rather than a non-capital cause for breaking a ketubah contract with a perfectly chaste bride. a nonsexual defilement such as consanguinity or ceremonial uncleanness that could not be remedied, in that day, after marriage. All of these distorted views, in SIFC’s educated opinion, spring from the common failure of Christ-followers to check Torah Observance at the door of Matthew 5:1, and the accompanying failure to discard the claim ticket thereto. It is appropriate to be knowledgeable about the Hebrew heritage in New Testament hermeneutics, but it is inappropriate to overlay a disciple’s life with it in Messianic times, as Paul exhaustively pointed out in his epistles.
Servant accuses the truth-tellers of “making Jesus look stupid”. More accurately, this “biblical exception” theory of the remarriage apologists makes Jesus look schizophrenic, while Servant’s sloppy hermeneutics, circular reasoning, and denial of the plan meaning of God’s word throughout his three redundant screeds make himself look intellectually and spiritually dishonest.
Servant: Finally, the Betrothal View makes Jesus contradict the Law of Moses….
SIFC: Yes indeed, He does. Not only that, but even the most casual reading of all of Matthew 5 makes it clear that this is exactly what He announced that He was doing, and He was making NO apologies for it. No apologies are owed by the Son of God, even for changing the rules, whether they be the original Mosaic core or the extensive rabbinic expansions and extensions that He spent much of His ministry denouncing. Servant would make Moses his idol instead of Jesus his Lord.
….which allowed for a man to divorce his wife for sexual immorality regardless of when the immorality was committed or discovered. As I have already pointed out, the “indecency” of Deut. 24:1-4 is discovered by a man regarding a woman to whom he was married, which results in him divorcing her. The Mosaic Law also speaks of a man who, upon taking a wife and consummating his marriage, discovers that she is not a virgin as she had represented herself (Deut. 22:13-21). The penalty for her “playing the harlot in her father’s house” was death by stoning. There can be no denial that the “betrothal view” makes Jesus contradict the Mosaic Law, as the “betrothal view” makes no allowance for divorce after marriage, but only for breaking off an engagement. Again, Jesus would never contradict Himself, and thus He would never contradict the Law of Moses.
SIFC: Correct initial facts that are no longer relevant to following Christ. Incorrect conclusion, as we’ve amply shown.
Servant: Betrothal View proponents similarly grasp at straws regarding Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 7:27-28:
Are you bound to a wife? [That is, are you married?] Do not seek to be released. [That is, don’t pursue a divorce, just as I have previously told you above in 7:10-13.] Are you released from a wife? [That is, are you divorced (or possibly widowed)?]. Do not seek a wife [That is, don’t seek to be remarried.] But if you marry, you have not sinned; [That is, if you remarry, you are not sinning, regardless of whether you are divorced or widowed] and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. [That is, the same is true for virgin women, and this special instruction addressed to virgin women confirms that the previous statement, “But if you marry, you have not sinned” does indeed apply to men who have been previously married and divorced.] Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you (1 Cor. 7:27-28).
Betrothal View proponents claim this passage is applicable only to currently- or previously-betrothed virgins, rather than currently- or previously-married people, claiming that context supports such a view because Paul addresses virgins beginning in 7:25. Here is how they interpret 1 Cor. 7:27-28…
SIFC: “Betrothal view proponents” are far from the only folks to rightly divide which audience Paul is addressing in each of the sections of 1 Cor. 7. Even Calvinist pastors are capable of this, as well as many authoritative scholars. A third grader could do it, so we’re puzzled that Servant continues to struggle with who Paul is speaking to. It appears that the only one “grasping at straws” is Mr. Servant, and only because he insists on redefining terms like “wife”, and “married” and “loosed” to suit his personal bias, and to disparage Christ’s viewpoint.
Servant: This re-write by itself should be enough for any honest person to reject it.
SIFC: What “rewrite”? Any honest person takes Christ at His own word in the first place.
Servant: It raises so many questions that expose its dubiousness, including:
(1) How many engaged men could there possibly have been in the Corinthian church who needed to be advised to not “seek to be released” from their engagement because that is something they were actually considering?
SIFC: There surely were young Hebrew men in the Corinthian church, and in the larger society outside the church, including the the local synagogue. Some were surely under a ketubah contract when converted, or the church leaders would not have asked Paul about this, and he would have had no need to address the “virgins” in these terms. The number of them is irrelevant except as a rhetorical swipe.
Servant: (2) And where is mention of the fact that if they were to break their engagement for any reason besides the discovery of their fiancée’s immorality and ultimately marry another, they would be guilty of adultery, as is claimed by the Betrothal View interpretation of Matt. 5:32 and 19:9?
SIFC: The Servant trademark “argument from silence” again.
We have shown that ketubah betrothal contracts were terminated for any number of reasons, not just unchastity, and that the promised bride was routinely called a “wife” up to the time of termination (not unlike an adulteress who “marries” the spouse of another living woman), by color of man’s law. Someone following Christ, and therefore obeying the spirit of what Paul had to say in the whole of 1 Corinthians 7, should have no confusion about the instructions for estranged true spouses. Servant’s confusion lies in his faulty premise that man’s divorce was deemed “legitimate” or effectual. This is circular reasoning.
(3) How many previously-engaged men who had been “released” from an engagement could there possibly have been in the Corinthian church, and how many of those would have needed to be advised to not seek to be re-engaged again because that was something they were considering?
SIFC: How “troubling” indeed! See above.
Servant: (4) And again, where is the warning that, if they broke off their previous engagement for any reason besides the discovery of their fiancée’s immorality, they would be committing adultery should they ever remarry any other woman, as is claimed by the Betrothal View interpretation of Matt. 5:32 and 19:9?
SIFC: Faulty premise, self-created confusion. All terminated ketubah contracts, for whatever reason, left all parties free to marry someone else because there was not yet an inseverable one-flesh entity created by the hand of God.
(5) Why did Paul tell these previously-engaged men they would not be sinning if they were to marry when in fact Jesus said they could well have been sinning, committing adultery, if the previous engagement breakup was illegitimate, as is claimed by the Betrothal View interpretation of Matt. 5:32 and 19:9?
SIFC: Faulty premise, self-created confusion. There was never any “illegitimate” reason to terminate a ketubah contract. All terminated ketubah contracts, for whatever reason, left all parties free to marry someone else because there was not yet an inseverable one-flesh entity created by the hand of God.
Wrapping this up, we don’t expect to convert any of Servant’s hellbound followers over to Christ’s view. The Holy Spirit must do that in all cases. People who are in illicit sexual relationships have no judgment or discernment until the Lord makes them sufficiently miserable. Hopefully, Servant’s writings look so ridiculous on the surface, from accusing a prophet of God of “breaking up families” to to his outright denial that Jesus said what everyone can see He plainly did say, that no standers or repented prodigals who live for Christ will be attracted to Servant’s siren song for legalized adultery. May the merciful Lord keep all unrepented prodigals who are still in the Far Country, who are one-flesh with celibate standing spouses, far, far away from this wolf who would chain them in the pigpen of legalized adultery or would take a role in landing them there. Ideally, David Servant will some day surrender to the authority and lordship of Jesus Christ, and publicly repent of his rebellion and many blasphemies, escaping the millstone already around his neck and recovering his own inheritance in the kingdom of God. Servant claims on the banner of his web page to be “Discipling the Body of Christ”, but it’s clear that he’s doing the opposite with the adulterously remarried and their “spouses”.
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. – James 3:1
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. – Revelation 22:18-19
This will be a response to Part 1 of a three-part blog series written by David Servant which denies that all non-widowed remarriage is, as Jesus repeatedly stated it was, an ongoing state of adultery which needs to be renounced to gain or recover one’s inheritance in the kingdom of God. Indeed, why use a blog title that asks a rhetorical question, when the answer is repeatedly obvious to all on the most basic surface of God’s word? Nonplussed, David Servant, a non-profit founder, former pastor and book author from Pittsburgh, PA, takes serious umbrage at all opposition to the popular notion that remarriage adultery is the only sin under the sun where cessation and renouncement was (allegedly) “not required” by Jesus or the Apostles. Be forewarned that this will be a lengthy read, if only because the original blog we are rebutting is also quite a lengthy tome (over 40 pages in the print queue).
As the Proverb says, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”
To maintain readability in this post, we must be selective in what we address and leave the Holy Spirit to correct in the heart of the readers whatever else grieves Him. Hopefully in so doing, we can meaningfully respond to a 40+ pager in considerably fewer pages than that.
Although according to his biography, Servant is not personally involved in this soul-rotting sin of coveting and retaining the God-joined spouse of another living person, it has become quite common in the past 50 years since enactment of unilateral divorce, for pastors like him to have performed many such adulterous ceremonies, which are indefensible scripturally. It is also not uncommon in the past decade or two, for such “blended families” to now dominate churches, financially and in every other practical way, since they are no longer burdened with the difficult situations that cause those they deserted to have struggle with day-to-day survival while endeavoring to remain chaste and pure in obedience to God. Like “standerinfamilycourt”, David runs a Facebook community page (called Discipling the Body of Christ) in addition to his own wall under his name, which appears not to be a nom-de-plume.
( SIFC Note:As of the date of this blog post, only Parts 1 and 2 of this series have been published by the author, along with some related videos. Possibly, Part 3 will be out in mid-January. He has separately stated that a book on this topic is due out in January, 2018. Servant appears to make at least some of his books available for download on this ministry site, and has third parties reselling them on Amazon.)
David begins the first post, November 15, 2017, I’m Divorced and Remarried – Am I Living in Adultery? (Part 1)with an emotional appeal that is more typical of the liberal pagan enemies of the no-excuses sanctity of marriage, quite similar to appeals of those who advocate for preserving and defending sodomous civil-only unions where children have been obtained:
“Imagine this:John is an unregenerate drug-user who, during a weekend fling in Las Vegas, falls for a flirtatious bartender named Lisa and marries her at the Little Neon Chapel. Their marriage lasts one week.
“Fast forward to 20 years later. John is a completely different man. He’s been born again and drug-free for 16 years, and he has been married for 15 of them to a devoted Christian woman named Karen. They have 4 beautiful children, ages 5 through 14, whom Karen homeschools, primarily because they want to make sure that their children are raised in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).
“At work, John is befriended by a Christian man who invites him to a daily lunch hour Bible study, and John, hungry for God’s Word and fellowship with other believers, begins to attend. He is very impressed with the depth of biblical knowledge possessed by those who attend. Their influence over him grows.
“Fast forward six months. One evening, after their children are all in bed, John sits at the kitchen table across from Karen and tearfully tells her that he has filed for a divorce. He explains that he doesn’t want to divorce her—because he loves her and their children dearly—but he has learned that theirs is an “adulterous marriage,” all due to the fact that he was once married to a Las Vegas bartender for a week. John explains that, in God’s eyes, he is still married to Lisa, and until Lisa dies, his marriage with her (Karen) is adulterous….John quotes Luke 16:18, where Jesus said, “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries one who is divorced from a husband commits adultery. “That is us,” John says. He also quotes 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which declares that no adulterers will inherit God’s kingdom. Karen tearfully argues with him for hours into the night, but to no avail….” [End of appeal]
Liberals just love to argue the extreme case, illogically claiming that Assertion X, fitted to that extreme case, should therefore be the rule (never mind that God says Assertion X is an abomination). Enemies of God’s undiluted word are addicted to emotional arguments because they have no way of rigorously disputing the objective facts. Such is also the case with “Christian” humanists and situational ethicists who pose as God’s shepherds, while they do as Jesus sharply rebuked in their earlier counterparts in Luke 16… And He said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men, but God knows your hearts; for that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
Such shepherds fear men more than they fear God, even if they themselves are not personally caught up in the abomination of remarriage adultery. But let’s take a closer, more objective look at the straw-man example suggested by Servant: percentage-wise, just how many divorced and remarried people actually have a drunken, drug-laced quickie Vegas wedding in the family history? Aren’t the majority of adulterous remarriages among evangelicals (more realistically) sad arrangements where there are children from a combination of perhaps three or more legitimate and unlawful marriages, euphemistically called a “blended family” ? Is the number of children at all relevant to what Jesus had to say about it? Does God care more about the needs of, and obligations toward, the children born of an unlawful marriage than He does the needs of and obligations toward the covenant spouse and covenant children with whom God-sanctioned faith was broken? Malachi, chapter 2 is explicitly clear on this question. The book of Ezra, chapters 9 and 10, should also point to a clear answer to these questions. Four hundred years before Jesus arrived on the scene, God did not hesitate to command that nearly 120 unlawful unions contracted by priests just like the one described in Malachi 2, civilly legal but biblically unlawful unions which He did not join, be renounced and purged. God commanded that the adulterous and concurrently polygamous concubines be sent away with all of the non-covenant children, as a condition of restoring the sovereignty of Israel as a nation, starting with the rebuilding of the temple by men with clean hands.
Indeed, for every rare instance of a brief Vegas nuptial gone predictably awry, there have developed at least ten cases in the world of our profoundly immoral family laws (and morally lax, complicit churches who routinely admit the sin into their sanctuaries, right along with the two sinners)– of a 3 or 4-decade covenant union being squashed by a “family court” because some spouse-poacher couldn’t resist raiding that family’s godly wealth, unfettered as they are by a civil legal system that refuses even to consider clear marital fault in dividing the spoils. In fact, so-called “gray divorce” is statistically the only growing category of civil marriage “dissolution” precisely because the savvier younger set is “just saying no” to inviting civil government into their homes under such terms and conditions, even if it means living in fornication or non-legalized adultery.
A George Barna survey done in the year 2000 had a full 90% of the evangelical respondents admitting two things, as a matter of fact: (1) their last “remarriage” occurred after, not before, they considered themselves “born again” (2) at least one divorce had also taken place at their own initiation or mutual consent since their salvation experience.
In the interest of full disclosure, SIFC blogged several months ago about a real-life recent convert who married a such a man as David Servant hypothetically describes. In that instance, we advised this woman that her situation is quite “borderline” because in that situation, there was a swift civil annulment before a home was ever formed, and because consent to form a home and to enter into a lifelong commitment was very much in question. We could not, therefore, tell this lady what to do when she asked about separating from this Christian man who became her first husband, while she became his second wife. All we could do was relate to her what Jesus told us in Matthew 19:4-6 actually constitutes holy matrimony based on Genesis 2:21-24, namely eligibility, vows, witnesses and consent in the form of leaving and cleaving. All elements must be present before God creates the supernatural one-flesh entity. We told her that based on our understanding of the facts as she described them, it seemed doubtful that the God who looks into the hearts of the bride and groom would have supernaturally, instantaneously and inseverably created (Greek: sarx mia) the one-flesh entity with which He then unconditionally covenants so long as both spouses remain alive. Even so, how does it possibly follow that this narrow and quite rare circumstance should be extrapolated to all situations where a true marriage and man’s divorce took place before one or both parties surrendered to Christ, and for whatever reason, Jesus’ and Pauls’ straightforward commandment not to take the spouse of another was ignored by both the parties and their pastor?
Hypothetical John, meanwhile, if taught the biblical truth about how God creates the supernatural, lifelong inseverable one-flesh entity upon valid vows, should be able in his regenerated state to examine his own heart and determine whether this occurred between himself and the barmaid based on his firsthand knowledge of their mutual intent and consent (and her eligibility to vow). But he doesn’t have a chance of doing so if all he’s ever taught is the evangelical heresy that all “marriages” are morally interchangeable and current possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Mr. Servant continues: “This kind of doctrine not only can potentially destroy devoted Christian families like John and Karen’s, but it opens the door dangerously wide—for certain Christian couples who are struggling in their marriages—with a convenient justification to divorce. It can turn a treacherous sin—divorce between two Christians—into a holy obligation. It makes divorce, something that God hates (Mal. 2:16) into something that, in some cases, pleases Him. It forces those who do not have the gift of celibacy to pretend that they do. And it creates a lower, “unclean” class among those who have been cleansed of their sins by Jesus’ sacrifice, a class consisting of those who have previously been married and divorced.”
There are, of course, several problems with the above statement.
(1) The “doctrine” came directly (and repeatedly) from Jesus Christ beginning with the sermon on the mount, and was repeatedly confirmed by the Apostle Paul, as well as by all of the early church fathers for the next 400 years after Jesus ascended, following His resurrection. (We will provide historical examples in our rebuttal of the next blog in the series.)
(2) Truly devoted Christian partners care most whether they and their “spouse” will spend eternity in hell. For that matter, they care whether their children, who are likely to emulate their parents some day, will also spend their eternity in hell. There is a reason Paul repeatedly warned, “Do not be deceived…” when he twice warned that no adulterer has any inheritance in the kingdom of God. If Paul also turns out to be the writer of the book of Hebrews, the same warning appears in chapter 13, verse 4. One has every right to question whether a person who would choose to continue in a lifestyle of disobedience in which the 1st, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th commandments are broken every single day, is actually a Christ-follower at all, despite the sullied label of “Christian”.
(3) Servant’s crass appeal to Malachi 2:16 is completely misplaced when taken in reference to anyone, Christian or otherwise, who has coveted and retained the exclusive God-joined spouse of another living person in defiance of Christ’s commandment forbidding it. The tell-tale sign of this is the willful disregard of what precedes verse 16, therefore ignoring the vital context of the entire chapter, which boils down to God’s sharp rebuke of a man who has abused the immoral laws of men to “divorce” the wife of his youth so that he could unlawfully “marry” another. God doesn’t buy it! He says that fellowship is indefinitely suspended between Him and this priest(hood). He calls the true but rejected wife “the companion of your marriage covenant” (which still stands, regardless of the “get” – certificate of man’s divorce -the woman who remains “bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh” was handed under the wicked hijacking of Mosaic regulation). Further, the Lord says, “she IS (not ‘was’) the companion of your marriage covenant” Hence, it is hermeneutically unfaithful to apply verse 16 to a counterfeit spouse with whom no inseverable one-flesh entity ever existed by God’s hand, and who may likewise have been inseverably joined by God’s hand previously to a true living spouse on the other side. The concubine IS the society-destroying problem; she cannot possibly be the “victim” who merited God’s protection which was reserved for the true wife; the wife of the priest’s youth.
(4) The direct appeal to the flesh near the end of Mr. Servant’s argument is so blasphemous it’s almost humorous. It slaps Jesus Christ in the face for all that He said in Matthew 19:12:
For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.
Jesus was not at all saying that those who find themselves estranged for whatever reason from their God-joined one-flesh partner who remains alive, have this “super-discipleship option” (should they be so inclined, as Mr. Servant might presume). What Jesus is actually saying is that “he who is not able to accept this” forfeits the kingdom of heaven! Jesus warned us to count the cost of following Him (Luke 14:28), warning us to enter by the narrow gate that few find, and to avoid the broad path that everyone wants to take instead, the one that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). He warned us that if we love anything or anyone more than we love Him, we cannot be His disciple(Luke 14:26). This false shepherd, on the other hand, parrots the foul advice of Martin Luther, that men are at all times entitled to a sexual relationship in order to allay worse debauchery. This, quite simply, is idolatry and self-worship. It neglects the underlying heart problem in order to appease the raw flesh.
That said, we’d like to ask Mr. Servant what exactly justifies his presumption that faithfulness to and (if necessary) chastity in honor of our original holy matrimony vows constitutes “second class citizenship”?Do we say the spouse whose one-flesh mate is serving in overseas in the military is a “second class citizen” because of the season of celibacy imposed on them? Or whose spouse is in prison? Or to the spouse of the cancer or Alzheimer patient, that they are “second-class citizens” due to a possibly permanent season of celibacy that the Lord commands? Don’t we instead admire them for this kind of fidelity and invoke church discipline on them when fidelity is lacking in those circumstances ?
From Servant’s charge of “unfair second class citizenship” arising from the commandment to take up our cross, deny ourselves and follow Christ, Mr. Servant moves on to a commentary-parroting account of the classic battle between Hillel and Shammai, while he chides the marriage permanence community for not buying into the popular contemporary commentators’ oft-cited claim that Shammai won that contest, “in Christ’s estimation”. Like them, he seems a bit oblivious to the implications of what both Matthew and Mark tell us next:
In the house the disciples began questioning Him about this again. …The disciples *said to Him, “If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry.” [ Mark 10:10; Matthew 19:10-11]
Following Mr. Servant’s reasoning for a moment, the disciples were, therefore, absolutely livid and aghast that they could only divorce their wives for adultery, an infraction that rarely occurred on the part of the wife in a consummated marriage, and when it did occur, the Mosaic remedy was stoning, not divorce (Deut. 22). We’re to believe those disciples were left incredulous and flabbergasted that Jesus had just had the audacity to say they could not divorce their wives for burning the pita or inadvertently showing their ankles. (They then went on, as copious historical accounts repeatedly tell us, to disciple their own converts during the decades that followed, that all remarriage was adultery regardless of what triggered man’s divorce.) The unbiased contextual fact is that Jesus disagreed with both Hillel and Shammai, according to Matthew 19:6 and 8, and left the disciples livid and aghast instead because Jesus said these two things which Mr. Servant conveniently ignores:
(1) “MOSES allowed you to divorce your wives….. but from the beginning, it was not (ever) so.” Matthew 19:8
(2) “Therefore, what God has joined, let NO HUMAN put asunder.” Matthew 19:6
In other words, the disciples were left livid and aghast enough to momentarily consider swearing off marriage altogether, because Jesus has just said that divorce of the wife of one’s youth was not only merely immoral, He was clearly saying that man’s attempt to “dissolve” God-joined holy matrimony is, and always has been, impossible. He was clarifying that all such attempts have always, in all cases, been a manmade contrivance that God never provided for from the beginning. To claim that all “marriages” are morally interchangeable with original holy matrimony while a true spouse lives, is to slanderously claim that God also “joined” the unlawful union, being untrue not only to the covenant spouse but to His own holy character, and personally covenanting with what Jesus clearly and repeatedly called adultery. It is a very good thing indeed for David Servant and his ilk, therefore, that Jesus made a point of saying this about blasphemy against God:
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. ” – Matthew 12:31-32
Speaking of the unpardonable sin, we observe that this false shepherd skates very perilously close at another point in his screed to committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to satan, as described in Matthew 12 ), in slandering the call to obedience to God’s clear, Spirit-inspired word as a “doctrine of demons”:
“I have no hesitation labeling the Divine Divorce Doctrine a “doctrine of demons,” the kind of which Paul warned would arise in the last days (1 Tim. 4:1). It is interesting that Paul specifically mentioned that those last-days demonic doctrines would be marked by “men who forbid (or hinder, as the Greek verb koluo is often translated) marriage” (1 Tim. 4:3). Again, Divine Divorce Proponents want millions of married Christian couples to break their vows and divorce. My advice is that you run for your life from anyone who is promoting this dangerous and destructive twisting of the Word of God.”
Serious bible scholars don’t make the shameless pretense Servant has just made that Paul wasn’t referring to the asceticism heresy (Augustine, Thomas and others) of the 1st-4th century church that also continued into the Roman Catholic Church. Legalizing one’s adultery, on the other hand, is not “marriage” any more than legalizing one’s sodomy is “marriage”, and it’s grievously required God to allow the persecutions from the rise of homofascism to get the attention of a stiff-necked church to make His point. The remainder of this rebuttal will make clear that the only one “twisting” the Word of God is Servant and his ilk. Woe to him, and may God be merciful to allow repentance from blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, in light of what he thinks he knows but does not.
Let not many become teachers, for they will incur a harsher judgment.
The only reason millions of “Christian” homes find themselves in this predicament is because men like Servant have exercised a seared conscience in the decades since 50-state enactment of unilateral divorce, which they did nothing meaningful to even resist. To lay responsibility for the abominable consequences of their own self-interested actions on the truth-tellers in the body of Christ is truly heinous.
Much of the rest of Servant’s defense of remaining in an adulterous civil-only union that God’s hand cannot join rests on two main arguments that amount to human speculation, with no further substantive swipes at hermeneutical principles or applications thereof, yet accusing the truth-tellers of hermeneutical “sins”. We will address both of these two remaining arguments of his shortly, but at this juncture, it would be good to review Elliot Nesch’s excellent work where he categorizes all of the arguments, devices and excuses of those who seek to discredit the no-exceptions indissolubility of holy matrimony.
Nesch breaks down all of the evangelical objections to the biblical doctrine taught by Jesus and Paul, that only physical death dissolves holy matrimony (the supernatural God-joining of a never-married or widowed man with a never-married or widowed woman, according to Matthew 19:4-6) into four categories:
(1) Redefinition of terms
(2) Ad hominem slurs
(3) Scriptural silence (what Jesus, Paul or whoever did not explicitly say)
(4) Hermeneutic / hyperbole arguments
(The audio link above is well worth taking the time to listen to. The segment with Elliot’s discussion begins at approximately 9:30 minutes.)
God’s so-called contemporary “shepherds” will all go after true disciples on one or more of these bases which are all fallacious, and all do shameless battle with the clear commandment of Christ, as well as with the very authority of His word. David Servant has lowered himself to resorting to all of them in his Part 1 blog, including the ad hominem.
Take, for example, the redefinition of terms, as Mr. Servant posits:
Notice that Jesus endorsed the Mosaic concession, “except for immorality.” Thus, immorality is a legitimate reason to divorce, and understandably so. A marriage covenant is consummated by sexual union. The adulterer, by his sexual union with another, breaks his marriage covenant. In that respect, adultery effectuates a divorce. The person who divorces his adulterous spouse only formalizes the divorce that has already occurred by the adultery. (Again, however, Scripture teaches clearly elsewhere that confrontation and mercy predicated upon repentance is the best route.)
As with his earlier quote, this statement is riddled with flaws of fact and logic. Servant is here referring to Christ’s words in Matthew 19:9, which were likely spoken originally in Aramaic, recorded by the Apostle in Hebrew, and later re-translated by the early church into Greek. A friend of this page has seen the Hebrew text which is held in archives in Jerusalem. The Greek text, available online with its literal translation, shows the following:
μὴ ἐπὶ πορνείᾳ except for unchastity / whoredom / commercial prostitution (according to all concordances written before 1850)
The root form of πορνείᾳ, “porne” means “to sell off”. In the Hebrew culture it would have been almost unheard of for a consummated wife whose husband was living with her to be involved in commercial prostitution, notwithstanding Gomer, who was involved in it both before and after the prophet Hosea married her on the Lord’s command. The penalty for this under Mosaic law is, after all, swift and sure stoning, not man’s divorce! Similarly, Jerome used the Latin term “fornication” when he later did his translation from the Greek. Also similarly, the root word is “fornix“, which were the Roman colonnade columns under which prostitutes entertained their clients. It is no accident, therefore, that earlier lexicons didn’t generalize the term porneia. It is also no accident that the post-WWII lexicons started to generalize it, as the divorce rate started to rise in the church. Those earlier lexicons were being far more faithful to the history and context of the Matthew 5 and 19 texts than are the shoddy counterparts we’re left with today.
Liberal bible translation societies started generalizing and substituting terms in the mid 20th century because the more focused term discouraged divorce. While there is certainly scholarly dissent, and there are examples of other bible passages where derivations of the term porneia does refer to a range of sexual infractions and immoral practices, there remains a good-sized cadre of reliable scholars who object to contextually construing “porneia” to include adultery “moicheia” in any passage where the two words appear together. After all, why would the One who declared, “no more eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”, who further declared “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart..” suddenly reverse course, exclusively in the case of two one-flesh partners and prescribe more adultery as the sanctioned remedy for adultery? Is Jesus really that capricious, or is this another slanderous blasphemy of the Son’s character?
Our friend who has viewed the Hebrew text of Matthew likewise confirms that the word Jesus used corresponds to “z’nut” from the Hebrew root “zanah” which also meant “playing the whore” outside of marriage. (See our 2015 blog “The Great Granddaddy of Them All” for further links, and elaboration on this topic. )
Beyond that, Mr. Servant contends that Jesus “endorsed” the Mosaic concession regulating man’s practice of financial and spiritual abandonment of their families based on a unilateral piece of paper. This claim does not logically follow at all from the preponderance of everything else Jesus unequivocally said on the topic, as should be obvious by now. Servant suggests that it is sacrilege to infer that Jesus would not have been on the same page with Moses in all matters. This is far from a novel argument, and it is just as far from a supportable assumption. In fact, it’s another purely emotional and manipulative argument designed to distract from and devalue some of the harder teachings of Jesus that we don’t like, in our culture of institutionalized serial polygamy. We know that Moses was a very flawed man (as we all are). Even his wife Zipporah couldn’t resist rebuking him on one occasion when she had to intervene to protect her husband from God’s wrath:
Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him[Moses] and sought to put him to death.Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” So He let him [Moses]alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”—because of the circumcision. – Exodus 4:24-26
We also recall the reason Moses was not permitted by God to lead His people into the promised land. Moses occasionally responded to situations in the flesh instead of in the Spirit of God. In fact, before Jesus ascended, and Pentecost followed, the Holy Spirit did not continuously indwell God’s servants, but He fell upon them at specific times. At other times, He seemed to be absent, for example:
So Moses took the rod from before the Lord, just as He had commanded him; and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the Lord, and He proved Himself holy among them. – Numbers 20:9-13
Having discredited the unsupportable notions that Moses was infallible and that Jesus had no authority or cause to ever differ with him, we also point out that numerous other instances of Mosaic teaching were directly abrogated by Jesus in the sermon on the mount in favor of His higher law which would now be obeyed, by those authentically redeemed, from the heart and would eliminate the option of daily ritual animal sacrifices as an available path to Kingdom citizenship. Each instance where Jesus stated “you have heard it said…..BUT I SAY UNTO YOU..” is a specific example of Jesus countermanding Moses because the moral standard was not high enough for the kingdom of God, on additional matters ranging from swearing oaths to taking our own revenge in lieu of forgiving transgressions against us. It’s also quite true that rabbinic traditions had GREATLY expanded the ideas that were attributed to “Moses” in the centuries after the man’s bones were returned to the dust of the earth. The expansion of the Deuteronomy 24 provision to legally end a marriage contract (“ketubah”) for a non-capital offense that would have been a defilement existing both before and after consummation of the marriage — to the list of Deuteronomy 22 capital offenses is a prime example of this trend over the centuries that unfolded between Moses and Jesus, as various conquerors deprived the Jews of their ability to carry out stoning. The post-Moses “mission-creep” of rabbinic regulations had gotten so bad that Jesus replaced the 613 ceremonial regulations with just two commandments that distilled and retained the 10 Commandments:
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the great and foremost commandment.The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 22:36-40
Since Servant’s claim above that Jesus was not directly abrogating Mosaic regulations is not at all supportable, neither is his further extrapolation: “Thus, ‘immorality’ is a legitimate reason to divorce, and understandably so.” This vague and invalidly-substituted term “immorality” is meaningless because it is not specific enough in light of Christ’s assertion in Matt. 19:8, later confirmed by Paul in Rom. 7:2-3 and 1 Cor.7:39, that God-joined holy matrimony is indissoluble except by death. Hence, subsequent remarriage is always adultery, according to Jesus, following man’s divorce for a very straightforward reason: the parties of the first part are nonetheless still married. David Servant dismisses this truth as though man’s law trumps God’s law, thereby denying what Christ repeatedly either stated outright on numerous occasions, or He inferred on numerous other occasions.
But Servant’s statement above directly contradicts Jesus and / or Paul in some other profound ways:
“A marriage covenant is consummated by sexual union. The adulterer, by his sexual union with another, breaks his marriage covenant. In that respect, adultery effectuates a divorce. The person who divorces his adulterous spouse only formalizes the divorce that has already occurred by the adultery.”
While it’s true that sexual union consummates the marriage covenant, it’s also true that an eligible (never-married or widowed) bride and groom are just as inseverably joined, and the unconditional, indissoluble covenant is already in existence before the couple has departed the ceremony venue, according to Christ’s words in Matthew 19:4-6. Sex does not do any of this, according to Jesus, because becoming one-flesh (sarx mia) in the sense that Jesus spoke of it is an instantaneous, supernatural act of God, not a gradual, natural process of men. We know this because the language both Jesus and Paul consistently used when referring to holy matrimony joining is completely different than the language Paul used in speaking of merely carnal joining, for example, in 1 Corinthians 6:16 (where the term is hen soma, even though sarx mia is mentioned by Paul for comparison purposes at the end of the verse). Unlike with hen soma, Jesus says that a new entity is formed in that wedding ceremony moment….
“So they are no longer two [note: by the perfect-indicative active verb tense – “no longer” should be rendered “never again”], but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
Hence a new entity is formed which becomes the inferior party to the unconditional covenant, and the covenant is formed indissolubly because God is the divine superior party in that covenant. The state of holy matrimony is, in all cases, indissoluble for life precisely because God has never once gone back on an unconditional covenant in which He is a participant, and man can do nothing at all (short of physically dying) to remove God from it. Prior to these latter “Days of Noah”, this didn’t used to be rocket science. Even civil judges and legislators once used to respect this, out of the holy fear of God.
( SIFC Note:It was to the above set of concepts that this blogger expected David Servant to apply his coined-label “Divine Divorce Doctrine”–as opposed to applying it to the concept of full, physical repentance from remarriage adultery, as he has done However, had he applied his moniker to this core foundational principle, it would have been an absolutely ludicrous contradiction in terms, since we’ve just proven that the only instance in which man’s divorce is “divine” is when it’s part of a repenting prodigal spouse’s restoration and restitution plan where only a faux marriage existed on man’s paper alongside the God-joined one, no different than a sodomous civil-only union. Servant is better off simply calling it “Divine Indissolubility Doctrine”, in our view. )
From this point in David Servant’s quote, the extrapolation from false, unsupported premises goes absolutely off the rails:
“The adulterer, by his sexual union with another, breaks his marriage covenant. In that respect, adultery effectuates a divorce. The person who divorces his adulterous spouse only formalizes the divorce that has already occurred by the adultery.”
This is hardly an original thought (much less a truthful one), but not because it originated with either Jesus or any of the Apostles. Its originator was the smarmy 16th century Catholic homosexual humanist who did so much to corrupt the character of Martin Luther, namely, one Desiderius Erasmus.
What did Jesus say “effectuates” man’s divorce? Nothing, since “from the beginning it was not ever so”. What motivates it? Man’s hard-heartedness (Matthew 19:8). Men like Servant tend to make the eternally-mistaken presumption that this hard-heartedness is some sort of ongoing “concession” (or that it demands such a concession), but Jesus said “be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” The writer of Hebrews repeatedly warned that all such hard-heartedness causes disciples to fall away and, if not repented of, miss their entrance into the kingdom. What did Paul say “breaks” (or ends) holy matrimony? Death alone. This is most consistent with the totality of what Jesus said, and it is also quite consistent with original Mosaic law concerning the necessity of stoning.
As pastors often do, Servant feels the need to toss in a quick patronizing word for anyone who might, perchance, be naturally inclined to obey God from the heart (rather than callously assume up front that he – Servant – will be forced to “rubber stamp” everyone’s abomination). He concludes: “(Again, however, Scripture teaches clearly elsewhere that confrontation and mercy predicated upon repentance is the best route.)” Well, sir, which is it? Did you not just insist that the practice of adultery is “effective dissolution” of the marriage? Do couples then need to remarry each other to repent of fornication with each other as a result of one partner’s infidelity creating a de facto “dissolution”, as though God’s joining-glue is somehow just a little defective, and not at all as represented by His Son?
Speaking of remarriage, in his assessment of the “foundation” of true disciples’ opposition to serial polygamy, he makes this random statement:
“They also disagree on whether or not there is ever a legitimate reason to divorce, that is, a reason that would allow a person who initiated a divorce to remarry.”
We’ll set aside the first assertion because it is silly on the surface. There is no disagreement among the saints that man’s divorce doesn’t dissolve anything, and God’s divorce is spelled D-E-A-T-H. Hence, there can’t be any “disagreement” in our community about whether there is ever a “legitimate” reason to do something that has absolutely no effect in God’s courthouse in the first place. What Servant is doing is conflating two entirely separate issues, the humanistic fiction of “dissolution”, and the atrocity of consecutively polygamous unlawful union. While there’s no denying that the pretense of marriage “dissolution” would have far less motive were it not for the lustful desire to enter into an immoral state under the fraudulent appearance of “decency”, the two are quite separate sins, the first an act of sin, and the latter an ongoing state of sin.
Servant next takes dead-aim at the supernatural, inseverable sarx mia entity, conflating it with its transitory man-joined counterfeit, hen soma: The usual argument is that a married couple are declared to be “one flesh” (Gen.2:24), and are therefore bound to one another unconditionally for life. However, this certainly burdens the phrase “one flesh” with more baggage than it will bear, since a tryst with a prostitute constitutes a “one flesh” relationship, according to Paul (1 Cor. 6:16), yet not necessarily a permanently binding one.
Apples and oranges, David!
Servant also gets into a very elaborate redefinition of terms when he moves on to discussing Paul’s varying instructions in 1 Corinthians 7 to various subsets of his audience in that church. I believe Servant’s later blog installment might get into this a bit more, so we’ll only grab one example point here to illustrate:
Servant postulates, of the Apostle Paul:
“Then, in a statement that summarizes much of his earlier advice for Christians to “remain in the state in which they were called” (see 1 Cor. 7:18-24), he advises the man who is married, “bound to a wife,” not to seek a divorce. Similarly, the man who is already divorced, “released from a wife,” should not seek a wife (“in view of the present distress”). However, Paul says, the already-divorced man, the one “released from a wife,” does not sin if he marries. And it is indisputable that he is speaking specifically to already-divorced men, because Paul continues in the same sentence saying, “and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.” Clearly, from reading 1 Corinthians 7, Paul did not believe that the marriage covenant was indissoluble. Just as marriage is annulled by death and (often) adultery, it is also annulled by divorce. Paul did not believe Jesus’ words in the Four D&R Passages should be interpreted, “Whoever divorces and remarries lives in a continuous state of adultery that can only be remedied by yet another divorce.”
The redefinition of terms here is that everyone who is “called” while God-joined to a lifelong one-flesh spouse, with whom God Himself is in unconditional covenant, is “called” while bound to that spouse — even if they are simultaneously “called” while in papered-over adultery with another person. That is the state in which they are called. “Wife” is clearly being redefined in this proposal, from someone a man is joined to in sarx mia until death, to his concubine to whom he has immorally joined himself in hen soma. That said, someone called while a single prostitute isn’t to remain in that state, are they? Why then, should Servant speculate that anyone called in a state of serial polygamy remain in that state? This is no trivial point, given the inexcusably sloppy hermeneutics of applying a passage that refers contextually to vocation (slave) and religious trappings (circumcision) to the supernaturally-created state of holy matrimony (or its counterfeit), while claiming this “proves” that Paul did not consider holy matrimony indissoluble – verses 7:11, and 39, in the same passage, notwithstanding. Servant claims this passage is speaking to the divorced and remarried (both states being purely fictional before God), but the fallacy here ought to be obvious to all. The rest of Servant’s remarks again directly contradict a vast amount of instruction that came directly out of the mouths of Jesus and Paul, not to even mention the practice of generations of early church leaders who followed, as documented in their historical commentaries, letters and other writings. We dealt in great hermeneutical detail with other common abuses of 1 Corinthians 7 in two earlier blogs, the one most relevant to Servant’s comments can be read here.
This concludes the lengthy discussion of the tactic of redefinition of terms, and we now move on to address the remaining two highly predictable tactics Servant launches to water down Christ’s commandment in his Part 1, namely speculative claims about the silence of scripture, and misplaced red-herring discussions of “hyperbole”. We will also continue to point out where and how application of rigorous hermeneutical principles was given the short shrift or ducked altogether.
Servant makes the shallow and false claim that faithful Christ-followers base their convictions of the lifelong indissolubility of original holy matrimony on just four scripture passages in the synoptic gospels, namely,
More accurately, the exhaustive list of evidence of the universal indissolubility of original holy matrimony is as follows, since the role of Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and His one inseverable bride, the church, is woven through almost every book of the bible:
Why is this much broader list important? Two reasons, really.
First, the saints on the narrow path who do not carnally dismiss Christ’s commandments, and who believe both Jesus and Paul that obeying these commandments is a heaven-or-hell matter, are very careful to validate crucial details like Greek verb tenses and analyze word usages, also to apply other hermeneutical points of rigor that would not be possible unless one of the five essential principles is not neglected, namely, comparison with all related scriptures on a given subject so that a comprehensive unity of scriptural content is established. Indeed, David has falsely levelled this charge of omission against our community, and has done so out of his own ignorance and cowardly bias. After all, our community is not just a bunch of self-righteous busybodies who don’t have anything better to do than go around aimlessly pointing our fingers at people who have been ear-tickled into remarriage adultery by this generation of unfaithful shepherds who think nothing of misusing the name of the Lord to perform a vain act that NEVER would have been allowed to desecrate God’s sanctuary only 60 or so years ago. Indeed, pre-1970’s doctrine in many Protestant denominations forbid it for sound biblical reasons, from the denomination’s inception. Curiously, the Anglican church which was birthed expressly for the legitimization of serial polygamy, was the last to officially cave in this regard, in 2002.
Most of us either have an estranged prodigal spouse who is in severe danger of forfeiting his or her soul for their lustful faux “marriage” (while our children watch and might possibly follow them in emulation), or we have come to the conviction of truth and exited our unlawful unions. A few have blessedly restored holy matrimony unions after an intervening adulterous home was dissolved, often after many years and the birth of non-covenant children. Except for this latter group, most live celibate lives until the Lord brings redemption. Far too many of us wind up receiving the “left foot of Christian fellowship” by our threatened churches, and pastors who are afraid of their sin in performing these “weddings” being exposed to the congregation. Some of us were pastors fired by churches who would rather have an adulterously-re-wed shepherd than one who refuses, after being divorced by a prodigal wife, to live in the adultery of marrying another. An encouraging few are convicted pastors with intact, lifelong covenant marriages and intact congregations across a growing variety of denominations. We’d better know whereof we speak as we advocate for a very inconvenient and embarrassing ignored truth, and do so with as much studious rigor as we can possibly muster and communicate.
The second reason the exhaustive list of related scriptures is important is to dispute the typical false claims of “scripture silence” such as David Servant (and many others) have alleged. Our serial polygamy apologist asks:
“I ask: Where is this Divine Divorce Doctrine found outside of the Four D&R Passages? Surely if Jesus expected every divorced and remarried person to divorce again as a requirement for salvation—no small thing—He would have said so, and especially during those times He was talking about the very subject of divorce and remarriage to crowds that were full of divorced and remarried people.”
Our answer: “divine” divorce is found only one place in scripture, Ezra, chapters 9 and 10. However, all divorce and / or “putting away” is strictly man-made, not God-ordained, so we have to be very careful how we throw around the term “divorce”, which meant different things over time in different cultures. The actual idea to render unto Caesar what previously belonged exclusively to God was Martin Luther’s, and he would not have done so except for the clamor for fig leaf “cover” to financially and spiritually abandon one-flesh partners and children with an air of “respectability” that the church quite rightly refused to grant out of care for eternal souls. The civil legal contests as we know them, therefore, date back only to the 16th century, and only in Europe do they go back even that far. Ancient societies had unilateral self-issued paper, including Hebrew and Graeco-Roman societies that later collapsed morally, and this was the evil that Christ came rebuking when He said, “from the beginning, it was not ever so.” In the case of unlawful foreign (typically, concurrently polygamous) wives described in the book of Ezra, there was a sending away with material provision, which constituted repentance from the immoral relationships. God commanded this, and He did so because He had created no sarx mia in any of those instances. Those children were born of satan’s carnal counterfeit, hen soma. This is the identical situation to remarriage adultery and sodomous unions today, but due to the illegitimate and immoral jurisdiction of the civil state, civil dissolution is necessary to end the legal obligations so that the covenant moral vows and obligations can be fulfilled before God. Ideally, this eventually leads to the obeying of 1 Corinthians 7:2, on both sides of the former illicit relationship, now repented:
But because of immoralities, each man is to have [possess – echetO G2192] his own [heautou G1438] wife, and each woman is to have [possess – echetO G2192] her own[idion G2398] husband.
This was never a legal concept, but a metaphysical one, according to Jesus. Speaking of scriptural silence, Jesus never spoke of the necessity of civil sanction or documents of state regulation when He described the first wedding as the model for 1st century holy matrimony, and neither did the other Apostles. It was clear from Christ’s description “from the beginning” that God alone did the joining (or declined to, due to prior joining). Correct understanding hopefully leads to obeying some closely related commandments:
…to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own [idiois G2398] husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2-5)
For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;that each of you know how to possess [ktasthai G2932] his own [heautou G1438] vessel [skeuos G463] in sanctification and honor,not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
Christ-followers are not to possess (covet and retain) someone else’s one-flesh lifelong partner, but only their own. According to Paul, they are to release what does not belong to them back to the only one to whom God’s hand joined them, and they are not to forsake, abandon or live in unforgiving estrangement from their own one-flesh mate.
David Servant makes much of claiming that neither Jesus, nor any of the Apostles ever told anyone to divorce a “second” time who was living in sin with someone else’s God-joined spouse. This is not entirely true. John the Baptist called out Herod and Herodias, both of whom had divorced their God-joined spouses to “marry” each other, saying to Herod, “it is not lawful for you to have your brother Phillip’s wife.” (Mark 6; Matthew 14). The bible tells us that John, like Jesus, was filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb, and Jesus lauded him, calling him the greatest of the prophets born of women, and connecting him with the kingdom of God which the violent take by force. John knew that unless this civilly-legal but Kingdom-unlawful union was renounced and ceased, the destination for this pair would be hell. He, John, was ready to meet his Maker, but they clearly weren’t. Jesus discussed this in the presence of His disciples, two of whom recorded it in the gospels.
Then there’s the episode of church discipline being applied in 1 Corinthians 5 at Paul’s command to the man who had taken his father wife (probably his stepmother, following either the divorce or death of the father). The scripture does not state that he “married” her, but there are three immoral possibilities: (1) the father was dead and they were cohabiting in fornication, or (2) the father had civilly divorced her and the son had civilly married her, or (3) the father had separated or divorced her, and they were cohabiting in adultery. Since the man was still in the church body whom Paul had to rebuke, (1) and (3) seem less likely than (2). What we do know is that Paul felt strongly enough that the son’s soul was on the line unless the church excommunicated him (“turned him over to satan that his soul may be saved”). While everyone wants to claim that the issue is incest here, since it’s not his biological mother involved, there’s no basis for calling it incest unless an intact one-flesh relationship still existed between the living father and the father’s wife. It appears that we have an overt church discipline situation being carried out on an instance of divorce and remarriage, and if the relationship was not renounced, another pair of legalized adulterers was headed for hell.
It also stands to reason that if neither Jesus nor Paul considered holy matrimony dissoluble as they both directly state more than once, the second “marriage” would not be valid to begin with, nor would the first “divorce”. There was no elaborate civil court system to purport to “dissolve” any marriage until the apostate aspects of the Reformation took shape in the 16th century, so severance of an invalid, unlawful union in the 1st century would simply consist of separating and returning to one’s true spouse. This was also true in Ezra’s time. Further, Jesus was quite clear that living in a state of permanent unforgiveness toward anyone, much less one’s God-joined one-flesh mate was equally a heaven or hell matter (Matt. 18:23-35; Matt. 6;15). Paul was equally clear that only death dissolved what God has joined (Romans 7:2-3; 1 Cor. 7:39) and that Christ-followers are charged with a ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19). Our sealing with the Holy Spirit should mean that we come to conviction of all of this by His say-so, based on a changed heart and Spirit-led scripture illumination.
Servant argues (falsely):
“Furthermore, there is no evidence any of Jesus’ apostles ever interpreted His words about divorce and remarriage to be a requirement for divorced and remarried couples to legally or functionally divorce. Their initial reaction to His statement to the Pharisees in Matthew 19 revealed they only thought that, in light of Jesus’ endorsement of one-wife-for-life, it might be best if people never married. They did not come to the conclusion that divorced and remarried people needed to divorce again. In fact, it is much more likely that they were wondering if Jesus was advocating the stoning of all divorced and remarried people, since that is what the Mosaic Law prescribed for adulterers.”
The great flaw in any “silence of scripture” argument is that it can always be turned around on the debater. For example, where does scripture ever mention anyone who is divorced and remarried in the churches after Christ’s ascension? Where does it explicitly mention any civilly-orchestrated divorces in that 1st century era taking place? Estrangement is discussed simply as “departing”, and the commandment was to leave the door open to reconciliation, which of necessity precluded remarriage. There is no account of any of the Apostles or their disciples ever performing an adulterous wedding after the mention of Herod and Herodias. Regardless of whether scripture was “silent” on this, it is clear that the historians of the era were far from silent. As just one example, two of the early church fathers who were direct disciples of the Apostle John (Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and Justin Martyr) both wrote extensively of the invalidity of remarriage while one’s original spouse remained alive. Over the next 300 years, there’s good reason to believe from the extensive writings of church leaders across the region of Christendom who followed them, that there was no remarriage in the early church at all, based on the unanimous statement condemning it and requoting Jesus and Paul in the very context that Servant so hotly disputes. This biblical faithfulness didn’t just spontaneously happen — it was carried as a firm and universal conviction out of the house where the disciples had questioned Jesus, who spoke of becoming a spiritual “eunuch” for the sake of the kingdom of God.
Whereas stoning was not lawful under the Roman occupation since slightly before Christ’s birth, Servant’s baseless claim that the disciples were preoccupied with stoning as a horrible remedy to terminate all the legalized adultery is misinformed and ill-studied on the author’s part. The better explanation is that they realized Jesus was invalidating the scope expansion of Mosaic regulation under rabbinic tradition which had compensated for the Roman (and earlier Persian) frustration of the hard-hearted ability to dispose of unwanted “ribs”, as though God had taken a whole slab of them out of Adam.
Servant goes on to insist: “Nothing can be found in the New Testament epistles that supports the idea that those who are divorced and remarried are “still married to their original spouse in God’s eyes” or that they are “continually living in an adulterous relationship of which they must repent by divorce.”
Apparently the direct, unequivocal words of Jesus, repeated on three separate occasions, constitute part of the alleged “nothing” of which this blind guide speaks. It should be obvious to most that just because something is asserted, does not automatically make it true, but it seems that this gentleman who is attempting to pass himself off as a scholar either doesn’t understand Koine Greek verb tenses, or finds them inconvenient to his argument. He is not alone in this omission. None other than Dr. John MacArthur gets caught doing it all the time! Expert linguists point out that every time there is a synoptic gospel account of Jesus speaking of divorce and remarriage as “committing adultery”, including the three separate times He spoke of an otherwise innocent man “marrying” any divorced woman (Matthew 5:32b, 19:9b, Luke 16;18b) He consistently did two things:
(1) Used the all-inclusive term ὃς ἐὰν (hos ean) or Πᾶς ὁ (pas ho) –meaning, whoever, whosoever, EVERYONE, in various translations, with no exceptions. The term used in John 3:16 is likewise Πᾶς ὁ.
(2) Without exception, was recorded in the present-indicative verb tense / mood on each occasion. According to the source www.ntgreek.org, the effect of the author or translator selecting this verb tense while capturing the words of Jesus is: “The present tense usually denotes continuous kind of action. It shows ‘action in progress’ or ‘a state of persistence.‘ When used in the indicative mood, the present tense denotes action taking place or going on in the present time. “
In light of this, there are two things that are logically impossible:
(1) That someone can be in ongoing adultery against a “severed” spouse to whom they are no longer married in the eyes of Christ (and therefore God).
(2) That a subsequent “husband” can be in adultery by reason of marrying a still-married woman, but the woman is not in adultery (due to some claimed “exception”) when she marries the man–a “half-adulterous” marriage, in other words.
We herewith rest our case concerning Servant’s allegation that there is “no evidence that supports the idea that those who are divorced and remarried are “still married to their original spouse in God’s eyes” or that they are “continually living in an adulterous relationship “, since we have proven bothdirectly from the scripture passages.
What remains, however, is Servant’s last “silence of scripture” assertion….“of which they must repent by divorce.” Actually, scripture requires that they must repent by cessation and renunciation of the illicit relationship without addressing the civil legalities that came about later in society as a fabrication of men. However, since the civil state has no delegated biblical authority over the creation, regulation or dissolution of holy matrimony, the only purpose of civil divorce in such an instance to clean up their legal life and make restitution as best they can to everyone around them that they’ve harmed by their idolatry and lustful choice to disobey God’s word. Technically, there’s nothing to dissolve in the kingdom of God, but like the thief who must stop stealing and return what he’s stolen, or the prostitute who must find another profession, or the murderer who must stop murdering, or the sodomite who must terminate that immoral and unlawful relationship, the adulterers must stop committing adultery and set a decent example of obeying God in front of everyone watching. Sometimes to prove this from scripture we must exert ourselves a bit in the instruction of the Holy Spirit (the Teacher), and make a holy linkage between a couple of unlinked scriptures in the spirit of holy fear and obedience. After all, nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus or any of the Apostles explicitly insist than anyone must cease using pornography or cease buying lottery tickets, either. For example, linking to Matthew 5:32b; 19:9b and Luke 16:18b the following admonitions from the Apostles cannot be shown to be inappropriate in light of the final outcome of dying in this state of sin, unrepentant:
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” James 2:10-11
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26-29
We move on to briefly discuss the final tactic of the enemies of God’s truth, misplaced claims of “hyperbole”. In this case, Servant refers to hyperbole, but also terms this, “reasons to limit literality”. It is the classic serpent’s question, “Psssst….did God really say?’
Servant claims, a bit ludicrously: “….students of Jesus also know that, when they endeavor to interpret His words, they should not only consider context, but the fact that Jesus indisputably did not intend that all of His words should always be taken in their most literal sense. For example, everyone agrees that Jesus does not really intend that we pluck out our eyes or cut off our hands if they “cause us to stumble,” or even that our physical eyes or hands can actually “cause” us to stumble.” Yet that is what Jesus said in Matthew 5:29-30 ” (Very good, David – we don’t literally act on Christ’s hyperbolic statements. But that does not mean that we project this understanding to all other serious commandments in a way that makes obedience to them optional, as he soon goes on to suggest.)
Neither does it mean that we can shrug off the important points He was making with His hyperbolic statement, including:
(1) Hell is real, and purportedly “saved” people to do go there
(2) The lust of our eyes and the covetousness of our hands make us prone to addicting acts, which then leads to entrapment in states of sin that can send us to hell
(3) Preemptive action tends to work a lot better with less pain than corrective action
(4) Sometimes extremely drastic action is needed to avoid God giving us over, due to wicked hearts and deceitful rationalization (may not be the severance of a limb, but it just might be the severance of an immoral relationship that the bible makes clear is unlawful.)
(5) Matt. 5:32b, marrying a divorced woman creates a state of adultery that will send a man to hell if he does not flee.
Servant continues his rhetorical derailment: “No one claims that Jesus expects some men to literally castrate themselves for the sake of God’s kingdom, but within a few seconds of one of the Four D&R Passages, Jesus said “there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:12).”
Um, Paul said something about wishing Judaizers would castrate themselves because they wanted to circumcise Gentile converts, but it is quite clear that Jesus never said anything, hyperbolic or otherwise, about anybody castrating themselves. He did say in Matthew 19:12 that involuntarily-estranged spouses who voluntarily submit to their season of celibacy rather than violate their holy matrimony vows and defile their one-flesh union are advancing the kingdom of God. Under today’s unilateral divorce laws, we have many who should be doing this, and relatively few true disciples who actually are obeying Him in it. Servant apparently regards this obedient containing of our vessels as “castration”. (The eye and hand reference was hyperbole, by the way, but the eunuch reference is not at all hyperbole in its usage, but rather a very straightforward analogy, with Servant still managing to see it as “hyperbole” with his jaded, humanistic eye.)
The next suggestion is interesting, indeed: “None of us think Jesus actually wants us literally to “hate father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters” (Luke 14:26) if we hope to be one of His disciples.” Apparently our author friend acts like he has never encountered the Hebrew idiom before, whereby “hate” needs to be interpreted as “not love x more than we love Jesus”. That doesn’t change the truth that if we DO choose to love an “x” (including this life) more than we love Jesus, that’s called idolatry, and idolaters indeed cannot be His disciples. Servant would shamelessly suggest, just as Lucifer the serpent would, that this creates justification to not feel bound to obey Christ’s clear moral teachings and commandments. The Serpent’s question is: “Did God REALLY say??” The gospel according to Servant is that when Jesus is speaking of adultery, we are not to take it as a literal damning sin if there is a piece of civil or church paper claiming it’s OK, because He might not have “literally” meant it.
Perhaps when all a supposed bible scholar can say is, “perhaps”: “perhaps” this, and “perhaps” that, he is speculating and doesn’t have anything authoritative to say at all. Perhaps, if he made an honest attempt to comprehensively apply all of the core principles of sound hermeneutics, including Context, Context, Culture, Comparison and Consultation, instead of mentioning one or two of them in shallow passing (and misapplication) he would be instantly exposed as someone contradicting Jesus, just because he rejects His authority to define moral absolutes, but is who is perfectly willing to offer up the lip service. (Perhaps.)
There is one small point on which SIFC and Servant are in agreement, even though there is no such thing as a “Christian” who is “married” to someone else’s God-joined spouse. One can be a Christ-follower or one can be an ongoing adulterer, but one cannot be both at the same time. There is no such thing as a “Christian” marriage to the spouse of another living person (much less “millions” of them, no matter how “heartless” this truth is painted as being.) It is a sure pathway to hell, just as Jesus and Paul repeatedly warned it was. That said, the moniker that the integrity-of-the-biblical-family movement (a.k.a. “Marriage Permanence”) has taken on is indeed a bit imprecise. As Servant puts it,
The tragic irony of the Divine Divorce Doctrine is that its adherents often identity themselves as promoters of “marriage permanence,” yet they are helping to destroy Christian marriages, and if they had their way, millions of married Christian couples would divorce as they repented of their “adulterous marriages.” It seems bizarre to identify yourself as being an advocate for “marriage permanence” when you hope to convince millions of married Christians to break their vows and divorce.
SIFC agrees wholeheartedly with the first sentence above and has made this same argument many times to peers and leaders in the narrow-path movement. Every covenant usurper hopes their purloined “marriage” will be permanent — unless, of course, jobs are lost, flowers are no longer purchased, somebody gets fat or “comes out” as gay. The civil divorce rates are substantially higher for legalized adultery than holy matrimony, and mercifully so, in light of what the bible repeatedly states are the eternal consequences of dying in that state. The alternative term this page advocates in place of “marriage permanence” eliminates all ambiguity — marriage indissolubility. But I return to the point that “marriage” has to be properly defined according to both of the non-negotiable elements of Matthew 19:4-6 according to Christ, one of which is lifelong indissolubility, and the other is complementarity. We will defer discussion of the issue of “vow-breaking” to the next rebuttal of Part 2, since the topic is germane there.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:12-14
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!
I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you. Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding, Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, Otherwise they will not come near to you. Many are the sorrows of the wicked, But he who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. – Psalms 32:8-10
Is the following reasoning not true in the carnal estimation of our contemporary “me”-vangelical culture?
“Legalism“ is the unpopular belief that man’s divorce and remarriage while an estranged spouse remains alive is immoral. (Malachi 2:16)
“Fundamentalism“ is the far more unpopular conviction that man’s divorce and remarriage while an estranged spouse remains alive is impossible. (Matthew 19:8)
Anyone who has an unconditional love relationship with Jesus Christ, and who continues to be led by the power of the Holy Spirit, instantly sees the self-righteous fault in both of the above presumptions. Those whose love of Jesus is merely conditional will eventually wear down and will go their own way, espousing both fallacious attitudes. Are such people lost forever? Mercifully, no, provided they live long enough to fully surrender to His rule and unconditionally repent. If their conversion was false, they will have a much more uphill battle to true faith from apostasy, because the Holy Spirit only indwells those who truly did die to self when they once embraced Christ. Both the false convert and the backslider are equally lost at this point. If their initial conversion was the real thing, His indwelling Holy Spirit, now grieved and quenched, will make them miserable on a daily basis until they forsake all of their self-worshipping ways, including faux spouses. Either way, God’s faithful chastisement can be counted on, despite external appearances.
Actual legalism can be observed in such people long before the outright apostasy manifests in their actions and choices. This legalism can also ripen into actual fundamentalism if it continues to grow in the heart of such a person, and this can be readily observed externally in visible elements such as the mode of dress adopted over time. Their lack of unconditional love for Jesus often either results in a reverted desire to become indistinguishable from the surrounding lost culture in all their ways, or it can swing to the other extreme of a loss of desire to be both salty and attractive in the culture, instead becoming a walking caricature.
There was a marriage permanence retreat in Ohio Amish country recently, coincidentally timed in the aftermath of one such highly visible fall from grace of a stander who was very prominent on social media. This retreat drew several leaders of our movement, and discussion of that overshadowing incident seemed to be everywhere in that gathering, despite a great move of the Holy Spirit that weekend. The hosts for that annual recurring event are gracious people of Amish heritage who sensed that their former community did not uniformly consist of true Christ-followers. Many had come out of those Amish communities (typically, being “shunned” in the process) in order to more fully follow Christ without the legalism or fundamentalism that it becomes so easy to hide behind as a substitute for that love relationship with Him. For the most part, this coming out did not fundamentally change their mode of dress or their characteristic reverence for holy matrimony. It did not change their wonderful ethic of ministering to others. They formed churches around similar values, but with Jesus firmly at the center. Here they made traveling to participate in this retreat affordable for standers of limited resources by putting us up in their homes, where they soaked our families in prayer. Non-standers in the community spent hours preparing and serving the meals so that standers could focus on the retreat sessions. Former prodigals and their standers from within that community were wonderfully transparent with us about their journey, and some of the waiting standers themselves are also from that community. This was a truly refreshing time for emotionally-battered covenant spouses who bear the tremendous burden for souls in their own family members. Legalism and fundamentalism have little to do with our outer circumstances, and everything to do with whom or what is sitting on the throne of our individual hearts.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1
They fail to “keep their powder dry” for the relatively few actual heaven-or-hell issues. They use harsh language and subjective name-calling that should only be reserved for backsliding issues that harden hearts and pose a true danger of falling away, or leading others away. If such a person is a covenant marriage stander, they structure their home in a way that is so drastically different from the best of what the home their prodigal once shared with them brings to remembrance, that returning and reconciling looks increasingly unattractive to their true one-flesh, especially in comparison with the material rewards that our culture (and church) heap on legalized adulterers. As time goes on, the floundering stander become less and less Christ-like, less ready to go the distance with a suddenly-returned prodigal, and perhaps even eventually repelling their own children from faith as they come into adulthood. At this point in the progressive hardening of their heart, they become actual fundamentalists. This earned label, “fundamentalist”, is no longer a badge of honor for them, but a badge of dishonor.
Sadly, such people may have tens of thousands of social media followers when they finally, publicly fall away from heart-driven obedience to Jesus, potentially taking many with them into apostasy. Ironically, these people lose (or never actually had) the only valid motive for standing, aside from loving obedience to Jesus….deep care and burden for the eternal soul of their prodigal spouse and children.
Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.– James 3:1
Those of us who love Jesus, without any reservations or conditions, will learn from witnessing this fall…in an edifying way that sharply contrasts with those who follow them into apostasy. “But for the grace of God, there go I. “
The heresy adopted in any particular case that becomes the deceitful rationalization for “marrying” another’s spouse must be uniquely creative, because if it is not highly subtle, the appearance that their own personal standards of holiness have not slidden cannot be maintained, and outright rebellion against God’s word must then be admitted. A good rule is that any rationale for “remarrying” while having a living, estranged spouse which departs from the unchangeable principle in Matthew 19:6, 8 is automatically a heresy which results in what Jesus repeatedly called adultery. However, there are clever ways to attack this foundational truth, and satan will not hesitate to use them. The current popular heresy is that what Jesus said in Matthew 19:6,8 “does not apply to unbelievers”, claiming that “God does not join” those marriages into an inseverable one-flesh entity if one of the spouses was an “unbeliever” at the time of their vows. Ironically, there is a mountain of biblical evidence against this claim in dozens of Old and New Testament couples who illustrate God’s recognition of their state of holy matrimony – without applying any religious test. Logically, this assertion would require intact one-flesh spouses to repeat their vows after they both come to Christ, in order to not be living in “adultery”. We see no illustration of such in all of scripture. Only lust and idolatry make this theory appear “valid” – we readily believe what feeds our flesh if Jesus isn’t everything to us; if He isn’t truly sufficient for us.
Those of us in the marriage permanence community who stand firm should not be surprised or discouraged by any of this. First of all, the battle is the Lord’s. Secondly, satan’s intensified rage that we’ve recently witnessed is a testament that light always overpowers darkness, and not the other way around. The very reason that Jesus likened us to “salt” in the first place is because salt is a preservative, of society, of our covenant families and the of the church. As nice as a lengthy vacation from Ephesians 6 might seem to most of us, satan is not going to take his ball or his bat and go home until Jesus comes back for the third time. We all know he is actually going to gain power for seven years after Jesus comes back for the second time. If we don’t learn this while dealing with various and sundry apostates in the movement today, including the high-profile ones, we can’t expect to learn it in time to be effective when our repenting prodigal suddenly returns home to our families.
Therefore 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.– Matthew 7:24
Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. – Hebrews 10:35-38
www.standerinfamilycourt.com 7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!
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 occasionswhere 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.
On this 16th anniversary of 9/11, a well-known promoter of serial polygamy was earnestly hoping to fly his 747 into one of the marriage permanence twin towers – the clear teachings of Jesus, or the clear teachings of Paul. Here’s why he deserves to fail in that mission.
He [blogger, “standerinfamilycourt”] did not even put his name to it. Nevertheless, but God will hold him accountable for the error.
( SIFC: “Standerinfamilycourt” is often criticized for writing under a “nom-de-plume“, as though this somehow invalidates the message of the gospel, and as though what the reader reads in this blog cannot be directly compared with scripture online and with many helpful tools. In fact, the blog installment and series that Robert Waters is so busy criticizing teaches the readers how to do just that for themselves with the utmost integrity. That said, SIFC would like to remind readers that the reason for the pen name is because there is the precious and eternally irreplaceable soul of a one-flesh prodigal spouse at stake, and this fact constantly wars with the legitimate need to play an assigned, specific role in the marriage permanence movement. If the pen name was not used, the blogs would not be able to write about certain hard-hitting topics without jeopardizing that spouse’s repentance by publicly exposing their identity, and sometimes their deeds, while they remain emotionally ill and held captive to do satan’s will. SIFC will make no further apologies for doing so. Mr. Waters needs to remember that God will hold ALL of us accountable for deliberately mistreating His word — the sword cuts both ways. If some basic facts must be known about SIFC to hear the Spirit of God in these blogs, they are follows:
– married in the Lord for nearly 45 years
– experienced a prior knitting back together of covenant family in the 5th year following a 2 year separation, after which spouse came to saving faith and transformed life
– has been a believer for 44 years – Pentecostal background
– was trained in hermeneutics by a former pastor
– has some career-related and case-related legal training
– has a masters level education, but not formal bible training other than a 13-week Christian discipleship leader training for leadership couples
– is, however, in regular communication with seminarians and other qualified bible scholars
– has been standing, celibate in obedience to 1 Cor. 7:11 for a total of 11 years in this second instance of satan warring against our covenant union
Like Francesca Battistelli, “I don’t need my name in lights..”, and like the Apostle Paul — who considered his impressive resume “dung” but felt compelled to present it anyway to due the criticisms coming from the enemies of the kingdom of God, SIFC does so here in the same spirit.
The resume of Mr. Waters can be found here, and the MDR portion of his blog page can be found here. Waters says he’s been in a covenant marriage for many decades and says he was not previously married to another, but a restored stander asked him whether that was also true of his wife. He declined to answer that question.
The writer asked “Is Paul addressing the adulterously remarried and urging them to stay as they are?”
Answer: NO. He [Paul] addresses them in other places, like Galatians 5:19 (the works of the flesh). He [blogger SIFC] wrote: “ Paul starts to address the questions concerning the “unmarried” and widows in verse 8: But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Answer: Before we note his [blogger SIFC] comment let us look at what the text says. Paul speaks of the “unmarried”. That word includes those divorced, because they are no longer married. The writer of the articles refuses to believe what the text says because he does not believe divorced (sic) does what God says it will do. He admits what the text INCLUDES, says you can’t believe it because it is not what I believe some other passages teach. He [blogger SIFC] wrote:“Here the term agamois (unmarried) is different from parthenos (virgin). It certainly includes virgins, but also includes those who have been put away, who may or may not have a living, estranged spouse. Based on Matthew 19:6, Romans 7:2 and 1 Cor. 7:39, it cannot mean that the marriage bond is dissolved if both original spouses are living.” He [blogger SIFC] wrote:“We established earlier Matthew 19:6 as the cornerstone scripture for comparison (Part 1 of our series) before accepting a particular interpretation of any other other scripture.”
SIFC: There will be a strong temptation to be resisted throughout this rebuttal, of using biting sarcasm due to the blatant lack on Mr. Waters’ part to delve very deeply into much of anything whereof he speaks. Jesus and Paul used sarcasm when ignorant men were seeking to corrupt God’s children in eternal matters. They did so out of righteous indignation. Does SIFC have that same privilege? We shall endeavor to keep it restrained. The readers can refer back to that linked blog – Part 1, and determine for themselves whether or not disciplined hermeneutics were applied, and whether or not Mr. Waters is countering with the same level of rigor, reflecting his formal bible education. The concept of one-flesh as Jesus described it in that passage, and of unconditional, indissoluble covenant are certainly among the most offensive of Jesus’ teachings.
Those two concepts didn’t even sit well with His disciples at first. As we see here, they continue to infuriate those “who would justify themselves in the sight of men”.
Even several Calvinist theologians of late agree with the Koine Greek linguists that although there was a Greek word for “widow” (female) http://biblehub.com/greek/5503.htm there was no corresponding word for “male widow”, so Paul used “agamois”, to match the intended symmetry in each of these sections, of first addressing the men in the category, and then the women. Not to have done this (much like today) would have offended the Gentile women who were relatively new converts, and who were accustomed to a much greater sense of equality than in the Jewish culture. Either way, Paul was here addressing only those who did not have an estranged living spouse, or he would have been contradicting himself and creating confusion in the passages that follow next.
ANSWER: First, that passages (sic) does not say what he [blogger SIFC] insists it says. It says, “LET not man put asunder.” It does not say man cannot do it or that DIVORCE, as God defined it, does not do it. And so, he refuses to believe what clear text say because he is BENT on holding to a false idea of his “cornerstone” text. He further said, “(1) from the point God joins husband and wife, they cannot be unjoined as long as both live.”
Really? Matthew 19:6, was teaching that took place during the Mosaic dispensation. The Law of Moses, which was the law of God. Clearly Deut. 24:1,2 spoke of divorce and it allowed the woman to “go and be another man’s wife”. The man didn’t need divorce to marry another because he could have multiple wives. Also, God confirmed that the divorce law was from him by using it himself (Jer. 3:8). And the icing on the cake is the clear teaching that Jesus married God ‘s divorced wife (Romans 7:1, 4).
SIFC: Let’s address Mr. Waters’ last assertion first…. “Jesus married God’s divorced wife (Romans 7:1, 4).” Did Mr. Waters REALLY just accuse Jesus of doing what the man in 1 Cor. 5 was doing? Committing both adultery and incest ? That most certainly would be “the icing on the cake“, wouldn’t it? It should be noted that we covered the Most High’s alleged “marital history” in Part 6 of our “Stop Abusing Scripture” series. As far as we know, there has been some attempt to claim that His Son had a marital history, but it was later proven to be a forgery of evidence. As far as anyone has been able to conclusively prove, Jesus remained celibate throughout His life — as represented.
Next, let’s examine this assertion from Mr. Waters: “Matthew 19:6, was teaching that took place during the Mosaic dispensation.” The very first thing to note is that Mr. Waters does not offer any biblical evidence of when one covenant age ceased and the other commenced. He simply states his bias for universal consumption, as if he were stating “the sky is blue”. Based on prophecy and biblical history, SIFC contends that the Mosaic covenant ceased and the Messianic covenant began when Jesus emerged, baptized, from the Jordan River. John the Baptizer was the “Elijah” prophesied in Malachi 4:5-6, the closing verses of the Old Testament. John the Baptizer was surely passing the torch when he immersed Jesus, and the dove of Lord descended on Him. The onset of the Messianic covenant age is why Jesus was able to gather food and heal on the Sabbath long before He went to the cross. From there He proceeded to His sermon on the mount, where He abrogated quite a bit of Mosaic regulation, and proclaimed (in effect), “from now on, this is a new day morally.”
The other thing to note is that Jesus never endorsed Moses’ “permission”, but in fact He corrected it in Matthew 19:8, making the very important point that hard-heartedness is not an acceptable attribute of a Christ-follower. In fact, this is echoed as a soul-imperiling attribute throughout the book of Hebrews. By contrast, Mr. Waters would have us believe that an “allowance” was made by God for hard-heartedness, and that would “prove” that He instituted man’s divorce. Completely ignored are the actual words of Jesus: “from the beginning, it was NOT SO.” Hard-heartedness, as we learn in Hebrews is the beginning of total apostasy.
Dear reader, the writer of the article with the silly title claims to use good hermeneutics, but he [blogger SIFC] does not. He wrote: “Scripture must always be interpreted in light of all other scripture on the same topic, and accomplished in such a way that there is no contradiction. “ RW: This is true. It is an important aspect of hermeneutics. But we have seen that the write (sic) has settled on a false foundation that Jesus said MAN CANNOT DIVORCE. That cannot be true because it is not what he [apparently Jesus] said and it would have resulted in sin, had he said it, sin that would have got him immediately stoned. And did he not promise that nothing would change before all is fulfilled” (Matt. 5:17-19).
SIFC: As noted in a couple of earlier blogs, distorters of the sermon on the mount (who often are the purveyors of serial polygamy snake oil) often choose to read it as if Matt. 5:17-19 were the only verses therein. In doing so, they miss the whole central message, including the new requirement for all men to obey Jesus from the heart. Mr. Waters is flat-out ignoring an enormous amount of context in reducing Matthew 5 down to three cherry-picked verses.
Thus, the man [blogger SIFC] has Jesus doing something he said he would not do right before talking about the “putting away” issue, which is NOT divorce at all.
SIFC: Apparently, like the Pharisees were, Mr. Waters is upset that the Son of the Most High, would deign to “change the rules”, as it were. (“But He promised!”) We’ve already demonstrated Mr. Waters’ distorted understanding of the message of the sermon on the mount. The accurate way to view this assertion of his is that GOD set the rules from the beginning, and it was carnal men, not Jesus, who attempted to change the rules. Jesus came to re-establish the rules, even the ones Mr. Waters isn’t fond of, and that, dear readers, is the correct context of Matt. 5:17-19. The very fact that Jesus repeatedly raised the bar on a whole range of moral issues by saying, “It is written / You have heard it said… BUT I SAY UNTO YOU”, should lay to rest any and all attempts to wish Moses was still the sheriff in these here parts, instead of Jesus. In the very next verse after this over-emphasized passage, we read,
For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
The truth I’m trying to get across (sic) you many of you does not (sic) have contradictions, which is why I gave up trying to defend the error that benefits only the devil as it breaks up marriages, imposes celibacy on people who need marriage, splits churches and results in precious time being wasted arguing the matter.
SIFC: “Standerinfamilycourt” never ceases to be amazed at the terror in the voices of the enemies of God’s kingdom, as they ascribe to us these amazing super-powers we never realized we had.
“Breaks up marriages?” How? By quoting scripture? Oh, that we could convict consciences that readily, why, it would be a scene straight out of the book of Ezra! However, we point out that Jesus’ definition of “marriage” is as follows:
And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,and said, ˜For this reason a man shall leave his FATHER AND MOTHER and be joined to his wife, andthe two shall become one flesh? – Matt. 19:4-5
He did not say “… leave his God-joined one-flesh wife and be joined to another woman.” On FIVE different occasions, He distinctly called such an arrangement ongoing adultery and not once did He ever call it “marriage” without also calling it ongoing adultery.
” imposes celibacy on people who need marriage”? We can assure that we have no present plans or budget to go around locking people up in chastity belts any time soon, so we think this particular superpower is also a bit overstated. (Chill, Robert!) Our understanding according to scripture is that these are people who already have marriage (however inconvenient that is to them), and it is Divine Law that imposes the chastity. We don’t make the laws, we just deliver the message about them. We also remind that others have “needs”, too. Our children need to learn godly morality, forgiveness, faith and endurance from the example we set. They need to unlearn “eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth”. The estranged covenant partner of the married-for-life person we are lusting after needs to have no impediment to the full repentance of their one-flesh spouse nor to the rebuilding of their covenant family. At the end of the day, the only biblical way divorcees are going to obtain “marriage” is to obey the Lord and be open to reconciliation with their own actual spouse. Our nation needs to turn back the much-advanced hand of God’s judgment on the land these past 50 years.
Do not err, my brethren. Those that corrupt families shall not inherit the kingdom of God. And if those that corrupt mere human families are condemned to death, how much more shall those suffer everlasting punishment who endeavor to corrupt the Church of Christ, for which the Lord Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, endured the cross, and submitted to death! Whosoever, ‘being waxen fat,’ and ‘become gross,’ sets at nought His doctrine, shall go into Hell. In like manner, every one that has received from God the power of distinguishing, and yet follows an unskillful shepherd, and receives a false opinion for the truth, shall be punished.”
– St. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, “Epistle To The Ephesians,” c. 105 A.D. SIFC leaves the readers with a link to some important and highly-relevant listening, courtesy of Pastor Stephen Wilcox of Canada. Mr. Waters accuses this blog of misrepresenting the teachings of Christ and Paul concerning the validity of remarriage after divorce. If that were so, then it stands to reason that the men who led the church in the 1st through 4th centuries after Jesus went to the cross would agree with Mr. Waters and not with us. We are talking about some men here who were directly discipled by the likes of the Apostle John, for example. We are also talking about an historical record that has only become available through excavations and technology in the last couple of decades, at least some 20 years after the enactment of unilateral divorce (and revised church doctrine to match) in most of the U.S., Canada and other western countries. The last several minutes deal with particular eloquence with Mr. Waters’ emotional plea about the “need” of the already-married to “remarry” another while their covenant spouse is alive and estranged. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhhGSHJAef4
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!
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. J. Ligon Duncan, III Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary, also with a pastoral background.
Dr. Wayne Grudem, Research Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary and a founding board member. General editor of the ESV Study Bible.
Jeff Purswell, Dean of the Sovereign GracePastors College and leads pastoral and theological training for Sovereign Grace Ministries.
Dr. K. Erik Thoennes, Chair of Biblical and Theological Studies and Professor of Theology at the Talbot School of Theology and a pastor at Grace Evangelical Free Church in La Mirada, California.
Dr. Thomas White, President and Professor of Theology at Cedarville University, holding a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Miguel Nunez serves as senior pastor of International Baptist Church and president of Wisdom and Integrity Ministries in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
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.
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
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal Unilateral Divorce!
It seems, to the seasoned covenant marriage stander community, that Dr. Medved’s book is one casting about for an audience that probably doesn’t exist, despite its wholesome message. This seems to be attributable to the mythical premise of the “low conflict” struggling marriage, which those of us who have “been there” know probably doesn’t exist, as we commented in our response to Part 1. Many excellent points were made in McManus’ review with which we cannot argue at all, so our approach will be to touch on the handful with which we cannot completely agree:
RE: Some church members seem almost determined to divorce. They are unhappy and think that if they end their marriage, they can find a better mate. What should a pastor say to them? Or what should he say to a spouse whose partner wants out?
OUR SUGGESTION: Ask a very vital question: whether either partner has a prior estranged living spouse.
If the answer is yes, resolve not to stand in the way of separation and repentance from this adulterous union, and give them a copy of “Have You Not Read?” by Ohio pastor Casey Whittaker. Explain that pastoral accountability before the Lord (and theirs as disciples) is to encourage reconciliation of the original covenant union, and full chastity until such time as the Lord enables it.
If the answer is no, share Matthew 19:6, 8 with them and explain that man’s divorce is never God’s dissolution. Explain that if either of them remarries, they are at high risk of going to hell, since Jesus defined the state of ongoing adultery in terms of marrying a divorced person whose spouse is still living. Explain the process of church discipline according to Matt. 18:15-18, and explain that it will be carried out if there occurs an adulterous violation of the marriage covenant. The church member who is determined to divorce is, more often than not, already in an adulterous relationship. At that point, Satan is in control and spiritual warfare, plus effective church discipline is going to be needed. Most churches will not willingly carry out this non-optional pastoral responsibility, and when they do, it’s typically in defense of the adulterous remarriage rather than the God-joined covenant union which may have occurred before a person’s conversion. When they do carry it out, it’s all too easy for the offenders to simply go down the street where few or no questions will be asked and where the true word of God is unlikely to confront them. In the rarity that the church member is determined to divorce because they want their covenant family back, and they realize from God’s word, rightly divided, that their soul is hanging in the balance so long as they remain in their adulterous faux “marriage”, they are likely to be met with the misappropriation of Malachi 2:16, and undeserved censure.
RE: If your partner wants to leave, ask some questions: “What can I or we do to make our marriage more satisfying to you? Are you attracted to someone else? What can I improve about my habits or behavior that would show you I value you?”
This is sound advice only if this is a God-joined covenant union, and not its remarriage counterfeit, following a prior divorce on either side. Such an approach, however, in the event that it fails may make the actual biblical prescription – the exercise of church discipline, more difficult for the prodigal spouse to endure later without bitterness. If there is another person involved (which is the case far more often than not), don’t expect to be told the truth even if the prodigal spouse had previously been a very truthful person.
In the case of a remarriage, there is no way such questions can or should overcome either the Holy Spirit-inspired restlessness that could be pushing a person who is somebody else’s spouse toward repentance, nor the innate character flaw that creates serial infidelity in an unregenerated person, which is a heart issue that only God can change, and when He does, it will be for the benefit of the true spouse. It is normal for 60-70% of serially-polygamous unions to break apart, and if they did not, many more people would perish in hell.
RE: Dr. Medved’s further advice….”take small incremental changes, and ask your partner if he/she sees improvements. Increase the number of favorable emotions, gestures and interchanges. Increase the percentage of your time together that is close and supportive. For example, have a weekly date – doing something you both enjoy.”
Many Christian couples were doing all of these things habitually, yet one spouse still was pulled toward an adulterous relationship outside the marriage. Certainly, these things should be elements of any marriage, but the societal and legal incentives toward literal spouse-poaching are such that by the time it’s noticeable that something is amiss, it’s often too late for the onset of these suggestions to make any difference. In fact, even getting sufficient time with a prodigal spouse to accomplish any of these will be such a challenge that it will create a contentious situation in and of itself. What we see playing out these days is exactly as Jesus described would be happening during the wicked last days:
“Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”Matthew 24:11-13
The danger comes when the suggested efforts are rebuffed, and the spouse who is committed to the marriage is then tempted to believe they’ve done everything they possibly can to save the marriage if man’s divorce occurs despite their efforts. The following is an except from the author’s introduction to the book, which illustrates our point well:
There’s a pattern here: One person’s not happy or sees an opportunity with someone else. The other one is rejected, with no recourse except for “mopping up” therapy and the consolation of friends.
I’m thinking of Jacquie, who thought she had a secure, happy marriage to Kevin. She taught part-time at a preschool, securing reduced tuition for their daughter and son, and was taking college classes for her teaching credential. She was the mom who brought decorated cupcakes for holidays; she was the teacher who decorated the classroom with kids’ photos and her own drawings of book characters. And she was the wife who arranged her schedule to be home to greet her husband when he arrived.
Until the afternoon he told her about his other relationship and started to pack, blindsiding Jacquie and blasting apart her world. She had no clue. He’d been emailing, texting, and ultimately hooking up with a client, and she’d missed it all, blithely trusting him, immersed in the sweet innocence of her child-centered world.
“Isn’t there anything I can do?” she pleaded when he told her. “You’re just going to leave our family and go off?” That was exactly the plan. I call it “chop and run,” a common and cruel tactic, very effective because the chopper can escape discussion, tears, and negotiation. He was out, and his blameless, loving wife, who’d done nothing but provide a wholesome, happy home, was suddenly thrust into single parenthood. Kevin paid the bills and gave Jacquie the house and tore her heart out every time he came to the door with the kids—especially when she could see his new love interest waiting in the car. That divorce served no purpose other than fulfilling Kevin’s selfish quest for excitement.
All their friends treated the split matter-of-factly. “Kevin dumped you for a girlfriend? Gosh, Jacquie, that’s awful. What a turd. You need anything? Maybe our kids can get together next week.” Yep, that was as much as they could do. In our no-fault culture, fulfilling one’s desires is legitimate. Just go for it; this is your only life. Outsiders didn’t want to get involved in Jacquie’s and Kevin’s “personal business.” Maybe Jacquie didn’t give Kevin what he needed.
Except that she did. He’d never complained or asked her to behave differently. Their disagreements were few and quickly resolved, mainly because Jacquie willingly adjusted to please him. Kevin wasn’t looking for someone new, but when the opportunity arose, he just responded to the advances made. And while he loved his kids, his need to be there for them didn’t seem as urgent as grabbing the brass ring dangling in front of him. They’d be all right. After all, Jacquie was such a great mom.
This “great mom” was devastated. She’d been living in a fantasy world and didn’t even know it. She was rejected because of Kevin’s narcissism and desire for fresh sex and adoration, but also because he knew he could take off to pursue excitement and nobody would censure him. Everybody would be an “adult.” The lawyers would meet, they’d sign the papers, and that would be it. As long as he acceded to Jacquie’s demand for custody and financial support, he could move on and see his kids on Saturdays—he could “have it all.”
Again, in the case of a true covenant marriage, it may be unavoidably necessary to stand celibate for a number of years, understanding that the concept of divorce is entirely man-made and dissolves nothing, and that God Himself has covenanted with the sacred union (Malachi 2:13-14) so He will defend it in the spiritual realm toward restoration. The reason is exactly as described in Ephesians 6, we fight not against flesh and blood but powers, principalities and dark forces in the heavenly realms. Contrary to the heretical belief rampant in the contemporary church, no amount of man’s paper ever converts adultery to holy matrimony. One glaring area of omission and naivete by both Medved and McManus is their apparent lack of awareness that it’s not at all unusual for an adulterous estrangement with abandonment to go on for several years before a divorce petition is filed by the offending spouse, if the non-offending spouse is obeying Godand not dragging their one-flesh partner into a pagan courtroom under any circumstances.
RE: If there are no children, divorce simply entails a division of assets. If children are involved, there is also a division of time and money far into the future. Holidays, birthdays and family celebrations require planning.
This analysis is a bit too simplistic. If there are no children, there may still be adult children, and the very same issues will ensue for the next generation, plus a few more. If, on the other hand, the marriage was actually childless, the divorce still entails elements far more priceless and irreplaceable than merely dividing physical assets. For Christ-followers, it entails the burden of the battle for the very soul of our one-flesh life partner, that entails all-out spiritual warfare which is exhausting on a daily basis, and often goes on for many years.
If there are either minor children or minor grandchildren, there is the additional issue of dangerous, immoral exposure to an adulterous relationship and the imperative need to tell the children why the relationship is immoral, rather than giving in to the extreme societal pressure to treat it as the “new normal”. Children need to be told this in an age-appropriate way, such as telling the story from the bible of the beheading of John the Baptist for rebuking the adulterous “marriage” of Herod and Herodias. Brace for the wicked, howling censure of society after doing so, but it is far better to fear and obey God, rather comply with the sinful mores of men. Children need to learn that adultery cannot be legalized in God’s eyes, that it will lead to an eternity in hell if it is not ultimately repented of by termination of the relationship, and this is why mom or dad or grandma or grandpa is never going to remarry while their original marriage partner is still living.
RE: In her landmark book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, Judith Wallerstein interviewed 131 children from 60 divorced families over 25 years, with intensive interviews every five years. She was surprised to discover that repercussions of divorce hit hardest when children became adults.
Very true, and no different than we are warned of in the bible concerning generational sin, so the content of Judith Wallerstein’s book should come as no surprise. No doubt the Old Testament scourge of concurrent polygamy had similar effects, as we see played out in the lives of Jacob’s and of David’s children. A more recent book, Primal Loss, by Leila Miller explores the emotional turmoil of 70 interviewed adult children of divorce in depth of detail and in their own words.
The primary value in books like Medved’s will be with non-adulterous families. By that we mean, the rare troubled marriage where there is no extramarital activity going on, and the marriage itself is not a remarriage where there is an estranged prior spouse who is the true one-flesh companion of one of the remarried partners. Unfortunately, that is not the situation that predominates today in a society so immoral that leader-sanctioned adultery predominates both inside and outside most churches. Where there is a threat from an extramarital relationship, or the assumed “marriage” was adulterous from its inception due to an undissolved true holy matrimony covenant, God’s accurate word must be brought to bear instead, before there can be a positive impact. It will be interesting to see in the book whether Medved is aware of the fact that 80% of divorces granted today are forced divorces where one partner objected, as McManus correctly pointed out in his review. That automatically makes Medved’s audience only 20% of the pool, and as we pointed out, the remarried portion of that 20% segment should not be discouraged from moving toward a repenting divorce, and the rebuilding of their true family.
The primary danger in books like Medved’s is that the victims are being blamed rather than the system being adequately reformed.
It will not do to tweak an unconstitutional law in a way that benefits only a small segment of society while leaving the 1st and 14th Amendment violations on the books for everyone else, and which does nothing to reform the corruption in the churches that arose as as a result of illicit doctrinal efforts to accommodate the immoral law .
7 Times Around the Jericho Wall | Let’s Repeal No-Fault Divorce!